Saturday, June 22, 2013

Making ends disappear

For the last three weeks, I've been making up a T-shirt. Yep, T-shirt. Three weeks.

The problem is that it's a stripy T-shirt*.  The front and the back both have two repeats of a 64 row stripe pattern. The sleeves have a shorter stripe pattern, but there are still a lot of stripes, since most of the stripes are only one or two rows wide. And where there are stripes, there are ends to be sewn in. Lots of ends. Finicky, fiddly little 4-ply cotton ends...

The problem is finding a way to thread the ends into the work so that they don't pull loose and scratch or unravel, while also avoiding bulking up the seams too much with run-in ends. There are something like 200 ends in this garment (66 each for the front and back, and 30 for each sleeve), and that is a lot to hide in one seam.

Normally, if I was working stripes, I'd weave the unused colour up the side of the work. However, this trick only works with two or three colours - with 12 colours, it is less effective. In fact, when your stripes start and finish on opposite sides of the garment, it is completely useless!

Of course, now that I've finished the top, I've found an excellent tip on managing ends in striped work. In a recent Knitting Daily newsletter, one of their editors suggested carrying the cut-off ends along the back of your row, in the same way that you carry the colours in fairisle work.

This would achieve exactly the same result as stitching my ends into the purl bumps on the reverse side of my work - but it would achieve it at the same time as I was knitting, which would make the entire thing much less painful.

Since my masochism knows no bounds, I will get a chance to use this technique when I delve into my stash to knit up Glade later this year. I've been hesitant to start work on it, as my hands ache whenever I knit with fine needles for more than a couple of minutes. The obvious answer to that is to start knitting right away - four or five minutes of knitting every day should have me a finished jumper in a bit over a year, all going well!

As a break from sewing in teeny, tiny ends, I've been working on Moebius cast ons and entrelac patterns for our new classes. It will be an exciting change from beginner classes - and from running in ends! 

**The T-shirt is Marie Wallin's lovely Dauphine (from Rowan magazine 43, published in 2008). Looking forward to taking a photo and putting it up here - once I finish running in those blasted ends and actually get to sew a seam!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Making up is hard to do

The other day, a customer came in with her first ever jumper and made me aware of the limitations of making up instructions! The pattern said "Join the shoulder seams". With no guidance as to what shoulder seams actually were, she'd accidentally attached part of the front neck to the back of the garment. Very easily fixed, but it made me think - patterns for newer knitters really, really need to include diagrams showing how the pieces fit together.

Shoulder seams
When you look at a cast-off back or front, you will notice that there are 'steps' up the top of the knitted piece. Usually, the two pieces fit together with the highest steps joining (the neck edge), then the next, all the way down to the lowest (the sleeve edge).

This is the shoulder seam. To join the two pieces, thread a wool needle with the same yarn you used to knit the garment and sew a horizontal seam. Berrocco have put together a very good video on how to do this - I don't want to even try to write it out, it is much easier to show than to explain. Personally, I sew from the edge into the neck, but there is no right or wrong direction as far as I know.

Once you have the shoulder seam in place, put your garment flat on a firm surface. If I'm making something up for myself, I usually sit it on the bed or the sofa - for customers, I'll lay the work out on the counter just to make sure that I have it perfectly flat and even.

Take the cast off edge of the sleeve and fold it in half: pin the stitch at the halfway point to the shoulder seam.

The sleeve will have two 'points' about halfway down, where you did your first shaping cast offs. Pin the points to the matching points on the front and back of the garment. (If you look at the photo below, you can see the point on the back clearly).

Sleeve ready to be pinned

Sew the top of the sleeve into place: I usually begin at the centre and work around to each point.

Once you've set the tops of the sleeves in, pin each side. I usually pin the hem, the armpit and the cuff: you may want more pins to hold the work more securely. Sew one long mattress stitch seam from the hem up to the armpit, then down the sleeve to the cuff to finish your garment.

Thread any loose ends into the seams and you're done!

If you want more information, there's a good article about seaming on the Vogue Knitting website with illustrations and Interweave TV has a Seaming Primer episode that is pretty easy to follow. I think it's always worthwhile taking a bit of time to review seaming techniques before you start making something up - after going to all the effort of knitting or crocheting a garment, you want the finishing to be as perfect as possible!

Jo Sharp Moebius Scarf (worn as cowl) Jo Sharp Moebius Scarf (worn long)
In other news, the Jo Sharp Moebius Scarf is off the needles. I love it! Funny, I would never in a million years have thought to knit it for myself, but it has quickly become my all-time favourite scarf. Very warm and soft!

Unfortunately, my Moebius class prep is not coming along quite so well. Garnstudio has an idiot-proof Moebius cast on - unfortunately, in Norway, they have really smart idiots. 
When I try it, the continental cast on is so tight that I can't pick up the stitches into it. I'm working on the Cat Bordhi idiot-proof Moebius cast on after I finish this blog - maybe I can get a version of that which won't leave half the class fighting to drive their needles into a cast on edge? Stay tuned...