Saturday, May 29, 2010

Twisted Yarn

I've been knitting a pair of gloves with two colors, juggling four balls of yarn to simultaneously knit the two gloves on my circular needles.

I did my usual knitting-two-objects-at-once trick of putting each glove's yarn supply on a different side of me. By alternating whether I rotate the needles left or right, I can keep these two supplies from tangling.

The two colors used to knit each glove, however, were tangling badly. The yarn is a wool/silk blend that is both slippery and has a tendency to felt. I stopped every few inches to untangle the yarn, wishing there was an easier way to do this.

The slipperiness of the yarn was also causing it to unball somewhat, so I stuffed each ball in its own ziploc bag. That helped with the tendency of the balls to tangle, but the strands running from the balls to the gloves were still twisting and tangling.

One of the little plastic zippers accidentally closed around the yarn, bringing me up short.

It also gave me an idea.

If I stuffed as much of one strand of yarn as I could in the ziploc bag and zipped it shut, could I just dangle the ball and encourage it to unwind.

Yup. Who woulda thunk.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Unvented: Underarm Gusset

On the Broad Spiral Rib cardigan, I had an attractive Knotted Rib inset into the raglan line. As I was thinking about writing up the way I divide the arms from the body, I had an idea.

“Wouldn't it be handsome,” thought I, “if I continued the Knotted Rib through the underarm area and grafted it to the other side of the underarm? Then I could pick up along both edges of the Knotted Rib strip and have a little underarm gusset. It would probably help with the stretched stitches that I sometimes get in that area.”

The more I thought about this idea, the more I liked it.

When I got to the spot where I ordinarily do the underarm cast-on, I continued the Knotted Rib strip instead:

When I got to the end of the little strip, I grafted the end of the gusset to the Knotted Rib on the back raglan line:

At about this point, I briefly wondered if I was a little obsessed, knitting that little tiny strip and then grafting it to the other side. Could it possibly be worth the effort it was taking?

I continued knitting across the back, and then knitted and grafted the other little strip on the other underarm.

At the end of the row, I had underarms that looked like this:

Next, I picked up along the body edge of the gusset, muttering more things about how obsessive I can be in the knitting of the perfect sweater:

I'm very pleased with the results.

Top-Down Design Tutorial 10: Dividing the Arms from the Body

In all kinds of top-down sweaters, the yoke and arms are knit as a continuous unit to the underarm.

The yoke of the sweater has a cape form when you get to the underarm:

And here's the yoke open so you can see the shawl neck shaping:

When you get to the underarm, you knit the sleeve stitches to holders, dividing the arms from the body (oh, how gruesome):

The sleeve stitches on their holders:

The sleeve stitches stay on their holders while you knit the body.

On the first row after dividing the sleeves from the body, you cast on a few stitches at each underarm and then knit the body on down to the hem:

When the body is complete, you pick up along the underarm cast-on and knit the sleeves down in the round. Pick up the cast-on stitches and add two transition stitches at each end of the cast-on. If you don't pick up transition stitches, the corner stitches along the underarm will be stretched, leaving unsightly holes at the underarm. The transition stitches close the gap and make the fabric of the underarm smooth.

The steps for dividing the sleeves from the body:
  1. Knit one row, knitting the sleeve stitches onto holders.
  2. Knit back across body stitches only, casting on an inch or two of stitches at each underarm.
  3. Finish knitting the body of the sweater.
  4. Pick up the cast-on stitches along the sleeve edges of the underarms, adding 2 transition stitches at each end of the cast-on stitches.
  5. Knit the arms down in the round.