January 26, 2007

Darn Cute

Who can resist knitting baby sweaters?  They're fast, fun, and just so darn cute! 

This one is for nona-niece-due-in-March. If she's anything like her parents, she'll be a San Franciscan with a sense of style -- one who will appreciate a sweater in non-traditional baby colors.  The sweater is a modern take on Elizabeth Z's classic baby sweater from Knitter's Almanac.  The garter stitch yoke and edges are knit in Koigu and the lace pattern in Rowan's 4-Ply Wool.  These two yarns mix well together, having a similar weight and twist.

Just So Darn Cute!

January 26, 2007 in Knitting for the nona-nieces, Project - Elizabeth Z. | Permalink | Comments (44)

January 22, 2007

Shoo Vanity, Shoo!

nona's feeling a tad -- just a tad -- bit disheartened over her knee-highs.  Don't worry, sympathetic reader, it has nothing to do with the knitting, the needles, the yarn, or the stitch pattern -- all of which I love.  No, this small hovering black cloud is the result of -- gasp -- vanity!  I love working on my stocking, but every time I stop to gaze at the thing it looks way too big.  Yet when I try on the gigantic beast, it fits tautly around my shapely and sporty calf.  Good gracious!  My calf cannot be that big!  Shoo vanity, shoo!  I'm loving this stocking and don't want anything to spoil my pleasure.

I'm loving my stocking and have started the calf shaping.

I'm currently in the middle third of the stocking leg -- the part where all the action occurs -- and am decreasing the calf stitches down to the ankle stitches over a series of decrease rounds.   Care to hear all the juicy details of how?  Read on my inquisitive friend, read on!

When last we met, I had cast on for my stocking, had work the first third of the leg, and was poised to shape the calf.

Shaping the Calf
In the middle third of the leg I need to decrease from 110 stitches (10 repeats of the Lace Cable stitch pattern) down to 66 stitches (6 repeats).  This decreasing needs to be done over the middle third of my stocking, giving me 13.5 / 3 == 4.5 inches to decrease 110 - 66 == 44 stitches.  Since I'm going to decrease 2 stitches per decrease round, I'll need 44 / 2 = 22 decrease rounds to get the job done.   With 4.5 inches to work with, this gives me 4.5 x 10 = 45 rounds to work the 22 decrease rounds.  45 / 22 = 2 (rounded), telling me I need to work the decrease round every 2 rounds. 

Next, I need to determine where to decrease the 2 stitches in each decrease round.  Typically this is done on either side of a "seam" stitch running down the center back of the leg.  My stitch pattern did not gracefully accommodate a seem stitch, so I'm using the 6 stitch cable portion of the first Lace Cable repeast to be my "seam" stitches.  I'll leave the 6 stitch cable intact and decrease one stitch on either side.

The result:

When the stocking leg measures 4.5 inches, shape the calf by decreasing 2 stitches every other round 22 times.  The first stitch is decreased in the 7th and 8th stitches of the round -- leaving the first 6 stitches for the cable intact -- and the second stitch is decrease in the last 2 stitches at the end of the round.  66 stitches are left when all decreasing is completed.  Continue on these 66 stitches until the stocking leg measures 13.5 inches. 

January 22, 2007 in Project - Elizabeth Z., Project - Socks | Permalink | Comments (7)

January 14, 2007

Design Time

Equal doses of cold weather and curiosity have ignited an acute desire to knit a pair of knee-highs -- or in the vernacular of the past, a pair of stockings.  How can you blame me after seeing these, and these, and these, and these?  Knitting a pair of stockings became inevitable.  My yarn is selected, gauge calculated and stitch pattern determined.  Time to design the pattern. 

Although Holly provides an excellent knee-high tutorial, I'm opting for Elizabeth Zimmerman's stocking heuristics outlined in Newsletter #18 published in The Opinionated Knitter, page 90.  In a nutshell, you cast on [calf circumference x gauge] stitches, which are decreased down to [ankle circumference x gauge] stitches.  The length of the leg is divided into thirds -- the first and last thirds are worked straight on the calf and ankle stitches respectively.  All the action occurs in the middle third, where the calf stitches are decreased down to the ankle stitches over a series of decrease rounds.   Typically, each decrease round decreases 2 stitches -- 1 on each side of a seam stitch centered down the back center of the leg.  Once at the ankle, proceed as you would any sock -- Knitter's Choice.

Okay, that's the theory.  Let's apply it to my yarn, gauge, and stitch pattern.

nona's To Fit Measurements

Knee to Ankle 13.5 inches
Heel to Toe 9.5 inches
Calf Circumference 13.5 inches
Ankle Circumference 8 inches
Foot Circumference 8 inches


St. St. 8 stitches and 10 rows == 1 inch in stockinette stitch.
Lace Cable 11 stitches (1 pattern repeat) == 1.33 inches.  Click here to see my Lace Cable swatch.  The Lace Cable has an 11 stitch repeat -- 5 stitches for the lace and 6 stitches for the cable.

The Top of the Leg

I want the top of my sock to measure 13.5 inches and the stitch count to be a multiple of 11 stitches to accommodate the 11 stitch repeat of the Lace Cable stitch pattern.  I know the width of one 11 stitch repeat is 1.33 inches.  13.5 inches / 1.33 inches = 10.15 repeats, rounded to 10 repeats.   10 repeats x 11 stitches per repeat = 110 total stitches.  To prevent a droopy sock, I'm going to work the ribbing on 90% of the total stitches.  110 x .90 = 99 sts.  The length of the leg top is 1/3 of the total length; 13.5 inches / 3 = 4.5 inches.  The result:

CO 99 stitches and join in the round being careful -- of course -- not to twist the stitches.  Work in [p2, k1tbl] ribbing for 3 inches.  Knit 1 round, increasing 11 stitches evenly distributed -- *k8, m1* 11 times, k11.  Switch to the Lace Cable stitch pattern and work until leg measure 4.5 inches.

Well, my friends, that's enough thinking for 1 day.  I'm going to cast on and start knitting my stocking.  We'll get to the calf shaping next time...

January 14, 2007 in Project - Elizabeth Z., Project - Socks | Permalink | Comments (16)

January 05, 2007

Finished Fair Isle

Do you ever over plan?  nona does.  In preparation for the fair isle yoke of my EZ sweater I knit a hat.  Experimenting with this design and that design, this color and that color, I planned out the entire yoke -- good to go.  With much anticipation, the sleeves were joined to the body, a bit of raglan shaping was completed, and a few yoke decreases were incorporated.  Finally time for the fair isle to start.  After adding the first small motif I tried the sweater on to make sure the armholes fit, etc, etc.  Much to my surprise the yoke was already high enough and the sweater almost complete.  What the heck!  I still had my nicely planned fair isle to work.  Oh well, next time.   

I finished this sweater a couple of weeks ago and have already worn it many times.  I love the yarn -- Rowan's Felted Tweed -- and the fit.  I'll definately make another sweater based on my modified version of EZ's percentage system.  Maybe next time I'll make the entire thing fair isle, maybe even improvisational -- no planning -- fair isle.

January 5, 2007 in Project - Elizabeth Z. | Permalink | Comments (23)

December 14, 2006

Hence the Hat

When in doubt knit a hat.  Advice quickly learned by the followers of Elizabeth Zimmermann's knitting philosophy.  Whether you need to check your gauge, fair-isle colors, or cable combinations EZ advocates for a hat over a swatch.  nona loves the swatch and has been known to knit rather large -- and I mean large -- swatches.  So, knitting a hat in lieu of a swatch was not much of a mental stretch.  As I quickly approached the yoke of my EZ inspired sweater, the question of fair-isle patterns and colors loomed on the horizon -- hence the hat.

Not only was I able to test my pattern ideas, but I ended up with a fun hat as a bonus.  I've said it before and will say it again, that EZ was one smart lady.

December 14, 2006 in Project - Elizabeth Z. | Permalink | Comments (21)

December 10, 2006

Telling Time

There will come a day when you return home to find your husband with a wad of toilet paper wrapped around his thumb embarrassingly wiping blood off the kitchen counter.  What's a girl to do?  Replace the T.P. with a Kotex pad, grab a knitting project, and hustle the man off to the ER.   A mere 3 crocheted squares and 11 stitches later-- squares for me, stitches for him -- we were good to go.

My knitting -- and crocheting -- have begun to replace time.  How long were we at the ER?  3 crochet squares.  A traffic jam?  10 rows.  A high school basketball game?  Half a sock -- or just a toe if it's really exciting.  A cross country plane flight?  Half a baby sweater.

Did someone say half a baby sweater?  nona just happens to be halfway through the EZ baby sweater from Knitter's Almanac -- pop over to Carrie for an example of this classic.  I'm working the yoke and garter edging in Koigu and the lace pattern in Rowan 4-ply.  Hold on honey, I'll be there in 5 more rows

December 10, 2006 in nona Life, Project - Elizabeth Z. | Permalink | Comments (13)

November 20, 2006

Turned Hem Revisited

Many, many thanks to Margaux and to Whitney for recommending a Provisional Cast On when working a turned hem.  Always in an experimental mood, I tried this technique for my sleeve hem.  Can I tell you, it was much, much, much -- did I say much -- easier than picking up the cast on stitches.  The live stitches created by the provisional cast on also ensured a straight hem alignment.

Is "Provisional Cast On" Greek to you?  In a nutshell, a provisional cast on creates two sets of live stitches, the first set ends up on your knitting needle and are worked first.  At some point -- in the near or far future -- the second set are taken and worked in the opposite direction.  There are two basic ways to work a provisional cast on -- check out the videos for The Invisible Provisional Cast On or The Crochet Provisional Cast On.

Now for the turned hem avec le provisional cast on.  Work the hem as described before up to the last step, then...

Fold the hem inward along the turning edge.  Take the live stitches from the provisional cast on and place them on a separate needle.

In this picture, the live stitches were held on scrap yarn -- the white yarn -- and have been transfered to a spare double pointed needles -- the back needle.  I can now removed the scrap yarn, it's done its job.

Knit two stitches together.  One stitch from the front needle -- a sleeve stitch -- and one stitch from the back needle -- a hem stitch.  Repeat across the needle, joining the hem to the sleeve.

This technique is similar to the 3 needle bind off without the bind off.

Once you're all the way around, the hem is completely turned and beautifully joined to the sleeve.  Easy as pie!

November 20, 2006 in Project - Elizabeth Z., Tips and Techniques | Permalink | Comments (13)

November 14, 2006

Knitter's Choice

One of my favorite Elizabeth Zimmermann expressions is "Knitter's Choice".  Sprinkled generously throughout her intentionally vague instructions, this command encourages us to use our noggins and to think for ourselves.  In sharp contrast, today's beautifully designed patterns are often written in such explicit detail that they scream "Not A Choice" -- a fine expression to deliver to your children with a firm yet friendly smile, but not one to stimulate creativity.

I've also found "Knitter's Choice" to be helpful in other aspects of my life.  Cook dinner or order pizza?  Knitter's Choice.  Lights on or off during the family movie?  Knitter's Choice.  Am I too sick to work?  Knitter's Choice.  That EZ was one smart woman!

November 14, 2006 in Project - Elizabeth Z. | Permalink | Comments (12)

November 13, 2006

EZ Obsession

Excuse me, patient reader, but nona's momentarily obsessed with Elizabeth Zimmermann.  I like to think of EZ as the first knit blogger -- opting for paper in lieu of a computer.  To quote the woman herself,

I fondly hope it to be of general interest and exemplary of the fact that if you really have something to say about which you feel strongly, some of the people will listen some of the time.

But what does one do when obsessed with EZ?  Besides pouring over her books, I've embarked on my own version of a circular yoke sweater based on Elizabeth's EPS system.  Being opinionated in my own right, I've tweaked the EPS system to make a more fitted version with a modernized neck -- well that's the theory anyway. 

The body of the sweater -- knit in the round -- allows for lots and lots of mindless knitting.  What a perfect opportunity to stew about the yoke's Fair Isle patterning and to listen to an audible book.  To this nona asks, "Is is cheating to listen to your bookclub's book instead of reading it?"  To help create the illusion of a waist on my square frame I've added waist shaping using paired darts front and back.

A hem -- knit on the inside with a contrasting color -- forms the edging for my sweater.  Although EZ instructs us to add the hem after the sweater is completed, I've opted for "Knitter's Choice" and have knit it with the body.  Continue reading if you want to know how I knit the hem...

Knitting a Hemmed Edge in the Round

  • Using circular needles 2 sizes smaller and the main color cast on the number of stitches required for the body of your sweater. 
  • Knit 1 round. 
  • Knit for another 1 - 1.5 inches, changing to a contrasting color if desired. 
  • Knit 1 round, switching to larger needles and the main color.
  • Purl 1 round to create the hem's turning edge.  If you're feeling sassy and would like a picot turning edge instead -- k1, *[yo, k2tog] repeat from * to last stitch, k1
  • Continue knitting until the body is the same length as the hem
  • Fold the hem inward along the turning edge and knit one cast on loop together with each stitch.  If this is agonizing for you, forget it and sew the hem to the inside of your sweater when you're finished.

November 13, 2006 in Project - Elizabeth Z. | Permalink | Comments (14)

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