Friday, November 30, 2012


I have not shown any WIP photos in a while. Most of the time, they are pretty boring. I decided to show this one because it's actually interesting looking. This is the lace doily cocoon vest. My yarn is Bergère de France Ecoton, which is a cotton/acrylic blend. It's knit side to side as one flat piece, and it does sort of look like a doily. I like the long stitches which shape the sleeve cap with a slightly ruffled look. An I-cord is threaded through the top eyelets to draw in the neckline. It's a pretty quick knit and I'm just at the halfway point. The pattern has errors in stitch counts but once I got a bit of it knitted, it was easy to figure it out without relying on the pattern to the letter. I see now that there is an errata available.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Windsor Cardi, button bands, and knit one below

I just finished the Windsor Cardi from Knitscene Summer 2011 and I'm extremely happy with it. I love its quasi vintage look with its quasi steampunk buttons. The yarn is Valley Yarns Northfield, which is one of my favorite DK weight yarns.
I made 3/4 length sleeves and I knit them flat and tapered them. The pattern calls for straight sleeves, relying on the lace and ribbing to contract at the lower section for shaping, but I think that would result in sleeves that are just too loose at the forearms, and I like fitted sleeves. I used needles one size smaller in the midsection to give the body a tiny bit of shaping, but I don't know that it mattered much.

I've been on the search for the holy grail of button bands for quite a while. I like button bands to be sturdy in order to prevent button band "gaposis" in fitted cardigans. Here are some of the things I've tried:

  • Knitting a separate double knit band and sewing it on -- It can be almost too thick and it's a pain to sew it on, even though I don't mind sweater seams.
  • Sewing a ribbon backing on the underside -- It's way too much work and I don't like the look and the band does not stretch.
  • Using a linen stitch -- This is okay, but I don't love the stitch pattern on a button band.
  • Using a needle size of a much finer gauge -- This is my favorite method for worsted weight yarns because you can achieve a pretty dense fabric that way.
  • Using an attached I-cord and leaving gaps for the button holes -- I love this method, but it does not look good on all sweater styles. Sometimes you just need a ribbed band.
For this sweater, I tried a swatch with a very small needle size, but with the DK yarn, it's just not thick enough. So, I decided to try using the knit-one-below technique. I made the 2x2 ribbing with K1b and P1b stitches. The stitches are slightly wider and shorter, but you get a fabric that is squishy and is about 50% thicker. I'm pretty happy with this method. My front button bands don't have very much of that strained pulled look that I hate. I used the same technique for the neck band. I ended up do the neckband first and the front bands go the full length.

I buried my button holes in the purl stitches. I've also been on the quest for the perfect sturdy button holes. These are almost there. They look pretty good and are extremely sturdy. Here's a close-up of the button bands. You can see that the ribbing has more separation between the knit stitches and the purl stitches look slightly different. The thickness is not obvious from the photo though. Another thing I like about this band is that knit stitches at the bottom do not scrunch up and curl under like they do with the normal ribbing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Stretchy bind-off

For the last three of my finished sweaters, I talked about using my new favorite stretchy bind-off wherein I do the knit stitches as Kf&b, pass the first stitch over the second, then pass the last bound-off stitch over that one. I thought I would ramble on a bit more about this bind-off and show some photos of swatches.

I'm mainly a sweater knitter, and a lot of sweaters use the K2 P2 ribbing to finish necklines, armholes, sleeve openings, and front bands. I like the K2 P2 ribbing, but I was always trying to get the perfect tension while binding off. Usually I end up using a needle size that is 2 sizes larger but that's not always the best tension because it depends upon the actual needle sizes. Also, I don't really like the look of looser stitches on the bind-off.

I tried the popular Jenny's super stretchy bind-off, but I don't like the big bump caused by the yarnover, and I found it too stretchy for ribbed necklines and such, since they don't need to stretch as much as socks do. Here's a swatch of the bind-off for just knit stitches, and you can see the bumps at the top.

I knew that I needed to add more yarn to the bind-off row to give it stretchiness, so I decided to just try doing a Kf&b, because that almost doubles the yarn length. It does have a thicker look on that last bind-off row, but it's not that bad, and it stretches about the same as Jenny's bind-off if I do it on every stitch.

So then I decided to try it with every other stitch, and I found that the stretchiness is just about right. The stitches with the Kf&b don't look that different from the stitches with a K only. I used a cable cast-on for the swatch, and this stretches about the same as the cast-on.

So, for K2 P2, I do Kf&b for just the knit stitches when binding off, and I've found that it always gives me just the right amount of stretch. It does not look that different from a normal bind-off in ribbing.