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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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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thank you and details

First of all I want to thank my commenters on the last couple of posts. 

The knitting advice has been so useful, helpful, and interesting. (Rebecca I am intrigued by your cardigan recipe, what do you mean join at the sides? Do you mean you knit the whole thing as one piece?) And thank you too Karen for the lead on that sock yarn, I have some on its way.

It means a lot to me when folks go to the trouble to comment on something I have written and to help me out. 

Since last we spoke I have that sweater done and it's downstairs drying from blocking. I have decided it was a smarty pants pattern - just because you know a technique doesn't mean you have to put it in everywhere - all those dozens and dozens of short rows were unnecessary I decided - reminded me a bit of those wearable art jackets that used to be around that had every known decorative technique on them.

All I have left now is a couple of days of sewing to do, more knitting, and my spouse will be home Saturday for two weeks.

Like many women of my generation who got married young and then had children I do not have much experience living alone. Even in my single mother years I was still a mother.

So for me to be on my own while my husband is sent off for work for long periods is an interesting and educational experience for me. A life stage I kind of skipped and am learning how to do now.

I come from a big and interactive family. 

I think I was about 35 before I was ever in a room by myself. 

In my house "being alone" was regarded as a sickness. I remember having a visitor stay with us once and my mother frantically calling us into the kitchen "Somebody get into that living room - he's in there reading the paper and He's Alone, someone go in an talk to him." Silence, in the house I grew up in, was evidence that someone wasn't doing their job.

And working, having a bunch of kids of my own, pretty much has filled up my own silences.

So it's a novelty to learn to be by myself.

I miss my husband and living with an advanced level eccentric and excellent cook. He's fun. But being on my own has been good for me.

I was reminded of this over the weekend as my two sisters-in-law and I took my mother-in-law to show her the apartment we have picked out right near me. This is chapter two of our campaign to move her in from the country where she has still being living since my father-in-law died into the city where we can help her out more. I think she will be really happy to be near family but the process of making a decision about what she herself likes is almost too much for her. She says she still hears his voice in her head telling her what to do, what she likes.

Now women of my generation can hardly imagine that but my own unfinished business is learning how to live when there isn't anyone in the living room I need to go and talk to.

Being so busy with my projects is taking care of this, and of course having two dogs around who are permanent children is good too.

Still, it's interesting and important to be doing this.

Now off to my daughter's mother-baby group.

Someone over there is in tears because she can't figure out how to turn the heel on the Christmas stocking she is knitting for her little baby. I just got the 911. 

Since I am now an expert ripper-outer this sounds like just the job for me.


Rebecca Clayton said...

I knit the cardigan top down, and eventually, it was all one piece, with no sewing up.

I started at the top because running out of yarn near the bottom is preferable--you can make it a shorter sweater or swap in some other yarn and act like it's a design detail. Also, I rely on frequent tryings-on to check fit and appearance.

Knitting to match pattern pieces would be much easier if one were content to knit flat pieces and sew them together, and sensible people avoid knitting set-in sleeves from the top down, but if I were sensible, I'd order an ill-fitting cardigan from a catalogue and just put up with it.

I can tell you enjoy process, so, here's a tediously detailed description of my method, suitable for some idle moments. (Don't feel obliged to read it.)

I cast on stitches for the width across my shoulders, and knit the top of the back first, shaping the arm scythe by adding stitches on each side.

(Circular needles are the way to go here, because there are going to be lots of needles with knitting on them for a while.)

When I was almost done shaping the arm scythe, I got more needles, went to the cast-on, and picked up stitches to make the left side front. I knit downward, shaping the neck edge and the arm scythe by adding stitches at the edges, and I managed the full bust adjustment by making three sets of short rows, which work out to be three nice little darts around the armhole and underarm area. (I tried it on frequently at that point.)

Then I did the same thing for the right front. At this point, I had three sets of needles flapping in the breeze, and I needed to add some more stitches at the underarm areas so the sweater would go around me. I had the extra complication of lace panels down the front, which needed to be on the same pattern row or the cardie would look cock-eyed, and I'm probably not attentive enough to keep track of two different spots in a lace pattern.

This was the least fun part. I made sure I had both sides of the front on the same pattern row, and I figured out how many stitches I needed to add at each underarm. I didn't have exactly the same number of stitches on each side front piece, so this is where I needed x more stitches on the left side and y more stitches on the right side to achieve sweater symmetry.

I picked up the left front needles at the cardie opening point, knit around to the end of that piece, cast on x stitches on that needle, then grabbed the needle with the back on it, and knit it onto the same needle as the left front.

Then, I cast on y stitches to the now-quite-full needle, grabbed the needle with the right front on it, and knit across. At last, I had all three chunks of knitting on the same needle. I knit even for a few more inches, and tried it on again, and, fortunately the fit was fine.

I picked up stitches at each shoulder to match the width of the sleeve cap pattern piece--about three inches.I knit back across, picked up a few more stitches, turned and knit back, picked up a few more stitches, turned and knit back, etc. I decided how many stitches to start with and to add at each repeat by holding the sleeve cap pattern up to my knitting. Eventually, I picked up stitches all the way around the armhole, and started knitting in the round. I shaped the sleeve down to the cuff by decreasing whenever it looked right.

I finished both sleeves, and then resumed knitting the body until I ran out of yarn. Then I crocheted the front bands with a different yarn. (I've never knit a really successful button band.)

LinB said...

Oh, I know what you mean about never being alone! My family is considered odd because we read, for long stretches of time, without talking to other people. Still, other folk know to whom to go when they need answers. I had a grandaunt who experienced her first ever stretch of eight hours alone in a house when she was 95: she was terrified. All she had to do was go to bed and wake up alone, for one night out of a 97-year lifetime. You'd have thought her family had abandoned her, to hear her tell the tale.

Julie Culshaw said...

Barb, I don't have your email but the blog I mentioned is this one, so will post it here.


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