Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rib and Bobble Vest, VK Early Fall 2012

The Vogue Knitting Magazine Early Fall  2012  preview is now online. I am always excited to get my first glimpse of a new issue, and this issue has some lovely pieces that would make great summertime knitting projects.
VK Early Fall 2012

   I designed and knitted  Garment # 21, the “Rib and Bobble” vest.  This vest is really a simple knit as there is minimal shaping, and the seed stitch edgings are knit at the same time as the vest, so there is almost no finishing at the end of the project.  Much of the vest is knit in stockinette which is perfect for an “on the go” project.  The waist area ribbed section looks far more complicated than it really is!  The yarn I used was Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight, and it is so soft.   

Rib and Bobble Vest    Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2012, photo by Rose Callahan

My vest is shown as part of a feature on  “twin sets” and it is paired with a turtleneck designed by the brilliant and multi -talented Lori Steinberg.  I love her juxtaposition of delicate and bold geometric openwork patterns.  I always find that "longer" short sleeve length to be very flattering, and I think that the ribbed turtleneck provides a nice contrast to the airy lace.
#24  Lace Turtleneck Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2012, photo by Rose Callahan
Don’t be afraid of the bobbles. They are not difficult, and add such wonderful texture.   I used my favorite variation in this pattern- really more of a popcorn than a bobble.  I find this variation is the easiest for most knitters as the bobble is completed immediately instead of on the next row.  Because the loops are pulled over each other one at a time, it is easier than trying to knit through 5 loops at once.  
Thistle bobble design

As much as I love to knit heavy, complicated, stranded  wool sweaters, I like to have a lighter project to work on during the summer. Vests, like tank tops are great multi- season wardrobe boosters.  They are quick to knit,  use relatively little yarn, and are portable to knit.  Perfect for those stolen minutes at the beach or pool!
What are you knitting this summer? Please share- I’d love to hear!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Optimal outcome - Knitting Pieces that Match

Sometimes it is the easiest things that make a knitted project successful.

Have you ever tried to sew 2 pieces of knitted fabric together only to find that they don’t match, or picked up a piece of knitting and been unable to figure out where you left off?  Yikes.  

  I am  a confirmed row counter. Logically, it is easier to mirror the shaping on the back and front of a garment if you start decreasing or increasing on the same row.  The same goes for pattern elements like cables.   Keeping track of where you are is important enough in an easy pattern,  but is  imperative in a more complex one. And, trust me, “eyeballing” your work in progress will never give you a perfect measurement!   
Unfinished Dale of Norway sweater . The white stitches on the left are "row counting" stitches.
   When I first started to knit, I remember using bulky cylinders with rotating numbers that fit on to the ends of straight needles.  The objective was to advance the number 1 time each time you completed a row.  The problem was, I could never remember whether or not I had actually turned the wheel at the end of the previous row! And, I could never get used to the feeling of having something hanging from the end of my needles.  The constant uncertainty and the fact that I have not knit with straight needles in years led me to try other methods.  I have a very methodical friend who carries a memo pad and writes tally marks down for each row.  I know knitters who swear by the invention of another friend, the row counter bracelet.*

Basting to mark your stitch count
    Simple basting works the best for me.  I use a large tapestry needle and a piece of smooth mercerized cotton yarn that contrasts in color with my knitting. Cotton will usually not leave fibers behind and “shed” onto my knitting.  I try to use a light color for visibility, and colorfastness.  I actually often keep the basting thread in when I wet block my work, although of course I would be careful not to leave strong cotton  in if my work was fuzzy, felting or delicate!  I attach the yarn at the bottom of my work and use a large tapestry needle because the blunt tip helps minimize the risk of pulling and split stitches. I use the tip of my needle to count up 10 stitches, and run a stitch under the 10th stitch. 
Each line indicates a group of 10 rows
    I continue in this manner until I am finished counting.  When I am finished basting, I always re count to confirm that I have blocks of 10.   Even though this may seem like an added step, at least I always know that the underarm will be in the same place on the front and back of a garment, and that the sleeves will be the same length.  (Don’t ask me how I know this!)  
    Since I always have a tapestry needle in my knitting bag, it is easy enough to do. And, when you unearth that unfinished object you had forgotten about(blushing!)it is much easier to continue if you know exactly where you left off.  How do you keep track of your stitches?