March 25, 2004

This will be his Easter sweater...

This was knit over tea and cookies and lots of chatter.

About a month ago I discovered that my neighbor upstairs, whose children go to the same school my son does, K-N-I-T-S. I discovered it quite by accident, too. One day she came over unexpectedly, and I welcomed her in. The closet in the main room was [gasp!] open, and its entire upper three shelves were showing off a rather vulgar display of yarn stored in individual ziplocs. On a lower shelf was an equally vulgar display of pattern books thrown about haphazardly, and sitting next to them was a plastic bin overflowing with bamboo circs, metal circs and all sorts of straight needles. It looked like an altar to the yarn gods sans lit candles. Yikes! I rushed over to close the closet door, but not before she got an eyeful. I confessed to her that yes, here dwells a Yarn-Addicted Knitter. And yes! I am the one who knits all the sweaters my son wears, and I knit the Elfin cardigan she complimented me on the other day. She couldn't believe it.

Before she found out that I Am One Who Knits, she hadn't knit in ages. Well, I felt it was high time she got back into it. So I invited her to come with me to the Big Yarn Sales, and I cheered her on while she filled her bags with three projects worth of yarn. Muwaahaaaaa! We looked like a couple of yarn junkies as we gleefully rode the bus back home, kindred souls high on fiber.

During the last few weeks my new friend and I have been meeting regularly to knit, chat, and browse through books and magazines. During these mini meetups, she knits a child's jacket in cotton. I knit a cute little raglan sweater with a zippered collar (Pitchoun Spring 2004) using Aviso. For my kid, of course. Every year I knit him a sweater to wear for Easter egg hunting, and this is the sweater he will wear this year.

Here I am knitting with two circs of different sizes.
I feel like I am knitting with whips.
[Cracks whips.] Just like Lash LaRue*!

I am knitting this raglan a bit differently. Whenever I knit straight stockinette stitch using Aviso (it's a worsted cotton whose similarities to Rowan's All Season's Cotton I have mentioned before) I notice that I tend to work my knit rows too tightly. Before, in order to remedy this, I'd just try to remember to work my knit rows a little more loosely so that my knitting would remain even. But because I am knitting this particular sweater while blabbing away with a fellow knitter, I would forget to do this. So I tried combined knitting to even out my fabric, which has worked for me in the past when knitting with slippery or inelastic yarn. No go this time, though. It resulted in purl rows that were tighter than knit rows. (This cotton is nice but damn, I wish it had more elasticity.)

So, I am doing the old "knit the knit rows with a bigger needle, and purl the purl rows with a smaller needle" trick. No wonder everyone suggests doing that to even out one's knitting. It works! I now recommend that you try it if you're knitting straight stockinette using yarn that is being stubborn and insists on giving you too-tight knit rows. [Hellooooooooooooo, Aviso!]


And, as it turns out, my two needle deal worked out so well I went off and completed the back and front pieces without further ado. [Cracks whips.]

*Gratuitous bit of info: Lash LaRue was one of my dad's favorite heros when he was a kid. He would watch Lash LaRue with his eyes stuck to the television, and then he'd go outside and pretend to be Lash LaRue by using a piece of rubber hose as his whip. [Awwwwwwwwwww.]

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38 comments to this entry:

Any chance you might create a listing of yarn stores in Paris?

Jealous that you have a knitting neighbor!!! How convenient, how fun, to be able to sit and knit with her without travelling to and from. Lucky girl! xox Kay

I just found a fellow knitter today too!! And I was sure not one other soul in this town knew how!!! My Sociology 401 professor's secretary attacked me as I was knitting my mom's stole in the hallway and we gushed about how awesome knitting is... we might even start a stitch 'n bitch up in here! :0) Anyway, that red sweater is adorable (not that I would expect anything else from you... you master of style!)
Also, the other day as I was cruising around on the internet, I found this knitting magazine with patterns that look like the pretties you knit... You've probably seen this already, but if not, check it out!

Recruiting for the cult huh? It's like when we were kids and the boy next door came home a Moonie! Step into my lair, nice neighbor. The boy's Easter sweater is very cute and I'm amazed with your success with combined knitting. I shall have to try that...

Do you have a picture that would show what it looks like when your knit or purl rows are too tight? Who knows, I might have this problem and not even know it.

Ok, I can't figure it out -- how does one determine whether ones knit rows are tighter than ones purl rows? Something must look 'off' somehow? I might very well have this particular problem and not even know I have it!


MaryB in Richmond, Virginia, USA

Oh fab, a neighbour who knits! I bet you two will be encouraging each other to buy more yarn all the time now, what fun! The kid's sweater looks nice, that's a nifty trick with the different needle sizes. I've never had that problem, but then I knit ludicrously loosely anyway :)

I am with ND on the list of stores in Paris, but I really want to know where this BIG YARN SALE is. I want to find me some sales yarn. I can find them on sales in the UK but here.....

Sorry! No list of yarn stores in Paris because 1) I don't live there and 2) I don't regularly shop for yarn there. (The big yarn sale was at Phildar, but not online. It was one of those "you had to be here to experience it" deals.)

Re too-tight knit rows or too-loose purl rows: You can see it from the reverse side of a stockinette stitch fabric. Look at the wrong side of the work, and if you see your rows grouping themselves together in pairs, bingo! Chances are your knit rows are too tight or your purl rows are too loose. It's not always that noticeable from the right side of the work (although some yarns, like the Aviso I'm working with, might show slight "ridges" caused by the difference in tension between knit and purl rows), so it's not really a problem. It's just something that irks me if it shows up in my own knitting, not anyone else's. Please, knit on joyously!

I love it! I'm going to give that a try one of these days. And a knitting neighbor?! I'm verrry jealous!

Wow - That is a REALLY cute sweater! I *must* get on with BNC so I can knit up another sweater for my Oliewog ~ I'm just so selfish right now... :p

A knittin' neighbor, YEA! And right in your building. Yoohoo! I would love to have someone that close who I could have impromptu sit and knits with.

AND you got her back into knitting. Score!

I love that pattern you chose for your son's sweater. That color is great. I will definitely being trying your tip with the two set of needles. I have that problem with summer knits. Thanks!

I'll have you know that Leslie of Nake-id Knits and I had coffee today and spent quite a bit of time talking of 1. How fabulous you are and 2. How your boy is the MOST gorgeous little boy we know. Just thought you should know you were channelled in Oakland. xox

Way to problem solve! Lucky you, knitty neighbor.

Not a knitting comment, just I am hooked on nice hands, so I noticed yours are pretty good. Btw. man´s hands are the first things I look at :O)

Good to see that you're starting your man child out with good bright colors as well as nice stately man colors. I love that bright red. I hope Captain Destructo does, too! Men seem to confine themselves to such a limited color palette. Lately, I've been wondering when and where it is they learn that...

I love that story about the neighbour. It's funny how just seeing someone knitting or a collection of lovely yarns just twigs the desire for dormant knitters to start again. Of course, aside from a few weirdos on the London Underground, I have found people genuinely interested in what I'm knitting and several vow to pick up their needles again.

That red raglan is lovely and the kid wil no doubt look super in it.

I'm smiling here! Thank you, Rachael :-)

I'm glad the red is getting some "thumbs-up". I've never knit anything in red for the kid, but it seems to be a popular color right now. Plus, I think he'll look cute in red. (Okay, I'm a little biased.)

I've been lurking for a while now but had to come out today. I had the same exact problem with knitting cotton combined method. I thought it was just me. Nice to know I'm in such good company!

Becky, your boy looks cute in everything. HA! I was the first one to say it.

That's it! You're now 'out of the closet'. I think it's great that you've found someone to knit with. I'm jealous! How I would love to go to the Big Yarn Sale! I'll just have to settle for finding my Phildar treasures in the clearance bin at my LYS. So what if I have to scrounge around for patterns for last year's yarn?!

Your knitting is all so nice...I love the red, too. How did you get so good? I know you're self taught, but did you get any help along the way? Is there a particular book or website that you couldn't do without? After a very long hiatus from knitting (12+ years?), my confidence in my ability to knit anything other than a scarf is about a 2 out of 10. I just did my swatch (I think this is a first!) for an eylet sweater with Pildar Coton 10 and I'm going to have to bring it into my LYS so they can tell me if I did it right and if my tension is ok!

i see this has already been said a zillion times but what i came to say was: J'aime la couleur. Very fun.

Great choice of material and color, as usual. Damn it, i do have this mag., but i tend not to notice anything in it before you actually knit it. Did I ever tell you that I (unshamely) copied your sleeveless blue jumper? I did it for one of my nephews (who lives next to you, but i didn't know it back then), and apparently, if he could, he would only wear this one. So now I have to back to a Phildar store and see this Aviso quality :-).
That's so nice to have someone so near who's knitting too. Wish you lots of knit and tea times!

Weird--just this morning I was thinking about the very problem you described! I've never been able to put my finger on exactly what caused it, but when I knit stockinette I always find the purl side clumps into little two-row stripes, and depending on the elasticity of the yarn and my tension, sometimes there is a subtle textural stripeyness to the knit side as well.

I had thought about "knitting backwards" instead of purling--I don't know what "combined knitting" means for certain but I think they might be similar. But your needle method seems like it would be easier and simpler.

Personally, I can live with the effect most of the time. But certain yarns really show it more than others (like the cotton you're using). Also, I've been planning a project (a tank) that would start out in the round and then be split into sections that would be knit flat (for the front and back panels). I was worried that the discrepancy between in-the-round knitting (just knit stitches) and flat (both knit and purl) would be a lot more yucky-looking, due to the contrast effect, than when I knit a whole project flat.

Yay for a knitting neighbor! I had an image of your vulgar knitting closet surrounded by a misty fog with eerie music playing...once your neighbor saw your lair of knitting, how could she turn away?

The sweater is adorable. There really is a lack of cool male sweater patterns up in here. (Here being the States.) So I will live vicariously through your fashionable, wearable boy knitting!! :)

Great Color!!! I love seeing kids in bright colors!! I love raglan sleeves too! I had to howl about your closet story - I think most knitters can relate! I love when people who used to knit start up knitting today - especially since they have such super choices in fibers now!! I got my mum to start up again and she is knitting like gang busters- and I couple of months ago I got my aunt who was a crochet fan to start knitting. My uncle told me she now attends a knitting group every Tuesday night!! He, he - pretty cool!!

Another technique is to use "knitting back" when you do the purl rows -- in the Phildar sweater I'm working on right now, I've had to do that, because my rows were bunching up in pairs.

Red. Nice. However, you knew I would say that....

I admit it: I'm a loose purler. After knitting Rogue on two sizes of needles (and the non-circular parts of Tuja) I'm a confirmed 2-needle lover. Really, an excuse to have more needles!

Can't wait to see the re on CD! I'm shocked to find out you have a tension problem- everything you knit always looks so even! Noticing the teeny details is what makes your knitting so beautiful and causes the coining of words like Beckyish! Well done on converting (or should that be reverting?) your neighbor. ;)

How have I lived so many years on this planet, yet never heard of Lash LaRue?????

I absolutly LOVE your knitting, it's so fine and elegant...I think it must be because you use smaller needles.
However, since I'm a beginner, how do you work a gauge if say the pattern calls for 4.5 mm needls but you want to use 3 mm needls, how do you figure out the difference to get the same size?

I discovered your site a couple of months ago and love it. I think I was a too in awe of your knitting to write in, but this is what decided me today: I live in France and have just made the Phildar raglan sweater for my little boys. I made it in red for my six-year-old (because red is his favourite colour) and in pale blue for my three-and-a-half-year-old (because yellow is his favourite colour... - but he has blue eyes). A friend who lives nearby admired it and when I told her I'd made it she immediately asked me to give her knitting lessons. We've started on a little hat for her baby daughter. I think I may soon have my very own knitting neighbour!

Susan and Becky: Combined knitting is purling by wrapping the yarn under the needle, and then untwisting the stitches on the next row by knitting them through the back loops. I occasionally use this method for really slippery yarns, and I did try it for this one (Becky mentioned purling back, and that's what combined knitting entails) but it had the reverse effect: too tight purl rows.

I only have this "bunching up in pairs" occurrence with some worsted weight cottons that have little elasticity, like Aviso, and in stockinette stitch only. The two-needle deal worked like a charm, but only on the stockinette stitch portions. I don't have the problem with ribbing or other stitch patterns, and just use one needle for those.

Claudia: I have you to thank for knowing about the two-needle deal. I read about it in the EZ's Knitter's Almanac you sent :-)

Sarah: Congratulations on getting your friend into knitting! As you know, knitting isn't as popular here as it is in America so we need all the converts and re-converts we can get. Thanks for sharing the craft :-)

I don't know how true my monitor is to your red, but I think that's the prettiest red hue I've ever seen!

Interesting thing about the whole stockinette stitch "bunching in pairs" - this has been happening to me and I didn't even know it...and I had someone point it out in my knitting this weekend (darn them!) but they were rather nice about it and they said it added a "textural quality" that wasn't all bad...hmmm. If I was you, Becky, I'd rip it all out and start over using the 2 needle trick, but since I'm a beginner and rather strapped on time, I'll live with the imperfection and chalk it up to experience! Thanks for the advice, though! I do absolutely love your site, and I love all the pics of your "Captain Destructo" as coincidentally, I have two boys I have nicknamed that as well!

About Lash LaRue - when my husband was in elementary school in San Diego, Lash LaRue came to his school and did rope tricks for them and they all got to meet him. It was quite a thrill!

I love your site, I recently re-discovered knitting thanks to Kates Anouk pattern. Your little boy looks so cute,( I have 3 boys, who are currently all knitting) the oldest of which was very attached to a red jumper I knitted for him when he was small, he used to cry when it had to be washed! Though he is 14 now so probably doesn't want anyone to know that story, keep up the good work recruiting new knitters,

Well.. At this very moment I am knitting with a very Stubborn cotton yarn and am having the darndest time "squeezing" my stitches thru .
I am going to change the needle soze for the knit rows and see if that does the trick.. Thanks sooooooo Much!!!

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