Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Celtic Sweater (in progress)

2 Feb 08

This is a work in progress. It shows how I've been designing a sweater.

The sweater has Celtic-type knotwork, but is really mostly a Viking design.

Stay tuned for developments.

Earlier today, I spent some time working out how I can possibly do the border around the front edge of the sweater.

I discovered several things: it is possible to do a provisional cast-on, knit a cable pattern in one direction, and then pick up from the cast-on and go in the opposite direction. You have to cross the cables in the opposite direction to make it work in the new, picked-up section, though.

There is a small jog in the pattern, but if somebody didn't point it out to you, I don't think you'd ever notice.

The other thing I discovered it that you can knit right off the edge of what you're knitting. In this case, I made the cable go to the edge, knit an I-cord, which I then formed into a loop (to go around a button) and integrated back into the cable. Thus, I made a "buttonhole" and made it out of the cable itself!

I think that's a pretty amazing achievement!

8 Feb 08

I returned the grey Woolease and got some Paton's Classic Wool instead. I intended to get their light grey that's almost identical in color to the light grey Woolease, but they didn't have any. But I did find some really pretty off-white tweed with neps in various shades of blue, from light through medium to navy, plus a few dark chocolate brown neps. It's BEAUTIFUL! I think I may have mentioned this, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, it goes like this: Cast on 19 stitches provisionally for the band. Work the first stitch in purl, and then the rest in pattern. I'll put a chart up when I can get it written. The extra purl stitch at the right is to give a little more flatness to the edge. This will be the edge of the hood. The other side with only two garter stitches will be the edge that's joined to the rest of the hood.

The background behind the cable braid is in garter stitch worked all in purl. The reason for this is that you can do every other row in all purl without having to knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches. It makes it a little easier to NOT make a mistake on the side where you really can't see what you're doing.

When you get to a length of 14 inches, start looking for a place to run the loop on the left side off the edge. I'll put a chart up for that, too. You want the cable to go off the edge at about 15 inches from the beginning, or anywhere from 14.5 to 15.5 inches. When the first cable goes off the edge, put a plastic safety-pin-like stitch marker through the two stitches, and purl across the row. Work back in pattern, and cast on two stitches using the backward loop method (you'll pick these up later) and continue in pattern for another 14 inches. Then fold the band in half with the two cables that go off the edge at either side of the fold. Match up the loops at the front edge of the band. In other words, if you have ten loops at the front on one side, you want ten loops at the front on the other side, ending at the end of the chart with a wrong side row. This will not only make the two sides of the hood the same length, but it will match up the two sides of the front where buttons and loops are placed along the front. When you get to that length, put the stitches at the end of the band on a stitch holder. You'll have to break the yarn here, and start picking up stitches along the edge where the two loops went off the edge. You want to pick them up with the WRONG side of the band facing you. When you get to the stitches on the holder, purl them, then pick up two stitches from the backward loop cast-on, then continue with picking up stitches to the end of the row.

Next row: K the first 6 stitches, place a marker, and purl across, keeping the center knit stitches in pattern according to the chart I'll put up, purl to the last 6 stitches and place a marker and knit across . You'll be crossing these two pairs of stitches on the first row. You'll see from the chart.

You'll be keeping the first and last 6 stitches in garter stitch for the rest of the hood, which will be a reverse stockinett stitch except for the half of a Saint John's cross, which you'll work according to the chart.

The garter stitch border gives the hood a little bit of shaping, and makes it easy to pick up stitches along the edge. I've done a few things in this hood that add subtle shaping without a lot of work.

Work until you finish the chart for the cross, then on the next few rows, start placing markers. First, you want to put a marker in the center. Then, you're going to put a marker two inches on either side of the center marker. I'm using a size eight needle with Paton's Classic Wool, and that gives me a gauge of 4.5 stitches to the inch (18 stitches to 4 inches). So I placed a marker 9 stitches before the center marker and 9 stitches after the center marker.

A word about gauge and size, here.

You want to knit this in something around worsted weight yarn. DK is the smallest I'd go, and chunky the largest. The reason for this is that you'll make the designs smaller or larger, and they'll either get lost because they're so small if you use lighter yarn or be too big to fit with heavy yarn. You also want to knit to a firm gauge with your yarn so that the cable work really stands out. Too loose, and the cables won't pop up off the surface. But you don't want to make the sweater able to stand on it's own, either.

There are a lot of yarns called "worsted" that won't give you exactly the same gauge on the same needles from brand to brand. So you could be using worsted yarn that is either heavier or lighter than the worsted I'm using. Knit to the gauge that gives you a good fabric in the cable areas. I'll be telling you how many inches to allow for things, and you can adjust to your gauge. I'll also be telling you how many stitches I used at 4.5 inches in case you're knitting to that gauge.

I'll also be explaining how to adjust this sweater to fit YOU, using my size as an example and showing how to figure it out.

So, anyway, once you've gotten the cross from the chart knitted (which I'll put up later), you'll want to continue even in rev. st. st. (with garter st borders) until you are 20 inches from the front edge ending with a purl row. Next row: K to 1 stitch of the marker two inches this side of center. On this first row, move the marker one stitch to the right, K2tog, turn and purl back to the last 6 stitches and finish in garter st. Following rows: K to 2nd marker, sl marker, K2tog, turn, purl to first marker, and finish in garter st.

You're going to continue that until you get to the 4th marker (two inches on the other side of center). When you have knitted to that marker, and the last K2tog has used up the last stitch before the 4th marker, break your yarn leaving a long enough tail, and kitchner the stitches on the two sides together.

I'll have to do a sketch to show what you should end up with.

So, that's as far as I've gotten so far. I kind of write out the instructions as I go, so when I finish a section (like the hood) I have to stop and think about what I want for the next part, and then start writing instructions for that. So there are pauses where I decide what to do next.

I'm in the middle of one of these pauses.

I'm trying to decide how to do the shoulders. At the moment, I'm leaning toward a garter stitch band across the top of the shoulders. Other choices include a 6 strand braided cable on that band that splits and half goes down the front of the armhole and half goes down the back of the armhole.

Choices, choices. If you have an opinion, feel free to comment.

29 Feb 08

I'm still stuck on the Celtic sweater. I really have to bite the bullet and get moving on that.

I've been looking for suitable buttons. As soon as I continue, I'll need to make loops for buttons, and it would be nice to make loops that will fit the buttons that I will use. Of course, I could make button loops and try to find buttons later, but since I'm already having trouble finding buttons, that might not be such a good choice.

So, my next choice is to go to G Street Fabrics and search for buttons there. I really think that I'll be able to find something perfect there, but if not, there's always the option of making polymer clay buttons.

Do I want toggle buttons? Do I want buttons with Saint John's crosses? Do I want buttons with Viking runes on them? Now, THERE's an idea! The Saint John's cross is a Viking symbol for happiness, so runes would fit right in. I've been calling it a Celtic sweater, but it's really more of a Viking sweater. Although, since Dublin was taken over by, and mainly settled by, and renamed by the Vikings, by this time there isn't a lot of distiction between the two. I'm making no decisions yet, just mulling over the possibilities.

Of course, I could start with the back instead of the fronts, but I'm going to be putting the big Saint John's cross on the back, and I'd like to be able to join the back to already-knitted fronts so that I can knit the cross all in one go, rather than knit part of the cross, get to the bottom of the armholes, and have to stop and knit the front sections before I can continue.

Decisions, decisions.

24 Apr 08

Here's the detail on the hood I've finished for the Celtic sweater. The band across the front of the hood is at the bottom of the page. It was started with a provisional cast on at the left of the photo, and continued to the right and the stitch holder. In the middle, one part of the cable was run over to the edge and the two stitches put on a plastic safty-pin style stitch marker, two stitches were cast on with a backward-loop cast on (and, once more put on a stitch marker) and continued the cable pattern. When I got to the end of the cable (stitch holder on the right), I picked up stitches across, including the 4 stitches from the markers, and continued the pattern using those 4 stitches as the beginning of the new cable pattern.

When this is worn with the hood down, it will appear upside-down from the way the photo is.

The design for the knotwork on the main part of the hood is from Viking Knits by Elsebeth Lavold.

6 Aug 08

Last night I dreamt about cables and how I could possibly do the shoulder cable for the sweater and have it lead into the edging of the sleeve. I realized that it didn't have to actually divide itself in half and turn, all I have to do is run the cables off the side edges and pick them up in the other direction. I also realized that the cable could continue into a small stand-alone motif for the top of the sleeve.

You'll have to see it to understand what I mean. So far, it's just a vague picture in my head with many possibilities.

7 Aug 08

I've been dreaming about the Celtic sweater, and have even been doing a little swatching. I've decided that the bottom edge of the hood that I've already knit is a little bigger than I want the neckline to be. I had originally intended to make the cables that will go down the front overlap, but after thinking about it, I now think it would look better if the fronts butted together and the two cables ran parallel to each other. So that means that the hood is now too big around the bottom.

I'm going to put a band around the bottom of the hood that will extend into a loop for a button, and will also extend into the cable on the shoulder. I've started a swatch for this. It's not finished, but I have refined the buttonloops already.

The I-cord that I did on the other swatch is thicker and bulkier than I really liked. I found that if I continue the two-stitch cable segment as three stitches in stockinet stitch, it looks good, not thinner, like the I-cord does. The edges turn under and it looks finished.

I do short rows on the loop, I can make it assume a nice buttonloop shape without all the extra bulk, and it looks much better and will button more nicely. I'm about to start the shoulder part of the swatch.

I'm also reevaluating the cable around the armhole idea. The more I think about it, the more I think I want to do something else.

10 Aug 08

In the meantime, I've picked up stitches around the bottom of the hood, and I'm knitting a band around it which will eventually have a button at one end and (when I get to the other end) will have a button loop knit into it.

Here is the hood with the stitches picked up.

This is something I should've swatched for, but couldn't really without reknitting the whole hood, which isn't something I was willing to do.

So, I've ripped out the band twice, and I'm about to have a third try at it.

If I get too frustrated, I may go back to the wimple for a bit.

There are going to be two ribs from a 2x2 rib running around the bottom of the hood, and one rib is going to circle back and continue into the other rib at the end, making a buttonloop.

I bought some really beautiful buttons, but I've lost some of them since then. I have found some more on the internet, and I plan to buy them, but it's possible that when the Ravelympics deadline arrives, the buttons may not have. So, the sweater may not have all it's buttons at the end.

You can see the buttons

All the buttons down the front will be the same size, but I think the one that's going to be right at my neck may do better with one of the slightly smaller ones I bought at the same time. I'm glad I thought to buy some smaller ones. And I'm glad I was able to find them on the internet. They look
so pretty with the yarn!

I'm starting to love everything about this sweater!

12 Aug 08

After spending a day and a half on ripping out the band around the bottom of the hood and knitting it again, I finally finished it. Here you can see the end of the band, which includes a buttonloop. The top rib of the band was knitted with shaping and kitchnered to the lower rib.

Note, try to get the buttonloop the right size. This will probably mean it'll be a little big. At least it always winds up that way for me. Remember, you have to adjust in increments of the height of one stitch. And it's hard to estimate without the completed buttonhole to put the button through.

So, when you get it a smidge big, use the yarn tail from the kitchner row and do a little overcast reinforcing at the point where the two ends of the buttonloop join the body. Slide the button through. See how it fits. Do you need more overcasting a little higher to make the loop smaller?

Remember, your goal is to have the loop expand a bit to get the button through, but not make it so small that you have to fight with it to get the button through. We're looking for snug, not tight here.

The buttonloops down the front will be a little different.

In the photo above, you see the saddle shoulder. Note that the rib from the band around the bottom of the hood runs off the edge and forms two of the cable segments.

I think I did something pretty slick here.

Two strands of the cable will run onto the sleeve and make a loop. The other two strands of the cable will do the same thing as the bottom hood band and run onto the edge of the shoulder and down the front and back (see photo below).

This is the saddle at the top of the shoulder, and the left front has been knit down to the bottom of the sleeve opening. Note that the shoulder band has one of it's strands running down the edge of the sleeve opening.

Since taking that photo, I have started on the right front, and am to the beginning of the first buttonloop. Once I get it finished, I'll pick up stitches across the back of one saddle strap, the bottom of the back of the hood and the other saddle strap. The back of the band at the bottom of the hood has the cable run off the edge, and it will make another small loop on the back.

Then, I'll work down the back for a short distance and start the Saint John's cross for the back. You can see the finished cross as a swatch in Viking Patterns for Knitting. It will be spectacular!

Partway through the cross, I'll get to the bottom of the sleeve opening and add extra stitches for the underarm shaping (which will join the fronts and back), and then probably continue until the cross is done.

Then, I'll pick up stitches around the armhole for a sleeve, knit that, do the other, and then finish down the front of the sweater.

The end of this description is just to give you an overview of what is planned.

13 Aug 08

Not much has been going on except knitting the sweater.

I finished the two fronts down to the bottom of the armholes, and have started on the back.

The photo shows a smidge of the hood right at the top of the photo, with the two rib band just below it, and the loop that one of the ribs slides off into right at the middle of the back.

Not much further until I start the Saint John's cross!

I'm trying to decide at this point whether I want to put sort of a frame around it or not.

14 Aug 0

Here's where I am at the moment on the Celtic sweater: this is the back almost down to the bottom of the armholes.

The bottom of the hood is at the top of the photo with the cables on the shoulders on either side, and part of the Saint John's cross a bit lower. I haven't gotten to the halfway point in the cross.

It doesn't look like much here because it's all crinkled up, and there's only part of the cross. But I think it'll be amazing when the whole sweater is done.

I'll get to the bottom of the armholes before I get to the bottom of the cross. At the bottom of the armholes, I'll have to cast on at each arm opening, and then continue down, finishing the cross on the way. When I get to the point where the cross is completely finished, I'll do the sleeves. I hope I have a size 8 needle that's 16 inches. I'll need it for the sleeves.

15 Aug o8

I got nearly 10 inches of the top back done last night. Almost to the bottom of the armholes. Here's what it looks like:

I'm currently thinking about ripping out the top of the back. The cross is just too small. I put a sort of "frame" around it because I thought it would be small, but it's smaller than I thought it would be.

Although I love Viking Patterns for Knitting, I really don't like the way the cables and motifs are charted. The system used doesn't correspond to any charting system I've ever seen, and there is no legend to say what the symbols mean. I can almost figure out how to do them just by looking at the photos of the finished work, but I want to redo the charts so they're easier to read.

In this case, though, I'm going to have to redo the chart just because I want to make it bigger.

You would think that being a graphic artist, I would have no trouble with charting, but I'm beginning to realize that I hate it!

If I ever manage to get together all the charts for this, I think I'm going to sell the pattern. For a lot of money!

Back to the subject!

Last night, I switched back to knitting the wimple for the Ravelympics while I think about the sweater and what I really want to do with it.

If I redo the back, that will mean that I have to work out the whole chart before I can start reknitting. That's a lot of work and will make it much harder to finish in time. It will definitely mean that I will almost certainly not be able to finish the poncho in time for the deadline.

Who am I kidding? It will make it impossible to finish the poncho in time. Period. And it will mean that there's a good chance that I won't even get the sweater finished by the deadline.

But then, if I don't redo it, I'll always wish I had, and every time someone complements me on it (and it will be complement-worthy, even with the smaller cross), I'll think about how wonderful it could have been.

At this point, I think I'm going to leave the back and continue knitting the wimple while I spend some time charting. If I can get the chart done in the new size, I'll rip it and redo. If I can't possibly manage to get the chart working at all, I'll continue with what I have.

I'm really hoping I can get the chart to work.

I've seen some other really nice Celtic knots that I'd like to have charts for. I was going to say that I'd like to chart, but that really isn't true. I just want to knit them, not chart them.

As they say: back to the drawing board.

21 Aug 08

It's time to get serious about the Ravelympics!

Sunday is the last day, and that ends a bit after 8 am here, so there's not much time and I still have a lot to do on the Celtic Sweater.

I promised you a photo of the cable on the side, under the arm, and here it is.

You can see the two ribs from the cable at the top of the shoulder that went down the front and back of the shoulder coming in from either side of the underarm increasing at the top of the photo.

From there, a loop winds into a cable, and the two ribs separate at about the waist. Those two ribs will get further and further apart as I add more stitches for the below waist area on either side. There will be another knot in the space below that.

I've gotten past the waist, and am doing the shaping for one of the pockets. The pockets will be angled, like kangaroo pockets with a narrow cable for the edging. I don't have enough of that done to show yet.

There's still a lot to do.

22 Aug 08

Well, I'm below the waist on the Celtic Sweater, but haven't done the sleeves yet. If I had been able to finish the sleeves and get just a little further, it would be a race to the finish, but I haven't and it isn't.

I finished the front part of the pocket on the right hand side.

As you can see, the pocket opening will be at an angle. I think that looks good on most people, and it seems to help keep things in the pocket rather than spilling out onto the floor.

There is a simple, narrow cable forming the edge of the pocket. On the right, you can see just a bit of the cable for the front.

I am finding more and more reasons to love the Options needle I have. I've bought a set of size 8 points, and several lengths of cable, and they are wonderful!

The two front sections each get knit in a separate piece, and the back, sides, and pocket linings get sewn in another piece. Normally, I would put each pocket lining on a piece of yarn to hold it, but with the Options needle, all I have to do is take off the needle tips, and replace them with stoppers, and don't have to thread them onto the yarn, and later have to pick them up again. I love them.

I've shifted the points to the other project, the wimple. I want to finish at least one of the projects I started for the Ravelympics, so I want to get this done. And I want the 24 inch cable from it for the other front pocket piece. You can expect a photo of the wimple tomorrow.

25 Aug 08

So, here we are, the day after the Ravelympics has ended, and I'm still not done!

Here's where I am:

To your left, the cable down the front of the sweater is just out of view. To the left (in the picture) is the pocket opening, and along the right side of the photo is the sleeve opening (at the top, the cable on the side, and the increase shaping at the bottom.

I don't like short sweaters or jackets, but if a sweater or jacket is the same diameter as the bust further down, it bunches up when you sit or move, so I wanted the bottom to be a little bigger, hence the shaping, and the space for a knot.

The knot inside the shaping was started using the knot from Arans & Celtics, but I changed it a bit, and started to add more after the instructions ran out. At this point, there are no patterns, charts or instructions. I'm just winging it. We'll see what happens.

27 Aug 08

I have finally given up on the knot on the side and finished it.

The loop of the knot that starts at the top also ends with a loop at the bottom. There is only one other loop.

It's not quite as wonderful as I'd hoped, but not as bad as I'd been afraid it would be. Considering that the bottom of it was ad lib, it's not bad.

29 Aug 08

Last night, I got to the bottom of the body of the Celtic sweater. It now has a picot edge on it.

I looked around at the amount of yarn that's left, and there's about two skeins. And I still have to do the sleeves.

I originally bought 12 skeins, and then later bought two more in the same dye lot. Those were in-case skeins, and I-can-make-a-hat-out-of-it-if-it's-left-over skeins. That should have been more than enough.

I suspect that those two skeins are still in their original bag somewhere, and that I didn't put them with the main stash of yarn, so I may have plenty to finish with. But it's possible that I'll have to unravel the bottom and start the edging with less space between it and the knots on the side. And it might have to be narrower.

I'm not even going to think about the pocket linings until I finish everything else. They can be finished with a different dye lot of the same yarn and color without making it a disaster.

9 Oct 08

Speaking of my Celtic sweater, I really don't like the set-in sleeves at all. I had originally planned to use dropped shoulders like they did in the Middle Ages, and like I did on my blue coat. The shoulder and sleeve fit beautifully, and it was a dream to knit.

In contrast, the set-in sleeves are impossible to knit without holes in the knitting from the short rows, or disruption of the reverse stockinet stitch pattern. Yes, I can wrap stitches to eliminate holes. And it looks fine on the knit side, which is inside the sleeve. On the outside (where it shows), it looks messy. And the result is making me remember why I hated set-in sleeves from the standpoint of wearing them. The dropped shoulder from the blue coat is stylish, comfortable, and fits my shoulder and upper arm beautifully.

I'm thinking seriously of frogging it.

If I do that, though, I'll have to frog everything back to the shoulders in order to redo them.

Actually, I've been trying to convince myself that it'll be fun to reknit the whole thing (except for the hood and part of the shoulders).

At any rate, I'm going to complete (or nearly complete) the sleeve before I decide.

The lower arm is working out nicely.

When I get to where the two ribs meet at the bottom, instead of closing it off, I'll cross them, and they'll come off the surface and become I-cord at that point. I'll knit a row of picot holes every few stitches below, and thread the I-cord through it. Then I can knot it and leave the bottom of the sleeve full, or pull the I-cord tight and tie it in a bow for a more closed sleeve at the wrist.

Ripping it all out and redoing it will be fun! Really, it will. I'll keep telling myself that.

11 Oct 08

Here's a peek at the cross from the right sleeve of the Celtic sweater.

Looks nice, doesn't it?

Well, the sleeve looks awful, and there's no way in the world to fix the sleeve without fixing the shoulder.

And, of course, there's no way to fix the shoulder without ripping back to it.

So last night a took a deep breath and bit the bullet. I frogged all but the hood and the shoulder tops (which will have to be lengthened).

Frogging something like this is no joke.

It took about 3 hours and a lot of physical effort to frog about 3,000 yards of yarn!

I lengthened one shoulder strap this morning and have started on the left front. Again.

But look at all the fun knitting there is in front of me to do! It's all pretty and new again.

This time, I'm going to knit the sleeves when I get to the end of the sleeve opening in the body!

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