Another day, another swatch

Left diagonal rib

This one is called left diagonal rib in Merino Magic 8-ply, shade 581, 4.5mm needles, 30 stitches cast on. It has more potential than yesterday’s swatch, but still isn’t quite right.

Left diagonal rib
Left diagonal rib.

In between knitting swatches and working on the sleeves of the blue jumper, there is much housecleaning and gardening activity. The owners have now listed the house for rent, so I’m chipping away at the end-of-lease cleaning in case we have to show it. Today is cold and rainy so I’m working indoors; fun stuff like washing windows and baseboards and cabinets.

I have an idea for a colourwork swatch and I had a go at starting it, but clearly I don’t know what I’m doing so I have to do some research.

Swatching for the next one

Rhombus texture

I’ve come up with a list of potential yoke stitches for the new jumper:

In my spare time, i.e., when I’m overly bored of finishing the sleeves on the current jumper, I am going to work up swatches of the patterns I’m considering. I have lots of lovely colours to use, since I came to my senses and knit a solid colour. I expect the final list of swatches will be much different from this initial list.

Here is swatch #1, the rhombus texture in Merino Magic 8-ply, shade 218, 5mm needles, 30 stitches cast on.

Rhombus texture
Rhombus texture.

The motif is a lot larger than I expected from the picture with the instructions. I should have predicted this, because the repeat was twelve rows and I know about how big twelve rows is in this yarn. D’oh! I need to consider this when choosing other swatches to evaluate. Anyway, all in all, I don’t think this one does much for me for the new jumper.

The other thing I was evaluating here was the use of garter stitch instead of ribbing for the edges. Two ridges is probably not enough to prevent curling.

I am happy to say that I really liked the Zing IC needles when I used them for this swatch. When they first arrived, eagerly anticipated, they were a bit of a disappointment. Made worse because they took forever to get here from the UK (because the only thing Australian about is the domain name and the customers who mistakenly think they are supporting a local business).

The jumper, day 18

In which the knitter works out

I worked out I could fix a split stitch a few rows back by dropping it down to the problem and laddering it back up. Captain Obvious, I know.

Also I worked out tensioning with magic loop, or whatever you call what I’m doing with the sleeves. (It isn’t magic loop like in the movies.) When you make the turn, you tend to want to pull tight to avoid the laddery gap. But pulling resizes the stitch to the cable. So you need to either pull up the stitch and leave a little ladder to compensate or pull up the ladder and leave the stitch loose (is this even possible?). The first few inches I kept having areas where the stitches were so tight it was hard to get them back on the needle when they came around again. But now I have it sorted.

Elaine usually wears the jumper at night. We turn off the heater in the lounge room and she gets cold, poor dear.

The sleeves are 33% done
The sleeves are 33% done.

I made a spreadsheet to keep track of progress on the sleeves, as you do. Also used as a motivational tool. Because boring.

The sleeve working system
The sleeve working system.

I worked out (again?) that it was somewhat easier to work on the sleeves while Elaine is wearing the jumper. The yarn doesn’t get so tangled and I remember to twist the sleeve back and forth rather than round and round.

Don’t laugh, but in the photo I edited out the larger dust bunnies on the carpet. I know, who does that?

The jumper, day 17

In which a new project is contemplated

The sleeves go on and on. They are slow and fiddly. My gauge has changed and I just found a mistake (accidental increase) further back than I’m willing to rip out. I learned from earlier experience that dropping the stitch back to fix this issue will be too noticeable. No one will notice this but me.

Well, I know you would, but I think I would have to give you a hint where to look unless you had plenty of time with nothing better to do.

So, today I found myself planning the next jumper. I haven’t learned all the lessons from this one yet, of course, but I want to try a different style.

Here are the considerations:

  • I’m not afraid of sewing a jumper together
  • I hate working small circumferences in the round
  • Stockinette in the round is ace because, otherwise, purls

This led to consideration of a dropped sleeve jumper, because:

  • I could knit the body in the round, no purls
  • I could do something a bit fancy on the yoke to jazz it up
  • The small circumferences would be knit flat, because purls win over circular here

Here’s a calculator for the drop sleeve sweater. I used the raglan sweater calculator on the current project.

I have some concerns about gauge with this plan, but then my gauge changed on the sleeves this time anyway. With three distinct bits, the differences should be less noticeable.

I think it’s a plan.

The jumper, day 16

In which the knitter is disgusted

The giant holes in the underarms are disgusting, even though I knew they were coming and kind of know how to fix them. Surely that area will always be weak.

Knitter, model, juggler
Knitter, model, juggler.

Knitting sleeves in the round is disgusting.

The jumper is disgusting.


I found a dropped stitch and fixed it, easy peasy. That was not disgusting.

VeryPink Knits to the rescue under the arms, using duplicate stitches to fix the holes. My holes were a bit more pronounced, shall we say, than the ones depicted in the video, but the technique still worked. The underarms are less disgusting.

Knitting sleeves in the round is still disgusting.

The jumper isn’t that disgusting.

The jumper, day 15

In which stitches are picked up

Another ball gone. I joined in #6.

There was another trying on and I think I am done with the body except for the ribbing. I was a bit surprised because it doesn’t look very long at the underarms.

A quick bit of practice picking up stitches. The first time I did this on the test collar, I worked from the private side and it left little yellow dots. This confirms that you work from the public side. The crochet hook is easy and it connects to the IC cords, but it does tend to untwist the yarn a bit, as you can see here.

Picking up stitches
Picking up stitches.

Whilst trying on, I got new measurements and recalculated. The sleeve length is shorter because of raglans. I knew this would be the case but not how much.

  • sleeve = 88 stitches (78 on cord + 10 cast on) ~ 18 inches
  • at cuff ~ 10 inches = 50 stitches
  • 88 – 50 = 38 stitches to lose = 19 decreases
  • sleeve length ~ 12 inches * 6 rows/inch = 72 rows / 19 decreases = 3.8 rows/decrease

I started each sleeve separately, so I have three balls of yarn on the go. The plan is to work back and forth between the sleeves so they match.

The jumper, day 14

In which there are mathematical computations

The trying on was excellent. I think it will fit. As in, fit me.

Later I decided it might be time to start the sleeves. I don’t think I will do two at a time using magic loop. I already have them on IC cords, so I can just swap the needles back and forth. Ten rows on one, ten rows on the other. The whole reason for this is being afraid they won’t come out the same if I don’t do them at the same time.

I don’t have real measurements yet, but I can estimate for some sweater math.

  • sleeve = 88 stitches (78 on cord + 10 cast on) ~ 18 inches
  • at cuff ~ 10 inches = 50 stitches
  • 88 – 50 = 38 stitches to lose = 19 decreases
  • sleeve length ~ 14 inches * 6 rows/inch = 84 rows / 19 decreases = 4.5 rows/decrease

This means a decrease of two stitches every four rows—right in line with the designer’s calculations.

I’ll confirm with real measurements before I get started with the sleeves.

The jumper, days 12 and 13

In which progress is measured in centimetres

I ended up with much more work on than I anticipated, but there was a fair bit of knitting too. I also wove in the ends from the first three balls, but I’m not far enough past the join for the fourth set of ends.

I noticed one or two spots on the back in the raglans that are weird, like an extra ladder, but I don’t really see them on the front. I’m not sure exactly what happened. An experienced knitter would know what they are and see them on the front. Someday I’ll be that person but right now I just want to finish the jumper.

I’m due for another try on.

Old and new toys

Joy and Roberta have gone to visit Jane

Last month we returned to Victoria to “try on” some country towns. We also took back some stuff we don’t need before the move. We came to Hobart in one carload, but it was pretty cramped and we have accumulated a few things. So we figured we may as well take advantage of the fact we were driving right by the storage facility.

So Joy and Roberta, the spinners, joined Jane, the loom, in storage.

I’ve had Joy for three years or so. I’ve long thought we would break up and I would get a sexier wheel but I never worked out who that would be. I actually like her more as time passes, so I suspect I’ll end up keeping her. She’s a little workhorse.

Recently I got Roberta and she’s definitely a keeper. Lots of people don’t like how hard she pulls, as bobbin-led wheels do, but I just don’t let her win that contest. She’s super, super fast and that’s mostly what I want for spinning. I don’t dislike spinning, but mostly I want the yarn now so I can get on with the weaving and knitting.

I’m a lot more interested in spinning now that I learned how to knit for real. I don’t need/want any more scarves and I mostly weave with cotton and linen anyway. I’d like to spin cotton to see what it is like but I don’t see it becoming a thing. I crochet with acrylic for the outrageous colours. But knitting, now that’s for homespun wool!

New, very-very-very-small, toys arrived today for spinning and knitting. Who buys things right before moving? They are pictured here with some hand-dyed, hand-spun, hand-knit clown barf.

The clown barf is all wonky from me trying at times to fatten up and/or spin thick and thin and generally give Roberta a good workout to see what she could do. I knit it on the trip, to have something to knit—I wasn’t going to start the jumper without full time Internet support—and to see how the singles off Roberta worked up. It isn’t anything, at least not in this incarnation. I can frog it if I decide I need a thing in these colours.

Here’s a hand-dyed, hand-spun, hand-woven scarf that is not quite so clown barfy.

Not clown barf
Not clown barf. 

These colours (better IRL) are much more to my taste and I’m looking forward to learning to get them with natural dyes.

The jumper, day 11

In which progress is largely unseen

I knit almost a full ball of yarn with no appreciable progress. The rounds go much more quickly with fewer stitches and no increases. But it sure doesn’t seem like anything much is happening.

Visible (to me) progress on the blog though. I successfully made a child theme, which enables me to update the parent theme at any time without losing my customisations. I think I am done with all the tweaking now. I only have one more idea, she says, laughing hysterically. There’s always one more idea…

Elaine wears it better
Elaine wears it better.

I had my first trying on since the separation. I think the shoulders and body fit well. I’m not planning to do any shaping on the body, but I may have to shape the heck out of the sleeves. Maybe I should have stopped the increases for them a few rounds sooner? I didn’t take into account the extra stitches under the arm when I calculated the circumference. You can’t really tell in the picture, but they look big.

I have some data analysis work on for tomorrow, but I’m sure there will be knitting too.