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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, May 21, 2013

Knitting in the round

I actually have done a bit of sewing, which I will be posting when my second dress is photographed, but I have been doing a lot more knitting. It is sort of cool to be learning something new.

I have always enjoyed knitting, the therapeutic slightly rocking in the corner of the mental institution soothingness of it, but I am not very good at it - owing to the fact I haven't invested enough time and attention in it. And there is all that counting. (I was once actually a paid counter of items in incoming orders in a warehouse when I was a student and held the company record for never getting the same number twice, counting the same order. Myself and a Phd in Medieval English, worst counters they ever had.)

Back to the present.

My quiet days here in Florida are giving me some of that time and, well, here we are.

There is one part of knitting I absolutely hate however and that is the sewing up pieces part.

My neat sewer, 2.5 stitches, back tack, 5/8 seam allowance, seam roll pressing, serger finishing self just finds knitted seams sort of substandard and, well, sort of weak and sloppy. I just can't believe they will hold up, and as my surfer son has proven, they often don't. (Eventually I had to machine stitch the armholes in the Central Park Hoodie I made him a few years back).

Also sewing up knitted pieces does not appeal to me on a philosophical level.

I mean fabric, which we don't make ourselves, comes to us flat. We have to take the flat and make it round because people aren't flat. This requires seams and things like darts and stuff like that.

However with knitting, which aptly has been described as two sticks and some string, (as opposed to a $12,000 sewing machine if you believe some machine dealers which I don't) you have the ability to make it round in the process, to sculpt around the body, not imitate flat fabric.

(All this intellectualization is a justification for not repeating a trauma of my past which was the time, when knitting the Central Park Hoodie, when I took so long I actually knit three sleeves because I had forgotten I had already done two).

To cut a long story shorter I invested in Ann Budd's top down ebook which I got from Interweave I believe and is nice can convenient on my iPad:

It offers formulas for multiple size sweaters and as experiment number one I have been working on this alpaca version for my husband for our not-in-Florida life. He claims to hate scratchy wool so hence this nice alpaca brought to the State Road A1A by eBay.

Now it isn't perfect, and there are some hole weirdnesses going on under the armpit where I did something odd when I picked up stitches, and I am going to work on narrowing the body below the chest which seems appropriate for the male shape so we are not dealing with a rear peplum thing, next time. I read a Mary Thomas idea about changing to smaller needles as you go down that sounds like a possibility, but really it is fine, and he likes it.

And there is zero sewing up knitting this way, so I am sold.

This of course has kept me up late on the iPad searching books on Icelandic sweaters ( I love how they are constructed, although the last time I wore one my Icelandic sweater felt a lot like wearing a sweaty bush) and Nordic knitting, and resisting the impulse to eBay them all, and making me think I should get up my nerve once this is done to cast on that Fair Isle Vest project for the Craftsy class I signed up for.

I have watched the videos but got sort of frozen when I got to the diagrams of 47 different kinds of Shetland sheep, going to take me a while, me who has armpit holes, to feel up to standard for that class. So I have been knitting my first round sweater and thinking and listening to ebooks.

Guess who is thinking about the beauties of retirement?

And even preparing.

My Diana interchangeable needle set - probably one of my major, gee I actually didn't waste money purchases. I love these, I can change around needles to get gauge which is a task I more or less find impossible, and don't have to keep running to the store to buy a different size needle every time I screw that up.

This actually looks better on, you can try on as you knit with this method, and my husband smooths out that chest crater.

See how nice the stitches look? Next time you see this sweater it should be on a man in shorts.


LinB said...

Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitting Without Tears." You'll love it.

annie said...

You sure are getting a lot done. Probably my kind of vacation, too.

MelMel said...

I'm not a knitter myself but my mom will only use this top down, in the round method to make sweaters now. She will rewrite patterns just to make sure she never has to sew anything. She claims she is too lazy to sew them up but I think really she feels the same as you, that the seams aren't up to the quality of the knitting.

KathyS said...

I'm with you regarding sewing up knits. I have a navy cardigan which has been finished for two years but still has not been put together. Winter is fast approaching here and I really must do it this year. Knitting in the round top down sounds ideal.
Your husband's jumper (sweater) looks very cosy.

Angela said...

I'm not a knitter but my daughter is. She likes to knit toys in the round, and she will change a pattern to work in the round so as not to have those seams. It seems like magic to me;)

Claire S. said...

Haven't tried the top down method, but I will adjust and knit in the round up to underarms. Minimize the seams as much as possible. Sleeves too (dpns, or magic loop 2 at a time)