Category Archives: Cut N Sew

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.

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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.

Modified Cut N Sew Neckline

I often mention doing a modified Cut N Sew Neckline. As a whole, I don’t care for Cut N Sew for general garment shaping.  I do use it when the choices are Cut N Sew, Rip and Reknit; or Landfill.

I have a couple of objections to Cut N Sew.

  1. CNS requires more yarn.
  2. More yarn is more expense.  Generally I buy yarns in the $25-35/per pound range. Sometimes I am offered half pounds but generally that means if I want to use CNS, I’m going to need 2 pounds. $70 (shipping not included) and then I will have half a pound sitting on my shelves for darn near forever.
  3. CNS dramatically increases the time needed from swatch to finished garment. Well it does for me because I knit the yardage, then block it during which I need to keep the knitting balanced; unbiased. I place my pattern on this yardage and then either mark and baste around the outline.  If marked by chalk, felt tip, etc I will need to machine stitch around the outline to hold the stitches. MK will run and I don’t want to pick up and reknit a dozen tiny stitches.  Once I have my shapes marked and cut … Oh did I forget to mention that I now get to cut the shape free from the excess? Well I do and then I can serge the pieces together like a regular T.  I’ll probably have to mattress stitch a few areas by hand. Then I will press again. I’m telling you this takes me so much longer than shaping the pieces during the knitting and linking them together on the machine.  I acknowledge and even applaud that you may whip through the same process much quicker than myself.

Point being that generally I avoid CNS except when I need to shape a neckline. I have been disappointed in the traditional CNS neckline. I’m not always successful at keeping the knitting on grain during cutting. The result is a lopsided neckline. Sometimes the lopsidedness is so subtle that it is unrecognizable during construction. Good, right? Well until I wear the garment and find myself constantly tugging at the neck.

I don’t do too well with the traditionally shaped-on-the-machine neckline either. I don’t know what m problem is but at least half the time I don’t reset the row counter to the right row. The other half, I don’t start the stitch pattern, or don’t start it on the right row. Definitely a personal shortcoming.

My solution has been a Modified Cut-N-Sew Neckline. Let me demonstrate

I knit up to the neckline shaping. I take a long piece of yarn and bind off the predetermined neckline as directed. Actually, I fold the yarn in half to locate the center of the yarn and then starting with NDL 0 and the middle of my yarn bind off usually left to right first and then return to NDL 0 and bind off right to left.  I place a clip on both ends to add a little weight. Then I knit as directed to the next bind off.  Placing my carriage in hold, I bring the specified number of stitches to hold. I wrap the yarn ends up and over the needle in hold on both sides of the neckline. Then knit until the next bind off and repeat. I finish with a smoothly shaped neckline that has been reinforced by those needle wraps. However, as seen above, there’s a bunch of strings in the way.

Next Step

. Not trimming. I usually serge the edge which trims the strings/threads/yarn and finishes the edge at the same time. Couldn’t get to my serger this time, so I did a narrow zig zag along the neckline edge before trimming with scissors. Either way, the end result:

is a nicely knit and shaped neckline. Stitch pattern, color changes the same all the way across and incidentally I always finish on the same row something I rarely manage when I knit the two side separately.

Can’t say this is my own invention. I read it somewhere a long time ago. I tried it, I like to try new ideas, and it has become my goto neckline method.

200 Needle Knitting

aka Machine Knitted. Both hand and machine knitting have a place in my life.  I love hand knitting.  I love take along projects that occupy my fingers when I need to be still.  Machine knitting fills that place in my mind that wants complicated knits or instant gratification.  Unfortunately my machine knitting, like the hand knitting,  has languished the last several years.  Oh I’ve tried several times.  Fired up the machines. Cleaned carefully and knit numerous swatches.  Even started and ruined a few projects.  That’s why today’s project is precious to me, even with all it’s imperfections:

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It’s knit with 2 strands of 2/24 acrylic yarn in a tuck stitch pattern that imitates cables or fisherman knits.

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Even with 2 strands of yarn, this is a light weight knit and does not have quite the depth of a hand knit fisherman’s  Guernsey. The purl side becomes the right side although the knit side is also interesting.

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I used simple shapes or intended to use simple trapezoid shapes.

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Many sweaters are built of basic rectangles or squares. Which is fine. It’s just that the pear-shaped me finds that a narrower shape at the top fits a little nicer. Hangs just a bit more gracefully. Has fewer folds of fabric beneath the arms. I don’t have to settle for too tight across the hips or too wide across the shoulders/bust.  Back and front would be knit like the figure on the left. Interestingly, the same shape laid over on its side (on the right) makes a nice sleeve. I planned for a cut and sew scoop neckline finished with single knit bands folded in half to cover the raw edges.  A similar band would and did begin each piece to form the welts along the hem and wrist.

Now this is a simple shape created with regularly spaced decreases along the sides.  It can be pretty mindless knitting which allows one to be concerned with all the minutiae you need to keep track of when machine knitting. If only people really knew what had to be done for a successful machine knit garment, they’d be a lot more respectful when talking about machine knits.  The first step is swatch 40 stitches knit in pattern of the garment over 60 rows. Swatch is then treated to its expected final environment which in my case will involve occasional washing on the hand  cycle of my front loader.  As much as I may complain about my front loaders, I have to admit that the hand wash cycle is superior to my personal hand washing. The washing machine is both thorough and gentle. My sweaters will also receive freshening in the dryer and light pressing. So I partially dry the swatch and then lay it out to finish air drying followed by a light press. Then I take the gauge measurements.  The Trapezoid Sweater is a favorite of mine. Very easy to change the final look through use of patterning, dimensions and neckline or sleeve finishes.   I’ve used it so often in the past, that I have a pretty good worksheet to make my calculations. Yes, yes my KH970 has the capability of making all those calculations internally. The thing is, I had this worksheet first and have never taken the time to figure out how that machine feature works.

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However something went terribly wrong. Since I’ve used this worksheet many times (many , many times), I’m pretty sure the worksheet is good. I checked and rechecked the worksheet. I’m sure it’s good.  What went wrong had to happen with the swatch. Maybe the number of stitches/rows is off. Or the swatch reacted to the laundry/ironing process more than the finished pieces. Whatev, I reknit the front and back twice. The trapezoid was long and narrow.  After 4 fronts/backs, I decided upon a cut and sew option. Figured out how many extra stitches I would need to make the needed width. I cast those on and knit straight up.  I had to reclaim yarn to knit all 4 pieces.  While washing and blocking the pieces, I converted my newly completed knit block it to a dartless block. Using that I cut T-shirt shaped pieces and serged them together.

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I top stitched over the serging using my cover stitch machine. It holds the seams flat which is really nice during wear.  At this stage, shoulders stitched, sleeves attached in armscyes and top stitched, I added a rib knit band around the neckline.  Both the thread and fabric band match in color so it’s not noticeable. Probably helped that both fabric and yarn are eons old.

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The knit-on bands at the hem and wrists wouldn’t snug to the body so I added elastic in the channel that is formed when the band is turned up and attached at the knitting machine.

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It’s not a perfect process and not totally lovely, but it does work.

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The finished garment does snug to my body keeping out wind and cold, two very important consideration for sweaters of the Mid West.

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To be honest, it fits about as I expected a dartless block would do. I’ve got a dart forming above the bust. I think of myself as flat chested. Apparently my fabrics disagree. It tucks in under my tummy which is unlikely to get any smaller. I did cut the right shoulder and right armscye 1/2″ lower to accommodate my asymmetry. My only real criticism and the thing I would improve in the future is that the shoulders seem a little wide and the  sleeves a little long. Possibly due to the stretchy nature of knit.  I did stabilize the back shoulder of my PJ test. I may need to consider doing the same with all my knits.

Although I’m pleased with the final garment, it was not without issues and not without room for improvement.  Most importantly to me, it is done, done all the way d-o-n-e. The first d-o-n-e machine knit sweater in about 8 years.  I’m happy.