Friday, May 14, 2010

a little knitting

We haven't had any knitting content around here for awhile, hmmm?

Let's see, what do I have? Oh yes. First of all, the extremely boring socks I've been working on for Hubs...seemingly forever. These were obviously a labor of love!

Really, really boring and gigantic socks. I should have thrown something into that photo for scale. These babies are ginormous. I bought the yarn (Patons Kroy...I believe the color is called Linen, but I always call it "putty" because that is what it reminds me of) way back in, I don't know, maybe January or February of 2009. I intended these for Hubs' birthday in July of last year, but just wasn't able to get them done with all that was going on.

Well, now they are finished, and will be wrapped up for this coming birthday, even though he knows about them (and tried on the first one for me so I knew the size would be right).

Next up, something I started last weekend and could not put down...this was like knitting crack, people!

An Elizabeth Zimmermann "EPS" sweater for Daughter. Knitters, if you haven't made one of these, you really should. It is so satisfying! You just start out with whatever needles/yarn/gauge you want and magically come up with a sweater that fits!

For this sweater I used some pretty purple heather-y Wool Ease that I got for my birthday. I like to knit most worsted weight yarns on a US size 7 needle at 5 stitches/inch. The problem is, most patterns I've come across want you to knit worsted weight at a gauge of more like 4.25 or even 4 stitches to the inch on US 8 or 9 needles. Sorry, but I disagree with that! First, I can never actually get that gauge anyway, and second, it makes a loosely knit fabric that will tend to pill with wear.

I primarily used Knitting Without Tears as my reference for this sweater, though there wasn't much to look up. The basic idea is this: you come up with a "main number" based on measurement and gauge (for me this was 150: I wanted a 30" circumference at 5 st/in), then you base all other numbers on that. I wanted the bottom to be slightly narrower than the body, so I cast on 10% fewer stitches to start (135), knit the seed stitch on a smaller needle (US 6), then increased to 150 on the first knit round using my size 7 needle.

She recommends starting the sleeves of a child's sweater at 1/3 of the body number (1/5 for adults), but I didn't want a boxy sleeve for Daughter. She is very slim and has long slender limbs, so I went with about 1/4 (38 st) to start the sleeve, then increased to 50 (1/3 of the total body stitches) at a rate of 2 stitches increased every 6 rows. You can see the increases pretty clearly on the sleeve in the photo above.

Is this making any sense?

Once I got to the 50 stitches, I knit plain for several inches...I think the sleeve underarm ended up at 14", which is a bit long for Daughter right now, but summer is beginning and I intended this sweater to be for next fall and winter. It is oversize right now but should fit nicely for at least one and perhaps two winters.

I knit up the body in the round to the armholes (11"), then joined the whole mess, leaving 12 stitches free of both sleeve and underarm, to be woven together at the end. I got that number by using 8% of my "main number" of 150. How cool is that? It all works out so neatly.

Anyway, once I got it all joined and knit a few rounds plain just to make things look nice and tidy, I began raglan decreases, and as EZ says, you find yourself going along like a house on fire...the rounds just keep getting smaller till suddenly you're shaping the neck, knitting the collar, and voila! You're just about done! A quick kitchener stitch of the underarm and that's it. AWESOME.

I'm not thrilled with the collar, as I forgot to switch to a size 6 needle like I used for the seed stitch ribbing and cuffs. It's a bit loose, so for the next time I'll certainly remember to do it right. But Daughter loves it and I'm too lazy to rip it out, so I'm satisfied enough to leave it alone.

So addictive, I started another immediately, for number one son:

Sleeve halfway done while listening to the rain pour down last night with the window was so nice! I love opening the windows! (I do find it odd that I'm still comfortable curled up under blankets, knitting, in the middle of should really be in the 70s by now...)

This method, at its most basic, does not produce a particularly elegant garment. But modified with a little shaping or some pretty stitch patterns, it could! I'm envisioning stripes using up leftovers right now...and some stitch patterns in the fun! Anyway, it works out fantastically right now for simple, hard-wearing sweaters for my kids to use and abuse as they run around both inside and out. I want them to be warm and comfortable and wrapped in handmade goodness. These EZ sweaters fit the bill.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Whoa, that was total Greek to me. But the pictures! Love them all!

I keep meaning to send you pics of Annie in her longies. I ADORE THEM and she wears them constantly.