Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays!

I have a little gift for you.

I have been contacted a few times over the last couple of years about a pattern I discontinued. 
I finally paid attention and did some research and found that there indeed was a need in the world for my Madrona Felted Derby pattern.

So it's back!
Stormy models the Madrona!

It's currently only listed on Ravelry, so go there to grab it.

I hope your holidays are going very well and your knitting, too!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Assembling the Glentrekker

There's still time to get in on the Glentrekker KAL on Ravelry. The deadline is still February 1, 2015, so you could make the sweater or one of the hats and still qualify for the prizes.
Come and join us!

Alrighty, let's see where I am on this Glentrekker project.

After testing the written instructions on my first body repeat, and then testing the charts on my second body repeat, I printed out the chart page for my size and with my trusty clicker (row counter) I've chugged all the way up to the point where I join the sleeves. I prefer charts when knitting, as I have an easier time keeping my place that way. 

When I worked my sleeves, I consulted the pattern to check my increase rate, wrote it down, and checked it off as I went along, with the clicker keeping me on the right row. The sleeve cable is so easy I didn't need the chart after a couple of pattern repeats. 

I have also been trying to save paper and ink this time by sending the pattern PDF to my Kindle and using it instead. The sleeves and body of my Glentrekker are ready to be married and joined for life. You may notice that my sleeves are pretty long. I always lengthen my sleeves. I like them long. You will remember that I am using Bare Naked Wools Kent DK for this project, which was so generously donated by Knitspot just because they wanted to see a Kent DK Glentrekker in the world. Aren't they nice? I love this yarn. I am partial to undyed, natural-fiber yarn, and this one is an exquisite example.

Okay, let's get busy. Noting where I am in the cable pattern, I take up a different long circular (the metal Addi on the right), work that pattern across the right front section of the cardigan until I arrive at 16 stitches before the first marker. I am about to slip those next 16 body stitches onto a piece of waste yarn to wait for joining the underarm sections after the body is finished. I place a new marker on the right needle at this point.

Then I take my first sleeve and slip all the stitches from the larger piece of waste yarn onto the left needle (my Clover bamboo with a super-pointy tip). This is why you are instructed to place two sets of stitches on waste yarn when your sleeve is to the correct length and number of stitches. I keep a little jar of smooth, white or cream cotton yarn for just this purpose. It makes the stitches easy to find and easy to slip off onto a needle. After working that set of stitches, I am going to place a new marker where that green one is. You can just leave the one you have in place, but I wanted to change my markers for this section because I keep losing my little green ones and I want them all the same color. I could only find two green ones, and I need four.

After I joined that first sleeve and worked across those stitches in pattern, I worked the back section in pattern to the next marker. Then I placed the next 16 body stitches on waste yarn as I did before, and that sets me up for adding the second sleeve. The pink pen is for editing my pattern. Yes, I keep finding ways to make it better. Also, there was a missing comma. Oh, brother.

After adding the second sleeve and placing my four markers where they belong, and then working the left front section in pattern, I have one big piece ready for the raglan decrease. This is my favorite part. It's fun to watch the raglan line eat up the cables. 

Speaking of eating cables, my next blog post about this project will cover some tricks for making that go more smoothly for you. I will show you how I manage to keep the cables intact as close to that raglan line as I can.  Yummy, yummy cables.

See you soon! Happy Cabling!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Cable Knitting Tips, Part One

ETA Disclaimer: This post is not for beginner cable knitters. As I caution about midway, this post is intended for those of us who have put in miles of cabled fabric and may be wondering about how to make the cables better. Thank you for reading!

Bare Naked Wools Kent DK
I am into my third Glentrekker Cardigan, so what better time than this to focus on some cable knitting issues and solutions for them. First, I want to give you just a couple of cable facts from this project.

The Glentrekker pattern mentions the ubiquitous 2/2 RC (aka C4B, 4-st back cross, etc.) no fewer than 1,425 times. Of course, this includes every instance found in the written instructions for nine sizes as well as its place in the Stitch Glossary, but that's a lot! The symmetrical twin 2/2 LC only owns 171 mentions. That is all to say that the 2/2 RC cable is the default cable in the Glentrekker Cardigan, and I planned it this way. Not only is this a good, basic cable for which I have a soft spot, but it's also present in several of the other larger cables in the sweater, so it unifies the design. It's also used so freely to keep things at least a little easier in a project so riddled with cables. In other projects of this ilk, I have paired the 2/2 LC more often to mirror the 2/2 RC. However, that just involves more thinking. It's easier to remember this: Every stationary 4-st cable made up of knit stitches in the Glentrekker is a 2/2 RC. Period. 

What do I mean by stationary? I mean all cables that do not travel. There are a few 2/2 LC cables (and 2/2 RC) that must move around and eat up purl stitches or move across the reverse Stockinette background to get to where they interplay with others, but the ones that do none of these things are all 2/2 RC. Only we extremely cable-obsessed folks will be interested in this, so I'll move on.

In a more general way, I want to address the problem of loose stitches in cable knitting. Some of these loose stitches occur anytime there is a column of knit stitches before the same of purl stitches, as in many rib patterns. This problem can also interfere with the clean outlines of your cables.
Bare Naked Wools Breakfast Blend DK
Although not a part of a cable, the knit column along the front closure of the cardigan can get a little slouchy, and this same problem may occur in some cables, as I will show you next. For now, have a look in the above photo at the leftmost knit stitch in that column--it wavers a bit. What I have been trying as a fix is to purl the first stitch after that knit stitch by wrapping the yarn under the needle instead of over it, in other words, wrapping it clockwise. This uses less yarn than the usual purl, but it mounts the purl stitch backward. Combination knitters do this on purpose. This is easy enough to fix in the next WS row, and it can accomplish two other jobs for me. When knitting in the round, as with the sleeves of the Glentrekker, it can remind me of whether I am on a RS or WS round. If that purl stitch is mounted incorrectly, I'm on a WS round. If not, then time to twist it again! The other reminder is that when I come to this incorrectly-mounted (now knit) stitch on WS, as when knitting the body of the Glentrekker, I should keep the next stitch (now a purl) close to the needle so as not to stretch it. It was already loosey-goosey--let's not make it worse. This fix is easy to remember and to execute as I work. If that doesn't work for you, and you would like an even more involved fix that can make this particular slackness a thing of the past, Techknitter has some grand fixes here

As promised, here is the same offending problem along the side of the leftmost part of the center back cable of the Glentrekker. See that little vertical line just right of center? Yep, it wavers.

Moving on to another, similar problem...
You probably would not have needed the red boxes to train your eye to the loose stitches in this picture. I had not really noticed this problem until I started researching loose stitches in general. That was when I noticed that all my left crosses, namely my 2/1 LC cables, were all looser than my right cross ones. Why? 

Well, those stitches are being stretched out more. When I execute a right cross, I place the next purl stitch on the cable needle and immediately knit the next two stitches from the left needle before working the purl stitch from the cable needle. That first knit stitch from the left needle technically only moves over by one, and so does not become stretched. However, when I work a 2/1 LC, I first place the next two knit stitches onto the cable needle, then purl the (now third) stitch from the left needle before pulling that cable needle back and knitting the two stitches from it. The last knit stitch that I work has had to stretch twice as far to be worked in the new position. Once I figured out the problem, I had to figure out the solution, and I am still experimenting. 

One maneuver I am playing with is placing all three stitches back onto the left needle in their new order before working them. In other words, not allowing the two knit stitches to hang out on the cable needle while I work the purl stitch. Another possibility is to work the purl stitch after the cable (because this diamond cable sits on reverse Stockinette) by wrapping it clockwise, as in the first discussion. 

I'll have to work a few more repeats of the cable pattern and finish and block the sweater before I am sure about how much this actually fixed things. I was unable to find anyone else discussing this problem, and I may well be the only knitter experiencing this problem, but if you have any insight I would love to hear it! 

I expect that I'll be back with an addendum here, because I will continue to experiment. Until then, please chime in. Thanks!