Nov 212014
 

As a confirmed topdown sweater knitter, I’ve embraced raglan, seamless set-in, and contiguous sleeve constructions that begin with a cast on at the top. My latest favorite adds the simultaneously worked sleeve to the seamless, set-in method. It’s a nifty way to create that tailored set-in sleeve look, without having to pick up stitches for the sleeve cap from the armhole and then work short rows, or knit the sleeve separately and seam it into the armhole. Mind you, I love a good short row sleeve cap. It’s just nice to have additional techniques available for when you feel like a change, or have a technical need such as an easy way to make perfectly matched stripes around the upper body and sleeves of a sweater.

Simultaneous sleeves are a variation of the seamless topdown sweater method. In that method, you cast on stitches for the back shoulders and neck, and work (often with a tiny bit of short row shoulder shaping) to the armscye depth. Then you pick up stitches from each back shoulder and work the right & left fronts to the identical depth, including neck shaping and any shoulder shaping. Typically the body front & back are then joined and worked to the hem; the sleeves are added afterwards by picking up stitches around the armhole, working a short row sleeve cap, then joining and finishing the sleeve in the round.

The simultaneous sleeve element alters this method in that you only work the back stitches, and the right & left front stitches, until there is enough depth to form the top of the sleeve caps, perhaps 2 or 3″ total depending on the style. Then both fronts and the back are united by picking up stitches for the sleeve caps along the edge rows, and the body is worked in one piece to the armscye depth where the sleeves are divided. In addition to the neck shaping and armhole shaping that occurs on the body, the sleeve cap is also shaped with increases at the same time – so there’s A LOT going on, which makes it fun.

This diagram shows a pullover, viewed from the top:

Seamless Simultaneous Setin Sleeve tutorial | The Knitting Vortex

It does take some planning to fit in everything that happens together – rapid sleeve cap increases to round the top of the sleeve, neck shaping at whatever rate is necessary to create a round, scoop or v-neck, and finally increases on the body to shape the armscye such that the front and back meet under the arm. The maths can all be done separately, but then have to be enacted at the same time while knitting. Working a sweater for yourself in one size is fairly straightforward; more challenging is writing a pattern in multiple sizes, where the rate of shaping differs among the sizes.

I decided to approach the issue by addressing each section of shaping one rate at a time; for example, I’ll say “Increase Sleeves Every Row,” then “Increase Sleeves Every Other Row,” then “Increase Sleeves & Front Neckline Every RS Row,” then “Increase Sleeves Every RS Row & Front Neckline Every Row,” writing out the instruction while telling you how many times to do it. It’s clear and walks you through the upper bodice step by step, which is helpful both if this construction is unfamiliar, and if you’d rather not set up your own spreadsheet for keeping track of multiple shaping at the same time.

My first Seamless, Simultaneous, Set-in Sleeve Sweater is almost ready for release, and my goal has been to make an easy to understand pattern for this excellent construction method. The sweater itself, and the fit of the set-in sleeves, came out great!

Elizabel shoulder detail | The Knitting Vortex

Nov 182014
 

Grafting Garter Tutorial | The Knitting Vortex

In addition to my Grafting Stockinette Stitch tutorial, I thought it would be helpful to demonstrate grafting in garter stitch; the live stitches of two pieces of garter fabric can be joined seamlessly and invisibly just as easily. You’ll need the live stitches divided equally on on two separate needles, a yarn needle, and a length of yarn at least 2 times the length of the finished seam – either a separate piece of yarn, or even better, the yarn tail from the last row.

Hold the needles parallel, with WS (in this case, the private side of the work) facing together. Make sure both have the same number of stitches, and that there are purl bumps snug up against the front needle, and knit stitches against the back needle, as viewed from the outer, public sides.

Grafting Garter prep | The Knitting Vortex

Setup 1 – insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Garter setup1 | The Knitting Vortex

Setup 2 – insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the back needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Garter setup2 | The Knitting Vortex

The two setup steps are worked only once. Pull the yarn gently through the stitches, making sure it travels underneath the needle tips, never over them.

1. Insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the front needleknitlwise, and slip the stitch off the needle:

Grafting Garter 1 | The Knitting Vortex

2. Insert yarn needle into next stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Garter 2 | The Knitting Vortex

1. Insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the back needle knitwise, and slip the stitch off the needle:

Grafting Garter 3 | The Knitting Vortex

4. Insert yarn needle into next stitch on the back needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Garter 4 | The Knitting Vortex

Repeat steps 1-4 until only 1 stitch remains on each front and back needle, then repeat steps 1 and 3. As you work, pull the yarn gently through the stitches, stopping every so often to adjust the graft by pulling on the grafting yarn. A loose tension can be tightened up stitch by stitch at the end, but pulling too tightly will cause the fabric to distort. Graft all the stitches, adjust the tension as needed and then block to enjoy your seamless join.

Grafting Garter finished seam | The Knitting Vortex

Nov 172014
 

 

Grafting Stockinette Tutorial | The Knitting Vortex

Grafting, or Kitchener Stitch, is a way to join the live stitches of two pieces of knit fabric so that there’s no visible seam. It can be employed instead of sewing or the 3-needle bind off, in all sorts of helpful situations such as shoulder or underarm seams, or an infinity scarf. You’ll need the live stitches divided equally on on two separate needles, a yarn needle, and a length of yarn at least 2 times the length of the finished seam – either a separate piece of yarn, or even better, the yarn tail from the last row.

Hold the needles parallel, with WS facing together; doublecheck to make sure both have the same number of stitches:

Grafting Stockinette prep | The Knitting Vortex

Setup 1 – insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Stockinette setup1 | The Knitting Vortex

Setup 2 – insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the back needle knitwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Stockinette setup2 | The Knitting Vortex

The two setup steps are worked only once. Pull the yarn gently through the stitches, making sure it travels underneath the needle tips, never over them.

1. Insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the front needle knitwise, and slip the stitch off the needle:

Grafting Stockinette 1 | The Knitting Vortex

2. Insert yarn needle into next stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Stockinette 2 | The Knitting Vortex

3. Insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the back needle purlwise, and slip the stitch off the needle:

Grafting Stockinette 3 | The Knitting Vortex

4. Insert yarn needle into next stitch on the back needle knitwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Stockinette 4 |The Knitting Vortex

Repeat steps 1-4 until only 1 stitch remains on each front and back needle, then repeat steps 1 and 3. As you work, pull the yarn gently through the stitches, stopping every so often to adjust the graft by pulling on the grafting yarn. A loose tension can be tightened up stitch by stitch at the end, but pulling too tightly will cause the fabric to distort. Graft all the stitches, adjust the tension as needed and then block to enjoy your seamless join.

Grafting Stockinette finished seam | The Knitting Vortex

If you need to graft garter stitch, it’s even simpler; my Grafting Garter Tutorial takes you through the steps.

Nov 142014
 

Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2014 | The Knitting Vortex

Back this year and better than ever, the Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 2 month craft-a-long of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by a fabulous group of independent designers on Ravelry. The event runs from November 13 to the New Year’s Eve party on December 31, with fiber fun, endless chatter and prizes. We kick off with a special 25% sale from Thursday, November 13th at 8:00 pm US EST – Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm US EST. Each designer is offering from 4-20 of their patterns handpicked especially for holiday crafting for this promotion; use coupon code giftalong2014 at the Ravelry checkout.

My 20 special sale patterns are bundled on Ravelry for easy perusing, and include favorite shawls both new and old, cold weather accessories, and some woolly sweaters:

Giftalong bundle sale patterns 2014 | The Knitting Vortex

You can join the fun with any of the participating designer’s indie patterns, and there are A LOT of them – 293 designers from 21 countries with over 11,500 patterns. that’s enough to keep busy ’til Christmas.

To see my indie patterns, check out my Ravelry designer page, The Knitting Vortex – Designs by Jennifer Dassau. Happy Knitting, Happy Gifting!

 

Nov 032014
 

 

Vary | The Knitting Vortex

vary: to change periodically or in succession; differ or alternate
An asymmetric shawl that combines various patterns, this bias wrap moves from simple garter stripes through slipstitch colorwork and back again. Cast on at the long, narrow end, Vary grows on the bias only ever using one color at a time in each row. Choose two colors or even more, and make it your own by varying the placement of the different stitch patterns; the simple construction adapts easily to different amounts of yardage and to your artistic vision.

Techniques & Skills Used: knit/purl, increasing/decreasing, slipstitch colorwork; the slipstitch pattern is written only.
Size: 105” length and 21” depth, customizable; see schematic.
Yarn: String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn Selku (50% silk, 50% merino wool; 375 yards/113g); 1 skein MC and 1 skein CC. Shown in Viola (MC) and Juice (CC), and using about 340 and 370 yards respectively.
Other Materials: US 7 (4.5mm) 32” circular needle or size to match gauge; Yarn needle.
Gauge: 15 st and 30 rows/4” in garter stitch, after blocking. Gauge is not critical for this project, however a different gauge may result in a smaller or larger finished shawl, and different yardage requirements.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Vary slipstitch detail | The Knitting Vortex   Vary Last Look | The Knitting Vortex   Vary wrapped | The Knitting Vortex

Oct 312014
 

My giant, asymmetrical, two-color shawl Sundry is one of my most popular designs. It’s so over the top, I had no idea what sort of reception it would get once released. But people seem to like it, which is always great. I think it’s the opportunity to mix and match colors, and to customize their placement. A look at some projects on Ravelry shows all sorts of beautiful choices:

Sundry projects on Ravelry | The Knitting Vortex

One of the reasons I love the sample so much is the yarn I used; Selku by String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn. It’s a wool and silk sportweight blend with excellent drape, and the gorgeous colors for which Karen and Tanis are known. I was fortunate to see their lovely yarns in person at out tiny, local sheep and fiber festival at the beginning of September, and inspired to create another design using Selku. I was looking for something to pair with the purpley-blue Viola colorway I had been hoarding, and found a deep raspberry that was perfect.

For fans of Sundry, my new shawl Vary will be out in a few days.

Vary sneak peek again | The Knitting Vortex

Oct 222014
 

Turtleneck Boxy Jacket | The Knitting Vortex

Originally published in knit.wear Fall 2013, this sweater pattern is now available as an individual download from The Knitting Vortex with expanded instructions and slightly tweaked sizing.

This sophisticated pullover is knit side to side as an oversized rectangle with minimal finishing. A comfy and easy silhouette, the ample body proportions are balanced by the slim ribbed sleeves and turtleneck, with the added detail of an asymmetrical faux front opening. The lower fronts are free to swing open, enhancing the relaxed attitude and uncomplicated style of this outer layering piece.

Techniques & Skills Used: cable CO, alternate cable CO, knit/purl, increasing/decreasing, picking up stitches.
Size: 49 (55, 57.5, 59, 60.5)” circumference, to fit 32 (36, 40, 44, 48)” bust. This boxy pullover is designed to be oversized; shown in smallest size, with about 19” positive ease.
Yarn: HiKoo by Skacel Collection, Inc. Kenzie (50% New Zealand merino, 25% nylon, 10% angora, 10% alpaca, 5% silk noils; 160 yards/50g), shown in #1009 Oceana; 10 (11, 12, 12, 13) skeins, or approximately 1550 (1700, 1800, 1900, 2000) yards of worsted or light worsted weight yarn.
Other Materials: US 7 (4.5mm) 40” circular needle or size to match gauge; Stitch markers (4); Stitch holder; Yarn needle; 7/8” buttons (3); Matching sewing thread and needle.
Gauge: 17 st and 26 rows/4” in stockinette stitch, 24 st and 26 rows/4” in K2P2 Rib slightly stretched, after blocking.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Turtleneck Boxy Jacket front view | The Knitting Vortex   Turtleneck Boxy Jacket Last Look | The Knitting Vortex   Turtleneck Boxy Jacket neckline | The Knitting Vortex

Sep 242014
 

Silverado cover | The Knitting Vortex

A seamless cardigan with swingy fronts and unusual construction, Silverado is the best kind of simple yet interesting knitting. The back and sleeves begin in the topdown raglan style, then as the sleeves are divided from the body, stitches are picked up along the front raglan seamlines for the fronts, which are shaped with increases and cables. Texture abounds in the reverse stockinette ground, ribbed sleeves and 3-dimensional wave cables, finished with a simple applied I-cord front and neck edge. The cozy wrap front can be worn open or closed with a pin, and is just the right layer when there’s a chill in the air.

Techniques & Skills Used: raglan construction, knit/purl, increasing/decreasing, longtail CO, backwards loop CO, picking up stitches, cables, applied I-cord (cable CO). Silverado is a written pattern, with the cables both written and charted; there is also a video tutorial for the applied I-cord.
Size: 33 (34.5, 36.5, 38, 40, 42.5, 45.5, 48, 50.5)” upper bust, based on twice the back width at bottom of armhole; the shaped fronts of this cardigan make each size very versatile; choose a size based on upper bust measurement. Sample shown in second size with 1” positive ease.
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted (100% merino wool; 210 yards/100g), shown in Frost Gray; 4 (4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7) skeins, or approximately 750 (775, 825, 900, 950, 1025, 1150, 1225, 1350) yards of worsted weight yarn.
Other Materials: US 8 (5mm) 32” circular needle or size to match gauge; Stitch markers (6); Stitch holders (2); Cable needle; Yarn needle.
Gauge: 18 st and 24 rows/4” in stockinette stitch, 20 st and 24 rows/4” in slightly stretched P1K1 Rib, after blocking.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Silverado | The Knitting Vortex   Silverado closeup | The Knitting Vortex   Silverado cable closeup | The Knitting Vortex

Sep 092014
 

Short Rows tutorial using the shadow wrap method | The Knitting Vortex

The final post in my series of tutorials for working Short Rows demonstrates the Shadow Wrap method, promulgated by Socktopus. As in the German and Japanese methods, an extra loop is made from the row below to disguise the turning point; the extra loop in this case is a stitch worked into the stitch below just before turning, creating a twinned stitch at the turning point. Later both loops of the twinned stitch are worked together to close the gap.

The Shadow Wrap method on a knit row:

1. Knit to the turning point, then knit into the stitch below the next stitch on the left needle, creating a twinned stitch.

SR shadow wrap tutorial1 | The Knitting Vortx

2. Slip this twinned stitch to the left needle without twisting it.

SR shadow wrap tutorial2 | The Knitting Vortex

3. Turn the work, and purl the next row.

SR shadow wrap tutorial3 | The Knitting Vortex

The Shadow Wrap method on a purl row:

1. Purl to the turning point, then slip the next stitch purlwise to the right needle.

SR shadow wrap tutorial4 | The Knitting Vortex

2. Insert the left needle tip into the stitch below the slipped stitch on the right needle, lifting the front leg; purl into this stitch with the right needle, creating a twinned stitch.

SR shadow wrap tutorial5a | The Knitting Vortex

SR shadow wrap tutorial5b | The Knitting Vortex

SR shadow wrap tutorial5c | The Knitting Vortex

3. Slip this twinned stitch to the left needle without twisting it.

SR shadow wrap tutorial6 | The Knitting Vortex

4. Turn the work and knit the next row.

SR shadow wrap tutorial7 | The Knitting Vortex

To work the twin stitch on a knit row:

1. Knit to the twinned stitch, which is easy to see, and knit both loops together as one.

SR shadow wrap tutorial8a | The Knitting Vortex

SR shadow wrap tutorial8b | The Knitting Vortex

To work the twinned stitch on a purl row:

1. Purl to the twinned stitch, which again is easy to see, and purl both loops together as one.

SR shadow wrap tutorial9a | The Knitting Vortex

SR shadow wrap tutorial9b The Knitting Vortex

I like that the twinning is done prior to turning the work, and that the twinned stitch is very obvious to see later on when it’s time to close the gap. The actions are pretty basic, although making the twin on the purl side takes a bit of manipulation. For me, the result was a bit messier than the Japanese and German methods, but the procedure overall was simpler; as ever, the choice of methods will depend on the yarn and gauge, and where the short rows are being used. Next up will be a recap post evaluating the results of all five methods I’ve presented.

For the other tutorials in the Short Rows series, see:

Short Rows using the wrap & turn method

Short Rows using the yarnover method

Short Rows using the German method

Short Rows using the Japanese method