Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hippie Blue

 Hippie Blue is finished and ready for delivery this coming Saturday.  It is gorgeous, if I do say so myself and I am very pleased with it.

Pattern:  A Cabin Fever compilation.  I used three CF books.  Button Up Your Top Down

Needles:  4mm circular.  I was supposed to use a slightly smaller size for the neck ribbing.  When the sweater was complete, that ribbing seemed quite loosey goosey.  I think I used the 4mm on it too.  A bit of black elastic thread and all was well.

Yarn:  Cabin Fever Cotton Tweed.  Walnut brown for the body, Denim Blue for the trim.  An excellent choice for a new Mom who will most likely often have 'spit up' on the sweater  and who demanded  most emphatically that the sweater not be 'itchy'. Cotton Tweed can be thrown in with the regular wash and also into the dryer and still look good for years to come. 

There are many.  Starting at the top on this top down raglan, I'll explain them all.

Cast On and Neck Line:  The cast on number came from Button Up Your Top Down.   I like the way top downs from this book begin.  Most top down raglans begin with fewer than required stitches. Then, as one knits back and forth raising the back neck and increasing at the raglan lines,stitches are added one at a time to the centre front. This works, but I find those stitches added at centre front every right-side row are often sloppy.

The technique used in BUYTDown, approaches the neck shaping from the other way around.  All required stitches are cast on. Then,  while working back and forth raising the back neck and increasing at each raglan line, a decrease is worked at centre front. The edge-line decreases -at least when they come off my needles - are much neater than my edge-line increases sometimes are.
Once done, the back neck is higher than the front, allowing space for your chin (or chins as the case may be)  and the centre front line is neat and tidy.

Armhole Depth and Underarms: Moving down the sweater, I took my next set of numbers from the Need A Circular Yoke ? book. This is a more recent  publication and because of that (at least I think because of that) the armholes are shorter, providing a more fitted fit. A look I feel is more current and suitable for a young woman.

Before reaching the underarm and separating body from sleeves,  I added in a couple of short rows across the back. Maybe an old lady thing , thinking of a dowager's hump, but I put them in nonetheless. 

At the underarm, on both body and sleeve, I added stitches. These added stitches keep the underarm from binding - especially when the armholes are not overly deep. The number of stitches to add was taken  from the NaCYoke? book and double checked against Elizabeth Zimmermann's rule of 8% of body stitches. 

Bust Shaping:  I have knit a few sweaters now with bust darts.  The Need a Plus Size Cardigan? book was where I first learned of the advantage of bust darts.  For my niece's sweater,  through the use of bust darts, I wanted  the front of the sweater two inches wider than the back.  After knitting the neck ribbing, I switched to stockinet,  increasing  along the raglan lines until I was two inches shy of desired circumference.  I separated the sleeves from the body as mentioned above.  Then, knowing that my gauge was 5point5 sts per inch, I decided to put 6 extra stitches at each front side.  I placed a marker and made the increases at those markers on both the left and right sides.  Doing this on the right sides only meant it took 12 rows to achieve these 6 increases.

Waist Shaping: Knitting south towards the waist, I added some shaping. My niece is a new Mom and from the front it might be argued that no shaping is required. But at one of Deb Gemmell's recent seminars  I learned that while our front waists might disappear through child birth or age, the back waist often remains. For the knitter,  this means that while  shaping might not be needed  at the front, shaping should still be done at the back. 

Some designers have  knitters shape at the side seamlines. NACYoke? has the waist shaping done on either side of the 8% stitches that were added under the arms. While these separated decrease lines are  improved styling, I  think,  I nonetheless took it one step further. One quarter of the way into the back from each side,  I placed a marker and did all decreases at the markers. This created a  vertical dart that while  on this dark brown sweater is  too dark to be seen on camera, trust me in knowing that those lines are very slimming.

Hip Increases:  Once at the waist, the decreases became increases. Most were done along the same vertical dart lines as the above-waist decreases. But, because I wanted to give my niece some extra hip room in the sweater, there had to be lots of increases  -  more  than could be accommodated  on those two vertical lines alone. 

So,  while on most right side rows, there were only two increases - at those two vertical lines - on other increase rows, there were 4 increases and on still others,   6 increases. Two at the back dart lines, two more at the back underarm markers and still two more at the front underarm markers. Six increases in total on occasional rows. This allowed the hip area  to grow quickly enough to be at the required measurement  before time to do the ribbing.

Ribbing:  Speaking of ribbing,  I realized my work to provide room for the hips would be  for naught if I knit regular 2x2 ribbing. Ribbing pulls in. That would definitely work against the roomy hip style I had worked for my niece.

Instead I worked  garter ribbing. K2,  P2 on the front. Purl across the row on the wrong side.  It was a good match for the button bands. Taken from the BUYTDown book, the button bands  are knit at the same time as the sweater. Although they look like  regular ribbing, they are in fact a type of garter ribbing.
Sleeves:  Sleeves were quite normally knit.  I did them on a circular needle using the 'loop' method when the circumference became too small for the cable. They too were finished off with the garter ribbing, which when done in the round is K2, P2 on Round 1, then Knit all stitches on Round 2. Easy.

My Opinion:  The sweater fits beautifully. I do not mean that it fits me, but in trying it on, I can see that the extra  tailoring features I  incorporated  give it a custom look.  It is not an 'off the rack' sweater for sure.  I gave the tailoring of this sweater much thought and if it fits my niece it will be a great coup for knitters everywhere.  

My one last step before giving the sweater to my niece is to approximate  the number of stitches in the garment. I know the number of stitches per inch, I know the number of rows per inch and I know the sweater dimensions. With those numbers, I should be able to approximate the total number of stitches in the sweater.  (Grade three math - if there are two apples in each basket, how many apples are there in all ten baskets?)
Then, as yarnharlot once advised knitters to do,  in the accompanying card, I  will write - "All xxx number of stitches in this sweater were knit with loving thoughts of you". 


Sel and Poivre said...

I'm confused whether this is a post on a finished project or the list of titles every sweater MUST have in their library!

A very satisfying read and one I'll likely revisit as a reference in future (until my knitting library improves!)

Deb @ cabinfever said...

What a fantastic overview of all the adjustments that can be made to make a sweater fit. A terrific job. I'm so glad to see it all come together in your sweater.