Making Progress

Above is the front and back.  To say I am pleased, is an understatement. Truly I didn’t expect to be making progress,especially this much in only a few days.  I was able to knit these two pieces in the evenings while watching TV.

They are straight pieces and practically mirror images. The difference is in the necklines.  I am still not totally confident in my swatch-to-gauge calculations. I am planning a cut and sew neckline.  Instead of the modified cut and sew I usually do, I’ve opted for the more traditional method with another exception.  When Sweater Maker said to start shaping, I hung a marker yarn.  Hopefully you can expand the pics and see the green yarn outlining the necklines.

At first glance I thought  “These are too long. I don’t have the row gauge correct.”  Well both row and stitch gauge were verfied for me by simply measuring the pieces. They finished the expected width and length.  The error has to be somewhere else AND it is.  I am planning a 1″ ribbing at the hem. I should have reduced the length of the side from hem to underarm by the amount of the planned hem.  Usually I do that by looking at the row gauge and beginning with the row count set to equal 1″ of knitted rows. Didn’t do that. Definitely my bad and now an issue for me.

I could serge off 1″ from the bottom and add my hem. I don’t particularly like the looks of that, but it is possible.  Another option is since I am already doing cut and sew of the necklines, I could mark and stitch another 1″ lower from the top edge, then serge an additional 1″ off the top. Which is probably what I will do. It makes for a rougher finish at the top. Neither choicea are entirely objectionable to me but I will be disappointed that I am using RTW rather than the really professional knit finish I had envisioned.

Still have the sides to knit (I am using the Tabula Rasa Tee as my shape) and of course the ribbings/bindings/edge finishes after I decide how to handle them.


Summer Knit

Well, most of summer.  I’m using a variegated rayon yarn in what I call Weaving Fair Isle.  The backing yarn is a grey cotton.  As such, it is mostly 2 layered and even with these fine yarns will be too uncomfortable when South Dakota his triple digit temps.

That’s pattern 399 from Stitch World II; T7 (7.06s/10.91r).  399 is a weaving pattern the difference with my use in Weaving FI is that I don’t have to move the yarn from one side of the carriage to the other.  Weaving and lace techniques make me wish I had not given up my Singer 700. The carriage of the Singer 700 made weaving and lace a very easy technique.  On my Brother KH970 both lace and weaving become labor intensive.  The technique I am using, using Thread lace set up for the KH970, makes weaving easy. But, I find I must be selective with patterns. Not even all the weaving patterns work, IMO.  I have to swatch but when looking at patterns I want no more than 3 boxes beside each other  of either white or black boxes.

While that will be successful for me, I don’t always like the final swatch because of the color combinations. Several years ago, American’s went crazy over variegated yarns. They dominated the shelves of our stores and the pages of catalogs. I succumbed to a quite a few until I realized I don’t always like they way they knit up.  Nor am I willing to spend hours calculating repeats over stitches.  I found that stripes, weaving  or Fair Isle were my best chance for producing a fabric I would like, YMMV. Point being that I swatched for a couple of hours using 7 or 8 different yarns before coming up with this  grey and variegated combination with pattern 399. Somehow, it just works in my eyes.

I used Sweater Marker to calculate a set-in sleeve sweater, women’s size 40. My crew neckline is set 4.5″ deep. Yes I used the set-in sleeve style eve though I plan to be sleeveless.  Armscye depth 8.5″ was acceptable on the Pink Thread Lace Raglan just completed even though I just barely finished the edges due to lack of yarn.  My neckline will not be deep enough. I am planning a cut and sew neckline and will correct the neckline at that time.

A major change is that I plan to use the style lines of my Tabula Rasa Sleeveless T a sewing pattern already made several times.  I know it fits. The TRT is essentially a paneled garment. So this is not a new or clever idea for either sewing or knitting worlds. The unique factors of the TRT are the placement of the panels and the sleeveless T-s squared underarm. I will round the underarm slightly when I add the binding I love the idea of not keeping track and not stopping to make what seem to be minor shapping changing. Because I know my pattern so well, I can adapt SM’s direction.  I will knit straight from hem to shoulder n53L-n53L,which creates a 20″ central panel, which excludes  the side 28 stitches. There are 2 sides as well as my front and back pieces, but I will need two (28*2) 56 stitch panels for how many rows?  Well SM says to start my armscye shaping at row 158 so that is where I will scrap/bind off, straight across.  (To make things easier when joining the side pieces, I will hang a marker on the back and front, both sides at row 158),  Although these are major changes,  SM made it very easy to decide where and when.

Using dressmaking patterns is not a new idea to machine knitters. I believe back in the 80’s the concept was so popular that the manufacturers actually created a device, the Stitch Leader, on which you could trace or tape your sewing pattern and knit while the device would follow the contours of the garment. It suddenly opens a huge possibility of styles without intensive calculations or even software.  KM’rs loved it.

I’m looking forward to this project but warn you not to look for any progress for at least a week. I’m just not as prolific or awesome as Mary Anne Oger.  I do find t keeping a blog ups my enthusiasm and productivity but it is still knitting than assembling a garment. Takes time especially when you start with thread.


Pink Thread Lace

I planned this top to take advantage of a lovely Bambu yarn I purchased from Bonnie Triola when she was still in business. I again used Sweater Maker to calculate shaping and I trusted the numbers SM gave me for the neckband. I had but 9 oz. of yarn I knew it would never make a long sleeve sweater, especially for a large woman.  I had my doubts there was enough for even a short sleeve or  sleeveless. So in planning I decided upon the raglan shape with a thread lace pattern with Plan B being raglan with sun straps.

I used  #366 from Stitch World III. My “lace” is 2 strands of serger thread. There were several times I was glad I used 2 strands because 1 strand would drop but  I didn’t lose the whole stitch.  This stitch had a tendency to drop at the edges and neckline shaping.  Really a PITA and caused me to modify my neckline somewhat by incorporating a few stitches more into neckline after knitting.  I use my dressmaker’s curve and a washable marker to mark the new neckline

Zig zagged at the sewing machine and then trimmed away the excess.

Little bigger than planned but not bad at all.

My finishing choices were a combination of very little yarn available and a goof. Somehow my garter carriage did not read the 1×1 ribbing I thought I programmed.  I’d already knit this neckband twice. I didn’t want to rip and knit a 3rd time. Anyway, with the neckband finished, it was obvious I didn’t have enough to do several rows of ribbing on the hem and armscyes (which still needed to be finished).   I settled for 3 rows of stocking knit stitch. After the side seams were finished, I had about 2 yards of yarn left. Talk about cutting it close.

I think I need to steam the sleeve portion just a little more.  It will never lie flat because it is stocking knit but I would like it to stretch out far enough to cover my bra straps.

I was reluctant to add 3 rows for the RBA (round back alteration) which is why there are diagonals from shoulder blades to hip. It’s probably dumb luck that it does fit this well. Once again the garment stitch gauge did not match the swatch stitch gauge.  Row gauge is fine.  This should have finished 44″wide at the hem. It finished at 48″.  This is fine for fit. I’d prefer something like 44-45 but this is fine. I am concerned enough to take action.  I seem to consistently have an issue with stitch gauge. I’ve decided to change my swatch from 40 stitches by 60 rows to 60 stitches to 60 rows.

Last comment; see that line  about 4″ above the hem?  When I started knitting I pushed in only the top button.  I wondered why I was getting long floats until I checked to manual and found out both buttons needed to be pushed in.  I didn’t notice the difference in color and the line until it was all done.  I refused to rip and reknit. It will be another one of those garments I wear at home but not in public unless I can cover it with a 3rd layer.  Hate making those kind of errors. Thing is, there is so much to remember and do to produce a machine knit garment. It’s easy to forget something important.  Sometimes I feel like we need to be helicopter pilots. No matter how much training they’ve had; how many hours they’ve spent behind the stick, a helicopter pilot always takes his manuals out and reads from the book when starting up his machine.

Summer Raglan Done!

I made this garment as a test of Sweater Maker’s instructions. Actually calculating the raglan sweater decreases was my biggest reason for buying a software. I knew no matter how this garment turned out it would be educational for me. Good thing I took that attitude because my post here, here, here and here document that I needed understanding and experience.

The current standard of fit seems to be “If it goes around, it fits.” So you’re going to tell me I have a sway-back

But I insist, the problem is not enough circumference.  This is due to having achieved row gauge but not stitch guage. My sweater should have been 44″ at the hem. It is not. It is 40″. It stretches to ‘go around” but then the false resemblence to a sway-back becomes apparent.

I really struggled with achieving a consistent gauge. That’s why I knit a back and 4 sleeves before finally giving up.  I did not expect this fit.  I did hope it would knit consistently. Even though I didn’t achieve stitch guage, I have experience here and with my previous sweaters to know that the circumference numbers I put into Sweater Maker software are the numbers I want my garment to be.

That’s a happy note, even though my raglan’s are not long enough. How can I tell?  Well as soon as I slipped it on and smoothed it down, the armscye felt too tight.  Then I took pictures and what did I see:

I know from my sewing experience, those drag lines indicate the armscye is too short.  Why is it good? Because my armscye measured 7″ deep, the same number(7)  Sweater Maker recommended for armscye depth. It needs to be longer. This is one of those things, I thought might be wrong but just wasn’t sure. Which indicated a test garment was needed. I now know what is needed, what number is correct for me.

I am delighted to say that the recommended stitches for the neckline, 172, was spot on. I added 2, 1 at each end of the neckline because I was knitting a straight piece of fabric that needed to be joined in a circle. I knew I needed a stitch for the seam.  However, I am still having  problems getting a nice tight neckband

It’s not my garter carriage. I knit the ribbings 10 stitches shorter.  At 172 stitches, the neckband was considerably shorter proportionately to the ribbings. This is a Cut-N-Sew neckband. For neatness sake it needs 4 rows stocking knit stitch on either side of the neckline; then capped off with the needed rows to make the band 1″ wide. It looks good except for being floppy.  This is a continuing problem. Probably something I’m doing and don’t realize (most of my Sweater Maker issues was not understanding what to do.)  For now, I’ve ordered and recieved a knit-a-long elastic i.e. it is knit at the same time as the ribbing and because it is so thin it does not need to be plated. I understand there are a number of sock-knitters who won’t knit without the elastic.  Also heard/read a number of knitters claim they absolutely needed the elastic for all their ribbings and welts. So maybe, it’s not me.

This garment is already in the Good Will box to be donated because it is too tight i.e. doesn’t have enough circumference

I’m almost disappointed. I really didn’t like the color all that well and even though I chose to knit a short sleeve, I didn’t really want a short sleeve. I wear short sleeve garments for about 2 weeks every year.  The rest of the year I want long sleeves to keep my arms warm or I don’t want sleeves at all to cool off my arms. I knit the short sleeve raglan to understand the process and where the pieces fit together. I know that from sewing but knitting is slightly different; machine knitting a bit different still. So why did I even choose raglan?  Well I know a cap sleeve raglan is possible and very yarn conserving.  I have several lovely yarns I want to use but I’m short on yardage. Not even a sleeveless may work.  Straps might but I don’t like straps all that well (they keep falling off my shoulders). I need something small that will hug my body.  So almost disappointed because

  1. I understand the raglan and can now knit either a full sleeve or cap sleeve as desired.
  2. I know I can trust the number of needles and stitches Sweater maker specifies which means
  3. Sweater Maker can easily recalculate decreases for me for different yarns and stitch patterns
  4. I can trust Sweater Makers suggested neckband stitches.
  5.  I am ready to knit my expensive yarn.

Linking with the GC (Garter Carriage)

I starting wondering if the GC could link my garments after discovering that I could rehang and use the GC to knit ribbing and CO. In case you are not an experienced machine knitter let me explain. Generally we machine knitters define linking as a method of joining the pieces of knitting into a whole whether it be a garment, afghan or other creation.  I’ve done almost all my linking with a transfer tool by wrapping around the gate pegs. I’ve tried several other linking methods joining methods, this is the one I like the best for its appearance and elasticity of the seams. But it is getting hard to do. It takes me hours, days to do an entire garment.  In the last few years I’ve started breaking this chore down into segments: sleeves-to back; sleeves to front; side seams.  Sometimes the side seams which are pretty long in the typical sweater are done on two different days.  It is not uncommon for it to take me 5 days finishing a sweater including 1 session just darning in the ends. (5 days doesn’t count the day or two needed to add ribbings and neckline.)  I started finishing  in these sessions because my aging body hurts. It’s actually hours of abuse to sit in a crouched over position rehanging and binding off all those stitches.   The repetitive action of binding off has me swallowing Tylenol as not only my back but my forearm and hand start pulsing in pain. So I started wondering if I could I link using the GC?

Happily the answer is yes and this is how:

Rehang one side of the knitting as usual.

Don’t forget to place not the last stitch but the stitch below the last onto the nearest gate peg

Then hang the other side

Both sides rehung as viewed from above

I’m linking a short sleeve, raglan sweater and was able to rehang both body and sleeve on the bed at the same time.  I anticipate that a long-sleeve garment will require hanging half, linking, and then hanging the other half which will of course mean a few more ends to darn. I can handle the darning. I do it in my comfortable chair.

Set the main carriage on the left. To build elasticity into the sam, use a higher tension then the garment was knit.  My garment was knit at T7, so my bind off is at T9.

Pull all the needles out; carriage is normal i.e. not on hold KC not set; buttons not set etc etc. Knit one row left to right. I used the yarn I knit used to knit the garment but a thinner yarn maybe even serger thread could be a better choice if there are any problems .

After the row is knit, remove the main carriage and set up your garter carriage on the right.

Use settings recommended in your manual, except I again I used T9. Well I used T5 when I joined sleeves to body of the garment but then I remembered I like to add more elasticity in the long sleeves.

Note that I have the GC 95. Not all garter carriages cast off. Even if your model does, it may not use the settings shown above.  Check your manual!

Then, as specified in your user manual,  hang your cast on comb

On my model, KH970, the CB-1 is powered off. the GC powered on. So now I pushed the green “Go” button and let him work!  I just sat back and watched as he hummed and thumped across the bed.  Ummm I watched from my easy chair because my KM is in the living room where we also watch TV. (Hey, it’s a living room.)

Power off the GC when —- Done!

Then it’s remove everything as usual and onto the next step.

I was surprised at how quickly the task was finished. I used to think all my time was invested in rehanging the two pieces on the KM. That’s actually uses only a small portion of my time. I was done with all the same knitting session, same day. Love it!!!.

Definitely doing this again and again and again.


It’s been a few days. Not because I forgot you or haven’t been knitting, it’s because I’ve run into stumbling block after stumbling block.  The photo below:

represents many hours of dedicated knitting. Hours to which  my back objected . That pile contains a back, 4 sleeves and 5 swatches.  Swatches take the most time because I knit this little piece (40 stitches 60 rows) but then I let it rest overnight before lightly blocking and measuring.  Partly they, the swatches are why I’ve become so frustrated.  I can’t seem to produce the same gauge when actually knitting the garment piece as I did when knitting the swatch. At one point I wondered if my PC was having problems; resulting in deleting all but the 2 successful garment files from the subdirectory. Also did some updates and a bunch of other stuff. I think something may have been happening in the computer, but that was the entire problem.

I considered static as a possible source of my problem and spent time cleaning and de-staticing (is that a word?) my 970. Also  spent lots of time delving into a very good Melissa Leapman book 6000+Sweaters and even more hours measuring sewing patterns for knit raglan. I did the numerous swatches above. After the 4th sleeve and in total frustration I decided I had ahold of one of those cones of yarn that are not good for machine knitting because they don’t knit consistently.  In which case I could either toss the project and donate the yarn or just knit and put it together not caring who or what the garment would fit.

I opted for the later. Besides being frustrated, I never wanted this particular garment anyway. I wanted to test SM; to see what dimensions would be produced so I could determine what I needed to change to achieve a sweater for me.  I already have a lovely cotton/silk yarn swatched and ready to go but I don’t have enough yarn to knit it repeatedly. That’s especially important because I chose a thread lace stitch. I almost just flat refuse to even consider rewinding thread lace. Swear it is worse than FairIsle. the green yarn that is so frustrating to me was chosen because it is on hand and there was plenty to mess with.

Bottom line: I knit a 5th sleeve to pair with the first then knit the back and front. When blocked the dimensions of each was really close to the specified dimensions in the schematics! Dang! I might have to wear this thing after all.

So happily, I knit to dimensions which I admit to having tweaked SM’s defaults for the Womens Size 40, raglan, crew neck with the dimensions I measured on a favorite  Otto Jersey Knit raglan top. I expected this and am not disappointed.  I am pleased that knitting and shaping was almost as expected.  I did not shape the back neck because my measurements, my neckline depth needed about 3 rows of shaping. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not enough to worry with.  It is the front neck which still concerns me. The directions had me bind off a certain number of stitches across the front neck (pretty standard) and then decrease at each side of the neck regularly (also pretty standard).  Where it departed from standard is that the decreases created this long string of 1-3 stitches along each neck edge which is a PITA when it comes time to assemble the garment.  I am sure that  is partly due to my changed neck width. Think a new user would be overly frustrated dealing with that. For myself, I realized this is a place I will need to audit before beginning to knit.  I will need to decide where and how to end the decreases and when/how to mark the sleeves so that I will know where the neck joins the sleeve. (Doing my way I won’t have a long string but I also wont have the front and sleeve the same length.)

So am I done yet?  No. Another stumbling block. I wanted a cut and sew type neckline. My first calculations produced a neckband way to small. Recalculate and I need more stitches for the neckband than I have needles on my bed. Check the instructions (do that when all else fails) and they specify something in between my two calculations. However, SM says something to the effect that they’re calculation is only a guide because you really can’t know how many stitches are needed until the garment is finished.

Am I done?  No I’m on pause until I decide how to handle the neck which is taking so long because I want a process I can count on in the future. I mean I really don’t want to knit the neckband 3 or 4 times with every raglan sweater that I create. Would you?

Raglan Sleeve Take 2

so I should explain…

When starting this knitting project, I measured not the sweater but a pattern I’d made from the sweater after I’d owned the sweater for only a week or so.  From one perspective, that’s an excellent point in time because I would be measuring before my body pulled/pushed it out of shape. Entering those numbers produced a shape that at least looked like the familiar raglan sleeve shape:


Definitely not a witches hat! I basted it along the side seams, slipped my hand in (just as I did for Sleeve 1) and pulled it up.   Thankfully, it did continue up my neck an inch like the previous, um sleeve.   But then I had to question where it was on my body. More accurately, where I wanted my sleeve (before ribbing) to lay. I had to admit, it was still a bit high and rather narrow. I have nice shoulders, most women do, but they’re not the shoulder width of a 6 year old.

So I pulled the WM (Walmart) sweater out of the closet; smoothed it out  and took new measurements–i.e. not from the pattern of the pristine but the shape of heavily used (I do love this sweater and hope to have more).

The numbers are considerably different. So of course, I entered the new numbers into SM (Sweater Maker) and knit a new test sleeve!

Well Sleeve 3 was a “What the h3ll” moment:

Like sleeve 2 it produced more of the raglan shape I expected, but was far from what I want to wear as a sleeve. I should mention that I had not liked the fabric of Sleeve 2.   I had knit a new swatch at a Tension of 8 and entered that tension into  the SM for Sleeve 2. For Sleeve 3, I entered the Swatch information from the knitted Sleeve 2 so that I would create the same nice fabric.  I was hopeful that my changes would produce a better sleeve.  I entered the tension information after making all the measurement changes. I expected the tension changes to affect the number of rows and stitches.

I was definitely surprised when looking at Sleeve 3 when it came off the needles.  I allowed it to rest about an hour and then took it downstairs for a quick steam-iron blocking. Not sure what I was expecting the steam to do. Really my expectations for blocking should not have been that high. After blocking Sleeve 3 was still 2″ across the neck, just like it was before blocking–I wanted 5.  The diagonal was 12″ long (not 8 as planned). So my first thought of “block this sucker and it  will be alright” was obviously wrong.

Next thought, I didn’t knit to gauge. Not sure how that could happen because I am positive I changed the dial to 6 and I am still using the yarn from the same cake (I rewind all my yarn from cone to cake). I measured Sleeve 3 and compared it to the schematic. Stunningly, the schematic did not reflect the number I had typed in before I made the tension change. I would be surprised that I need to fill in tension before the rest of the information.  I expect for one change to update all affected parts. I don’t expect one change to reset everything to default or previous settings.  But  looks like what has happened. If this is true, I can understand why SM doesn’t have a huge following. If, because I’m still allowing for my having done something wrong. I mean it is a program. I crunches the number you feed it. Or numbers it was fed at some point.

I think I should make another sleeve. I shut SM down. After a few minutes, open SM; open the WM Sweater.  Check the dimensions of the WM Sweater.  Again a surprise, the sleeve neck has changed from 5.5 to 2″– the default of the women’s size 40, not the dimension I want.  I changed to it back to 5.  No other changes. Print the front, back, sleeve and measurements because I want to prove I really did make and save those changes! However,something is wrong, very wrong.  Again, I want the neck on the sleeve to finish at 5″. My gauge is 7.27″. Just for quick estimating let’s take 7 (stitches per inch) and multiple by 5 (inches I want).  I should finish the rows of the sleeve with 35 stitches. Right?  The schematic shows 18. Eighteen (18) stitches. Divided by 7 is only going to  2″ and a little. D@mn!  Double d@mn!.  I’m not going to get what I want this way.


What now?