Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Assembling a Pullover, Part Three

Thank you for joining me in this three-part tutorial on assembling a pullover. I know you're ready to finish up and wear your beautiful sweater, so let's get this done.

Now we come to seaming the side seams and sleeve seams of the pullover. This will be a breeze now that you've tackled that sleeve cap.

Let's seam the body first. As you can see, I usually like to leave a good, long tail when I cast on for each piece so that I can use that tail to seam. 

First, clip the edges together to keep your place.

To prepare for mattress stitch, make a figure eight by taking the working yarn into the first stitch opposite to where your yarn is emerging, back into the first stitch (where the yarn is originally attached) and back into the other piece again. Then tighten that up and proceed with mattress stitch.

Here is a my video on mattress stitch. I hope it's helpful!

As I have mentioned, I am working this finishing on my Figheadh Fundamental Women's Pullover, which is edged with garter rib stitch. Once you seam it, the edge is continuous. Nice.

Proceeding up the Stockinette stitch part of the body, work a few stitches and then zip them up, as we did on the sleeve cap. Keep working mattress stitch until reaching the underarm. Then cut the yarn, leaving about eight inches to weave in later.

That's when we can move on to the first sleeve seam. Clip those edges together and seam it the same way you did the body.

When you reach the underarm, you will have an intersection with all these crazy yarn ends. I had a few more than usual because this yarn is a hand-paint and I alternated skeins every two rows. When you weave in all these ends, close the hole well and weave them in opposite directions. I like to weave them into the seams--down the body and up the sleeve and then along the armhole seam one way and then the other. This keeps you from having so much bulk in any one seam.

There ya go. All ends tidied and ready to clip them a little closer. But first let's seam up the other side, add a collar, and wash and block it again. All this finishing adds yarn that has not been relaxed by washing and blocking. You will be very glad if you take that last step. If you're getting impatient, you can at least stretch out your finished sweater, pin it in shape, and spritz or steam the seams and collar. Either way, let it dry and then you can happily wear your work of art!

Thanks again for joining me! I hope this series has taken a little of the trepidation out of making a pieced sweater. See, it's not so bad!

Assembling a Pullover, Part Two

Welcome to part two of our tutorials about assembling your Figheadh Fundamental Women's Pullover! Of course, this will work on any of the Fundamental pullovers, and for any other pullover knit flat. 

Let's do this!

Once you have joined the front of your pullover to its back by seaming the shoulders, you can proceed to setting in your sleeves. 

Lay your pieces out flat with plenty of light. Using stitch markers or clips, find the top center of your sleeve cap and attach it to the shoulder seam edge. Then clip the edges down at the underarm where you first bound off stitches for the sleeve cap shaping. Then attach clips halfway between those two points. Then attach more clips halfway between each of those points. This will all help you to keep everything aligned as it should be. If you really want to make sure the halves of your sleeve cap are equal, you can start at the top center and work out from there. I usually just start at the righthand edge and work all the way up to the shoulder and back down the other side.
Let's try it underarm-to-underarm. Start at the right hand edge where you bound off stitches at the base of the armhole and work an invisible horizontal seam across all those bound off stitches. This is sort of akin to duplicate stitch in that you are creating stitches that mimic the knit stitch between the two edges. Keep it loose for a few stitches as above. 

Once you have worked a few stitches, tighten them up. Then work across the remaining bound off stitches and tighten those.

Once you have the bound off section seamed, you can transition to mattress stitch to work up the side of the sleeve cap until you reach the next set of bound off stitches at the top.

Working back and forth for a few stitches loosely...

...and then tightening every few stitches will help keep the edges visible.

Here is my video to show mattress stitch in action.

When you come to the bound off stitches at the top of the sleeve cap, revert to invisible horizontal seaming again. As before, work a few stitches at a time before tightening.

And you have the first half of your sleeve cap seamed! Yea!

Now work back down the other half the same way until you reach the bound off stitches at the other side, where you will work the invisible horizontal seam again. 

You made it! Now sit back and admire your work for a few minutes.

I won't lie to you and tell you that this is easy, but once you get some practice with this technique, you'll feel better about it all. 

And it's really fun to work this on a striped sweater. The stripes keep you in line!

Now it's time to seam the sides and sleeves. Go and rest a few minutes, and then read on for my last post in this series. Thanks for reading!

Yarn details: First sweater was knit with Cascade Lana D-Oro and the striped one is with Cascade 220.

Assembling a Pullover, Part One

We have recently updated the Figheadh Fundamentals Women's Pullover pattern to improve the sleeve caps and the shoulder/neck area, so I'd like to give you some pointers about how to put your pullover together. This will work for any pullover knit flat, but I hope you will try ours!

Once you have completed your four Fundamental Pullover pieces--front, back, and two sleeves--and blocked them all nicely, you're ready for bringing them together into one piece. Set aside a few hours for this, especially if this is your first. You will want to take breaks in between steps, even if you're a seasoned knitter. I like to take a whole day to do the assembly so that I know I have plenty of time to go slowly and carefully.

Let's examine the steps one by one so we can focus on the details. The first step is to seam your shoulders. There are a couple of different ways to do this, but I usually choose the 3-needle bind off. It keeps your stitches aligned perfectly and it's kinda fun!

To prepare for this bind off, place each set of shoulder stitches, front and back, on a separate needle. Take care to make sure each stitch is positioned correctly and not twisted. I usually use the longer circular for one set of stitches and the shorter circular for the other set of stitches. Then I use the other end of the longer circular to work the bind off--thus, the three needles. 

You can use straight needles or dpn's for this technique, but I shun the dpn's  for this. I like to be sure that the stitches in repose at the non-working end do not slip off while I am paying attention to what I'm doing on the business end. Whichever type needles you use, position the knit pieces right sides together with working ends of the needles together as shown here.

Attach a good length of your working yarn so that it comes from the back set of stitches, unless there is already enough length there from when you stopped knitting. Bind off as you would normally, but insert the right working needle tip into two stitches (one from the back and one from the front) instead of just one. Once you have knit two stitches (two double stitches, that is), pull the first completed knit stitch over the second. Repeat until all stitches have been bound off, cut your yarn, and pull the end through the last stitch.

Here's a link to my video showing this technique in action.

Work the same procedure on the other shoulder and you're done with the first step of your pullover assembly. It matters not whether you start at the armhole edge or the neck hole edge. Either way there will be ends to weave in.

Our next post will cover the second step of your pullover finishing, how to set in your sleeves!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Compordach & Kringla!

Good things come in pairs, like our recent Figheadh pattern releases!

This time, I am here to tell you about a couple of my freelance designs in current publications.

The first is the Compordach Mittens in the 2015 Interweave Knits Gifts issue.

This is a picture I took while getting these mittens ready to ship off to Colorado, just before I whip-stitched the lining into them.

We chose Quince & Co Chickadee in Caspian, which is one of their natural colors, for the mittens. For a soft lining, we chose one of Quince & Co's newer yarns, Piper, in the Caracara color.

Interweave Knits Gifts 2015
I can't wait until these come back to live with me. They are so cozy! In fact, Compordach means "comfortable" in Irish. Aptly named.

The second design I want to crow about is my Kringla Hat now in the fall 2015 issue of knit.purl.

Here's a sad little picture I managed to hastily snap before sending this little thing off.

knit.purl fall 2015
And here's a better picture of it on the model in knit.purl.

It's great little hat made with Rowan Purelife British Breeds Chunky Undyed in Shetland Moorit. The project flies off the needles because this yarn is so chunky. Again, aptly named. The design was named for the Danish cookie that is made by twisting ropes of dough into pretzel shapes. While working on this design in December 2014, I made my first batch of these and loved how pillowy and slightly sweet they are. They may become a holiday tradition around here.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of both these magazines (hard or digital) and try not only my patterns but others of the delectable knits included. I'd love to knit up more of them myself!

Friday, October 02, 2015

Balla Mara & Lambda

Boy, that was a long time to be away from the blog, huh? I've been traveling and working on projects and didn't raise my head from all that until the past couple of weeks.

But now I'm back, to let you know...
No, I cant really shake 'em down, but I can show you some new patterns!

This episode all started one morning last spring when I woke up with a very clear, persistent image in my head of a wave carried up a length of scarf. I don't usually try to make dream images come to reality, but this one would not leave me be. 

First I had to chart it.

When I was making this wavy chart, I did some research and found out that the lambda symbol is used in physics to denote "wavelength." That's when I knew I had my scarf name. Science and a word with "lamb" in it? Too much goodness.

I made the Lambda Scarf from that first chart, but I could not leave well enough alone. This thing needed to be something much, much more!

Yeah, I was obsessed, alrighty. I spent months on this whole thing. Charting and charting and tweaking and tweaking. I taped sheets of graph paper together and charted out the entire thing as a triangular shawl. Not just once, but twice! Working with the fabric so much helped me to see that the cables look like bricks and the eyelets look like bubbly sea waves crashing up against it (or was that another dream I had?) Loving Gaelic, I looked to see what the translation might be. Sea Wall Shawl sounded too garbly in the mouth, you know. Lo, and behold, I found a Gaelic translation that anyone could pronounce (rare thing), so Balla Mara it became.

Then came all the brain-charring transition from chart to written instructions. Thanks to a very good tech editor and a couple of testers, it finally all came together this past week.

I give you the Balla Mara Shawl!

And the Lambda Scarf!

Now for some yarn info. I saved the best for last. 

When I was tumbling this thing around in my head, I knew the shawl would be great worked up in Mrs. Crosby Satchel, because it is a lofty single fingering and the simple stitch patterns would definitely hold up to some hand-dyed yarn. Mrs. Crosby sent me some of her yarns to play with last year, so I had swatched with this lovely stuff and knew I wanted to use it. I put in a request for some Satchel in Submarine, because why not keep this whole thing about the sea, right? The nice folks at Mrs. Crosby sent me the two skeins I requested and I was off for a lovely time knitting this shawl up. I hope you'll try both my shawl and Mrs. Crosby's yarn Satchel. You won't have a moment of sorry.

The Lambda Scarf is knit with Manos del Uruguay Fino. I have loved Manos yarns for a while now, but when I found this skein of Fino in Delft at Town Square Fabrics and Yarn in Burien, I knew it would become something in my design line, too. It's just lovely. The colorway in the photo above is called Birdcage. I ordered it from Little Knits, and it looks like Mano has discontinued it. You can still get the Delft, though, for sure.

Okay, y'all! It's a wrap! 
And I hope you'll wrap yourself in your Balla Mara and Lambda FO's soon!
I know. Corny. You can count on me for that.

See you soon for some info about a couple of little designs of mine in current publications.
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

PNW Yarn Crawl 2015

For someone who loves yarn so much, and thus, yarn shops, it's seems incredible even to me that I've never completed a yarn crawl. Sure, I've done partials, but never one entire crawl. The LYS Tour of the Seattle area is just too big. It frightens me. There are 26 shops in a 115-mile long by 79.3-mile wide area! Sure, it's a five-day event (road trip!) but I just could not invest that much time this year. Besides, I wanted my husband to come with me, and as much as he respects my yarn fixation, the only way I'm going to get him on a five-day road trip is if there is beer involved (pub crawl!)

So when I learned that the PNW Yarn in my south Puget Sound area had been reformulated, I decided to do it all. With only seven shops involved, we could do it in one beautiful, sunny, spring Saturday. 
On May 2, I printed out our passports to keep us on track and we made our plan. I filled the water bottles, packed some snacks, and made sure to bring a large tote bag for the acquisitions.

Rainy Day Yarns, Gig Harbor, WA
We decided to start the loop by heading down to Gig Harbor to visit Sherri Hazen and her Rainy Day Yarns shop located right on Pioneer Way just before you hit Harborview Drive. Sherri stocks lots of American-made yarns and tools, some of which are local to our area. That's the best part. She also stocks major brands and has the largest inventory of machine washable fibers I've seen. I got some Plymouth Homestead and CEY Canyon for design design swatching while there. If you haven't been to this shop, plan to spend a few hours in Gig Harbor, and if you don't spend all your bucks at RDY, I recommend going to Tides Tavern for lunch. 

Amanda's Art-Yarn, Poulsbo, WA
Our next stop was a new one for me, and a chance to discover a Viking town! Amanda's Art-Yarn is located in Poulsbo, WA, a lovely little village on Liberty Bay with the nickname "Little Norway." I had to shield my eyes as we drove into town, because I saw about fifteen little shops, bakeries, and restaurants I wanted to peruse. We had no time for that, though. It was all about the crawl! When we walked into Amanda's shop, I was aghast. First I looked over all the other yarns she stocks and found myself some Imperial Yarn Columbia in sage green and some CEY Tiverton Tweed--two yarns I've yet to try. Then...then, people...I found Amanda's yarn! And that's what the majority of this shop is filled with and with good, good reason! That's Amanda Richardson herself in the picture above posing proudly with just a small sampling of the gorgeous yarns she dyes. Such a great talent. I also had a short talk with her about designing and so wished I could have stolen her away for more. But we had to get on with the crawl!

From Poulsbo we enjoyed the lovely drive over to Allyn, WA, to finally see Lois Henderson's new Allyn Knit Shop space. She has so much room and so much lovely yarn! I tried to focus and do something I'd been dreaming of--having a bunch of Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift in front of me to choose some colors for Fair Isle! I was so mesmerized with the Jamieson's and all the other beautiful yarns Lois stocks that I didn't notice my husband getting schooled on spinning by Lois herself. He's always wanted to learn and she was so nice to show him both on the drop spindle and the wheel. He bought some fleece. Will he spin it? Stay tuned!

After more chatting with Lois, we were on our way to the next stop on the crawl.

And that was to find another shop that is new to me, Fancy Image Yarn! It's in the cutest little house in Shelton packed with the colorful creations of Myra Garcia. I warn you not to go near this yarn paradise without some bucks--you will want several of her skeins. It's amazing that she can fill an entire store with just her fingering and DK hand-dyed yarns. She will even custom dye for you and specializes in school colors. I also loved Myra's sweater--it reminds me of Wanda Nell!

Our next stop was in Puyallup to see Milly at her new store, My Yarn Heaven. She's just getting set up, but she chose well for a starter inventory, like this nice selection of Lorna's Laces! I picked up a skein of my favorite Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport and Llambrosia by Frog Tree. I will be sure to check back in on her soon to see her stock and her business grow. I urge you to pop in there yourself and support Milly's new business!

A trip back down to Fife was just what we needed at this point. We were getting kind of weary and needed a breath of fresh air. When we found Leanna and Greg Stidham's Firwood Farm Alpacas, we were so glad to head out back and watch her little herd as they languished in the sun. She has chickens, too! Leanna came out and told us more about her animals and we learned that some of them were rescued from farms gone bankrupt where the poor animals were just left to go wild and breed willy-nilly. They are much happier animals now. I found a nice handspun skein of her fiber for my souvenir of this lovely visit. Read their story on the site and then head over for your own visit with the alpacas!  

Saving one of the best for last and to see some old friends, we wound our way back to Tacoma and to Fibers, Etc. to see Roberta Lowe. We found her in the large classroom in the back of her space, where she had relocated some of her inventory. You may have heard that her shop is very tiny and filled to the ceiling with yarn in very tight spaces. You heard right! It was good to see some yarns aired out in the sunny back room, but I love her shop as it is. It's like a curious collector's closet where you wind around and find treasures at every turn. Roberta stocks all the best, too. There's all the Cascade and Brown Sheep and Malabrigo and MadelineTosh and Classic Elite and even Habu. That's just one-tenth of all you'll find here. I was monetarily tapped, so I bought nothing that day. I know I can always pop down to Opera Alley and not only find whatever I'm looking for, but receive Lois' expert help in doing so. 

Here are all the lovely yarns and free patterns I collected on our first-ever entire yarn crawl. Now to start saving up for the next one!