Knitting on instinct

Happy New Year! This year has sure gotten off to a rocky start. (This post, I imagine you will be happy to hear, is all about knitting, and not about the rocky start.)

I had a big work project due this past week, and with the stress of it hanging over my head, not to mention the very long hours of work involved, I had precious little time for knitting over the break. It’s so sad, too, because I usually get a lot of knitting done during the Christmas/New Year break, and often start some new projects at that time. However, I have managed to make some progress on Doug’s vest.

What you might not get from the above photo is the sheer amount of angst, and winging it, that went into the last 6 inches or so of this project. It is my first time knitting a steeked garment, so I really have no set concept in my head about how it all works once you reach the armhole stage, much less any muscle memory to call on. I am really knitting on instinct here.

I am using Kate Davies Ursula Cardigan as the basis for this project. However, the pattern is for a woman’s cardigan, and I am knitting a man’s waistcoat, so I am creating all of the shaping as I go. It is really rather nerve-wracking. Here you can see how I cast off at the armholes, and created a steek for the armscythes:

The questions I have been battling with are: how many stitches to cast off at the underarm? How many to bind off as I shape the armscythe? How much of a slope do I need? When do I start the decreases at the neck? How deep should the v-neck be? How many sets of decreases to make? At what interval? How wide do the shoulders need to be? Do I need more steeks at the shoulders/back? How do I put in some shoulder shaping? And all of this is in addition to the fact that I will have to CUT THE STEEKS eventually and not have a heart attack.

I am a scribbler: I write down everything. I have been scribbling little drawings of vests and calculations everywhere – no piece of paper is safe.

I find this example especially funny because this piece of paper also contains scribbles from a class I was teaching. I teach executive MBA students. In the bottom right hand corner of the lower page are some questions I scribbled down during a class. A student was speaking, and these are questions I wrote down to ask her. It says: “What is it that you still need to learn? What does skill look like?” Hmm…I was trying to get my students to reflect, but at the moment it also sounds like a good reflection for me, and very relevant to the subject of this post. I’m going to let these questions percolate around for a bit. Maybe I’ll come up with some interesting answers.

While I am still not sure how my calculations will work for the finished garment, I think it is starting to look okay. Below is a photo where I have folded up the partially knitted garment along the steek lines, so that you can see the right front with the armscythe on the left of the photo and the neckline decreases on the right.

I am reassured by the fact that it looks reasonably similar to the right front of a v-neck garment, rather than, for example, like a sleeve. And while I have fretted tons about how deep to make the armholes, they look reasonably like armholes:

Keep knitting everyone. (Or whatever else it is that keeps you sane and happy.) Coming soon: the steek!

Taking Stock

Taking stock of my WIPs (works in progress), that is. Taking stock of my life, or of life on earth, or of the crazy sauce that is politics these days, would take too long. And be rather depressing. Knitting is better.

I only have three projects in progress right now. I was going to say “on the needles” but one of them is in the finishing stage, so already off the needles.

TREIT

I finished knitting this little lace tee-shirt at least a month ago, I think. It is knitted with a lovely wool and linen blend yarn called Kalinka 21, in a gorgeous, sunny, grassy green.

I have only three things that have still to be done with this one. First, I need to graft the sleeve stitches at the underarms:

Second, I have a few ends to weave in:

And third, it needs a good blocking.

If that is all that remains to be done, why haven’t I done it? First, I hate grafting and insist that it can only be done in full morning light. I have been working on the weekends again, and the weather has been often cloudy and rainy, so there has been no opportunity to take advantage of clear, morning light. Second, I finished knitting it just as the summer ended and the autumn weather set in. What motivation do I have to finish a summery linen tee at the beginning of autumn? I can’t even use the winter holiday in sunny locale excuse, because well…Covid. I’m clearly stuck in England for the foreseeable future. Third, I am lazy. Enough said.

URSULA

In my last post, I talked about having swatched for a vest for Doug, using the Ursula pattern (Ravelry link) by Kate Davies. This is a women’s cardigan pattern but I am trying to be creative and transform it into a men’s waistcoat. It will be my first steeked garment, so I am imagining all sorts of anxiety to come as I take up the scissors to cut my knitting. But, for now, it is a rather straightforward project. Here is exactly two weeks worth of knitting progress:

Today, I had Doug try it on for the first time, and it fits. Whew! I am terribly slow at stranded knitting, however. At the moment it is taking me 18 minutes per row, which amounts to 3 hours per colour pattern. I am hoping to improve on my speed a bit, but the days of my super fast knitting have gone. This will clearly not be a quick knit. But see how pretty it is?

By the way, Treit is a Kate Davies pattern, too, so I seem to be on a bit of a Kate thing at the moment. I have also joined her latest club so I am currently waking up to a new design by her every Friday morning. Chances are this will result in another Kate project on the needles before long. (Anyone else enjoying the new club?)

KOKO

Remember this?

It is an ingenious three-dimensional knitting pattern designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, which I am knitting in three luscious shades of Northiam by Kettle Yarn Co. This is what it looks like unblocked, but rest assured, when it is blocked it will undergo a transformation and knock your socks off.

I have only knitted about 4inches/10cm since the last time I showed it on the blog, some months ago now, so this is clearly going to be one of those very-long-in-the-making shawl projects which I sometimes undertake. They take forever to knit because I can’t stay monogamous to them, but the end project is worth it (like this or this).

I am looking around for a new project to cast on, so that I have enough variety in my WIPs to keep me interested. What’s next? Well, Doug and I have been walking a lot and it is getting colder outside, so mittens and hats are appealing at the moment. How are your WIPs going? Does this autumn air make you want to cast on? (And for those in the Southern Hemisphere, soak up some sun for me. If I was there with you, I’d be wearing my Treit right now!)