November 05, 2003

Startitis seems to be going around.

Oops! Did it again...
Click for an expanded view.
[And here is a closeup of the stitch.]

Went off and started a project I've been planning! Elfin from Rowan 34, using Felted Tweed, Kidsilk Haze, and teeny bamboo needles. Knitting this version of Elfin means that I'll be subjecting myself to the torture of creating mohair R-U-F-F-L-E-S, which will probably take about a million stitches considering the gauge on the yarn. Let's hope I don't have to rip out at any point. (I'm sure others who are doing Elfin in the CurlsandPurls knitalong will agree. At least I know I'm not alone!)

So far I like the project. Felted Tweed is scratchy and nubbly, and creates a lovely tweedy fabric that screams, "I am British! Good day to you!" I feel like I should be knitting it while sitting in a leather chair before a roaring fire, cute little dachsund snoozing at my feet and a cup of tea in a pretty floral teacup on a side table. Cheerio! Send scones.

Now for some notes re pattern:

Elfin is lovely, but the pattern could be written a little more clearly. The gauge for the Felted Tweed version is not included in the pattern, only the needle size is mentioned. Moreover, the yarn label on Felted Tweed does not have a specific gauge. Using a measurement on the schematic and some quick division, I discovered that the gauge required for doing the cardi in Felted Tweed is the gauge stated for the sweater done in Kidsilk Haze DOUBLED (23 sts 32 rows = 10cm), but using size 3 1/4mm needles. I got gauge using 3.5 bamboo circs.

As for shaping, one needs to pay attention when decreasing and increasing. There are shapings near the selvedges, and also towards the middle. The shapings near the selvedges are paired to create the curves at the sides, and the shapings in the middle create vertical darts; this will reduce bagginess at the lower back and waist.

[Knitting Elfin, too? More to be found re the shapings below.]

When working shapings on Elfin, here is a rough sketch of the direction the shapings should take:
(The dotted lines represent the shapings in the middle.)

As mentioned, the curves are created by the paired shapings near the selvedges, and the shapings in the middle create the vertical darts in a straight line. The pattern calls for markers to be placed to determine where the middle shapings should be made. If the markers are not repositioned correctly after each shaping in the middle, the darts will NOT be in a straight line. Here is a rough sketch of the way the shapings in the middle are supposed to be aligned:


(Left side shown only.)

The straight line in the middle represents the marked stitch. But which is the stitch that should always be marked? You will be able to identify it right after you do the first decreases. However, the pattern isn't clear as to how markers are to be repositioned after these first decreases are made.

This could be confusing, because the decreases used for the darts in the middle are straight decreases. Unlike the slanting decreases used near the edge stitches, there is no "right" or "left" slanting version of it; it is a decrease that creates a straight line. To ensure that these decreases remain aligned, make sure that you have the same number of stitches from the edge to the middle shaping on both ends AFTER doing the first decreases. Use the right end as a guide (i.e., if there are 26 sts from the edge stitch at the right end to the marked stitch on the right side, there should be 26 sts from the edge stitch at the left end to the marked stitch on the left side AFTER the decrease is made). You can see the "straight line" created by the center (which should be the marked) stitches in the photo of my own Elfin decreases below. The arrows indicate the marked stitch that was used to show me where the decrease was to take place.

See how the decreases are aligned?

I always remove the markers right before I do the middle shapings, and when the shapings are done I reposition the markers to the right of the center stitch. Right before you do these shapings, always ensure that the center stitch (or marked stitch) is going to be in the same line as the ones in the previous rows. After doing shapings, reposition markers accordingly. The markers should be used to indicate where the center stitch is, not where the shapings should be done.

And that is how the Elfin goes :-)

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33 comments to this entry:

Hey Becky, how lovely to see the felted tweed shaping up as the French Elf, despite the fact that you are sitting in your leather armchair with floral teacup...... hhhmmm too many episodes of Miss Marple I think!!!!

It's looking fab so far - I can't wait to see those ruffles!!!!

Thanks for sharing all the details on Elfin and the shaping. It's such a help to have someone clarify the missing or confusing information in a pattern. I'm not knitting Elfin myself, but I know your comments will be a big help to those who are. Felted tweed is however on my to-buy list!! :)

See, this is why I love good knitblogs: tips like these help everyone become better knitters. I'm planning to do a slightly less ruffly version of Elfin later this winter, and will refer to your notes often, I'm sure.

Thank you for you tips on Elfin. The pattern was not very clear at all. This helped immensely! I actually put it down yesterday and worked on my mindless baby hat....

On the Bucket o'Chic, did you pick a variegated yarn, or just one color? I am badly in need of a simple black winter hat, and am toying with doing just a plain Bucket.....

That felted tweed is really nice. Elfin is adorable. I love ruffles and shaping like that. Thanks for the advice if I ever venture into that territory.....

And you're making a bucket-o-chic, AND a muff! Startitis indeed. At least you also have Finishitis.

Felted Tweed, toasted crumpets, croquet on the lawn.... I say, what jolly good fun! I would like to make Elfin one day, thanks for taking the time to put helpful instructions up. What colour are your ruffles going to be?

Tee hee! Jen sounds as British as they come. Now THAT is the way I wanted to write. Here, Jen, have a crumpet. [Yum!]

I'm going to do the ruffles in brownish/gray, and the main color is a chocolate brown. (Big thank you to Sarah for picking out this color combo for me and for sending it all over!) I, like Sophie, don't plan on doing all three of the ruffles at the cuffs, though. I'm planning on doing only one ruffle at each cuff so that I'll be able to put on a coat without having trouble poking my arms through the sleeves. Besides, all three of those ruffles remind me a bit of an Elizabethan ruff.

Claudia: I have yarn to do a variegated bucket, but I decided to go back and get some for a dark plain version. I'm all about the black during winter. (It's like a uniform here, I tell you.) Bucket with me?

P.S. I admit it: I am a big fan of Miss Marple. Sarah has found me out!

study a pattern before knittin it? what's that? no no just dive in, no markers, go with the flow, line up the decreases by eye, it'll be fine... mua ha ha ha.... it is very fun to read your perfectionism in action. so amazing!! :)

Good on you for figuring all that out, and a thousand thanks for sharing your thought processes. I'm not currently knitting Elfin, but yea, I have heard the sighs of woe from those who are. It's a beautiful sweater, but the copy editor obviously missed a few things. Not including gauge seems like a pretty big oops to me. Love the colors you and Sarah have chosen. Brown always feels so warm when it's cold outside. :)

Oh dear, I think I'm getting tempted by Elfin...again. All the blog enthusiasm was whipping me along (what can I say, as I get older I clearly am more vulnerable to peer pressure) and then I watched it all crumble and backed away in dismay, eyeing Rapunzel instead. But with Becky's inspired tutorial...hmm...

Oh wait. I should probably first finish that Adrienne Vittadini sweater for which I have already bought fab BOOTS and a darling SKIRT. One sleeve done so far. I'm getting a little ahead of the knitting process, don't you think?

Looking forward to the headless Elfin shots and all the inspired lessons along the way!

Now - I think you should practice a little Irish Jig to dance when you are all completed.

Just looove the Elfin - looks so fabu!
Fun - ruffles all around!
Can't wait to see it complete - jig and all:)

Well, at least I am no longer alone on the Miss Marple front!

Can I join the bucket-with-you? I have some lovely pinky red cascade just waiting to be felted...

oooooh... I looove felted tweed. Makes me think 'tea & crumpets,' or being at the pub with a hot toddy, I'm nor sute which.... ;)

Okay, rabbit does elf! Nice one! Gorgeous sweater, and it'll look great on that svelte figure of yours. Rowan has beautiful sweaters and yarns, but as you have found, they need to put the crackpipe down when they write up those patterns. Maybe the pattern editor doesn't knit and doesn't know that schematics or GAUGE are rather helpful.

As for the bucket o'chic, I've made a few and my fave is the furry one! I kid you not. Make one hold the yarn along with a fur yarn (longish) and everytime you have a bad winter hair day, put on hair hat. Strangers want to know where you bought it...I kid you not. I made a "blonde" one and wore that puppy all over the world. Oh just do it...they only take about a day to make...

I love that bubblegum pink. What a gorgeous colour :)

i love the rowan wools but i refuse to knit up their designs , their patterns writers are crap and too often the instructions make no sense to me. they're lame and vague.
it's all very well to show all these lovely pictures but it should be backed up by proper writing at the price they charge for the blooming yarns and books. grrrrrrrrrrrrr. they make me angry.

Somehow, I agree with Nathalie! When you charge 18 or 19 euros for a magazine with patterns, these should be flawless!
Seeing the work you have done studying the pattern, figuring out the gauge, and where those markers should be, I guess Rowan could hire you to review their designs so they are knitable!

The yarn is BEAUTIFUL.

Bucketing with ya, baby. I'm taking a cue from my baby sister and I've cast on a Black n' Furry Bucket. One strand worsted weight wool from stash....serious 20 year old stash...and one strand microfiber fur.

My ears be cold, and me want furry!

Sil's crackpipe comment has me laughing out loud :-D

I can't think of a valid reason why Rowan's patterns should read the way they do. If I were following this pattern blindly, I'd have darts in a crooked line all up the back. Kim needs to beef up on her team of technical editors, I think.

We're gonna bucket! Sarah, please join us. And everyone else, too. [Passes around hot toddies.] I love Sil's idea of using fur as a carry-along, will definitely be doing that. (Methinks I'll be knitting more than one version of this hat.)

P.S. to Evelyn: Rapunzel is on my knitting wishlist, too! And feel free to accessorize for your knits even before they're finished. I always do :-)

Oh the peer pressure! You've twisted my arm and I think I'll be bucketing along with you all, its a great pattern. I love Rowan Felted tweed, I've got a couple of skeins of it in my stash, maybe a felted tweed bucket hat is the way to go.

oooooh RUFFLES! Gotta love them! Great colors as usual. (-:

To give Ms. BonneMarie credit as due, she posted the furry hat on her site. It was soooo gorgeous in her pix that I RAN to the horrible yarn store in the next town (the one in the industrial park--all dusty and cramped-ick) to get the appropriate yarn. Perhaps we can pursuade BM to find the furry bucket picture for a reprise.

Can I just interject here ?
Becky has very cleverly written out all you need for the Elfin pattern.About the guage ,I just assumed it shold be 23 x 32 as that's the guage that all the other Felted Tweed garments in the book are knitted at.
Rowan patterns are written in the English style which assumes a certain amount of knowledge & ability.They don't feel the need to spell it out in minute detail.I've never found them problematic,because that's what I'm used to & I like to have room to think !
A bad American style pattern is far worse.If it's all written down ,every little detail covered,if it's wrong you're stuck.
Having said all that I really wish they'd print reall schematics,with all the needed measurements ! Their token gestures are pathetic !

Yay! Looks like we got some more winter Bucket-o-Chic pals. I'm planning on knitting several; Christmas is coming up, you know. (And I really do need a stylish hat for winter.)

Emma, I rarely use American patterns because I learned to knit by following French patterns. While French patterns generally have detailed schematics, they do not have specific row by row instructions, and this forces one to think things through on one's own. That's probably why I caught on to knitting so quickly by myself.

While I do not like to see everything written out for me (and I agree that those types of instructions are more susceptible to error), all I ask for in a commercial pattern is that what *is* written out is not done vaguely [enter crackpipe], and that a specific gauge and detailed schematics with ALL the measurements be included. If it's got that, I'm a happy camper :-)

Got room for one more bucket hat knitter? I've got Bonne Marie's pattern and I'm just itching to felt something warm. What kinds of furry yarns do folks recommend. Not all things respond well to hot water...

Yay! Let's bucket, Theresa. Hm...furry yarns for felting. That is one area in which I'm pretty much clueless. Anyone?

i too am in on bucket o' chic if i can find some yarn to use this weekend and pick up the needles i need. i'm pretty excited to make a hat! bonne's pattern seems pretty self-explanatory...and i plan to felt mine in my boyfriend's washer. :) hope he doesn't mind...

Most of the furry yarns are nylon/some form of poly, if not 100% then a very high percentage. This doesn't felt. Anything acrylic will never felt. So if you want furry felt, go mohair or angora rabbit. Or experiment with a strand of wool and a strand of acrylic fur a swatch and throw the swatch in the washer with some blue jeans and see what happens. But something tells me that mohair or maybe even angora rabbit is your best bet here.

Wow... I'm not even sure whether I understood half of what you've written ;o) But I've liked Elfin eversince seeing it on Rowan's website. It's simple yet elegant and would look great paired with a dress.

BTW, I've posted a little preview pic of our wedding shoot. Do drop by!

oh, becky, your elfin looks beautiful....lovely colours and a wonderful explanation of the back shaping. i agree, rowan dropped the ball on this....but, i was able to figure it out, i back is almost done and i have a nice subtle shaping going on.

so sorry to see that one ot the posts in this section thinks that the elfin knitalong has crumbled....can we assure her that it hasnt. my version in sigh felted tweed is alive and well and coming along nicely on #5 circular bamboo needles. and, i got gauge, i had it all along....gee, i feel like saying this, there is no place like home, knitting.

I wrote tow comments with questions yesterday and now I don't know which section here I put them in .. Darn it.. Do you see them anywhere???
I have a question for you about the Bucket hat.. I did the brim to the beginning of the Chic Knits bucket hat ..I was doing the unfelted on with worsted cotton and #6 needle starting with double strand like it says.. Well The darn thing could fit an elephant.. Whats wrong.. is there an error on the directions.. It seems the unfelted one is Larger than the felted one.. Shouldn't it be the other way around?? Help.. I wanna make the bucket hat too !!! Thanks.. Could Please email me if you have the time..


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