It is 3pm on a Sunday, and I have managed so far to spend the entire day lounging in bed, listening to an audio book and knitting. In fact, if not for the need to take a photo for this blog post, I might not have stood up at all. I take this as proof that blogging is a physical activity, and will now say with confidence that I am indeed a sporty person.
I have been making good progress on my Acer cardigan, perhaps because I am being totally monogamous; no other project has managed to tempt me away. I have reached the bind-off for the armholes, and have finished the left front. (The body is knit in one piece till the armholes, and then the back and fronts are knit separately.)
Doug and I were invited to dinner on Friday by some friends who have an 8-year old daughter. She was fascinated by my knitting and asked about a hundred questions. She was particularly intrigued with the functions of the stitch markers and we embarked on a long conversation about the purpose of each and every one. (It is astonishing how smart and articulate an 8-year old can be; thank you, Amrita!) Answering her questions made me realise that others may wonder about this too. In the above photo, you can see two different types of marker. First, there are the markers which look like a tiny ball of yarn hanging from a loop – you can see these across the top row of the body of knitting, in purple and pink. These just indicate the boundaries between the patterned and the stockinette portions of the sweater. Until today, I also had similar markers in yellow which marked the side seams of the sweater. These have now been removed because I have bound off the underarm stitches.
The other type of stitch marker can open and looks like a little plastic safety pin. These are used to mark places on the knitting itself. The markers are colour-coded. In this sweater, I am using three colours – purple, orange and green. The purple ones mark where I have made waist decreases, and the orange ones mark the increases. You can see that I made three sets of paired decreases and three sets of paired increases. I use the green markers to note the pattern row. The cable and lace pattern for this cardigan has a 16-row repeat. The green markers indicate every time I begin a new pattern repeat; in other words, there is a green marker on every Row 1 of the 16-row repeat. These are absolutely invaluable. They mean I never lose my place in the cable pattern.
I used to mark all of my increases and decreases and pattern rows on a piece of paper as I knit. This was tedious. The paper always got lost. If I put a project down for a few months and then picked it up again, I couldn’t figure out where I was. Now, I mark everything important on the pieces themselves, using removable stitch markers. As long as I leave the markers in until the very end – when I am ready to block – I never have problems with remembering where I am or with matching one piece to the next.
As I am getting close to finishing this cardigan, I am spending some time thinking about what to cast on next. I have only one constraint: I can’t spend any money. One of the prime contenders is the Wren Fairisle Yoke, a pullover designed by Marie Wallin:
I have a kit for this pullover, purchased from baa ram ewe, thus the cost outlay to cast on is zero. It is not a sweater for the faint-hearted, however; not only is there stranded colourwork involved, but the yarn is fingering-weight. This project will eat up considerable knitting time, especially for slow knitters like me. Before I think about casting on, however, I have a question to pose. Wren is knit from the bottom up, in the round. I am considering using a provisional cast on for the yoke, and knitting the yoke bottom-up, and then picking up the provisional stitches and knitting the sleeves and body top-down. The pros (as I see them):
- I am worried about the amount of yarn I have in the Main Colour. If I knit the sleeves and body top down, I will not have to play yarn chicken; if I don’t have enough, I can use a contrast colour on the ribbing.
- I think that the sleeves and body look too baggy on the pattern photos (see the Ravelry page, here). I think it will be easier for me to try on and decrease appropriately to get a better fit if I am knitting top-down.
- The Yoke is more fun. Life sucks right now in many ways. Fun is good.
The big con (as I see it) is knitting the sleeves while having the whole sweater pooled on my lap; much easier to go around and round on tiny needles without the whole weight of the sweater to deal with. Have I missed any pros or cons? Do any of you have experience with this kind of thing? I welcome your advice.
Now that I have finished writing this post, it is time for me to indulge in some physical fitness. Thus, please excuse me while I walk up the stairs and pick up my book.
Hi Kelly. Most of a Sunday staying in bed and knitting- sounds great to me. In the next few days, I may find an extra hour or 2 and re-organize my stash. Always a fun and relaxing time for me. Thank you for explaining your stitch markers. I’ve noticed them on many of your posts and wondered what they were all for.
Oh, I wish I found it relaxing to organise; my knitting stuff is always chaotic. I hope you find some time to yourself, Jossie.
It looks great! And the idea with the markers is super, I’ll adopt it! 🙂
Thanks! It has really changed the way I knit.
Thank you for the stitchmarkersolution to noteproblems!
It really works for me, Laila. I hope you find it useful.
Thank you for the lesson on the use of stitch markers, mucher easier than the paper way I still use. I agree that Wren looks too baggy, especially since today’s style is a more fitted look but in the photo the sweater is a little twisted, could that be the problem? It’s hard to make such a beautiful model look bad but the photo-stylist missed that little detail, in my opinion. I am too much a robot knitter to change anything from knit down to knit up but I do wish you good luck with that.
I usually find that Marie Wallin’s sweaters are very nicely styled and photographed. But in this case, the model is not the right size for the sweater. (She often uses this model, who is lovely, so not sure what the problem is here.) Anyway, I am hoping that I will be able to fix that problem. And perhaps, since I am very much more curvy than the model. it will sort itself out.
I’m halfway through doing exactly this (on instagram @crofthouseworkroom). It works perfectly and I will never knit another in-the-round sweater bottom up again.
I have one done bottom up that is nearly finished and I’m going to have to cut the body off and try to get it back on the needles to change the waist shaping. Knitting ‘centre- out’ is the way to go! Also consider knitting the sleeves flat.
Hi Julia, thanks so much for the link! I like this idea of knitting ‘centre-out’. I am definitely going to try it out.
I ended up in bed most of the day today also. Just felt yucky. I really liked the use of the stitch markers to mark off sections so you know where you left off if you put the work down for a while! I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up a project and had to count rows to see exactly where I am! That is the best tip I have come across lately. Thanks!
You’re welcome! I can’t tell you how much easier it makes my knitting. I do hope that you are feeling better now!
Why not provisionally cast on the yoke, and work that up to the neck, as you planned. Then, work each sleeve down to the cuff, back and forth as Julia suggested (not as much weight and much less twisting than doing sleeves in the round), then finally go back and work the torso down to the hem? Alternatively, you could work the sleeves individually from the cuff upwards either flat or in the round, then graft them to the yoke/underarm when the whole body of the sweater is finished. You’d have to know how many stitches of the yoke to reserved for each sleeve, but that would be determined by the yoke and body dimensions that you decide upon. ( I agree that the pattern is lovely, but very oversized as shown on the model.) Anyway, I’ve done that completely-finished-body-sleeve-down approach, and you are right–it is very very tedious to work on the sleeves, especially the second one!
Hi, I really like your first alternative. I am not a big fan of knitting sleeves in the round, and I don’t usually find a sleeve seam to be annoying. I am a little worried about the shaping of this sweater; I bought it on a whim because the colours are beautiful. (And the yarn is totally gorgeous!) I am hoping that my sweater sense will kick in and guide the way.
I had semi adopted your use of stitch markers from seeing the photographs but your explanations will improve their use. They were not around in my previous knitting life. I do hope you start on Wren as I am thinking of treating myself and your experience with the project will inspire me. Thank you for your entertaining and informative posts.
Hi Jill! I am glad that you are enjoying the blog. I do think I will start on Wren soon, although I imagine that I will be knitting other things at the same time. I will definitely post my impressions of the yarn and pattern.
You COULD knit the body a couple of inches, stop and do the sleeves and go back to the body, so that you don’t have the whole sweater in your lap when you do the sleeves, just when you do the body. 🙂 It is an awfully pretty sweater – can’t wait to see how you do it!
It’s funny; I had decided that I much prefer knitting in pieces and seaming, and then I go and buy this kit for a yoked sweater. I am seeing so many gorgeous yoked sweaters these days, however, so I think I should give it a try. Thanks for the advice!
It is funny how we work. My favorite sweater to wear was knit in pieces and seamed but my favorite ones to make are top down raglans, all in one piece. Hmmmm.
It seems like a great next project for you, I think the colours will suit you. I’m also concerned about the overall bagginess of the design, I think your solution to knit top down is prudent. You might find making the garment more tailored will save you from running out too badly. I like the idea of a different colour ribbing, that will be nice!
Thanks, Jen. Of course, it could very well be that on a more generous sized body (like mine) there won’t be any shaping issues, but I agree that top-down seems more prudent. I am not a big fan of yarn chicken.
Why not just do the whole thing top down? I’m thinking of my current Bonus (Den Rutiga). Are there any MC rows in the yoke below the colorwork? Any short row shaping on the yoke to drop the front of neck down? As to the main color body, I a finally prefer getting the sleeves done before the bulk of the body. For some reason, I find I’m happier with the body length, and fit in general. Sounds strange, but it works for me!
I was thinking of your Den Ristiga while writing this post. I think it will be absolutely stunning, Susan. If I recall properly, you have ripped back at least once if not twice to get it shaped properly. I have not actually read the Wren pattern yet (total laziness) so I don’t know the details. Can you tell me if you plan to knit the sleeves on Den Rustiga back-and-forth or in the round?
Ha, I think that’s PLENTY of exercise for one day. Meanwhile, that fairisle yolked jumper looks gorgeous, so I can’t help but hope that you do knit it next.
Although I very much enjoyed being totally lazy, I could really use the exercise, I’m afraid. You, on the other hand, spend much of your time chasing after twins (when not working and knitting that is – though probably also while knitting now that I think about it). For you, Phil, a lazy Sunday would be only just, while for me it is just another pound on the hips.
Since I’ve just decided (yesterday) to make the Meltwater Pullover and convert it to top-down construction, this has been an interesting conversation! Current plan is to finish the yoke, separate out the stitches for the sleeve, and work the body until that particular skein of yarn runs out; then put body stitches on scrap yarn and work the sleeves flat, TAAT. That’s what I usually do with top-down raglans.
As for stitch markers — nice use! When people ask me what they are / what they do, they usually get the Readers’ Digest Condensed version — “they’re like traffic signs — they just remind me to do something or stop doing something.” Unless the person is really obviously interested in knitting as a process (as your young friend obviously was), that’s plenty of information,
I love your traffic sign analogy! I plan to spend some time studying the pattern for Wren and seeing what would be involved in converting the yoke to top-down. My inclination is that it is easier to decrease throughout the yoke than to increase, but I will do a bit of experimenting. Thanks for the comment. And good luck with the Meltwater – I just looked it up. What a beauty!
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