construction

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Here is the earthworm scarf with the knitting completed, but the seams not sewn:

I plan to sew it up as I designed it in Debbie New’s labyrinth knitting technique, but I am quite smitten with it as is and kind of wish I could keep it like this.

I confess I like to knit gloves the way many knitters seem to like to knit socks — they are so satisfying.

They don’t take too long, they fit in your bag, and of done right they so closely mirror the dimensions and contours of the body — three dimensionality at its finest.

Here is the beginning of my newest creation:

I love knitting gloves on two needles: it is very satisfying and there are no double pointed needles to mess with. I don’t hate dpn, but I find that straight needles are just so much easier to work with. I do think I will write the pattern for both circularly knit and flat knit versions though, so you can all decide for yourselves.

I am making them cabled as that makes them warmer (I am not sure that gloves could ever be too warm here) and hopefully look spiffy. They will also have substantial cuffs that will be able to either under or over the sleeves of your coat.

The yarn is the Instant Gratification from Brooklyn Handspun that I wrote about before.

I plan to write up the pattern in both versions and post it in the next couple months.

I want to knit everything on straight needles — absolutely everything.

I knit gloves on straight needles, see here and here. I also knit sweaters on straight needles, see here and the new issue of Magknits coming out in March. I also knit hats on straight needles, but that is a little less extraordinary, see here and here.

Double knit gloves

I partly dislike circulars and partly it just seems fun to do it that way.

I am so excited about my next pattern, which I will be posting this weekend if all goes well. I have a new (though perhaps unvented as opposed invented) way of making gloves on two needles, so I hope you will check back.

Here is a sneak preview.

Gloves on two needles never look like anything special when you are knitting them, then the metamorphose into something right.

Lyras Coat with Sleeves

Cast on stitches at underarms and work body of sweater:

This is about what your sweater coat should look like at this stage.

The sleeves are completed and it is now time to put the live stitches from the body back on your needles and cast on some stitches for the underarms.

The first thing you need to do is measure how large your sweater is without casting on for underarms. This means you should measure your two front halves and the back. These numbers combined are how large the sweater is now.

Next, you will need to work out how big it should be. I think I want 6 inches [15cm] ease. This is because I want the sweater to drape like a coat, and coats tend to be bigger, and because the fabric is so thick the inside will be smaller than the outside. (thank you Elizabeth Zimmermann, see Knitter’s Almanac, unfortunately out of print). If your sweater is much smaller, i.e. child’s size, you may want to have slightly less ease (4-5 inches [10-12cm], but that is up to you.

Subtract how big your sweater is from how big you want it to be, this will give you how much you need to cast on for. Divide this amount by two for each underarm and multiply it my your gauge, this will give you the number of stitches to cast on under each arm.

Put all the live stitches onto a long needle (I think you will need a circular needle for this), which will fold the sleeves in half. If you find that you didn’t end one end in the right direction and you will not start your garter stitch on the same (right side or wrong side) row, work one row to make it even.

Starting at the beginning of the row of the stitches you have on your needle, work to the first sleeve, cast on the number of stitches you worked out in the previous step; repeat for the second underarm. You will now have enough stitches on your needle for the complete body of the sweater.

At this point you can decide to work straight until the end of the garment, in which case, you can bid farewell to my instructions, such as they are. Just keep going until you are happy, bind off, sew on your preferred method of closure, sew the sleeve seams, wash the sweater (if you are using old stash yarn and your sweater smells a little fusty), block/dry it, and enjoy.

I however, have decided that I want pockets, I know the original didn’t have any, but I want them and it’s my sweater. I also plan to add a few stitches for a little increased room for my hips and walking stride. If you want either of these things, work to the point at which these things would be appropriate and I will try to catch up to you as soon as I can.

My version:

My sweater without casting on at underarms is as follows:

(11 inches [28cm] x 2 fronts) + 23 inches [58cm] = 45 inches [114cm]

If you think back to the measurement stage, my bust with clothes is 38 inches [97cm]

45 inches [114cm] – (38 inches [97cm] + 6 inches [15cm]) = -1 inch [-2cm]

My sweater turned out to be big enough already, so I will just start knitting the body, but if you need any added under the arms, follow the directions here.

This is what my sweater looked like before I joined for and started working body:

ready to work body

This is what my sweater looked like after I worked a few rows and sewed the sleeve seams with mattress stitch:

sleevessewn.jpg

I found that sewing the sleeve seams made the knitting easier, so I did that now, but that is a matter of preference.

If you added stitches under the arms, sew the beginnings of the sleeves to the underarm stitches, then sew the rest of the sleeve seam straight.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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