Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Agatha

The Agatha was my second sweater and my first Andi Satterland pattern. Her patterns were a major factor for me in deciding to take up knitting. I used to watch from the sidelines as lovely sweaters were being made while resigning myself to a future of lame ready to wear. Now I can join in the cropped cardi and floaty dress combo whenever I want. I'm so easily pleased!

Anywhere here are some photos. It was super hot today so the cardigan was off as soon as the photos were taken.  






















The details:

Pattern: Agatha by Andi Satterland.

Yarn: Cascade 220, sunflower (2415 colourway).

Needles: 4.5 mm for the body, 4 mm for the cuffs and button bands.

Cast on: 5 April 2014.

Finished: 31 May 2014.

I love the construction of this sweater. After knitting seamless sweaters I am not sure I would want to knit flat and seam (or why anyone would).

I wouldn't say the sweater was hard but you do need to keep your wits about you. I had read that people had to rip back because they lost track of their rows on the lace panels. My method of knitting from a pattern so far has been to cut and paste the text from the PDF pattern into a Word document and then to write out all the rows. So for example if the pattern says, repeat the previous 2 rows 8 times, I would write them out that number of times (sometimes with increases or whatever). This takes extra time but I don't mind because it means as soon as I complete a row I write “done” next to it on my document. For the Agatha this meant writing out all the lace panel rows I needed in a particular row into each row on my Word document. There was no flipping back and forth to separate charts for me. I wanted everything I needed for the row in one place. I wasn't about to rely on a post-it note to keep my place in the charts, particularly since there were 7 lace charts to follow when knitting the joined body.

I was surprised the pattern didn't call for stitch markers at each lace panel. I had stitch markers around all my lace panels. I just use scraps of yarn tied into small circles for my place markers. I can't stand trying to knit with those plastic stitch markers.

The Agatha is mainly straightforward between the lace panels, with relatively mindless ribbing and the odd increase / decrease here and there. When I reached the stitch markers I would pay more attention to following the lace pattern. I would also regularly count the stitches between my lace panel markers. Sometimes the counts were off, usually because I was missing a yarn over. This is easy to add in when I next come to it by just lifting the yarn between the stitches. I soon learned to “read” the lace stitches which was really helpful when trying to see where I had gone wrong in dropping a stitch. For example the ssk's and k2 and k3 tog's are easy to recognise. It's important to learn how to do this as you cannot keep undoing your work every time you miss a stitch. You at least have to try and work it out and rip out only if all else fails and you can't bear to continue knowing there's an error there. As I said, with me it was mostly leaving off the yarnovers so no major problems fixing.

The lovely thing about knitting a popular pattern is reading the notes of those who have made the pattern. Here are some of the tips I used.

From Johanna at Making It Well. I followed her link for a stretchy sewn bind off. She linked to this video. I also found this 2007 blog tutorial which seems to be the same. I now use this bind off all the time. I follow the blog tutorial now rather than watching the video.

From Gail at Today's Agenda there are lots of useful tips on her Miette knit along posts. I used her tips for the button bands. Firstly I knit them with a smaller needle. I also twisted the first row of stitches after the pick up row (ie by knitting and purling the picked up stitches through the back loop). Lastly I picked up at the rate of 2 stitches for every 3 without worrying about how many the pattern said. Funnily enough I ended up with the same amount as required by the pattern.

I followed Lladybird's lead and re-inforced both button bands. When I did my Agatha Lladybird had not yet written up her tutorial for doing this so I kind of winged it. I couldn't find any suitable ribbon so I used sew in interfacing the size of my button bands, less about an eight of an inch all the way around so it wouldn't peek onto the right side. (You can also use iron-on interfacing). I then used a lining fabric in my stash and cut it 1 cm bigger than my interfacing strip all around. I then ironed over the 1 cm hem on all sides and then stitched the strip to the button side of my button band with tiny stitches. With my button hole side I pinned the interfacing strip to my button band and then marked where I needed to sew the buttonholes. I then machined button holes on the interfaced strip. If there is one tip I can give here, it is to make the machine buttonhole slightly bigger that the buttonhole on your cardigan. This is because when I came to attaching the strip to my cardigan and matching up, it wasn't completely accurate on some and I had to cut into the bar tack of the button hole to enable my button to fit in. I also started to hand stitch my machined buttonholes to my cardigan buttonholes but this didn't work out so I left them loose. I noticed that Lladybird's tutorial also leaves them loose.

One thing I changed in the pattern was the buttonholes. The pattern calls for eyelet buttonholes. I was concerned they wouldn't be very strong. After a lot of reading up and watching tutorials I settled on using the one-row horizontal buttonhole using this tutorial on how to do a variety of buttonholes. I also followed this You Tube tutorial which has a good tip for using the purl cable cast on instead of the knit cable cast on for this type of buttonhole.

Gail from Today's Agenda also linked to this brilliant buttonhole calculator which I used to calculate the spacing in my buttonholes.

I made the button band wider. I did about 9 rows instead of 5. I also did 9 buttons instead of 7.

I did the medium size which has an inch of positive ease in the bust. The cardigan is slightly more slouchy than intended but I'm not too worried about that. I will embrace the Andi Satterland negative ease a bit more in a future project. Inexplicably the pattern came out longer than the schemeatic even though my gauge was correct and I followed the pattern.

If I were to make the pattern again with negative ease I would have to make the body smaller and use the same size sleeves / armholes. The sleeves and armholes are nice and snug on the medium so would be too small if I were to knit the small. I will have to learn to modify patterns at some point.

I think that is about all I can say. There is the odd error here and there in the pattern. Some of them are noted in the Ravelry comments on the pattern. Also look at the forum posts on the pattern on Ravelry (a couple of which were started by me when I became stuck on the sleeves, which turned out to be an error in the pattern).

Andi is brilliant in replying to comments. I messaged her a few times on Ravelry. Mostly she replied instantly and I never had to wait more than a day for a reply.

I'm wearing the Agatha with my Rooibos dress which goes really well with it.  It's funny that I'm having to think really carefully about future hand sewn clothes to ensure they will also go with my hand knits.  I don't have a lot to wear with my Agatha at the moment.  I haven't worn leggings for ages but I've discovered the Agatha looks good with leggings and a floaty ready to wear tunic that I have. 

I have just finished the Myrna. It is blocking at the moment and I want to re-inforce the button bands again so it may be another couple of weeks until that is finished.

Still no sewing. I tried to join in the Untangling Knots Outfit Along but I had terrible problems with my muslins. I tried the Anna dress and the Ava dress and for both the bodices came out too short. I have therefore left sewing for a bit and will remember to measure before I cut a muslin in future! The Outfit Along has turned into the Myrna Along for me but never mind.


Happy sewing and knitting.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

January Cropped Sweater

After finishing my first knitting project following a pattern surely my goal of hand knitted sweater and cardi goodness was a step nearer? I'm pleased to say that it was. I have now even conquered the giddy heights of an Andi Satterland pattern but for now I give you my first hand knitted sweater. Here are the pictures taken today.
























I used the January Cropped Sweater pattern from Tara Miller. It's a free pattern and I made the medium. I used the recommended yarn, King Cole Magnum lightweight chunky, 75% acrylic, 25% wool.

I learned so much making this sweater. The pattern unfortunately had loads of errors (with stitch counts being wrong and the like) so I had to re-write the numbers on most of it.

The pattern recommends 8 mm needles for the neckline and body. I used 6.5 mm needles for the neckline (as well as for all the ribbing as the pattern recommends). It's a top down sweater so you start with the neckline. My rookie errors are laughable now. I tried to cast on and knit the neckline on a 21 inch circular needle. Not surprisingly I didn't get very far. After a lot of swearing and frustration I posted a question on Ravelry. The only solution I could think of was buying double pointed needles.

I got a few responses from Ravelry members, such as knitting the neckline flat and seaming it later. A few posts in one lady nonchalantly suggested I look at the travelling loop or magic loop methods. Magic what? Well that lovely lady saved my sanity. A couple of You Tube videos later my project was saved! I am also a magic loop convert and have used the method over double pointed needles for sleeves ever since.

This sweater knitted up really fast, despite all the errors in the pattern and thinking time that went with it. I cast on on 8 March 2014 and it was finished and blocked by 29 March 2014.

I love the sweater and despite the problems with the pattern I think it was a good pattern for a beginner. The bias detail on the sleeves made the project interesting. The bind off for the body recommended Jenny's surprisingly stretch bind off. I love the method. As the name suggests, it really is stretchy, perfect for a sweater. I liked it so much that I used it for the sleeves. I don't think it was a great idea for the sleeves. My wrists are small, the sleeves are a tad big, so I didn't really need a stretchy bind off. It has added an interesting fluted detail to the sleeves. If I were to make the sweater again I would make the arms narrower and use a normal bind off.

My knitting addiction continues. I have just finished a cardigan and I am currently knitting the Myrna from Andi Satterland. The only downside is that my sewing is suffering. I can only sew at the weekends and it has been hard tearing myself away from the knitting.

I hope I can get photos of my second sweater soon.

See you soon.








Saturday, 22 March 2014

Broad Street Mittens

Long breaks between blogs is getting to be the norm around here. I'm still living in London during the week and back in Norfolk at the weekends. This means that I can't sew during the week.

Instead of buying patterns during the week and dreaming up what to sew (which I was doing a lot of) I decided to use my time more productively. I finally got around to learning to knit properly. By that I mean I no longer look at written pattern and say:

  1. “What the ….??” after the first few rows of ribbing;
  2. “Why does knitting have to be so damn complicated”.
  3. “Why can't they write the patterns in plain English rather than in stupid codes”
With a lot of help from the internet, my knitting book and Ravelry I now understand the “codes”. Sorry for calling your codes stupid knitting designers. I now know that they're not at all stupid. Once you have taken the time to understand them they are stupidly simple!

My first project reading a pattern was the Broad Street mittens by Janis Cortese. This is a free pattern from Knitty.com and also appears on Ravelry. (I tell a lie – my first knitting project reading a pattern was at aged 11 when clever me somehow managed to knit dolls with hair and everything).

There are a few errors in the pattern and I had a lot of help reading this forum post and this Ravelry finished project post.

I also watched on You Tube, in full, a series of videos about knitting gloves in the round. Although the pattern I used was slightly different, I learned from the video how to knit in the round and how to knit the fingers. I also learned how to pick up the stitches when knitting the fingers, including adding one stitch to join with the next stitch when knitting in the round. One great thing about knitting stocking stitch in the round is that it eliminates the need for purl rows as you are always facing a knit row.

In hindsight it was a challenging pattern to start off with. I would say that if you can get past this pattern you are totally ready to knit a sweater. It's not a great leap to turn a glove upside down and understand how a top-down sweater is knitted. The wrist of the glove is similar to the neck and the thumb of the glove is similar to how a sleeve is knitted. Knitting a sweater is exactly what I'm working on now. I'm nearing the end of the second sleeve and I can't wait to show you.

Anyway here are some pictures of my gloves:














Here are the details.

Wool

2 x 50g balls of Patons Madella, 83% acrylic, 17% wool. (From my stash)

Changes to the pattern / Clarification of pattern instructions / Corrections to the pattern

Swatch / Needle size

I did a swatch with the recommended needle size but the fabric produced came out way to big (it's supposed to be 28 stitches to 4 inches in stocking stitch. I reduced my needles to a 2.75 mm needles, made another swatch and this came out fine.

The pattern didn't tell you to use a smaller needle for the cuff and the ribbing on the mitten cap. On the second glove I used a smaller needle for these sections. I preferred the look of the tighter cuff and ribbing on the second glove.

Thumb Increases

The thumb increase on the Broadstreet mitten is unusual in that the increases only happen on one side of the thumb. This means there is no “increase line” showing at the front of the glove. The “increase line” is on the palm side of the glove, supposedly where it will be seen less.

The pattern uses four double pointed needles, two for the palm and two for the back of the hand. From reading Ravelry and other notes about the pattern there was some confusion about the thumb gusset increase.

For the thumb increase (on the left hand) you need to purl in the same place on the second needle and then do your make one increases after that on the second needle until you have 12 stitches. Therefore on the second needle on every other row:

K 13, purl 1, make 1 (twisted), knit to the end of the row (end of the row being the end of the 4th needle where the tail end is.

Then on the normal (non-increased) row in between the increase rows it is just knit all the way round the row to the tail end except on the second needle it is:

K13, purl 1, knit to end of needle.

I'm not sure I was doing the twisted make 1 correctly. The You tube video I found just seemed to be the normal make 1, which I used.

Cast on after separating thumb

After finishing the thumb increases you had to knit around to the end of the second needle (ie at stitch 13 and just before the 14 stitches thumb stitches put on a holder) and then cast on 11 stitches. I did this by turning my work the wrong side (so the purl stitches facing me) and adding the using the cable cast on method.

Pinky finger

After knitting up to where the pinky finger starts, the pattern instructions were a bit sparse. Luckily I had already watched the glove knitting videos linked above so I knew what to do. I wrote out the following instructions to fill in the gaps in the pattern instructions at this point:

  1. After putting the 3 middle finger stitches on a holder the pattern tells you to cast on one stitch on the ring finger side. However the tail end side of the work where you are starting from is on the other side, so you have to knit up to this point and then cast on one stitch. I used the cable cast on again.

  1. The pattern didn't tell you to knit two stitches together from the two sections like it did for the thumb cast on stitches. I therefore cast on an extra stitch (so two cast on stitches instead of one) and knit the extra stitch together with the first stitch from the back of the hand pinky.
  2. The pattern didn't tell you to transfer the pinky stitches onto more than one double pointed needle. I found I couldn't knit with just two double pointed needle so I transferred my stitches onto 4 double pointed needles. (With so many needles I felt a bit like Edward Scissorhands at this point).

Middle and ring finger

Instead of picking up 2 stitches from the base of the ring finger (as in the pattern) I picked up 5. I reduced the 5 to 3 on the next round and then the 3 to 2 on the following round. This worked because there are no holes between the fingers. I also cast on an extra stitch on the opposite end of the 2 picked up stitches and then knit this with the first stitch on the needle holding the back of hand stitches. Again this prevents a hole appearing in your work.

Thumb

The pattern said to pick up 12 stitches along the cast on edge (see “Cast on after separating thumb” above). This didn't seem enough to me. As I was concerned there would be gaps I picked up a stitch every couple of stitches and ended up picking up 17. I then knit one round and during this round I reduced the 17 picked up stitches to 12 and the followed the pattern instructions from there.

Mitten shell

I read on Ravelry that people had difficulty with the star decreases on the middle shell. There is a mistake in the pattern and there should be two decreases per needle instead of one.

I wrote out what I needed to knit and decrease on each of the 4 needles and the corrected decrease instructions are as follows:

Starting with 56 stitches in all, on each needle:

Decrease row 1:
k5, k2tog. Repeat. (48 stitches) (12 stitches per needle)
Rows 2 to 6:
K 5 rounds even.
Decrease row 7:
K4, k2tog on each needle. Repeat. (40 stitches) (10 stitches per needle)
Rows 8 to 11:
K 4 rounds even.
Decrease row 12:
K3, k2tog on each needle. Repeat. (32 stitches) (8 stitches per needle)
Rows 13 to 15:
K 3 rounds even.
Decrease row 16:
K2, k2tog on each needle. Repeat. (24 stitches) (6 stitches per needle)
Rows 17 to 18:
K 2 rounds even.
Decrease row 19: K1, k2tog on each needle. Repeat. (16 stitches) (4 stitches per needle)
Row 20:
K 1 round even.
Decrease row 21:
K2tog on each needle. Repeat. (8 stitches) (2 stitches per needle)
Row 21A: K 1 round even (my addition)
Row 22: K2tog x 4 (4 stitches)
Row 23: K 2 inches of I-cord on these 4 stitches.

To start the mitten cap, after knitting the ribbing for the mitten cap, you had to pick up 30 stitches across the mitten. The only way I could see to do this was to pick up the second leg of each of the 30 knuckle stitches onto two needles.

Right hand glove instructions

As mentioned above there are no instructions for the right hand. The only differences between the left and the right hand are the thumb increases and thumb decreases.

My notes for the right hand thumb increases are set out below.

For the thumb increase you need to purl in the same place on the third needle and then do your make one increases before that on the third needle until you have 12. Therefore on the third needle on every other row:

Work out where the increases will be on needle 3 by either: noting where you need to purl by looking to see which stitch is purled on the previous row; or counting back from the end of needle 3 the stitches that will be the K 13, purl 1. K up to just before where the purl 1 will be, M1 (twisted), purl, knit to the end of the row (end of the row being the end of the 4th needle where the tail end is).

Then on the normal (non-increased) row in between the increase rows (as above) it is just knit all the way round the row to the tail end except on the third needle it is:

Work out where the purl will be by either: noting where you need to purl by looking to see which stitch is purled on the previous row; or counting back from the end of needle 3 the stitches that will be the K13, purl 1. K up to where your purl needs to go, purl, K to the end of the row.

My notes for the right hand thumb decreases are set out below.

After finishing the increases you have to knit around to the end of needle 2 (ie K 15) and then cast on 11 stitches onto needle 2. At the start of the third needle, after the 14 stitches are put on a holder, there should be 13 stitches left. With the 11th added stitch on needle 2 you join it with the first stitch on the third needle to close up the thumb hole.

Loose bind off for the fingers

When the pattern said “bind off loosely” for the fingers, I thought that meant just don't pull it too tight. I used the ordinary bind off for the first glove. After searching the term on You Tube I found that it is a different method of bind off using purl stitch and wrapping the yarn around the needle clockwise instead of anti-clockwise. Unsurprisingly my bind off has come out much better on the second glove.

I-cord

The mitten shell has a length of i-cord at the tip for the button hole. By the time I came to my second glove I had read a tip about knitting the i-cord with a smaller needle to make it tighter. I did this and although it was difficult to knit the first few rows it has definitely came out tighter. I preferred the tighter look on the i-cord for the second glove.

I blocked my gloves and then they were ready to wear. It took me a while to get around to sewing the button on. This step was worthwhile as the mitten shells flap around when they are worn off the hand. How cute is the mitten shell? When worn off the hand they're like cute little beanies!

Overall I am really pleased with my mittens and I have worn them a lot at the weekend. They're really cosy and warm!

Now at the weekends I have to force myself to do some sewing! Hope to be back soon with my finished sweater and an easy sewing project I've finished.


Happy sewing (and knitting)!