Friday, September 21, 2012

Picking Up Stitches in Open Rows

 A “typical” crew-neck sweater is worked in pieces starting with the bottom ribbing. When it’s time to shape the neckline, the work needs to be divided into three parts: left and right shoulders which are continued separately and the flat center section. Unless there is a specific reason (cotton yarn, say), it’s not advisable to bind off those center stitches. That neckline will have to go over someone’s head and every bit of flexibility counts.

The same holds true for the four-direction sweater. When the center panels are completed, the top row should be put on holders rather than bound off. When it comes time to pick up the stitches on the sides of the center panels, most of the spaces will look normal (shown in gray in the diagram) but  there will be the open row (shown in magenta in the diagram).

It’s a good idea to pick up a stitch in that open row; otherwise the top edges of the sides will be out of alignment with the base of the neckline. So we treat the space there just like any other space for picking up stitches and knit our merry way on the sides.
Now, picking up new stitches causes the very outer column of stitches, including  the open stitch, to roll to the wrong side. If this stitch is worked as part of the neckline, it will cause a bit of a glitch. To prevent this, decrease the selvedge stitches out by using a K2tog at the beginning of the panel and an SSK at the end of the panel. If the first and last stitches are purls, use P2tog and SSP instead.

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Until next time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The instructions for the miniature sweater

There, in my very small hand, is an even smaller sweater! I've been trying to get everything you might possibly need to know in place before I post the instructions, but . . .  

So, the most important things. Right is right and left is left except when you're talking about the front central panel of a four-direction sweater. As you're looking at it, the right hand side of the panel corresponds to the left body side and vice versa. The back, happily, is straightforward. The diagrams will help keep these crucial details in front of us.

Another important thing is picking up stitches along the sides of the panels. I designed the panels to have plain selvedge stitches on each long edge. Pick up stitches between the edge stitch and the one immediately next to it. This way the body sides will snuggle right up to the cables. Make sure you start or end as close to the cast-on as possible. Also, definitely pick up a stitch between the two stitches in the open row. Those unworked stitches will be dealt with when we do the neckline ribbing.

I've added a permanent page of "Useful Techniques." (Right now it's singular.) I explain how to use waste yarn in place of stitch holders.

Miniature Sweater  

Yarn in two (or more) colors.
Circular needles suitable for yarn and circular needles 1or 2 sizes smaller than main needles

(For the mini mini sweater, I used sock yarn on US Size 1 (2.25 mm) needles with Size 0 (2.00 mm) for the ribbing. For the larger miniature sweater in the previous post, I used a worsted weight on US Size 5 (3.75 mm) needles with Size 4 (3.5 mm) for the ribbing.)

Slippery waste yarn to use for stitch holders (For the mini mini, I used perle cotton).
Tapestry needle
Basic knitting supplies

LLI (Left lifted increase): Knit into the left hand strand of the stitch two rows below the last stitch worked
RLI (Right lifted increase): Knit into the right hand strand of the stitch below the next stitch on the left needle             
SSP (Slip, slip, purl): This is the purl counterpart to SSK. To do SSP, individually slip two stitches knit-wise, return them to the left needle in their current position, and purl them together through the back.
M1p (Make one purl): bring the right needle from front to back under the running thread before the next stitch. Slip it to the left needle, keeping its left leg to the front. Purl from this position so it twists closed.

Cast 11 sts onto larger needles.
Rows 1 & 3 (WS): P5, k1, p5. 
Row 2: K1, sl-2 to cn and hold in back, k2, k2 from cn; p1; sl-2 to cn and hold in front, k2, k2 from cn; end k1.
Row 4: K5, p1, k5.
Make 1 panel with 7 repeats (28 rows) and 1 panel with 8 repeats (32 rows). Put each panel on its own holder.

Left Body Side
On left hand side of back panel pick up 22 sts starting at neck (about 2 sts per 3 rows). Purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row. Cut yarn and secure. Slip sts to holder.

On right hand side of front panel, pick up 18 sts starting at bottom (about 2 sts per 3 rows except in 2 places pick up 1 st per 2 rows).
Purl 1 row.
Knit 1 row until 2 sts rem. RLI, finish row. Purl 1 row.
Knit 1 row until 2 sts rem. RLI, finish row. Cast on 2 sts. Return sweater back to a needle so that a point is at neckline. Knit back from neck to bottom. 44 sts on needle.
Work even in st st for 5 rows.

Left Sleeve 
Bind off 11, k22, bind off 11. Cut yarn with long tail.  
With wrong side facing, rejoin yarn at beginning of sleeve. Work 3 rows even in st st. 
Decrease row: K1, SSK, knit until 3 sts rem, k2tog, k1. 
Repeat this 4 row sequence until 14 sts rem. Switch to smaller needles. 
Purl 1 row. 
Ribbing Row 1: (K2, p2) across, end k2. 
Ribbing Row 2: (P2, k2) across, end p2. 
Repeat these 2 rows once more. Bind off in pattern. Cut yarn with long tail. Using tails, seam sleeve from wrist to underarm and side from bottom to underarm.

Right Body Side

Pick up 18 sts along left hand side of front starting at neck. Purl 1 row, turn. K2, LLI,
finish row. Purl one row. Cut yarn and secure. Move stitches to holder.

Pick up 22 sts along right hand side of back panel. Purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row. Cut
yarn and secure. Move sts to holder.

Neck Ribbing 
With wrong sides facing, place open sts from front panel and then open sts from back 
panel onto smaller needle. Turn to right side, cast 2 sts onto empty right needle, pick up 2
sts, k2tog, k7, SSK,  pick up 6 sts along side of neck (2 next to panel, 2 in cast-on, 2 next to
panel). K2 tog, k7, SSK, pick up 2 sts, CO 2. 32 sts on needle. Turn.

Transition Row: 
(P2, k2) 2x, M1p, p1, (k2, p2) 3x, k2, p1, M1p, (k2, p2) 2x. 34 sts on needle.

Ribbing Row 1 (RS): (K2, p2)  across, end k2. 
Ribbing Row 2 (WS): (P2, k2) across, end p2.

Repeat these 2 rows once more. Bind off in pattern. Cut yarn with a long tail. Using
tail, seam ribbing only.
Continue Right Body Side
Return front and back to needle so that needle point is at bottom of back. Join yarn. Knit across back,  pick up 2 sts in neck ribbing, k2, LLI, knit rem sts. 44 sts on needle.            

Work even in st st for 5 rows.
Right Sleeve
Work as for left sleeve, but do not sew seam at this time.

Starting at open edge, with smaller needle pick up 8 sts along stockinette, 10 sts across panel
(including 1 on either side of central stitch), 14 sts along stockinette until next panel, 10
across panel, 8 along stockinette. 50 sts on needle. (When picking up in panel, push
upper part of cable out of the way to pick up sts under it. Do not pick up in
center st.)
Ribbing Row 1: (P2, k2) across, end p2.
Ribbing Row 2: (K2, p2) across, end k2. 
Repeat these 2 rows twice more. Bind off in pattern. Cut yarn leaving a long tail.

Using tails, sew sleeve seam from wrist to underarm and side seam from bottom to underarm. Secure and darn in all ends.

And so, there it is! The procedure is a bit different from a full-sized sweater, but it gives you an idea of how it works.
A few random items:
  • On the mini mini, I didn't do as much of the navy ribbing as the pattern calls for; it just looked overpowering.
  • I'm working on a more thorough description of picking up stitches in open rows.
  • Please ask questions! If something is not clear to you, it's likely not clear to others.
Until next time.