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Posts Tagged ‘pattern free’

(Quick note for the weavers, I’ve updated my weaving post with pictures of new finished scarves:  https://ilovesocks.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/working-without-patterns-weaving-skirt-and-scarves/)

HomespunSweaterForestFront2This one is SO warm!  I love the Homespun. I’ve made several shawls out of it and they are my carry- everywhere warmth in the summer when the air conditioning in public places always freezes me.  And you can just throw them in the washing machine and not worry about felting.

For this sweater, I knitted a small square and got my gauge, then calculated how many stitches I’d need for all my parts.  (See this post for help with that.)

Body: I cast on my hip amount, then worked upward going back and forth with some garter stitch at the bottom and edges to prevent curling. When I got to the armholes I split to a back and two fronts, and decreased to get my appropriate measurements for under the arm and over the shoulder.  On the fronts, I kept my decreases in the rows next to the garter so my garter border would stay the same width.  Then I bound off and seamed over the shoulders.  Sleeves: I picked up the appropriate amount of stitches at the arm holes and made my sleeves.  I just made tubes, no shoulder caps.  For example: If you make your armholes about 8″ tall for a medium size sweater, you will want to pick up about 15-16 inches worth of stitches.  Just past the shoulder, only a few inches in, I usually decrease a couple of inches to around 11-12 inches worth of stitches, then do most of the sleeve at around 11 inches.  (This measurement will of course vary person to person, so you should measure your arm and use an amount you would find comfortable). I did garter at the wrists to foil curling.  I did my sleeves back and forth on a short circular, so I made the seam at the bottom of the arm where it would be most hidden.  When sleeves were long enough and bound off, I stitched up the side of the arms by pulling yarn loops through with a crochet hook.

Then I added the clasp with a needle and thread.  I found the clasp pulled on the sweater too much, so I sewed a piece of felt on the back of the sweater behind both parts of the clasp to strengthen this area.  I attached the felt by sewing around the edges, and added more sewing around the clasp to attach it to the felt.  The piece of felt on the right is the most sturdy and doesn’t pull – I put rows of sewing throughout the area, and this seems to work best, so I will go back and do that to the piece on the left too.  You can see in the top picture it pulls a little, but I don’t feel like its going to pull the sweater loose or stretch it out now.

HomespunSweaterFelt

Finished!  It was a fairly quick sweater since I used a big yarn and such big needles.  Now I kind of want to make a similar crazy sweater in one of those fun color changing Homespuns.

HomespunForestSweaterBack

Yarn: LionBrand Homespun in Forest, and size 10 needles.  My gauge: 3 stitches = 1″ on size 10 needles.  Clasp: La petite #1056.  If I remember right, I picked it up at Joann craft store.

 

 

 

 

 

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Warning – This didn’t TOTALLY work out, the neck hole wound up a bit big.  See the final post on the finished product before deciding on measurements:

https://ilovesocks.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/finishing-the-poncho/

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I’ve never been a great fan of ponchos, (mostly because if I’m cold, I want good coverage, not the open bottom).  Recently however, I saw one in the mall that looked so pretty, I wanted to make it.  It was something like this, with the flowy cable part of the pattern running around the neck and down the front and back:

PonchoFLowy

I haven’t even started on one yet, (I currently have 5 other projects going on), but I did make my plan.  Here is how you design your own poncho.

A common way to make one is to make two identical rectangles and seam them together, like so:

PonchoFoldHowToMake

You attach the two rectangles together with a seam, then you fold it over and seam the other edge, attaching blue star to blue star, white star to white star.  This is great, nothing could be easier than two rectangles – you can make them however you want -crochet, knit, or weave.

To make the appropriate size rectangles

-width of the rectangles
To get the width of your rectangles, (their width is the length of the poncho), put a tape measure on your shoulder where you want the neckline to be, and measure over the top of the shoulder and down your arm to where you want the end to stop near the wrist (or your length of choice).  You will have a longer point hanging in the front, but the length over the arm is probably more critical.

-length of the rectangles
The length of your rectangles will be determined by what size you want the neckline. You can tape measure the point in the front where the neckline is lowest, over one shoulder to the same point in the back.  (See the red line on the drawing below, this is where you measure).  This will give you half the amount of the neckline, so then double it.  When I measure I get 17 inches, (neckline a little lower down), so I will make my rectangles (17+17=) 34 inches long. I have seen patterns suggest 32 inches as a “large”, so try it and see what looks good for you. You just need it big enough to stick your head through it without having it so big it falls off the shoulders, or leaves too much neck area exposed to the cold.

 

PonchoMeasure

Here is another method I used just to double check the size, (though the measuring tape is probably simpler than this one). 

Clip two towels together in the same way you would make the poncho, (following the drawing above). You can use binder clips, hair clips, clothes pins, whatever you have. Wide hair clips like I used will add more variation, narrower items are better.  (This is really a ballpark measurement in my case because I used 3 inch hair clips.)  Put it on. The long point will hang in the middle of the front and the middle of the back, so arrange your towels on you this way.  Adjust the two clips at the neck to the size you want the neckline to be, and move the adjacent two clips so your towel is pinned flat, like shown.  You can also add a clip near the wrist at one edge to mark the length you want the poncho to be (which is rectangle width).

PonchoTowels

Take it off and lay it out on a flat surface. Unhook clips from one seam only, but hook the clips back on to one towel if they weren’t on a corner on that towel.  Lay both towels flat like the drawing.  This will let the clips mark your new size. Measure from corners (or towel edges) to clips as shown, or if both of your end clips moved, measure from clip to clip.  The area outside of where you moved the clips shows length that you don’t want on the poncho.

Measure from any clips that were moved inward to the farthest clip.  You should still be getting rectangles in the general shape of a towel.  TowelMeasurePoncho

TowelMeasurePoncho2

Measuring this way, I get 35 inches on both towels, so I know my earlier 34″ measurement was probably fine.  This is rectangle length.

TowelTrimPonchoIf you want, you can fold the towels to your appropriate rectangle length, re-clip, and try it on again. (Clip white to white, blue to blue.)

TowelFoldPoncho

Now you’re ready to begin making two rectangles.

If you crochet, you may get a fairly thick poncho, unless you use skinny yarn.   This drawing shows one way you can do it, but you can get creative and make your rectangles in any direction you like.  Make two identical rectangles for the flowy neck pattern like the top drawing.

ConstructionPonchoCrochet

If you knit, you can cast on either direction here too, the drawings are just ideas.  Cast on the number of stitches you need to get your appropriate inches on the width or length. (For help with getting from number of inches to number of stitches, see this post.)  To get one like the drawing I put at the top, cast on the width and work up the length like this drawing, doing a cable on one side to get a flowy neckline, and make two identical rectangles.  If instead, you cast on your length, your stitches will be right side up when you wear it, (going up and down).  You can take advantage of this to do flowers or leaves growing upright at the bottom, or whatever you choose.  Whichever way you do it, plan your design carefully to avoid any curling at the bottom.

ConstructionPonchoKnitting

Attach and seam your two pieces like this, and seam following the stars on the drawing above. Make sure to seam on the insides and safety pin it first to check orientation before starting seaming.  (Probably sounds silly me saying that, but when I sew I’ll put one piece on backwards every time if I don’t pin and check first, so with no obvious sleeve holes, I know I’d do the same here.)

PonchoKnitDirection

Hey, I started!  I realized one of my sweaters already-in-progress is a piece exactly 34 1/2 inches long, so that one is now going to turn into this poncho.  Due to the length it already is, I can’t run a longways cable around the neck, but I think what I’ve done already will make a nice neckline, and now I can maybe do some kind of flower pattern growing upwards from the bottom edge or something.   (It will need some kind of design to prevent the stockinette rolling up at the bottom as you see it doing here).  This design edge is just random made up cables on a garter background with a square of seed stitch at the corners.  When I finish this I will come back and add the completed photo to this post.

PonchoKnitting

 

 

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Finished another skinny yarn sweater!  I don’t know how long I’ve been working on this one, but I’m pretty sure at least two Christmases have passed since I started.

YellowSweaterSkinnyYarnDoneBackI followed a chart for the texture (reference below).  The idea here was to make an asymmetrical front, just to do something a little different, (though similar to what I did on the purple Knifty Knitter sweater).  I made one side wider than the other so the buttons would go down one side instead of down the middle, and I tried to make a flap that would hang over under the neck.  Its not really staying down now, but I haven’t done blocking yet, so I think I can get that part to work out.  This stitch chart was good for that since it looks nice on both sides.

I also made the bottom stripes different on one side of the front.  I would say this didn’t work out fabulously, as the different stripes at the bottom really just look more like a mistake happened.  In the future if I try that again, I’ll probably be sure to include many more stripes (or whatever is different), to make sure it is so obvious that it won’t look as much like a mistake.

Also, the fronts don’t seem to line up at the bottom as well, though I’m not sure why – there are the same number of rows on each piece below the stripe. Possibly an error in button placement?  When putting on buttons, its best to start at the bottom, and make sure your bottoms line up.  I did that, but still uneven, not sure why.  Not too bothered by it.  Close enough. Will wear it anyway.

YellowSweaterSkinnyYarnDoneFront3

There’s only one other thing I might do differently, and that’s to not use clear buttons.  (Hey, I was just so excited to find this many buttons that matched each other in my jar!)  Because you can see through the buttons, you can see the buttonholes.  Usually you don’t see buttonholes when something is buttoned, and knit sweater buttonholes can really kind of look like jagged holes.  I may try to do some hand stitching or machine sewing around the edges of the buttonholes to neaten those up since you can see them.  If it bugs me.  It doesn’t bug me enough to go that far yet.

YellowSweaterSkinnyYarnDoneFront2

 How it was done:  I did my self-measuring, knit a swatch to get my gauge and did my stitch math. Then started at the hip and worked up on the back piece.  I used decreases on the edges to get my size right for hips, waist and bust, then bound off a few and decreased a couple to make arm holes.  To make a shallow neck hole, bind off neck stitches and attach another yarn to one shoulder to keep working both shoulders at the same time on two needles.

I started one side, working up from the hip, back and forth on straight needles.  I attached it partway at the hip to allow me to get it exactly the same size as the back piece (as to where decreases for the waist go and where arm holes start.  I left buttonholes in  this piece.  Then I made the other front piece the same way, without buttonholes.  Then stitches were picked up at the arm hole and sleeves were worked in the round.  I didn’t bother with shoulder caps on this one, the sleeves are just tubes with decreases on the underarm side.

YellowSweaterSkinnyYarnStartSide

I wanted sleeves narrower at the wrist than my circular needle allowed, so I started working back and forth at a point below the elbow when it started to get too tight to work in the round.    The ends of the sleeves were seamed when finished.  This texture chart was a great one for no curling, so no need for fancy edges.  Work in ends, sew on buttons, and all done!

YellowSweaterSkinnyYarnAlmostDone

Yarn: Colombine 99 183 0 – 50% acrylic/50% nylon.  Size 5 needles

Stitch charts followed: The New Knitting Stitch Library. Lesley Stanfield. Quarto Publishing, 1992.  Stripes at the hip are chart #13, pg. 28.  The rest of the sweater is chart #41, pg. 36.

 

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No knitting or crocheting on this one, however, once you see how to make a plant hanger, you can let your creativity flow and crochet or knit one if you prefer.  This is the quickie method of making one, it takes almost no time at all.

You will need thicker yarn or rope for the hanging.  I chose to take some of the yarn and ply it to itself, then ply it to itself again to make really thick yarn.  This plying took a few minutes and that was the most time consuming part.

Plant13

1. Cut equal length strands, long enough to go under the pot and have a couple of inches left over.  I used 6 strands of Red Heart acrylic yarn.  (See the note on number 8 about why the number matters.)  Choose a pot that has a rim at the bottom for catching water.  You can also use one of those plastic catchers, just put it under the pot as you are making the hanger so that it will fit inside.

Plant12. Tie one big knot in the middle.

Plant2

3. Spread the strands out equally. (I had 6 strands, so there are 12 strings spread out.)

Plant3

4. The knot goes in the middle under the pot.

Plant4

5. Take each 2 adjacent strands and tie them in a knot. (If you had 6 starting strands, this will be 6 knots.)  Try to get them about the same distance from the center knot.

Plant5

6. Tie another knot above the first using strands from knots next door as shown.

Plant6

7. I tied a 3rd knot in the same way.  Then I tied a thick strand around the rim of the pot.  (I plied yarn together to make thick yarn, but you can also braid it, crochet it, or just use a thinner strand for this.)

Plant7

8. Tie the knotted bottom part to the rim strand, trying to get it the same  distance from all of the knots.  I have 6 places where it is tied to the rim strand, this means 6 places between the knots where I could hang it from.  I chose to use 3 clumps of rope, but I also could have used every space and done 6.  (Something like 4 would have had it hanging a bit unevenly.  If you want 4, use 8 strands of string to start with.)

Plant8

9. I left the ends hanging on the thicker rim strand, but tied bows in the remaining ends of the other strings and trimmed them neatly.

Plant9

10. Hang it with thicker yarn, braided yarn, crocheted yarn, or rope.  You will probably need something thicker here, as wet mud is pretty heavy.  For this reason I would not use a pot bigger than this one.  Keep in mind, this will stretch much longer due to the weight, so make it shorter than you want it.  I used yarn twice as long as I wanted and looped it over the rim strand without tying another knot.

Plant10

11.  Three clumps of yarn on, equal distance apart.  Tie a big overhand knot (leaving long enough ends).

Plant11

12. Tie another knot above it for hanging on the hook.

Plant12

Add mud and a plant and hang on a hook.

Acrylic yarn will last awhile if you are careful when you water to not let the bottom overflow and get it dirty.  This one has big spaces so when you water you can tip the plant at an angle to dump the water out so mud doesn’t get on it so much.  It will last longer if it is inside or on a porch than if it is in the sun and rain.

If you want to, knit or crochet it.  You can even add buttons to make it cute.   (Make the same way as you’d make a hat – make a flat circle for the bottom, then keep going but stop increasing to make a ring in a tube shape to go upward on the pot).

 

 

 

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Make a purse on the Knifty Knitter:

KniftyKnitterPurseHowToFinished

What you’ll need:  After you make this purse on the Knifty Knitter, you will probably also want a zipper bag to sew into the inside.  For that you’ll need some cloth, thread, needle, and a zipper of the appropriate length.  And if you’re impatient like me, a sewing machine to at least knock out a large part of the sewing.  (Though, you may need to hand sew the zipper bag in at least partially, it’s difficult to get it sewn in real close on the machine.)   Knifty Knitter stitches tend to have lots of space between them, so you may lose items out of your purse if you don’t make a cloth inner bag.   Your zipper bag may show through, depending on yarn and loom choice, so you may have to be careful with color choice for the cloth.  I have written some instructions for how to make a zipper bag in this post: Tunisian Crochet Entrelac Bag.  You can also do a search for something like”how to make a zipper case school supplies”.  (An inner zipper bag on a purse is much like cloth zipper cases that children use to carry school supplies.)  You will also need the Knifty Knitter red loom, (the second smallest in the set of 4 round, with 31 pegs.)  It doesn’t matter what loom you use, but the smaller looms have pegs that are closer together, so you will have less space between your stitches if you use the smallest one you can.   Make your pieces whatever size you like. The yarn I used is one strand of Caron One Pounder, color deep violet; and one strand of Lionbrand Homespun, color Gothic.

KniftyKnitterPurseHowTo

How to make a purse.  You can really make a purse any old way you want, you don’t have to do it like the photo above.  You can just make a front and back and forget about the sides, and seam it around the edges on the inside.  Make your own handle, or use a store bought one.   Connecting in the round: If you make a tube instead of a front, back and sides – this would be another way. Make a round tube, then you only need to knit a flat rectangle for the bottom and sew the bottom on.  (This may come out looking different, I haven’t tried that way.)  You will find that seams on the edges on the drawing above help define the purse shape, that’s why I started with doing it that way – but as long as you make a sack, it’s not wrong.  You will have a purse.

KniftyKnitterPurseHere’s how I made the purse above:    I did what I said above, but instead of one long piece for sides and bottom, I included the handle too and made a ring, out of one long i-cord.   To start the purse:  I made the front piece first, using 24 pegs and working back and forth, all e-wrap,  (e-wrap is the stitch the Knifty Knitter teaches you how to do in the instructions it comes with for making the hat, which is a “twisted knit” stitch).   I used 1 strand of each of the above yarns, this made a rectangle ~9 1/4 inches wide (~23.5 cm.).  I made the front 6 1/4 inches (~16cm.) high, but I decided this was too tall because I wanted a pretty small purse, so I wound up folding the top of the front piece over later and sewing it down.  I really didn’t feel like doing any ripping out!   I liked the Homespun for this because it’s thick and fills in the holes, and its curly texture helps hide any stitch mistakes.  Mixing it with the Caron regular yarn just adds more of a tweed texture.

You can see below – the front piece and attaching the i-cord side at the bottom corner so I can make it exactly the right length. (The purse is upside down in this photo.)  After I knit a ways, I start attaching it while I’m still making it.  I did 4 pegs, all e-wrap to make the i-cord as shown.  I make my purse handles on the short side, the weight of the purse will stretch them a good bit longer.

KniftyKnitterPurseHowToFrontSides

I seamed along the bottom, up the side and over (the handle), then attached to the other side at the top edge and worked down the side to the bottom.  (In the photo below, the purse is right side up.)

KniftyKnitterPurseHowToFrontSides2

The back piece and binding off:  If you would like a more rounded flap instead of a square, decrease a few stitches on the corners of the top of the back piece.  (Flip the loop on the end peg over the peg next to it and knit off to decrease one.)  You can gauge the amount of curl you’re going to get by making the front piece first.  (It will be a shorter piece and attached on all sides and to a zipper bag, so its curl won’t show.  You can mix knit and purl stitches on the back piece to reduce curling if necessary.  For my purse, I did 3 pegs of purl stitch on each end every other row once I got to the part of the back flap that would lay over the front so I wouldn’t get curl.  I also did garter at the end of the flap for 4 rows (purl row, e-wrap row, purl row, e-wrap row).  You will want to do the last row before the bind off loosely.

How to bind off with a crochet hook:  Take off the last 2 loops on the end away from the working yarn and put them in the same order as before on a crochet hook.  Pull the one loop through the other.  Pick up another loop from the next peg, put it on the hook, then pull that loop through the other.  Keep going until the end.  Cut the working yarn and pull it through the last loop.  I usually run it under the backside a little, then knot it, but however you end it is your choice.

KniftyKnitterBindOffCrochetHook

Seam as shown below, (and make and attach a handle if you didn’t already).  To finish, sew a button onto the front piece for closure.  You don’t really need a button hole, since there is so much space between the stitches on Knifty Knitter knitting.   Before attaching a button, just push it through your knitting and make sure it fits through, but isn’t too loose to fall out.  Sew it onto the front piece in a place that will look nice when you close the back flap.

KniftyKnitterPurseHowToFrontButtonPhoto bomb!  She was quick!  One must always check what’s inside things.  Attach the button before the zipper bag.  Here you can sort of see where I sewed the front flap down inside because I decided later it was too tall, and the button sewn onto the front piece.  I used the Caron yarn for this.  The Caron is made up of 4 strands plyed together, I pulled the 2 and 2 apart to get a skinnier yarn that I could pull through a needle threader and regular sewing needle that fit through the button holes.

KniftyKnitterPurseHowToZipperBagThis is with the zipper bag sewn in, which should be done after the button is on.  I made a smaller zipper bag and left a hole on one side where I could stick a larger item.  My white zipper bag does show a little through the knitting on the outside, but not too much.  I thought about putting white cloth on the inside so I’d have more light for seeing the purse contents, and putting black cloth on the outside of it so it wouldn’t show through, but by the time I got to that step I had forgotten all about it.

A tip for doing garter stitch on a Knifty Knitter – tie a piece of other color yarn to one end of the right side.  You work back and forth, always on the right side –  when the working yarn is on the end with the scrap yarn, you know you do purls that row.  When it ends up on the other end, do an e-wrap row.

KniftyKnitterHowToPurl1How to purl on a knifty knitter:  In the photo above, you see you haven’t wrapped the yarn yet.  Put the hook downward through the loop that is on the peg.   In the photo below, wrap the yarn by just laying it below the loop on the peg and below the hook.

KniftyKnitterHowToPurl2

Below:  Use the hook to catch the working yarn and scrape it under the loop  and up the groove in the peg upwards to pull a loop upwards.

KniftyKnitterHowToPurl3

Below:  The loop I pulled up is on my finger.  Use the hook to pull the old loop off of the peg while holding the new loop.

KniftyKnitterHowToPurl4

Below, put the new loop on the peg.  You have made a purl stitch.  It’s not as quick as e-wrapping, so I usually limit my purls in a loom project.

KniftyKnitterHowToPurl6

Hope you enjoy making a purse!  If you are looking for more on the Knifty Knitter, or for items you can make on a peg loom, please visit my links page:  https://ilovesocks.wordpress.com/links-to-my-posts-by-title-category/

 

 

 

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How do you get the right size when knitting without a pattern if you are using a “new to you” yarn?

It’s easy to get the right size when you crochet, you just chain, wrap the chain around you, then stop when it’s long enough to fit.  You can create a knit garment that fits perfectly too, all you need is a tape measure, a calculator, and the time to do a small swatch in stockinette stitch.

SmallSwatch

Stitches per inch (or centimeter), horizontal counting:  Your swatch can be fairly small, so it doesn’t really need to take up much time.   At the minimum, you can knit a square just over 2 inches by 2 inches (or ~5 cm. x 5 cm.) using the needles and yarn you’ll want for your project.  The goal is to get the number of stitches per one inch.   You want a little extra room around your counting space, because you want to count in the middle of the swatch.  The top and bottom rows can pull differently, and the side ends can just be confusing looking.  Make sure not to stretch the fabric at all when measuring, just let it lie in its natural state.  (*See note below on margin of error and knitting more inches.)

For centimeter users:  1 centimeter is really too small a space to get an accurate stitch count, so it may be helpful to knit more centimeters, count the number of stitches in 2 or 4 cm., then divide that number by 2 or 4 (whichever you used), to get the number of stitches per centimeter.   (*See note below on margin of error and using more centimeters.)

Stitches per inch (cm.) in the vertical:  The swatch doesn’t need to be very tall, about 2 inches will do it, so you can count the height in the middle if you need it, also getting a number for vertical stitches per inch.  If you’re knitting for someone else and have their measurements, this number is useful.  If you’re knitting for yourself, you probably don’t need this number, except that it is a way to double-check your decisions.  When knitting for yourself, you can generally just hold the garment up to yourself and see if it’s long enough, so in that case you don’t really need a count in the vertical.  Most garments are knit top down, or bottom up, not usually sideways, so the horizontal number is the one you really need. (Though, of course, it could come up if you decide to knit sideways).  If you are following a pattern using a different yarn, such that you need to recalculate all of your stitch numbers, this vertical number can be useful as using a different gauge can throw off the sleeve and garment length.

Once you have your numbers, (number of stitches in an inch horizontally, and number of stitches in an inch vertically if you need it), you just measure yourself or the body in question.  Multiply your number of bodily inches by the number of stitches in an inch, and that’s how many stitches you cast on.  Use the photo below, it shows where you need to measure, and you will have to increase or decrease in various places as you go to get to each new number of stitches.  If you’re making a cardigan that you will wear over a bra and a long sleeve shirt, make sure to wear these items when taking your measurements, and keep notes on what you were wearing when you took the measurements so that you know if you use these measurements again later to make something else.  Don’t pull the tape measure too tightly – we want good honest numbers that will give us good fit.

When casting on, be sure to leave yourself some room.  I always add a few extra stitches to make sure my garment has some give.  If it’s a little too big, you can still wear it, but clothes that are too tight can be annoying or unwearable.   You know now how many stitches are in one inch, so you can decide if you want less than an inch of give, or a couple of inches of extra room

*Margin of error:  You can just count the stitches (or number of rows) in one inch (or 2 or 3 cm.) somewhere in the middle of the small swatch, but you may end up with 3 and a half stitches, or 6 and a quarter stitches. (And that’s fine, your calculator can still do it for you.)  But it can be hard to measure fractions of a stitch with surety.  If you do a bigger swatch, then count the stitches in 2 inches, then half it to get your number of stitches per inch, you can get a more accurate count.  (Same for centimeters, if you knit a bigger swatch, say 8 cm., then count the number of stitches in 4 cm., then divide by 4 to get your number of stitches in 1 cm., it is more accurate than just counting the stitches in 1 cm.)  Knitting more stitches to count will decrease your margin of error, but of course takes more time, so you have to choose, time vs. the potential for error!

Here is an example of how to do it, with some bad art and some made up numbers for measurements:measurementsThe gray lines show where people tend to be the biggest or the littlest, so these give us good places to know about in the horizontal.  Hips, waist, bust or chest, shoulders, and neck. (You only really need “neck” for items that have high, tiny necks such as turtlenecks or mock turtlenecks.  Remember the head still has to fit through it.)

The green lines show you where to measure in the vertical.  Hips (or wherever you want the bottom of the sweater to be) to armpits, hips to neck, and length of the arm from the shoulder seam to where you want the sleeve to end.

The blue lines show you the circumference of the arm, which lets you know how big to make the armhole, and the width of the sleeves.  Remember to leave some wiggle room inside, as tight armholes are very uncomfortable, and that the hand has to be able to pass through the wrist space.

The math, and casting on:  If you plan to make a sweater from the hip upwards, and the hip line measures 40 inches around the person, you need 40 inches if you knit in the round.   If you’re going to make a front and back piece, each piece needs to be cast-on at 20 inches.

If you knit a swatch with your chosen yarn and needles, and you get 6 stitches per inch, 6 st. x 40 inches = 240 stitches to cast on in the round; or for front and back 6 st. x 20 inches = 120 stitches to cast on.  Remember to add a few extra stitches for your chosen amount of extra room.

Following a pattern using a different gauge:  On a related subject, lets say you want to knit following a pattern, but using a different yarn, or on different needles. Then you may need to recalculate your number of stitches for every single thing you do, and as mentioned above, it may also effect the vertical.  I did this recently, I made the Tilted Duster from Interweave Knits magazine (Fall 2007) using Caron Simply Soft yarn in Victorian Rose on size 8 needles.  Their gauge was 4.25 stitches in 1 inch.  Mine was 4.5 stitches in an inch.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it did change the numbers.  I went through and got the number of inches for the number of stitches they told me to do every single place in the pattern, then calculated how many stitches that would be in my gauge.  A lot of calculating, but it came out nice!  (I made a non-gauge related mistake, it said make the collar 5 inches but I kept thinking they said 6 inches for some reason instead, so mine is high, but I like it.)  Here is an example:  They said cast on 78 stitches.  78 stitches divided by 4.25 stitches per inch = 18.35 inches.  (That’s their gauge).  Mine is 4.5 stitches per inch, so 18.35 inches x 4.5 stitches per inch =82.57 (or 83) stitches to cast on.

KnittingTiltedDusterInterweave

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This was my first project trying to wing it with continuous /seamless crochet motifs.  My tank top has a LOT of problems, but they were easy repairs, and at least I’ll know better for next time.  I’ll tell you all of the problems I had in case it helps someone else’s first project come out a little better.

CrochetContinuousMotifTankFrontHere is the front, this is the finished product, after most of the repair.  (There is one forgotten unconnected loop sticking out near the middle, but I’ve since tied that to an adjacent loop and that is fixed now too.)

Main Problem:  There is a great need for planning.  I just learned how to do continuous crochet (meaning making the motifs connected together as you go so you don’t seam any of them together).  So, I hadn’t wrapped my brain around all of this that thoroughly and I just had the most general of plans.  My plan was this:

CrochetTankTopMotifsI was going to make a tank top in this shape, with long straps only on one side which I’d attach at the back instead of making 4 identical straps to join at the tops of the shoulders.  I thought that might help avoid a potentially bumpy over-shoulder seam.  The width is long enough to wrap around the body and seam together under one arm.  (This seam is pretty obvious, it is the stripe of big holes under the arm in the top photo – lack of planning.  I’ll get back to that seam later.)  The same lack of planning caused other worse problems, such as those you see below.

CrochetMotifConitnuousTankBackThis has since been fixed, but this was how it looked.  The back neckline is crooked, where you have a high motif and a low one, and another motif is folding over under the right arm because it is also a high one.  This project would have been easy if my motifs lined up in a straight line, such as if you do granny squares and attach them together corner to corner.  You can keep connecting them and get a bigger square or rectangle with even sides.  If they had been the kind of motif that lined up evenly, the neckline and hemline would have automatically come out even, in a straight line.  Easy peasy!

grannyMotifs

In the chart of motifs I chose, one row of motifs nestles into the spaces between the motifs on each adjacent row (rows really meaning columns as they are worked vertically).  This makes for an uneven bottom, which was fine as it was decorative,  and an uneven top, which was less fine.  You have high columns and low columns alternating. (Excuse my bad art, but you get the idea.)

HexagonsSuch an organization of motifs can work, but it requires either some fudging at the end like I did, or more planning.  If you plan in advance, and draw out your design, you will see how many rows you need between the shoulder strap-having rows, and whether they end up tall or short.

Things you can do:

1.  Modify the number of rows as described in 2 pics below.   2.  Plan to do half-motifs to fill in the gaps (this is what I did to fix necklines after the fact, but if you plan for them, you can work them in as you go in the first place leaving no need for repair).    3. You can decide to work in another direction.  This top is worked vertically up and down, going across makes a straighter edge, but you may get the top portions of your motifs folding over at the necklines.  You may have to swatch a few to see if this is a problem for you.

About #1:  I needed only 2 rows between the straps  using a size H hook and the yarn I chose.  In other words, I had this (2 rows of motifs between the straps = uneven neckline):

neckline1

If I had drawn it out and seen that, I could have planned for this instead (3 rows between the straps, giving 2 higher close to the straps and a lower one in the middle, making a reasonable looking design).  To make that happen I could have used a smaller hook, or thinner yarn to make the top come out the same size.

neckline2

About #2:  If you have your heart set on a certain yarn and hook, you can plan to do half motifs instead to fill in any gaps.  If you put some thinking into it, you can figure out how to do a half motif and work it into your design seamlessly, doing it much the same way as the rest of the motifs on your chart.  This is how I wound up repairing the top edge – adding half-motifs after the fact.   After the fact means I had to work extra ends in.

About that holey side seam – again, lack of planning.  If I had drawn out what this design would look like, given the number of rows I was making between the straps and under the arms, I would have seen this row clash where the side seam was going to go.  It was a low column and a low column…. (More bad art, but you get the idea):

motifsHitting

…instead of this (a high and a low column next to each other, meshing together like they did for the rest of the tank top):

motifsBlended

To make them mesh, it would have required adding a row, or removing a row.  This can mean changing hook or yarn size, or it can mean adding rows and making a tank top with a little more give.  You can see if this can work by drawing all of this out and planning in advance.  You don’t need to be a major artist, just drawing rough circles in the place where they’d be will let you see how it will come out.  You will probably need to swatch or at least just make the first row so you can get an idea of how many motifs you’ll need to draw where.

About seamless crochet for anyone who may not already know it:  If you aren’t familiar with this technique, so far all of the seamless crochet I’ve seen consists of making a long chain, then working upwards on it to complete one motif, then moving on to the next motif by making a long chain, leaving off much of the outer edge on all.  Once you have a row of motifs, you then work back up the row doing the outer edge on the top halves where you left it off.  You still leave some outer edge off of the beginning motif because when the whole shirt is done, you will work that last edge of all of the rows as one.  For my tank top, each row is worked upward, then down, (vertically), and the last outer edge was the bottom hem at the hip.

Charts are very helpful because they show you exactly how much to work on each motif and when, which gets it to come out looking good.

CrochetConinuousMotifBookI used the above yarn and followed a chart from this book, putting my motifs into a tank top shape.  I do not speak Chinese, but you only need to follow the pictures.  In the handful of continuous crochet charts I’ve seen, the starting chain is always in blue, you do black next, then do dark pink last.   Some charts use purple for the very last finishing outer edge (though not in this book, both are dark pink.)  You can usually find this book in Chinese or Japanese on Amazon by searching for continuous crochet, and you can of course also find books in English.

For more on continuous crochet, see part 2 here, where I make a different style of tank top.

Book reference: Continuous Crochet Motif 60. Nihon Vogue-Sha. 2009.  ISBN-10: 9866817466.  I used design #2 for this tank top, pg. 9.

Yarn: Red Heart Shimmer in “Purple”. Art E763, Col 1536.

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