Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Knitting Life, An Update

Sorry about the teeny-weeny, sporadic posts. We've just gone through a gigantic crunch period at work and for me, as Web dude, it's not completely over yet.

But does this mean I have not been knitting? Oh, mais non!

Bedside Reading

In preparing my article for the magazine, I need biographical information about Mary Thomas (she of the Knitting Book and Book of Knitting Patterns) and the only source anyone (even Marilyn) could come up with was Richard Rutt's History of Hand Knitting. I ordered a miraculously inexpensive copy from Powell's in Seattle but had to set it aside unread, except for the Mrs. Thomas passages, until the past few days.

Now I'm devouring it.

I'm a sucker for history, and this is history plus knitting patterns. Not whole patterns, mind you, mostly just colorwork patterns from old (in some cases very old, as in ancient Egypt) sources. But I am, and forever have been, enamored of making new things (food and photographs mostly) using historical sources and/or materials.

Man vs. Sweater, Round Two: The Neckline

Not long after the evening I did the sweater dance, I arrived at the neckline. Mind you, I've been reading Elizabeth Zimmerman on a daily basis for months. Even though this is my first sweater, her directions are burned into my brain and I can say with confidence that I followed them exactly.

So when I got to the neckline, and had finished the decreases precisely as directed and was left with 100 stitches for the border, it seemed wrong to me. After all, her standard percentage for the neckline is about 40%, and 100 was well over that amount.

So I tried it on (placing it on waste yarn) and sure enough, the top was open enough that it slipped right off one shoulder. I looked like one of the Go-Gos.

So, as dear Mrs. Zimmerman is mum on specific suggestions but does encourage one to think and then act, I figured out the 40% and did a few more decrease rounds until I had that many stitches left, and it looked peachy. I worked the collar in 2x2 rib for about an inch and then tried it on.

Sort of.

Although the sweater was dilated 10 centimeters, I was the one who was ready for an epidural.

This round does have a happy ending, though. You may, if you've been reading this for a while, remember that I had a fear of ripping. On this night, determined I was not going to sleep until the [expletive] collar went over my [expletive] head, I ripped. I ripped with gusto. And I did it over.

And I won.

Man vs. Sweater, Round Three: Help?

For the hemline, I worked with the combined assistance of Maggie Righetti and Elizabeth Zimmerman. I picked up stitches, I used smaller needles, I decreased 10 percent. I did it all just like I was supposed to.

And I know have a hemline that flips up where the hem stitches are sewn to the sweater body. And yes, I sewed them loosely. I worked the hem on Susan's toque the same way and didn't have the flipping.

And I also have this going on:

From the front, the sweater looks perfect. It fits better than any sweater I've ever owned. At the back, it flares. I am, in a word, pissed. On the videotape Greg leant me, Elizabeth Zimmerman does say to begin the sweater with 10% fewer stitches and increase to full width. However, she does not say to do this in Knitting Without Tears and by the time I saw the video I was already halfway up the body.

I figured the decrease in the hem would deal with the flare. Obviously, I was wrong.

The flipping, flaring hem needs to be dealt with. Here is the best solution I can puzzle out. It's not perfect, but I want desperately to save this project. I figure I should:
  1. Get rid of the current hem.
  2. Pick up stitches around the bottom and knit down, working in a 10% or 20% decrease in 2x2 ribbing
I don't love this solution, though, because:
  1. The length of the body at present (when the hem isn't flipping up) is perfect. I mean, so perfect it almost made me cry. I am a short guy, with a short waist, and this is the first sweater I have ever put on that doesn't hang too low and bunch up over my Italian rococo posterior. So I don't want to make it longer, though an extra inch or two wouldn't kill me I suppose.

  2. I didn't want to rib the bottom. I wanted the bottom to be flat, with a hem. Dammit.
So, all you gurus out there: what's your advice? I need some, and I need it quick. Rhinebeck approacheth. Ack.

Yarn Storage

Thanks to everyone who weighed in with solutions to the pile of yarn that is beginning to ooze out from behind the sofa. When I hear about rooms, rooms full of yarn, I blanch. Mind you, this is not and never will be an option for a city dweller of limited means. But I think between some cute little bins from Target and a shelf I've just moved into the end of the bedroom we euphemistically call the "office," I should be set for a little while.

When that shelf is full, I may begin colonizing the space outside the freight elevator. Nobody else is using it. Finder's keepers.

And Before I Forget to Mention It

The t-shirt I made for Colorado Jon as a Stitches present is now available for purchase through my new little shop. There will be other designs very soon, including some for women and some for either sex. We're all about equal opportunity here at The Panopticon.


Cheryl:) said...

I do adore your sketches!! Be sure you put them on cafe press!! And be sure to get bigger sizes!! some of us are the "large economy size"! I am sure prints of your sketches would sell!!

Anonymous said...

Love the bedtime sketch. It's so you of course. Regarding the hem, maybe you could try that EZ elastic thread trick she talks about in her video to pull it in? I've never tried it, and can't imagine how it would not show, but it might work. EZ was certainly keen on it, as she was on 'hemmed' sweaters. You could pick up stitches and knit downward in ribbing a couple of inches too, taking the decreases to pull it in. Not sure how that would look either, but it's an idea. I can't wait to see the final product!

Sneaksleep said...

Interestingly enough, I seem to recall Maggie Righetti railing against hemming sweaters in Knitting in Plain English. Unfortunately, I can't be much help to you in the hem department. But I'm thrilled to know you'll be at Rhinebeck, posterior and all!

Anonymous said...

I'm voting for the getting rid of the existing hem and picking up stitches to knit downward. If you don'T want to add length then rip out further back (if you thread a piece of contrasting yarn carefully through the row picking up the same side of every stitch, when you rip, you'll be left with all the stitches on a string; I've done this when fixing a worn out sweater cuff and it works).

And if you don't like ribbing, why not do seed/moss stitch (they are the same thing, aren't they?) instead. Doesn't pull in as much as ribbing.

I'm with cheryl. Knitter's cartoons on t-shirts would be a great idea. Maybe you need one depicting the knitter drowning in stash.

Rebekah Ravenscroft-Scott said...

on knitting downward:
the stitches will be a different shape, instead of Vs you'll have As or some such thing (I'm not actually looking at any kniting at the moment, but trust me, they'll be upside down). Now, while this may not matter to anyone who looks at your sweater, you'll have to decide that it doesn't MATTER TO YOU, as well.

on the hem:
how about ditching the hem (why have an extra layer round the middle anyway?) and do a vented or slitted, moss stitch bottom. This is accomplished by dividing the sweater in half (at the appropriate points under your arms) and knitting back and forth instead of in the round for each side (front and back). I find that to be very attractive and not bulky. The vents/slits don't have to be very long, two inches even.

If you don't want to knit down then you might try blocking it first and work out that flare that way (if it's wool, that is). It might work and it certainly can't hurt.
hope this helps!

Rebekah Ravenscroft-Scott said...

oh, forgot, if you're doing the moss stitch thing always, always, always go down in needle size (a couple of sizes even) because moss stitch will also flare like the nostrils of a fine-bred arabian horse and you'll look just as silly as you think you look now. although i doubt you look very silly at all :)

Anonymous said...

Hard to say w/o seeing the real deal, but here's a guess:

Your back curves slightly (protruding shoulder blades, perhaps?), and w/o a couple of short row pairs to accomodate that, the back of the sweater hangs. However, instead of just sort of fluidly hanging, the fabric is dense enough that it tents outward - the facing of a hem means you have double thickness fabric, it is especially firm and contributes to the hoop skirt effect.

But this is just a guess.

Meg Swansen goes on about short rows in the sweater back at great length in one of her publications.

Anonymous said...

I know a little about Mary Thomas as I live in the UK town where she was born. Do you want some more information? If so please just ask. Judith.
scholes****onetel****com replace **** with usual attributes and you should get me!

Anonymous said...

Ach, Stewart's sweaters do the same damn thing -- perfect in the front and all flippy and sticking out in the back. He has those broad shoulders and the white-guy butt and is skinny as a rail. I asked a bunch of knitters (I think over at QJs) for their thoughts and, while they had no suggestions for after the fact, they did have some ideas for future reference. In the case of a sweater knit from the bottom-up sweater, one could start with fewer stitches on a smaller needle and work up, both in needle size and number of stitches. Short row shoulders were also suggested. I'd be interested in seeing what you come up with, since we have 2 sweaters that could use some amending.

Lanea said...

Pllllleeeeeeaaase put some of your drawings onto shirts on your cafe press site. That Cheryl is a smart cookie. Good luck with fixing the sweater problem--I would go with the seed stitch border and look into short-rowing your shoulders on the next one.

Anonymous said...

I do love reading your crack me up! The drawings make my day. Good luck with the sweater...being a newbie knitter, I have no "purls" of wisdom to offer...

Anonymous said...

Franklin, dear, first let me say that I sighed at the drawing of you tucked into your bed.

Hems are indeed a prickly problem. Being that they are composed on two layers of , if you will, spongy fabric attached to one layer. They ALWAYS flippin' flip.
Elastic is a good idea, but, as has been said, is awkward and peeks out.

Were I you, I would can the hem, rip back the body a bit, grab a needle two sizes smaller, knit an inch, and LET IT ROLL.

Anonymous said...

Short rows would add to the back length, but i don't think they would fix the flip.

I am wondering if a turning row, a purl row in the stockinette, would help the hem lie down & stay flat? Perhaps decreasing 15%? Another thought (I am having a bit of trouble visualizing what is going on, so I am going through a lot of possibilities in my mind trying to help out) is that perhaps in future projects, you need fewer stitches in the back than for your front, which would keep the garment in there as well.

I absolutely LOVE your drawings & your refreshing style!

goblinbox said...

Your drawings are so cute.

I have no advice for your hem, but believe you me that I feel for you.

Anonymous said...

How about a book of your knitting cartoons?

I'd certainly buy it.... and would hope you would autograph it for me.

Rebekah Ravenscroft-Scott said...

diana just made me remember something... on the Dale hats I'm making for xmas you fold the little brims up twice. To make this easier, they instruct you to do one row of YO, K2tog. This doesn't increase the number of stitches and yet folds into a lovely little picot edge. Maybe too girly for your sweater but do swatch it to see if it might help. My hats have folded really nicely, no flipping.

Anonymous said...

Can I contact you through that other page about the Zero-Image? I'm interested in pinhole cameras.

Anonymous said...

Franklin bubbee, Why don't you knit the bottom-up on a smaller needle & "kitchner" it to the length of existing sweater needed from what you have now?

Anonymous said...

If you have an "athletic" build, that is there is more than a six inch difference between your chest and waist, that may be causing the problem. Unfortunately, the only solution I can think of is to rip up to somewhere close to the armholes and knit back down making decreases along fake side seam lines. This will taper the garment. You can then switch to smaller needeles and hem. Wish I had a less time-consuming idea! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Carefully take out the hem and rip your sweater back and inch or more beyond the hem. Then,as you knit toward the hem, work some decreases into the body to take some of that back fullness out. When it's time to do the hem, purl a row in the stockinette to serve as a turning row. Then, knit the hem on the 10% fewer stitches on a needle at least one size smaller. When you sew it in, it should hang straight.

Margie said...

I had to unravel a cuff on one of my jumpers and knit back down and the stitches don't appear to be upside down.
If you rib the waistband when it's already flaring you might end up with billowy 80's muffin top effect..
I vote for ripping up a few inches and knitting back down with a few decreases then doing the ribbing.

Unknown said...

I've read all of the responses and I would do what Kathy suggested. That will eliminate your hem problem and look just fine without your going through more gyrations. I never do hems. Ever. They look like crap.

As far as the dipsy-doodle back is concerned, shortrowing the back would have been the solution. However, that needs to be planned in advance.

I greatly applaud your working through EZ's percentage method. Teaches you a lot and makes you a more independent knitter. I don't always agree with her method, as you know. It has its problems.

Now that you've done it for an intellectual exercise, you can go and get yourself Carole Wulster's Sweater Wizard. I use it now exclusively for basic sweaters. Not good if you're designing something outre but perfectly nice for the classic shapes.

I knew you'd love the Rutt book. One of my very favorites.

Anonymous said...

Re: bed drawing...I have officially melted. A little white puddle of pre-Raphaelite shruglessness.

(Damned shame no one appreciates a pre-Raphaelite posterior anymore. I feel your pain.)

Re: bottom of sweater which is aggravating the bottom situation...what Marilyn said. What Kathy said.

Re: equal opportunity. The second you put something for a woman on a tight little t-shirt, sugar, I'm there, it's mine. Fuck the shrug, I want a Franklin t-shirt :-)

Anonmous said...

When I saw Frank's store go up yesterday I called him and said exactly what so many folks here have said...the cartoons would be so very very cool on t-shirts...and maybe something festive/funky for a sweatshirt? Very Thurberesque

And just as an aside, yes he does have a cute little b***

I may be "the ex" but I do still get to be right now and then :)

Putnumber Editor said...

ur blog full of content! nice blog here...hi, i m sklee from malaysia.

CynCyn said...

yes please. i'd like one t shirt with the pirouetting Franklin (in Man vs Sweter) and one of the slightly exaggerated hem please. And maybe a few others of your oh so expressive cartoons.

sorry I have no advice about the sweater hemming. wait! i do have an idea... fly out to denver, visit Jon at the LYS and ask him!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to do to fix up the blousing jumper, but please oh please can you do a feminine version of the T-shirts with attitude?

Anonymous said...

How about if you ribbed the inside hem? Not sure how much it will pull in, but seems you want a smooth finish for the bottom of your sweater.

birdfarm said...

I didn't even finish the post, I had to rush down to the comments and tell you how excited I am that you appear to be making your drawings a more regular part of your blog. Yay!

My life is now complete. I have it all... plus Franklin drawings.

Anonymous said...

You know, Liz's percentages always kinda' worried me. But here goes.

Don't panic. you still have another week or so to go (I wish I did). Do what Jove said and carefully thread a string through the row you are ripping back to. Take the moments to do this, so you can rip back with ease.

Now, this sounds unorthodox, but be fearless. Re-knit the front with circulars in the regular size. On the back, use needles a size smaller (I know, exhale). The transition will not be noticable. If you need to decrease further, take it out at the sides. Work the entire hem in the smaller needle size.

Hope this helps.

Unknown said...

Franklin, honey, listen to me.

I have done hems successfully, and I have also had similar flip problems with both hems and ribbing.

If you can do another small sweater dance whilst wearing the sweater to see what section of the fabric is pulling the ass-end outward, you might try steam-blocking that section only a little more drapey (by stretching and steam-ironing only in that section). Don't overdo it, as it's difficult to unblock.

If that doesn't work, try Kathy's solution.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you've got lots of help. Reading through that I realized that we had a discussion about how men's sweaters fit somewhere (Joe's blog? the GLB knit list?) and it became obvious that most designers seem to think men's sweaters don't need shaping (cf women's sweaters which may come in a bit at the waist). This is BS.

Men are often wider in the shoulders than in the hips. I know. I am a Women's XL and often buy men's outerwear. To get the hips to fit, I could put football gear in the shoulders.

So in future, make sure you build in a gentle increase from the bottom to the chest. The math isn't very difficult. Not sure it helps for this one though.

Anonymous said...

Love the sketches Franklin.
Have you checked out Knitting History in America? I think that's the name of it. It's a great history of US knitting history and she pays good attention to male knitters (a rarity in knit historians IMHO).

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