So this puppy’s done!  Why it took me so long, I don’t know, but it’s now raring to go.


The finished product!
from Fitted Knits

Overall, I’m very pleased with it.  I had to resort to an unorthodox work-around to fix a too-long giraffe neck, but it all worked out, and the upside is that now I’ve got a new technique in my bag to share.  Needless to say I could’ve prevented the neck problem if I’d tried on the turtleneck before moving on to the body, but of course I did not do this.  Oops.

Anyway.

I added on about 3″ of body length to cover the long torso (I try to avoid the inadvertent belly-shirt show; you can bet that doesn’t happen on purpose these days!).  Now it hits just where I want it to – comfortably long on its own, nice under a suit.


Front of vest

Back ribbing

Here’s the front view, next to a close-up of the back shaping.  The front and back are the same apart from the early ribbing that starts on the back, well above the waist.  The pattern calls for 1″ of ribbing one row in on each side, but since my back curves in (or butt sticks out, depending on how you look at it) more than the average girl, I did another inch with another row in on both sides.  This turned out nicely, with a bit of extra hug where I needed it.

One of the things I learned while making this sweater was actually the art of trying on the project along the way (although unfortunately I didn’t figure this out until past the turtleneck, but I digress).  Not rocket science – but I’d missed any clear suggestion on how to best accomplish this from any book or blog I’d read, so I discovered that transferring the stitches entirely to a length of scrap yarn is a great way to do this.  Stefanie Japel, the author of Fitted Knits, suggests holding the stitches (between steps in this pattern) on either a stitch holder or scrap yarn.  I’ve always used stitch holders since it seems cleaner and faster to me, but whether it is or not, using the scrap yarn does actually provide a nice opportunity to try on the garment.  The circumference of the neck/bust/waist won’t be constrained by the circular needle (or a mixture of the needle + other stitch holders, as I’d sloppily tried before).  It’s easy to move the stitches off and back on your needle, and it doesn’t take very long.  Use a small crochet hook and get down to business.  Note to self – take the time to try on at different stages.  It’s pretty much as important as knitting a swatch for gauge at the beginning, at least if you want whatever you’re making to fit you properly.

So what do you do when your FO is perfect except for the *teensy* problem of not being long enough from the cast-on edge (for a traditional bottom-up sweater), or, if knit from the top down, the neck is too long or otherwise requires adjustment. Well, I can tell you from previous experience that frogging from the cast-on edge is an entirely different ballgame than your usual oops-I-need-to-tear-back-10-rows-from-where-I’m-working frogging. While I’m at it, frogging = rapidly pulling out knitted stitches, backwards, tugging steadily on the yarn from the place where you’re currently working (removing stitches from left needle).  Apparently the term is so named from the sound “ribb-it, ribb-it” that comes with each rapid pull to unravel the stitches.

Usual frogging: well, if it happens as often for you as it does for me, you get to view it as some kind of cathartic experience, right? Right?? If I didn’t make myself see (or pretend to see) it as a fresh opportunity to get it right the second (or seventh) time, I’d lose my marbles.

Reverse frogging, i.e., unraveling from the cast-on edge: you’re welcome to try it for yourself, if you haven’t already, but attempting to frog work from the cast-on edge just doesn’t work. There’s certainly no “ribb-it” involved, because as much as they look like they might, the stitches don’t melt away like butter with a tug on the yarn as they do moving backwards from mid-bodice of your sweater. Not to say you can’t undo what’s been done, it just requires a little more patience.

In short, if you need to take out stitches from the cast-on edge, your choices are the following:

  1. Attempt the reverse frog: as already warned, this is a slow unraveling process, beginning from the slip knot that started out as the first stitch of the project. I’ve attempted this to unravel about an inch from the bottom of a sweater. Yes, it can be done, but this is likely to be the longest inch of your life – just so you know. It’s amazing how convoluted the route of that little piece of yarn seems in reverse. Unfortunately, even after all that work, it’s not a very clean operation to get your needle back in there to bind off at the length you’re after. When you start unraveling from the beginning, you’ll be tempted to pull and see what happens, and sometimes you’ll end up unraveling up into another row, rather than across. You’re likely to have trouble finding a “lifeline”, or one set of loops on the same row all the way around, from which to continue knitting or just to bind off.
  2. Cut to the chase: this sounds scary, and it is in concept, but it’s actually the cleanest way to do it that I’ve seen. The word cut does indeed mean cut – as in, “Look at me, I’m cutting into my knitting!”. Yes, I too had heart palpitations at this suggestion initially – sacrilege! – but I remembered my previous less-than-graceful attempt at a reverse frog, and decided the cutting method was worth a try. Here is my process, documented with pretty pictures, which worked very well for this project:

How to shorten from the cast-on edge
In this case, I’m removing 1 inch from my too-long turtleneck.


Just a wee bit too long

Step 1: Try on the garment to determine exact measurement of length to be removed.

 

 

 

 


Place marker at 1″
(Note: stitches still unblocked)

Step 2: Mark measurement with a stitch marker (I wouldn’t advise eye-balling this).

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Place scissors in position to cut one stitch, ideally on the side or back of garment.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: (breathe) Cut. (breathe) It’s OK. Everything’s going to be OK here.

 

 

 

 

 


Tip: use the other end of
the needle to help unravel
once the lifeline is established.

Step 5: With your needle tip at the ready, begin to unravel one of the loose ends, gently. You’ll see first one loop (just hanging out, looking for attention), then another emerge as you’re unraveling. Immediately slide these loops onto your needle. This is your “lifeline”.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Continue sliding on the loops that free up as you unravel all the way around until the entire lifeline is on the needle.

 

 

 

 

 


Halfway around, you may want
to unravel from 2nd loose end

Ready to bind off at new length
(or add new color or design)

If you’re working with a circular needle (as pictured here), once you reach the halfway-around point, you may find it easier to slide the stiches to the opposite end of the needle and begin slipping lifeline stitches on to that end, as unraveled from the second loose end of the original cut. This is 100% optional, but you may find it easier since the remaining loose end will be shorter and therefore quicker to pull out and through the extraneous stitches. If you’re working with straight needles and a seamed garment with front & back sides, you’ll need to first un-seam and then perform this process on each side.

That’s it. Not too complicated, and I’ve documented and illustrated every step right here. The lifeline is a very clean way to jump back into the knitting when you find yourself in need of an alteration when you’re well past being able to consider the traditional frogging solution.


Finished! Corrected neck length after final bind-off

I should note that once I had my lifeline completely on the needle, I did not complete any further knitting, but went immediately into my bind-off final row.  As Annie points out in her “Tricks” post on www.modeknit.com (from which I gained the confidence to try the method she refers to), any kind of unraveling from the cast-on edge is going to result in a slight shift in alignment of about a half-stitch, since the loops that form your lifeline are not actually the same loops that you’d be using to stitch if you were knitting along in real-time. This shift is not distinguishable, practically speaking, if all you’re going to do is bind off (as I did – I can’t tell any difference from normal bind-off).

Where this shift might matter is if you wanted to add on from where you’d cut in (for instance, if you wanted to cut off 2 inches at the bottom of a sweater and add a stripe or ribbing in a different color, or perhaps re-knit those 2 inches with little “V” vents on the sides). In this case, you may be able to see this slight half-stitch shift in alignment at the point where you are joining in with new knitting, but it’s probably not too big of a deal – especially if you really want to make the change/addition you’re after.  Like, say, your 13-year-old step-daughter says she really would prefer the sweater with those little V vents on the sides (meaning she’d prefer not to wear it without them…now you know about my first attempted reverse frogging experience!). Ah, good times – if only I’d known about the “cut to the chase” method then.  This project was Squeezer’s Hoodie Sweatshirt from the Yarn Girl’s Guide to Simple Knits (in the book it’s called “Not Your Standard Issue Sweatshirt”) – highlights and photos of our FO coming soon to a blog near you.


The end of my 3rd and final skein

Wrapping up my diaglogue on my Periwinkle friend here, it took very nearly all 3 skeins of Cascade 220 (color 7810).  I had less than a yard left, but I could have harvested enough from the 1″ cut off of the turtleneck if I’d needed a bit more.  All in all this yielded a satisfying pretty-much-used-it-up feeling with respect to my $21 investment in this project.

As I’ve shared previously, this shade of “periwinkle” is a bit too purple for my definition of periwinkle, which is closer to the color of my blog banner at the top of this page.  Needs just a bit more blue in it, but not so much to spill over into cornflower (although that too, is a lovely color).  Ah, Crayola, thank you for instilling my opinions on these colors so early in the game, and for teaching me what to call them in my grown-up quest for the perfect yarn.

Hmmm.  Now I’m supposed to move on to my Airy Wrap-Around Sweater, but I’m not sure I’m feeling the love on that one just now, even though it’s been cast on and is beckoning to me from the top of the knitting crate next to my nightstand. 

Not sure what I’ll do, but I do know there are a bunch of anxious balls of yarn in storage that are trying to get my attention.  You can bet I’ll keep you posted on this exciting decision.

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Yikes, where does the time go?  Have been missing my imaginary friends here with the pesky business of life rearing its head every time I try to blog on.

Have been making nice progress on ye olde WIP, the Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest.  Even though it’s slow going with all of the interruptions, it’s still making me happy because I like the way trusty Cascade 220 is knitting up on size 7 needles, even just in stockinette.  The gauge I used for my Sexy Summer Tank was a bit bigger, and although I didn’t dislike it that way, I’m finding the stitch definition more pleasing to the eye with my Periwinkle sweetheart.  Nice and substantial-feeling, you know?

I’m just beginning the “jump-start” ribbing on the back of the sweater, which I took a few minutes to make sure I was clear on before I started. I did a little poking around on one of the Fitted Knits KALs and confirmed this was on-purpose extra ribbing and not part of the errata (the list of which is unfortunately lengthy…although I can’t say that it makes me like the patterns any less). Since the back ribbing isn’t pictured in the book, I had to check.  And right-o, boss – the ribbing starts a bit earlier for the outer edges of the back in order to fit it nicely. Since I tend to be a bit on the “sway-back” side (Mom’s term: “your bottom isn’t too big honey, it’s just the sway-back that runs in the family”) with a strong arch in my lower back, I think I’ll add in an extra set of ribs after the first inch, and add an extra couple inches in length overall because I have a long torso.  Oh la la, the special needs.

As I was “fluffing” my little WIP so I could take its picture (in my poorly lit hotel room in Orlando, where I was traveling on business), my sweater struck a surprisingly full-bosomed pose, in foolish anticipation of the boobs that would never quite fill that gradiose space.  In doing a quick over-the-head try-on, it actually fits very nicely (even in my not-so-endowed-ness), which was a relief.

Speaking of trying on works-in-progress, does anyone have any tips on how to pull knitting-in-the-round over your head to try something on without stitches falling off of the circular needle? I tried transferring a healthy chunk of stitches over to a stitch holder and leaving the rest on the needle while I tried on, but the stitches on the ends of the needle still managed to slip off because the needle is just the right circumference for the intended diameter.  This just doesn’t include room for my clusmy maneuvers.  I could transfer to a longer needle to try on, but this seems a lot of trouble.  I wouldn’t want to use a longer needle to to knit the rest of the ribbing because it would stretch the diameter of the stitches unduly since the work is joined. Please, oh, please, toss me a comment if you’ve had more luck than I have with the trying-on of a top-down project.

[EDIT after original post:  I’ve got the trying-on thing under control now, guys – a little patience goes a long way.  Most of you already probably had this figured out.  I wrote about it here if you’re curious about my try-on ways and means.]

Squeezer’s Two-Tone Ribbed Shrug is also looking much better.  She’s ready to move the stockinette down each sleeve to the ribbing, and not a minute too soon, because I think she’d not-so-secretly had enough of the KFB and PFB increasing on the back.  I had fun with it, though: upon my foray into these increase-rows when frogging and re-stitching a few misaligned rows for her, I enjoyed the twirly feeling of that stitch.

I’m thinking ahead to my Airy Wrap-Around Lace Sweater, patiently waiting in my queue.  My family has a lake cottage in the Midwest and we’re headed there for Memorial Day to open up for the season.  I’m guessing it won’t be summer enough yet for the wrap-around number (without another sweater on underneath it), but you never know.  I doubt I’d polish it off in time even if I started now, but it’s good motivation.  I’d like to make another trip to the lake later in the summer when the sweater will be a perfect oh-is-it-a-little-chilly-this-evening?-I-just-happen-to-have-a-pretty-wrap-around-to-wear-to-dinner top.  I’ve never done anything remotely lacy so we’ll see how we go.

That’s it for now, homies.  I have so many other witty things to say, but alas, I have squeezed all the time I can squeeze with you for today.  My next blog will include stolen inspiration – I visited my sister and she’s been up to fabulous things with her sewing machine and a few choice cuts from Jo-Ann’s.  She’s the bomb, and I can’t wait for you to get to know her.

So this is my current WIP (Work In Progress – I’m thinking I’ll go ahead and define the acronyms the first time I use them, since as a newbie I was lost). 

When I found Stefanie Japel’s Fitted Knits, her approach really clicked with me.  Smart!  Tweak your work to fit perfectly.  Not that you couldn’t mess around with it based on your own intuition and come up with a better fit, but this book makes you want to put significant thought into it ahead of time and get it right. Why wouldn’t you want to do this if you’re investing so much time (and money) in a project? 

Speaking of investing money, Stephanie established a lot of credibility with me by including reasonably-priced (yet still high-quality) yarn suggestions throughout the book.  If you’re feeling blingy you could always trade up to fancier fibers, but isn’t it nice to have a designer be down-to-earth enough to acknowledge her designs will work up nicely in a broad range of yarns?

I’m working on the Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest (you’ll find an overview of the pattern and a nice write-up of the book here on Volkstricken). 

I like it.  The swooping line down the side from the neck down around the outside of the bodice has a very clean but sexy look.  Simple enough to wear under a suit jacket for work; kicky enough on its own to be a fun summer top.  I’m a big fan of turtlenecks.  I guess I just like the look. Even when it’s a sleeveless design (I have a few of these), it’s handy for layering – when it’s warm out, you’re cool enough with bare arms, but when the sun goes down a cardigan layer fits the bill.

This is the first top-down project I’ve done.  Very cool.  I like the idea of knitting it all in one piece.  I’ve gotten used to the idea of stitching seams (at first I didn’t realize that knitting almost always involved a bit of sewing) and I don’t have a problem with seams comfort-wise, but maybe I’ll get hooked.

I won’t lie to you – this pattern jumped out at me in large part because of the Periwinkle.  I’m a periwinkle freak.  I’m on a conquest to find the perfect shade, as I define it.  There’s a lot of controversy over what actually constitutes periwinkle.  I tend to consider Crayola the last word, but I haven’t actually gone back to check to see if my memory serves me correctly.  I’m kind of afraid to, since I’m very much enamored with the shade I have in mind (and I don’t know if I could allow my faith in Crayola to be tarnished over a misunderstanding here).

I have a suit jacket that I bought at Nordstrom years ago (gosh, that makes me sound really old) when I started my first verybusyandimportant job.  I have come to think of this jacket as the perfect shade of periwinkle, and will stop at nothing to find it in cozy lovely yarn.  I like to buy my yarn over the internet (which, by the way, it took me a long time to start doing), and sometimes I’m too impatient to get a colorcard, if one is even available, so after a lot of deliberation I usually just order it up and hope for the best.  I justify this because I know even if it’s even close I’ll like the color for some project or another.  Or maybe just for me to gaze at lovingly as a new entry to my blossoming stash.

I started with Baby Alpaca Brush in color 1620 (Baby Blue).  It looked a lot more periwinkle in one of the online pictures than it actually was, but what the heck – who doesn’t love baby blue?  (Note to self: if color is called Baby Blue, it might actually be baby blue).  I made a wonderfully soft sweater from the Yarn Girl’s Guide to Simple Knits and was very proud of my first true I’ve-cut-my-teeth-with-knitting genuine item of clothing.

Then I went with Morehouse Merino Farm’s bulky in Periwinkle.  Great yarn, really lovely.  I made a decadent sweater (Rowan’s Charity), but the color had a little too much purple to be my perfect periwinkle.

I’m not convinced yet that Cascade 220 can scratch my periwinkle itch – we’ll see.  I tried pretty darn hard to find a way to order a complete color card, and although there were a couple of recommendations I found online to track down the surprisingly obscure item, none of them seemed like it was any longer a viable option.  Weird.  After a while I cut myself off from looking; I was burning a lot of time (as I tend to do) in making a decision on what color to buy among the several candidates from Cascade that looked close.

After all that – for the Turtleneck Tube Vest project, I settled on Cascade 220 shade 7809 as suggested. It was called “periwinkle” by Fitted Knits, but I suspected would be on the purple-y side of my periwinkle. 7809 was labeled as “violet” or “light violet” by some vendors, and another called it “blue-violet”.    In any case it looked fantastic in the book (on the model anyway) so I just rolled the dice.

Indeed, it is on the purple side of periwinkle for me, but I really like it none the less.  I have to admit Cascade 220 is becoming a bit of a go-to yarn for me (I’m in good company).  I used the Superwash for the first time to make the Debbie Bliss Cable Baby Blanket in Cascade 220 color 836 (which was just the perfect not-too-pale but not-too-obnoxious pink I was looking for) and liked the texture and feel a lot for a new wool.  I also got into the Heathers collection with color 2449, which I used to make the quickie “weekend” tank top in my Yarn Girl’s book.  Good stuff, that Cascade.

Alas…the search for the perfect periwinkle continues, but I can’t say I’m not enjoying the journey.