January 2008

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I just got my invite to Ravelry.

I have sent up the message to hook me up to all my patterns, which apparently are being knitted in a glorious fashion out there (see previous post). I look forward to the discussions, but dread accusations of obtuse instructions.

I am adding content now.

Please come and visit me there!

On Ravelry I am SSutherland.

Ahh my vanity . . .

I just had Jordi link to my blog from over at Above the gwb announcing the completion of my Russian princess in exile hat. It is so exciting to see someone has knit my pattern.

I read How Not to Write Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author by David Armstrong. In it he talks of fantasizing about seeing someone, just anyone, reading one of his books in public, but never having it happen. I feel the same way about my knitting designs. I would so love to pass a stranger wearing a design of mine.

I occasionally Google my designs to see what others have done with them (this is much more feasible for me to do than say Norah Gaughan, who I have a big knitterly equivalent of a girl crush on, and I am sure we would be great friends if we ever met).

I come up with all sorts of things; for example Beth over at Knit knit knit knit (new url) was having trouble with my pattern Urban rustic gloves the February before last (here). I wonder what the etiquette is on this kind of thing, I suppose it is too late to offer assistance.

Amalas at Yellow wood made my Minimalist funnel neck as her first sweater, and look someone did it in Japanese, at 茶の間で編物.

It’s all very gratifying, but I suppose that if I continued and made it big, it would all become old hat in no time. If Pam Allen, Teva Durham, Norah Gaughan (sorry about the girl crush thing, I don’t really think I know you), Stefanie Japel, etc. (I count anyone who has published a knitting book in this category) are reading, please feel free to let me know.

(By the way, David, if you Google yourself and are reading, I am not writing a novel right now)

closeup1

I just can’t tell you how fun this project is.

I notice that so many bloggers I have been watching (e.g. Knit and tonic) seem to be destashing, and while it does seem like selling yarn is kind of spreading the love, a lot of what I have will not likely be wanted by anyone, and this project uses so much yarn and it is so pretty.

Okay, so I like garish colours and if I could wear red all the time without seeming odd (well, odder than I already do), I just might, except that I like other colours too. Look at this red:

CloseUp2

All it came from is this:

lyrascoat-yarn2.jpg

And that picture looks much better than the mess of yarn in my living room, from whence the knitting came.

I feel like an alchemist, that I have created a singularity in space-time and reversed the force of entropy and am creating pure order out of chaos. Ponder this:

Closeup3

You could do this with yarn from your grandmothers attic or the thrift store, any old thing. That’s why I can’t bear the thought of buying yarn for this project, however pretty it may be, and though you wouldn’t need to wash the mustiness out of it before you wore it.

Sleeves:

Your sweater should look something like this at this point:

Lyra’s Coat, knit to picking up sleeves

Take the measurement of your arm and add around 4 inches [10cm] ease to it (I am adding 4 inches [10cm] to my sleeve, when my arm over my sleeve is 12 inches [30cm], add a little more if you are knitting a larger sweater or less if you are knitting a smaller sweater).

Equation:

Measurement of arm = A

Ease = B

Gauge = C

Number of stitches to pick up for sleeves = D

(A + B) * C = D

With right side of piece facing you, pick up and knit the number of stitches you just worked out in the previous step along the arm rise, from right (so that your first row will be a wrong side row).

Lyra’s Coat - picked up for sleeves

Knit to approximately 2.5 inches [6cm] after the middle of the arm rise, turn and make a yarn over over the right needle (you will knit this yarn over together with the next stitch on the next row). Knit for approximately 5 inches [12cm], turn working yarn over as for last row, work to end of previous row, knit yo with next stitch, work 3 more stitches, turn with yarn over as for previous row.

Continue with short rows, working 3 stitches further each row and using short row yarn overs to close the holes until all the stitches you picked up are worked.

Work straight until sleeve is desired length, bind off.

My version:

A = 12 inches [30cm]

B = 4 inches [10cm]

C = 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm]

(12 inches [30cm] + 4 inches [10cm]) x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = D

16 inches [40cm] x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = 28 sts

Pick up and knit 28 sts.

K18, turn, yo, k8, turn, yo, k11, turn, yo . . .

Lyra’s Coat - sleeve with short rows worked

Work until all stitches are picked up, work until sleeves are desired length.

At this point my sweater looks like this:

Lyra’s Coat - Sleeve

I didn’t want to make you wait.

Knitting the body to the underarms:

We have knit our yokes and are now ready to knit the fronts and back separately to the underarms, when we will cast on some stitches for the underarms and work the rest of the sweater in one piece.

I am posting before I have this whole step finished this time because I don’t want to make you wait.

Lyra’s Sweater - Part 10

Divide for fronts and back:

Count your stitches, divide the number of stitches by 2, making sure the number for the front is even.

Divide the number of stitches for the front by 2 (if you increased evenly from the collar this shouldn’t be a problem).

If you prefer an equation:

(A / 2) ≈ C ≈ (B x 2)

Where A = the total number of stitches, C = the number of stitches for the back, and B = the number of front stitches.

Fronts:

Place the number of stitches for one of your fronts onto your needle and the rest of the stitches on holders. Work even until your piece measures the measurement you took of the distance from the shoulder to the line with the underarm. Repeat for other front.

Back:

Place the back stitches on your needle and work even as you did for the fronts. If you want to get fancy you can work your back slightly longer than the fronts to help it fit better.

My version:

Total number of stitches at the end of the yoke: 75.

75 / 2 = 37.5

Number of stitches for the back = 37

Number of stitches for the front = 38 or 19 for each side

Put 19 stitches at side onto a needle, work for 9 inches [23cm] straight.

Repeat for next side.

Put 37 stitches for back on needle and work 10 inches [25cm] straight.

I am so excited. I have had my knitting machine in pieces as it came out of the shipping box since last May. And now, here it is together in all its glory:

My knitting machine

I understand that it took a vice and a specialized hammer to get the part into the plate where I couldn’t get it together before, but now it is ready and all I need to do is learn how to use it. I have several ideas for projects I want to get to.

I have made a page where I have compiled the instructions for Lyra’s sweater coat. As I post the next steps, I will continue to add them to this page as well: Lyra’s coat.

Increase for shoulders:

Work to 1 st before first marker, pick up the stitch beneath the next stitch on the row and knit into it, k1 (keep marker before this stitch), pick up the stitch beneath the previous stitch (same st as you increased into previously) and knit into it, (2 sts increased). You can increase any way you like as long as you increase 2 sts in a line each row at each shoulder marker.

Work to next marker and pick up the stitch beneath the next stitch on the row and knit into it, slip marker, k1, pick up the stitch beneath the previous stitch (same st as you just increased into) and knit into it, (2 sts increased).

Your increase stitches should look like this:

Lyra’s Coat - yoke increase stitches

Work the previous row increasing for shoulders in a line until the line along the increases equals your measurement from neck to shoulder plus 1 inch [2.5cm], or a little longer if you want more of a dropped shoulder.

You can take this opportunity to take it off the needles and try it on and see if you like the way it is going. It’s really not too late to frog it if you don’t like the fit.

My version:

I increased as described, for 11 rows, I started with 31 sts: 31 + 44 = 75 sts, distance from base of collar is 5.5 inches [14cm].

Lyra’s coat - picture of yoke

Pick up stitches around the collar:

If you chose collar option 2, fold over collar and tack the two long edges together.

Pick up and knit stitches from the long edge of the collar, for option 1 pick up along cast off edge, add a few stitches evenly spaced along the collar for the body. You don’t need overlap for buttons as the closures are with loops and toggles.

Count your stitches, divide your number of stitches by two, round your numbers to make sure that the number for the front is divisible by 2.

Divide your number for the front by 2, work this many stitches, place marker, work stitches for back, place marker, work to end.

If you prefer an equation:

  • A = number of stitches picked up from collar
  • B = number of stitches for each front
  • C = number of stitches for back

(A / 2) ≈ C ≈ (B x 2)

lyrassweater-pickedupsts.jpg

My example:

Pick up and knit 31 sts (from 25 sts on collar). Turn. Work 8 sts, place marker, work 15 sts, place marker, work 8 sts (31 sts).

Note: I have had to frog my collar and start again. I overestimated the amount of stretch in my swatch. If you like your collar as done with the previous instruction, please continue with it. I have just changed the finished measurements of the collar to A + 1 inch [2.5cm] instead of A – 1 inch [2.5cm]. Otherwise, please see the revised instructions.

We are now ready to work out and knit the collar. You will need the following information:

  • Neck measurement (in inches or cm) = A
  • Number of stitches per inch (or cm) = B
  • Desired height of collar (in inches or cm) = C

Collar option 1:

Note: This option is cast on and worked from side to side making a stand up collar.

Equation: (A + 1 inch [2.5cm]) x B = number of stitches to cast on

Using the long tail method, cast on the number of stitches from the equation above and work until the collar is the desired length bind off.

Collar option 2:

Note: This option is worked from side to side then folded double lengthwise. This appears to be the way the original sweater was made, but I prefer the previous option for my sweater and my swatch appears to be a little thicker and stiffer than the original, so this option wouldn’t work as well for me.

Equation: (C x B x 2) = number of stitches to cast on

Using the long tail method, cast on the number of stitches from the previous equation, work until piece measures (A + 1 inch [2.5cm]), bind off.

lyrassweater-collar.jpg

My collar (option 1):

  • Neck measurement = A = 13 inches [33cm]
  • Number of stitches per inch = B = 7 sts /4 inches = 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm]
  • Desired height of collar = C = 2.5 inches [6.5cm]

(A + 1 inch[2.5cm]) x B = (13 inches [33cm] + 1 inch [2.5cm]) x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = stitches

I need to cast on 25 stitches, work until piece measures 2.5 inches [6.5cm], and bind off.

I feel I should give you a brief overview of what I plan to do next. Here is a short list:

  • Next we will work out and knit the collar for the coat.
  • After the collar, we will pick up and knit stitches for the body of the sweater.
  • We will then knit down in one piece to the divide for the shoulders.
  • Next we will knit the two fronts and back separately to the base of the armholes at which point, we will cast on some stitches for the underarms and continue knitting in one piece.
  • Either at this point or at the end, we will pick up and knit stitches for the sleeves and work them straight to desired length.
  • We will continue knitting the body straight to the desired length.
  • We will then attach appropriate closures and show our lovely creations to the world (I am not including button holes in the pattern as the original didn’t have any, if you want them, I suggest placing YO button holes at your discretion).

armconstrcutionexample.jpgNote: because we are doing the designing this way, I have decided to go with a dropped shoulder and a square sleeve join like this sweater I knit from Vintage Knits: 30 Exquisite Vintage-Inspired Patterns for Cardigans, Twin Sets, Crewnecks and More, by Sarah Dallas, as I think this will be easier for everyone to make fit. It also looks like the original was shaped quite like this.

If anyone has questions or suggestions on how to proceed please let me know.

I made this cushion last weekend:

crochetpillow.jpg

The motifs are from a Norah Gaughan Hemp Flower Necklace from Interweave Crochet, Summer 2005, and the fabric is corduroy for a skirt that never materialized.

I had this rug yarn from my granny, and I thought maybe I could make an area rug out of it with motifs, but there was not enough and it seemed like a tripping hazard, so it sat and sat, and then I had the idea, so now I have this nice new floor cushion.

crochetpillow2.jpg

I am so pleased with myself – I used only materials I already had. This may just mean my stash has reached critical mass.

The next thing we need to do to recreate Lyra’s sweater is get the measurements for the person the sweater is for.

Here is a list of measurements that you will need to have measurements of (all measurements are over clothes like those you would be wearing under the coat):

  • bust
  • arm circumference
  • neck circumference
  • distance from shoulder to shoulder (from where you want the sleeves to begin, or to end of clavicles)
  • distance from base of neck to shoulder (where you want the sleeves to begin, or to end of clavicle)
  • distance from top of shoulder to line where underarm of sweater should be (an inch or two under the armpit)
  • distance from shoulder to knee or preferred length

Here are my measurements in case you need an example or happen to be a women’s medium, in which case you can knit the same pattern as me, though I think that takes away some of the fun:

  • bust – 38 inches [97cm]
  • arm circumference – 12 inches [30cm]
  • neck circumference – 13 inches [33cm]
  • distance from shoulder to shoulder – 14 inches [36cm]
  • distance from base of neck to shoulder – 5 inches [13cm]
  • distance from top of shoulder to line where underarm of sweater should be – 9 inches [23cm]
  • distance from shoulder to knee – 42 inches [107cm]

If you are making this coat for a person whose belly or hips are much wider than her bust, you will need her measurement at her widest part as well, otherwise for most children or people without much difference in measurement you can knit straight. I have about a 4 inch [10cm] difference between my bust and my hips, and I plan to switch to larger needles after I get past my waist.

I have achieved enough yarn to finish the coat (surely this is enough):

lyrascoat-yarn.jpg

I have worked up a swatch:

lyrascoat-swatch.jpg

And here is my gauge: 7 sts / 12 rows to 4 inches / 10cm.

I knit this with between 4 and 7 strands held together at any time on US size 15 / 10mm needles.

lyrascoat-gauge1.jpg

lyrascoat-gauge2.jpg

I like the result. The colours are slightly, but only slightly, less lurid than the pictures.

Please don’t feel you need to match my gauge as I plan to make the instructions adjustable for size and gauge.

A few notes on what I found working the swatch:

  • The colours work better when the added colour is either lighter or darker than the main colour, having both darker and lighter strands together made it look odd.
  • Any time you want to add another colour or strand you just hold it with your group. It’s not going to unravel as the other threads will hold it.
  • When you need a thread to go through to the back, you can poke it through with your finger.

It’s a go!

I have the yarn, and I will be doing Lyra’s coat!

I will post the first steps tonight with pictures of a gauge swatch etc.

I finally finished my last Christmas present today. Every year I say that this year I will not create all the tension over the holidays that knitting gifts seems to require, and here I am still working on a Christmas present on January 13.

img_0194formounting.jpg

I got up at 6:30, so I could finally have it ready for when he woke up. It is a beautiful big sweater for my beautiful big boyfriend. Here is a small hint of the wonder of what it was going to be.

But when he tried it on, it was all wrong. It has weird puffed sleeves and is so bizarrely wide at the shoulders. This has never happened to me before (the problem with sizing, not the late Christmas present situation). I am so frustrated.

Just in case you thought that everyone with a knitting blog was a complete diva who never made mistakes.

I was talking with some of the women I work with about not knitting Lyra’s coat because I don’t have enough yarn, and she says she may have some that might work to add to my pile.

She may bring it Monday.

I was thinking that then, instead of me just posting the pattern after I get it done, I could post my design process with variables and equations where you could put your measurements and gauge, and we could all design the sweater together. This would make things go faster for you, make me go faster to keep up, and, I think, be more interesting for everyone.

Would anyone be interested? I have already started my first post with requirements for measurements, so I hope so.

Always consider that a sweater, or any other knitted item, will need to be washed.

Any design that relies too much on knitting’s propensity to curl in on itself for effect will be almost completely flat after you wash it and never look like like that again.

Now that you think you have enough yarn and know your gauge, and I hope you did a good size swatch to judge texture and colour as well as gauge. We need to decide how you want to construct the coat. I am sure the original was constructed quite simply: worked in garter stitch in one piece to the arm holes then the sleeves worked separately and sewn on at the end. This is easy enough to do, and if you decide to do it this way, I would suggest a good technical design book, such as the Vogue knitting: the ultimate knitting book, I love this book, and I really wish I had my own, but instead I monopolize the library’s copy.

If you go this way, then my advice is likely of little use to you. Other writers have made it all quite clear in other places. I however would like to suggest a slightly different way . . .

Please bear with me here, what I would suggest is constructing the coat in one piece from the top. This has several things to recommend it: most importantly you won’t run out of yarn before you finish the second half of the last sleeve. Perhaps it is just my bias, and there are ways to measure how much yarn you need: e.g. work a square of a set size, such as one foot square, weigh it on a good scale and divide it to get the weight per square inch and multiply it by the number of square inches you have worked out your sweater will be, but I never do this, and working from the top means you can just continue until you are happy with it or you run out of yarn.

I would cast on for the little mandarin collar, then cast off and pick up the number of stitches to start the yoke, you could have a random increase of stitches and have a round yoke, make raglan shaping or work out a different shape and increase for the sleeve it in a line where the sleeve seam would be. I haven’t worked out exactly how this last option would work, but I think it could and it would minimize the difference between the shape of your sweater and the original.

New services

I will provide the following personalized services through my blog:

To personalize the sizing of any of my patterns to specific measurements: $20.00

To alter any design elements of any of my patterns: negotiable, starting at $20.00

Advice on doing it yourself: free

All services will be billed through PayPal. Prices are in Canadian dollars; for today’s exchange rate please see here.

Please contact me directly with any questions: email

Amber from Nakedly Knitting has pointed out a good yarn to use for this coat (here), Noro’s silk garden chunky, color 02. This is a beautiful yarn, and I am sure that the jacket she makes out of it will be georgeous, but whether it is mimicking the coat in the Golden Compass depends on what is the most important thing about the design to you.

If the general colour and shape are most important then this is a good substitute, and you can find garter stitch coat from a book or magazine and make a very good facsimile. But to me the most important thing about this jacket is the texture and specific colours. I love the way the colours slightly clash: the brown and the purple don’t really go with the red (see here), but they come together to make it sing. Noro yarns are beautiful, but they are too harmonious to make this coat the way I envision it. The hint of green in it tones down the red (here); purple makes the red brighter.

I also really like the effect of the areas worked in slightly different thicknesses. It gives the jacket brilliant texture and makes it unusual. I don’t want to make this coat, because I don’t think I can replicate the parts that make it most exciting to me.

On the other hand, the construction is completely unimportant to me. If I were making the coat, I would completely change the construction for various reasons, which I will expound on later.

One of the most exciting things about living in Saskatchewan, and it took me a while to realize how great it is, is the small yarn producers.

I guess it makes sense because Saskatchewan is so agricultural.

The first I discovered was Princess Farms, they have great yarn. They spin and dye it themselves, and they do mail order. I bought the hand dyed sock yarn for my design Kaleidoscope here. I especially like their lace weight, hand dyed and hand spun yarns.

Here is a picture of yarn from my stash I have bought from them:

Princess Farms Yarn

I have also recently bought some Icelandic wool from TLC Icelandics (which strictly speaking is from Alberta), but it is gorgeous and soft. Much more so than the lopi I have bought produced in Iceland. Apparently the bitter bitter cold brings out really great fibre, who could have anticipated that?

Here is a picture of the Icelandic yarn:

TLC Icelandics

It is difficult to photograph this yarn without making it look like spun straw, but I can’t tell you how great it feels and it knits up beautifully.

If you want a source, and I understand they do mail order, I suggest the Wool Emporium. There are so many more.

I have been asked if I could give any advice on recreating Lyra’s red sweater coat from The Golden Compass, and I thought that this might be of interest to more people than just the two of us.

I think there are several big issues with recreating this coat:

  • It is impossible to get a really good close look at it. The pictures online are too small and the film itself moves around too much, and no one wants to wait for the DVD so it could be paused.
  • The yarn/other materials that went into making it will be difficult to come by, and one can’t really be sure what they were. I have read (here) that the coat wasn’t even made out if yarn, but fabric strips, twine etc. This is going to be very difficult to duplicate because costume makers are just better equipped. For all my moaning, I am an amateur in the field of having materials to hand, and I certainly don’t have enough.
  • I am not sure how much yarn this will take, but I know it will be a lot. If anyone actually wants to do this with yarn, I think it will take at least 2-4lbs (1.5-2kg) to make it.

If you still feel the coat is worth pursuing and you think you have enough yarn, you should work out your gauge. I would say that you need super bulky or comparable different yarns held together, and the gauge should be around 7-8 sts to 4inches/10cm.

I will write about potential next steps in the next few days.

If you have any questions at any time, please let me know!

Oh the shame . . .

Some of my stash

I recently took out all of my stash to judge if I had enough yarn for a particular project (Lyra’s garter stitch coat from the Golden Compass, see here to see how that worked out). It is now covering my entire dining room table, all the chairs and part of the floor.

How did this happen to me? I can’t believe how much yarn I have, when did I get it all? Was I there? Did I agree to this? Will my renter’s insurance cover thousands of dollars in knitting supplies?

Lyra’s Cap

Lyra’s Cap

I was so smitten by the costumes in the Golden Compass, and for this cap at least, one wonders: how often can something so desirable be achieved so easily? I whipped this up in an evening and thought I would share.

If you are lucky you will even have some yarn in your stash that will work.

Difficulty
Easy

Size
Child [Adult] (shown in adult size)

Finished measurements
9 inches (23cm) [10 inches (25cm)] from top to bottom
8 inches (20cm) [9 inches (23cm)] from front to back

Materials
Rowan Ribbon Twist [70% wool, 25% acrylic, 5% polyamide; 60yd/66m per 100g skein]; color: #121 Rustic; 1 skein
1 set US #17/12mm straight needles
1 US#L/11/8mm crochet hook

Gauge
7.5sts/10 rows = 4 inches / 10cm in stockinette st

Lyra’s cap (back view)

Please see the full pattern here: Lyra’s cap

I have been asked if I will make a pattern for Lyra’s red sweater coat from The Golden Compass (see here), and as promised I have checked my stash, but I just don’t think I can do it. I have pulled out all my yarn in red, pink, burgundy, purple, brown etc. that is thicker than fingering weight and this is all I came up with:

Reddish yarn from my stash

I just don’t think it is enough for that coat. Also, I think a large part of the appeal of that coat comes from the sections of novelty yarns, especially the eyelash yarns (see here), and I have never really liked eyelash yarns, so I don’t have any — though now I think that I just don’t know how to use them to the best effect.

However, if anyone feels that I would be any help in working out a pattern I would be happy to do what I can (later I changed my mind, please see later posts).
I do plan on posting a pattern for Lyra’s cap here later this weekend though, so please check back (see here).

Over the holidays I went to the beautiful and mild west coast, and perhaps most importantly went to two of my favourite yarn shops (in this case Birkeland Bros. and Urban Yarns) and stocked up.

Here is a preview of coming projects I am now fully prepared for:

New stash items

I have created PDFs of my free patterns to be included on my blog.

I have created a page for them and will be adding more later.  Please see them here: http://parallaxknitting.com/about/.

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