Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Plain, One Fancy

Last month I wrote a piece for Lion Brand Yarns that mentioned an almost century-old pattern that I've had my eye on. This is it:

rough-neck-original

Look at that collar. Gorgeous, and perfectly practical for a pencil-neck like me who is prone to agonies of stiffness if I get even a whisper of draught down my back. I saw it, I want it, I'm going to make it.

Mind you, I'm going to change it. It's too long, for starters. As written,* it would hang to halfway down my thigh. Not pretty. I'm adding shaping in the torso, too–a taper from chest to waist.

It'll be gentle taper, because a sweater like this is meant to be a smidge loose. You put it on at home, in your study, when you've finally taken off your jacket and loosened your tie.  It's not for the office. It's for quiet solitude. However, should somebody drop in on my solitude, I'd rather not have it hang on me like I'm wearing daddy's old bathrobe.

So, the Product Knitter within wanted to knit the sweater in order to wear the sweater. The Process Knitter within–which is dominant–wanted to try out the pockets.

Here's a shot of one pocket.

sweater-bhole

As you can see, not much else happening for acres and acres of stockinette but that pocket. Marvelously smooth opening, no?

You make it by knitting to the point at which you want your pocket opening to lie. Then–without breaking the working yarn–you work only on the stitches that will form the interior of the pocket, knitting and purling back and forth on them until you have a strip that's twice the intended depth of the pocket.

Then you line up the live stitches of this strip with the live stitches you left sitting on your needle and–again, without breaking the working yarn–resume knitting across all your stitches. The strip, now folded in half, forms the interior of the pocket. It's very neat, and just requires seams up the sides when the piece is finished.

Here it is in hasty scribble form.

pocket-method

And here's what the actual pocket (finished except for side seams) looks like from the wrong side.

sweater-pocket-ws

I like it. The opening is, of course, seamless. The method is straightforward. You must plan for your pockets in advance, of course–so the devil-may-care atttiude I enjoy when putting in afterthought pockets is replaced by the smug satisfaction of knowing that part of the work is done, and I can just motor on toward the front-and-back shaping.

The yarn is proving to be a perfect choice–LB Collection Organic Wool. It's soft (without being so namby-pamby that it'll start to pill before the sweater is complete), it's springy, it's cuddly as a puppy wrapped in polar fleece, and the rustic texture is a welcome accent for a piece that's otherwise so plain.

Really, really curious about the collar, since to be blunt I haven't the faintest idea of how it's going to work after reading the pattern fifty times. Sometimes you just have to buckle on the parachute and jump.

How I Got This Way

Speaking of Lion Brand, the most recent essay I wrote for them–"Inheritance"–talks about creativity running in families–though often your creative family tree will include folks who aren't necessarily blood relations. I enjoyed writing (and drawing) this one...and my mother left a comment. That was a good day.

Turning Weaving Into Knitting

Quick update on the bag that card weaver John Mullarkey and I are collaborating on, using HiKoo CoBaSi. John sent along four band designs to choose from. He'll use the band as the basis for the strap.

bag-bands

I settled on the second from the top. What he wove, I'm going to try to interpret (not necessarily copy) in knitting for the body of the bag. Joy of joys, it's swatch time! I'm thinking mosaic might be the way to go, for the highly scientific reason that I've never tried it and it looks interesting. But first, we chart.

More to come.

*If you want it, the pattern is in the facsimile edition of the 1916
Lion Yarn Book that is available here. Facsimile means it's an unaltered copy of the original–so you'd be working from the period pattern, just as I am.

51 comments:

Lynne said...

That looks a lot like Jared Flood's Smokin' sweater. I knit it for my brother and, yeah...did not understand the collar instructions. It was definitely a time when I just did what the pattern said without trying to figure it out. Oh, and it worked out fine. Ha!

Nathalie said...

You don't need to plan that pocket in advance. Knit merrily along. Then, when you're done and you decide you want to put in a pocket, snip a stitch in the middle of where the opening would be, unravel the right number of stitches on either side of it, pick up the stitches at the bottom, knit your strip, and then graft at the top. Poof! Same result, no forethought.

Looking forward to seeing your finished result. It's going to be lovely!

Bowen said...

My father has a sweater just like that, that his mother knit for his father.

Seanna Lea said...

Your sweater is going to look amazing. I think I'll have to add a pocket like this one the next time I make a cardigan.

=Tamar said...

Nice sweater. Sounds like an Elizabeth Zimmermann pocket. I do like shawl collars on sweaters, funny I don't own one yet.

cathairinmyknitting said...

At the end of each row, as you knit the second half of the pocket, wouldn't you be able to somehow knit your last stitch through the last stitch of the corresponding row on the first half of the pocket (sort of like making an entrelac join, perhaps?) and avoid even the seaming step?

KiniaCat Crafts said...

Neatly done, Sir!
Thank you for sharing.
I'm particularly fond of shawl collars so I'll be interested to see how you create yours!

Liz said...

Mosaic would absolutely work there; and you'd get the extra strength and stability to the bag you have with the double-thick fabric of mosaic...

Judy-Lynne Peters said...

That pocket looks so dang cool I feel oddly compelled to cast something on just so I can try it. I've seen knit-in pockets before, but none where the lining was knit in one piece--the ones I've seen had a lining that was sewn to the fabric of the garment (inside the front).

Cool! I look forward to seeing the rest of it.

Gamba Girl said...

"A puppy wrapped in polar fleece"?? Who are you and what have you done with Franklin?! Next it will be photos of kittens if you're not careful with your similes...

Annmarie Signey said...

Where can I get a copy of the pattern? My husband and I were just talking about me knitting this for him.

Colleen said...

I hope you will publish this sweater! But, I will eliminate the tapers, the man who will wear this has, shall we say, a traditional "prosperous belly"!

I just love that collar!

Vanessa said...

So do you do the pocket using short rows? I'm not picturing this correctly, methinks.

Franklin said...

Annmarie - good question! I should have linked to the Lion Brand Shop, where they offer a facsimile reprint of the 1916 book for sale: http://www.lionbrand.com/6030/PictPage/1922098381.html

Vanessa - yes, I'd call this an example of extreme short rowing, as you knit the strip that becomes the pocket lining on whatever number of stitches is needed for the width of the pocket. But there's no wrapping or turning. You just work back and forth on only those stitches until the strip is as long as it needs to be - which will be twice the depth of the finished pocket.

ellen kirkendall said...

With the alterations you outlined I can see this will be a flattering and much loved garment. You have such a cute physique it's smart to play it up!

Lisa K said...

Looking at the 1916 photo. Is the button band doubled? Then segues into the shawl collar, also doubled?
Almost like how the pocket is done.

Very interesting. Thank you. Of course, now I want to make it.

Eileen said...

Funny, I've been eyeballing the "newest" vintage knitting booklet I bought (1918) and trying to decide which cardigan I want to knit...for me? For DH? And lately I'm loving all kinds of vintage pockets.

Just finished the Perrier Blouse from a Jack Frost Blouse Book (ca. 1937), which I made because it has *two* pockets, one half over the other.

I'm looking forward to seeing your take on this LB pattern.

...e... said...

but? it looks like there's a hemmish seam along the top of the pocket, what is that?

Franklin said...

e, I expect that's a combination of shadow, the rustic texture of the yarn, and the row-to-row variation of my knits and purls. The only seams in this pocket method are those along the vertical edges of the lining.

Anonymous said...

Tip from a sometime tailor: when it's finished, do a longish tailor tack to keep the pocket oriented to the front of the sweater. This is frequently done in shearling and unlined jackets with pockets. It looks like a most beautiful collar indeed, and do I see a small loop at the top to button it snug to your neck? Awesome. There's some gray yarn at home that has not yet revealed its destiny ...

Nina Ruit said...

When I lived in Israel in the mid-70s I bought a pattern to knit for my husband that looked exactly like this, but with some cables on the front on each side. I loved knitting it, loved the pockets! Great collar! (And that has to be the most work I have ever done to knit from a pattern written in Hebrew with no vowels!)

Anonymous said...

No, emphatically NO, you do not need to start with dish towels to weave! I've been weaving for years and have yet to do a towel!

Reading your weaver friends' Rules only confirms to me...there are very few weavers with a sense of humor. I guess that's why I read your blog...someone who works with yarn but can laugh!!

Does anyone out there know of a weaver with a sense of humor AND a blog?!?!?!

KLH in Iowa

How is Harry doing at Mrs. Ts????












Morvidra said...

Oh, now I really want to try that pocket! I'm wondering if it will gape open though.

poodletail said...

The pocket, she is brilliant!

janetcc said...

Thank you! Just starting to make a reading shawl - or "big scarf with pockets" and this is a perfect way to do the pockets for this project.

Lynne in Florida said...

Very handsome pockets, sir, and the finished sweater will be awesome, methinks.

That's also a very nice piece of cutwork upon which you're displaying the pocket. Is it a family piece?

Re the "Inheritance" piece. You were a cute little boy.

Boyknitter said...

What nice pockets. They are neat and precise, and they make sense. Bravo, again.

Lady J said...

Looking at the pattern photo I thought you must be going to do extreme amounts of alteration on the pattern, as it's clearly on a young boy... isn't it?! Surely that's not a man?! He's 12 at the oldest. I know they say it was a more innocent time, but that's ridiculous!

Pretty Knitty said...

Ooohhh! I love the pockets, and I will have to keep that trick in mind when I knit my next sweater...mostly I knit for my granddaughter, and she simply MUST have pockets! =D

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are right, that is a seriously cool pocket. I am familiar with the afterthought pocket, which can end up looking almost the same, but this is so much cooler! Love the collar itch button loops, too. Off to look at the facsimile pattern book.

Anonymous said...

I already envision a mod on the pockets- after st st for a few rows, switch to a lighter weight wool and the back to worsted near the end. The bulkyness of three layers of worsted isn't appealing, but for slouching around the house maybe no one cares. Looking forward to seeing it modeled.
Marilyn in Minneapolis

marjorie said...

I really like the covered buttons on the sweater. It looks like a sweater that could quickly become a comfortable favourite; one you keep on the back of the chair in your study and slip on during those chilly winter evenings. Didn't Rex Harrison have a similar comfy sweater he wore in My Fair Lady?

drMolly, the BeanQueen said...

Franklin,
I love that sweater & what a great pocket! I'm sure it will be the "absolute bee's knees". Love the color, too. & thanks for telling about the yarn, I'm going to look it up as it sounds to be a good choice for some projects I've in mind.

Anonymous said...

It took me a bit to figure out how the pocket works - I could imagine it better looking at the original black and white photo. Do you tack it along the sides and bottom to the body of the sweater?

lincannon said...

The sweater is definitely going to look marvelous. The yarn sounds very interesting I haven't seen it in my local stores yet. Love the pocket idea.
Love the article about inheriting certain talents. Oh so true. I hope to be the one to pass those on to my grandbabies.
All you need now to go with the sweater is a antique pipe. Even if you never use it, sitting in an ashtray (antique of course)just for ambiance.

karen alho said...

The number two strap is without question the way to go. I didn't even have to think about it! It just jumped out at me. If I was still weaving I would be sitting down now and trying to pattern it!

Anonymous said...

I picked strap number two before I even scrolled down to see your choice. It's a winner, and so is that pocket technique.
-- stashdragon

=Tamar said...

The model has an adult jawline and a receding hairline. My guess is he's 18, a college freshman. He just doesn't have Charles-Atlas shoulder muscles.

Rainy Daisy said...

Sweet Jesus, that pocket is brilliant. I might knit that sweater in a girly shape for me!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, have to agree with Tamar. I looked at that picture and said "college man"all he needs is a beanie and a pipe

Anonymous said...

Hi again Franklin, I've been thinking about the collar of this sweater. Do you have Priscilla Gibson-Roberts book Knitting in the Old Way? The Cowichan sweater has something which might be close. Marilyn in Minneapolis

Dizzy Knits said...

The model is Michael Schumacher the racing driver (or possibly his grandfather). The pocket is the epitome of elegance.

Judy11 said...

Really like your pocket option, strange I had not figured that one out myself. And I too agree on the choice of the second strap. I can not wait to see what you do for the nitting to go with it.

And of course we will be expecting finish pics of sid beautiful sweater. Even better if your are modeling it, but I will take it either way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the diagram of the pocket. I've tried reading directions to make something similar, but it didn't really make sense. The drawing helped me to finally get it.

Rosi G. said...

Looks a little like the collar on Mi Escuelita (my knitty pattern).

Also: I thought when you said a copy of the "facsimile" of the pattern, I needed to go dig up a fax machine somewhere. That was gonna be tough!

kmkat said...

Oooh, I LOVE the idea of a family tree based on ideas and traditions and attitudes!

inklenaomi said...

and now I need a pocket.

idiosyncratic eye said...

That is GENIUS. :)

Ted said...

Why could you not work that pocket as an after thought? Snip a stitch, release the stitches for the opening and put them all -- top and bottom -- on 5 needles and work as tube. Graft them together or 3 needle bind-off. I'm sure EZ wrote about this somewhere.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was also of Jared Flood's sweater, though if memory serves your yarn is thinner, and going by the pic the neck opening not so smoking. That pocket tutorial is excellent. Thanks!
NiCaam

Ivy said...

I love the pocket, but I think I would do a row of purl as I begin it, and another at the bottom of the strip to make it fold better. Like a picot edge?