January 17, 2013

Learning and Planning

I've two hand knit sweaters that saw much use over the last week or so. Both are raglan sleeve, top down construction in a chunky to bulky+ weight yarn. One is a hooded pullover, the other is a cardigan.  Because of the yarn (actual) weight both were very saggy around the shoulders, and not snugging up against the back of my neck. I was actually considering frogging and re-knitting the cardigan at a tighter gauge. Instead, I decided to add a row of crochet chain stitch around the shoulders and back neck of each sweater. It didn't take very long at all, and the sweaters fit much better now, and the hood on the pullover fits better. I learned something too. Next time I'm knitting a top down raglan, I'll use a very firm cast on for the neck edge, and figure out a way to reinforce the increases as I continue to shape the neck.  Depending on the yarn, I'll probably work with a smaller needle size to get tighter gauge. If I'm working the other direction, bottom to top, well, bind-offs tend to be tighter anyway. But, when I knit the hooded pullover, I intentionally made a neck seam to give that area more support, and it still ended up needing reinforcement.

On to planning. Pretending to be a wise knitter, I swatched different stitch patterns with the yarn from the frogged Pinwheel sweater. I craving cables, but doubt that cables and the hand dyed color of the yarn are a good match. There are plenty of other types of stitch texture to explore, and so I started. I even included a cable section, just in case I was wrong about the cables. I wasn't.

From left to right, starting on US 10 1/2 needles; stockinette, double moss, seed, purl ridge and switch to US 10 needles, seed, brioche, linen, stockinette, an absolutely hideous attempt at some crossed stitches (very bad instructions in the book I was using), ugly cabled section where I played with traveling cables and other things, risotto, woven basket (what I was trying to do further down, different stitch book) and blanket rib. The stitch count remained the same throughout the sample, except for the linen stitch where I needed to decrease by one stitch to get a odd number. I think its interesting to see the variation in width.

Here are some closeups of the parts I like;
The double moss, seed, brioche and linen bits. The double moss and seed look very close in gauge to the stockinette. The linen looks woven and is somewhat stretchy. The brioche is thick and cushy with deep ribs, and is very stretchy.
See how deep the brioche stitch is? I can also see the stitch mistake in the linen stitch.
From left to right; blanket rib, woven basket, risotto. The blanket rib is thick and stretchy. The woven basket is not stretchy at all, and is maybe only 2/3 the width of the stockinette at the beginning of the swatch. I think the colors of the yarn look very nice in this stitch. The risotto stitch is much stretchier than the woven basket, and its a reversible stitch, it makes a thick, cushy texture.

About halfway through the sample I was ready stop and toss it all in the dye pot, and I very nearly did.  Sticking with it payed off, I really like the last three stitches. If I'd given in to the call of the dye pot, I might never know how fun these stitches are.

Now its back to swatching, making larger samples of the stitch patterns in the last two pictures. I want to use at least some of them together, and need to find out if they play nice together. I'm sure at least a few of them will.

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