Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fair Isle a different way

I am knitting a hoodie for my husband. The idea came from him:
I wish a had a hoddie, something army green, but not too warm, short sleeves would be OK.

The Fall 2010 edition of
Interweave Knits
had a picture and pattern
for a men's jacket
that gave me an idea.

What if I make this hoodie
using a similar design?
The squares would
be knitted in the Fair Isle
style. I like to knit
designs with colors and
have completed many
Fair Isle knitted garments
and even gloves, shawls,
and socks.

"LUMBERJACK" is the name of the squares

For the hoodie I would have to find some summery type yarn. So I did venture to The Black Sheep in Encinitas and came away with Nashua Handknits from Westminster Fibers, 50% Linen/ 50% Cotton.  Like I said, summery yarn, light weight and airy,
The colors are Army Green and Brown. I did look to find a Green/Gray combination, but there was nothing beside merino winter wool available. He said he likes the green/brown combo.
Once I started preparing the work and knitted the Gauge, something dawned on me:
Fair Isle knitting will use double the yarn since the second color is carried in the back all the way from end to the other on every row!

I was shocked when that thought hit me.
There goes the idea of a light and airy hoodie right out the window.
I persisted though and spent a few nights (I do have a day job) figuring out how the gauge that I arrived at would translate. I used 5.5mm needles, larger from the recommended 4.5mm. I wanted a light and airy result, remember.
After gathering my husbands measurements I knew how wide at the hip and breast and how tall from the underarm, shoulders and the middle of the neck the hoodie needed to be.
First, I sketched it out. 26" overall length (he does not like long shirts either), 46" overall width, 2" for a waistband.
Second, I wrote out the design rhythm. Yes, I said that before, rhythm is knitting. 
The Lumberjack pattern in the photo was 6, 12 repeated. For my design that did not work because it would require several more green/brown section then what I had in mind. The design would be too busy and I had to also consider where in the pattern would I have to start to have a good connection to the front.

So I started writing out the rhythm with the front:
button band brown, 7 or 8 stitches, solid green 16, green/brown band 8, solid green 16, green/brown band 8, solid green 4. According to my Gauge that would give me the correct 1/2 of a front.

Ergo, the back would then have to start with the remaining 12 solid green, green/brown band 8, solid green 16, green/brown band 8, solid green 16, green/brown band 8, solid green 16, green/brown band 8, sending with solid green 12.

The left front would then again start with the remaining 4 solid green, green/brown band 8, solid green 16,green/brown band 8, solid green 16, ending with button band brown, 7 or 8 stitches.

I don't know why that always happens, but that is exactly what happened and it resulted in the measurements for my husband's hoodie.

Once I had the pattern and design written down and worked out, I went for it and knitted the waistband.
Row 1: all knit stitches
Row 2: 1 purl, 1 knit, all the way across in that rhythm.

When it became time to start knitting the main body I did remember that my balls were hand wound and I had access to 2 strands from one ball (one from the inside and one form the outside), and a good thing that was.

I still had the problem of double threads on the back to solve.
But, being a long-time knitter I just started thinking. I remembered that most of the Fair Isle designs call for many colors and there was no way to not carry the yarn all the way across. I also remembered that I read somewhere about twisting two strands of yarn around each other once to help carry them across larger sections.
This Lumberjack design was different from regular Fair Isle though. The design just needed two colors in 4 places.
You see, two balls with two ends each, provides brown for 4 places. Just what I needed!

So I decided to use two balls, drawing two strands of yarn out from each ball. I attached each strand at the four places in the pattern that used brown, and not carry the brown all the way across the solid green sections.
I twisted the brown with the green in front of every first brown stitch on every row before knitting the first brown stitch and then un-twist it again after the 8 stitches of the brown/green combo vertical stripe were knitted.
For the horizontal stripe I knitted 8 rows, 1 stitch green/ 1 stitch brown, also using the 4 different brown strands. Every time the knitting would reach the next vertical brown strand, I twisted the current with the next brown and made sure the next brown stitch was knitted with the next brown strand.

This really worked out beautifully!
There are no ends to finish anywhere on the entire back piece except in the beginning row and end row. The balls were 100 grams in size, LUCKY ME.

I have also learned that the best way to make sure the green always gets carried all the way through was to knit (RS) or purl (WS) one stitch on either end of each row using the green main color.

green is the last stitch all the way around the piece

green is the last stitch all the way around the piece

side edge
green is the last stitch all the way around the piece

This was done all throughout the entire hoodie, except the waistband, button band, and hood which are all solid brown.  Actually, the hood is not started yet, and might not be solid brown. You will have to wait and see! So check back if you want to know how this ends.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

multiple colors

I don't know exactly why I do it, but when I am in the middle of a project knitting with more than one color I always ask myself "why in the world do you do this to yourself".
It slows my knitting way down because the pattern needs calculating every step of the way and the strands get tangled up all the time.
I am currently knitting a hoodie for my husband Ruben. It is made out of 2 colors and after spending already 2 weeks into this project, calculating and untangling it finally looks like it's all worth it.

Yesterday I even pointed out to him that the main back panel is the biggest piece. Once that is done everything else is knitting up faster. Naturally, the tangling and calculating gets less and less as well because with the big piece completed you can easily count out the stitches and rows needed to make the front panel or the arm.
This one will have short arms. The hoddie is made out of a cool yarn, NASHUA creative focus linen, 50% linen/ 50% cotton, for those cool summer evening (or days) in San Diego. I am also using much bigger needles than suggested to get a loose knitted garment. The plan is to add a solid brown hood. We will see once the entire body is knitted perhaps I change my mind about that.