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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Late night elf work: Family ban alert

I have spent the last week coming down from term, helping my daughter with the kids, and getting some Christmas stuff worked through.

I just can't stand the stores during the holidays so it's either handmade or shopped online.

I laughed and laughed though when I saw this label on Meg's blog:

I am working on exactly that kind of project now, a sweater for one of my sons.  I am about 10% of the knitter I am as a sewer and I made the mistake of thinking I could actually make this:

I have knit sweaters for the other kids and it was my NYC son's turn.I got it in my head that since the designer was in Brooklyn and young it would be something he would wear. Yes, I know.

Like a lot of young knitter designer patterns it has more emphasis on structural knitting - short row shaping and I cord and fashionable techniques than traditional patterns. What I call mathematical knitting, based on my personal observation that a lot of good knitters are good at math, which I am not.

Getting this thing wrestled to the ground has involved as much ripping out as knitting and hours on Raverly and iTunes watching fast videos made by people who actually know what they are doing.

The sleeves have just about done me in.

Since the whole thing is knit in the round (good thing I hate sewing up knitting - those yarn seams just don't look sturdy enough to the sewer in me) you have to pick up the stitches for the sleeves and knit those on double pointed needles.

In my case this has involved knitting on 5 needles and every time I come to turn a short row (took me the first sleeve to figure that out) I sort of haul the whole unit around and slide half the stitches off one of the needles, put those back on the needle and try again.

Every once in a while I stop and check on things and if you were here next to my Lazy-Boy you would be hearing a lot of  "What the hell?"

I admit those sleeves are going to involve some hole darning to get them to look like sleeves, and the underarms look sort of like Rascal knit them. 

By the way here are some pictures of my assistant elves obviously exhausted by all they have been doing to decorate the house and get things ready:

Matching dog beds I hope you notice.

I should have sleeve two done today and then I will spend some rescue time with a needle and wool and put in the zipper.

The thing is I actually have learned a lot of new techniques making this and if I made another one now it would be fine. 

Maybe I need another label that says- "The next one will be better."

Once this is done I have only some sewing to finish and this morning that looks like a piece of cake then I think I am due to be a Lazy-Boy myself.


Susan said...

I want a label that says "If you are going to regift this, please return to, _______". The sweater sounds very complicated, good luck.

annie said...

I love reading your blog. A great sense of humor even when things are not going well. May I suggest something for a future project? I prefer knitting in the round when I can and I use really short in-the-round needles instead of sock needles. Stitches don't fall off as readily.

badmomgoodmom said...

You are not alone. Wry Punster is an expert knitter and she has the same issues with this young Brooklyn designer.

Colleen said...

Re knitting in the round check out the magic loop method using long circular needles. By far the easiest and fastest. Sweater looks beautiful, I'm sure he will love it.

Banaghaisge said...

Wrap rubber bands around the ends of the needles you aren't using. You can also buy plastic thingies that go on the ends of needles but rubber bands are a lot cheaper!
How do we know "matching dog beds"? Might be the same bed different dog...
Hehehe. Happy Christmas stuff, too!

Jane M said...

Too, too funny...the label, not your sweater project. For that I have I deepest respect. I'm not great with deadlines and the pressure of a gift. I've done it a few times but I wouldn't watch the youtube of how I behaved to the people around me. Your pups look perfectly content so you are handling the stress and annoyance better than I did;-)

Rebecca Clayton said...

Sounds like a Pattern From Hell. It was such a pattern (long ago) that convinced me to look at pictures and make up my own patterns. I have always done it the mathematical way, until this fall, when I tried something that might interest you.

I've never knit a well-fitting cardigan for myself, so this time I took a favorite knit top sewing pattern with my most successful full-bust adjustment pattern, and I knitted a sweater to match it.

I didn't even count my stitches (much), I just shaped the knitting to the pattern pieces. Amazingly, it worked, and the cardie fits the way cardies are meant to fit. The armholes and sleeve tops are not mathematically symmetrical, but they look just alike, and they look much better on me than any of my carefully-counted handknits (made from my own patterns or other peoples').

Like you, I don't care for sewing knitwear, so I picked up stitches and knit the fronts onto the back at the shoulders, joined for the side seams, and picked up stitches and knit sleeves down from the shoulders. As the sweater grew, I had to hold the pattern up to the knitting, rather than the reverse.

I can't believe I never tried this before, sewing/knitting bilingual person that I am. Anyway, you are much more pattern-adventurous than I, so perhaps you might enjoy knitting some amazing garment. (But not before completing the gifts that "take forever.")

Erika said...

Oh my god. I have just finished a sweater with that same sleeve cap design and I swear to you it just about killed me. You know what? I sew. And the 70 stitches, or whatever, that connected that sleeve to the armhole would have been about 400,000 times easier to SEW than to pick up, one by one, at the end of short rows on dpns.

But also - that could have been done on a circular needle, since we're just going back and forth. I was kinda kicking myself for not figuring that out earlier.


KC said...

I love the labels! As for knitting, I'm helpless when I make any kind of mistake--I don't know how to stop ripping short of unraveling the whole project! So I'm taking my first knitting class this weekend--"How To Fix Your Own Mistakes"!