Purl Back Backwards

As I was knitting down the body of my last Saddle Up pullover, I was thinking about the Bottom Edge. I find they are always a bit tricky. I don’t want this Bottom Border to pull in. It’s for my son and he likes his garments loose, like an over-sized hoodie.

I could work it in garter stitch, round and round, which is what I did in the pattern but, well, I just did that, so what else could I do? I could work it in ribbing to match the ribbed neckband but I had a lot of time to think about it, and this is what I came up with: garter stitch worked back and forth with an SSK to attach to the open stitches at the bottom of the pullover.

I really like how it looks and it’s not pulling in.

As you know, garter stitch is worked back and forth and can be a real pain if you have to turn a garment over and over again to work the right and wrong side rows. Knitting back backwards to the rescue. No turning. The right side of the fabric is facing you all the time. Have you ever done this? It takes some practice for sure.

Knit the right side rows as usual. For the wrong side row you need to work purl stitches on the right side of the fabric. Here we go. With the right side facing and the yarn at the front …

… insert left needle into the next stitch, from back to front.

The left needle is sitting in front now. Wrap the yarn around the left needle counter-clockwise. Take the yarn under the left needle to the back, over the needle to the front again. I’m a continental knitter so the yarn is coming from my left hand but this can also be done with the yarn in your right hand.

Now, to finish I flip the part of the stitch on my right needle forward over the tip of the left needle. If you have the yarn in your right hand, you might push the left needle back through the stitch to finish up.

Ta, da, one purl stitch made.

I have to pay attention to do this but it is getting easier and easier as I work around the bottom of this Saddle Up pullover.

Here’s to learning something new. Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free knitting patterns by Deb

Cables almost done

I’m on my last Saddle Up. I’ve made some progress on this one and am almost to the bottom border. Don’t sweaters look oddly proportioned at this point? I did a fitting with my son and he’s happy with it.

I think the big centre pattern is very impressive. It’s Cable #119 in the Knitted Cable Sourcebook by Norah Gaughan. It’s as complicated as it looks, but so rewarding to knit. My son is a skate- and snowboarder. I think this pattern reflects that – at least it does for me.

Next I’m going to do the neckband and then on to the sleeves, which will take a little while. As I do that I’ll be thinking about my next project.

Hmm, should I do a shawl or finish the striped V-neck cardigan? I’m leaning towards the cardigan, since shawls feel like a spring project to me.

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

It’s a new year

I am coming to you from my local library since our internet at home went out before Christmas and now won’t be up for another couple weeks. We’ve been reading lots of books. Not a bad thing but it’s somewhat unsettling to be without the world wide web.

But look, I finished my Saddle Up pullover. Yahoo.

I would have liked to make the neckband deeper but I ran out of wool. I bought it in Scotland about 30 years ago so … there is no more. Yes, it was a deep dive into my stash but I’m so glad to finally have a sweater out of it. Ha, ha, about time, wouldn’t you say!

Did you make a knitting New Years resolution?

This is my New Years resolution for 2022: knit only from my stash. I’ve unfollowed all wool dryers from my Instagram account so I won’t be tempted. Ugh, that was really hard to do. How about you? Do you have knitting plans for the new year?

It’s a new year. All the best to you and yours in 2022. Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb: https://www.ravelry.com/stores/debgemmellmods

Sleeve Island

What is this phrase? Do you know where it came from? I have no idea. That’s where I am though, on sleeve island.

I started the sleeve for my own Saddle Up, even though the body isn’t finished. I have one ball of wool attached to the sleeve and another ball still attached to the body.

It makes it look more like a real sweater, don’t you think? That’s what the sleeves can do, I guess.

I think the other sleeve will need work before I go back to cabling the body. Then I’ll be more than ready to get it finished. I do find getting to the finish line a little bit difficult.

But look – I did finish a Saddle Up sweater for my favourite little guy. Yahoo.

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cable Overload

It’s quite possible that knitting three cable sweaters at the same time was not the most brilliant idea I have ever had. Ya think?!

I’ve taken a couple of days off from the Saddle Up pullover. I am knitting a sock, in the basic cuff-down traditional style …

… and some of Cat Bordhi’s Family of Fingerless Mitts, worked in garter stitch. This is not mindless garter stitch – Cat Bordhi didn’t do mindless – but they did take my brain somewhere else. It helped to settle me down.

This is a photo from her book Family of Fingerless Mitts. I have already given the pair I knit away.

Now I’m up for more cabling.

I’ve joined this Saddle Up in the round. It’s for my son and I should probably try this on him. I may have to work some decreases for his hips. Definitely not what I have to do for my own pullover, sigh.

This is my pullover, also joined in the round now. You may notice that it is not as far along as my other two. What’s that all about?!

There is also nothing wrong with knitting this Saddle Up sweater flat. This is a little 2 year size. Knitting the sleeves means the finish line is close. All the edges are in garter stitch so it will be easy to sew up the sides.

I’m afraid there is no Christmas knitting going on here. How about you? What are you up to?

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cables, worked flat to in-the-round

A drop shoulder pullover can be knit in a combination of knit-in-the-round and knit flat, whether it’s knit from the top down or the bottom up. If you add cables to the pattern, like in the Saddle Up pullover, well, it gets a little trickier.

Cable patterns are almost always written to be worked flat, with a right side and a wrong side. The cable crossings are worked on the right side rows. This simplifies things a little bit. You know those right side rows are the ones to watch out for.

At some point, you may need to work in-the-round. Then, you have the right side facing you all the time. Figuring out when to cross cables can be a little more difficult.

Here is a 4-stitch cable, where two stitches are crossed over two stitches, every 4 rows. The lines in the photo indicate the outside stitch of this Left Cross. See that hole just to the left of the crossing stitches? That’s caused by the crossing. (On a right cross cable, the hole would be on the right of the cable.)

When this cable is worked flat, there is a Right Side Row where you worked the cable cross, followed by a wrong side row, right side row and one more wrong side row. On the next Right Side row you would work a new cable cross.

When you work in-the-round you only have the Right Side facing you. Then you have Round 1 where you cross the cable, followed by Rounds 2, 3 & 4. Then cross again.

If you put something straight into the hole created by the crossing and run it under the horizontal bars to the needle, you should see the 4 bars. I used a sewing up needle but your cable needle may be handy and it would work great.

When you can count 4 bars, you are ready to cross again on the next round. If you have a 6 stitch cable, crossing every 8 rows/rounds, you would work until you can count 8 bars from the hole created by the last crossing. It works.

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cables without a cable needle

Have you tried this? I don’t use a cable needle. I was going to say I don’t own one but I think I do. It’s in the container with my set of straight needles which I also don’t use. Why do I still have them? That’s a very good question. Let’s not go there today.

One of my internet friends wanted to know how I get my cables to look so neat and tidy. My first thought was that I had no idea. I just do them and they turn out that way. But then, the next day, I remembered that I don’t use a cable needle. It’s not that I didn’t know I don’t use a cable needle, that would be sort of crazy, it’s that I haven’t used one for quite a long time so it doesn’t occur to me that they are needed to work cables.

So I did a video to show you how I do it. Thanks CD for the question that prompted this. I hope this visualization helps.

No Cable Needle video

There are tricks to do this:

  1. Only use the tips of your needles. Push all the stitches on your needles to the tips so you can maneuver your needles without pulling any of the stitches.
  2. Take your needles to the stitches. Load the stitches going to the Back first. Once they are on your needle, Leave Them Where They Lie, usually slightly to the back of your work. Don’t move them because they will pull the stitches that are still hanging free.
  3. Load the stitches going to the Front.
  4. Cross the stitches to the Right or Left and load the stitches on your right needle onto the left needle. Check that you crossed them correctly. If not take them off and start again.
  5. Knit across the cable stitches.

It’s a little risky but so satisfying and no cable needle to lose, imagine that!

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Debgemmellmods ravelry group

Setting Up Cables

Designing your own garment? Maybe you are working on the Saddle Up pullover with me and it’s time to work the cables. Here’s what you need to know.

Cables pull your fabric in as soon as the first cable is crossed. You have to make sure you accommodate for this fact or … well, your sweater or project will be much smaller than you had anticipated.

Let’s say you want to work a 4-stitch Rope Cable (worked by crossing 2 stitches over 2 stitches). This cable is worked in stockinette stitch and is a pretty common cable to work.

Once you start crossing this cable, it is no longer the width of 4 stitches. It is closer to the width of 3 stockinette stitches.

If you have a sweater where you want to introduce a 4-stitch Rope Cable, set it up for 3 stockinette stitches to begin with. Then increase 1 stitch before you work the first cross. That’s it.

A basic rule of thumb: for every 3 stitches of the cable, set up 1 less stitch. Add them back in by working increases before the first cross.

Here’s another example: 6-stitch Rope Cable where you will cross 3 stitches over 3 stitches – set up 4 sts and before the first cross, increase 2 stitches (now you have 6 sts for the cable).

This is fairly straightforward, except … (you knew this was coming, right?), the more complex the cable, the harder it is to do this successfully. Do I have to say the S word? Yeah, I do. You have to swatch!

Elizabeth Zimmermann had some great advice. Her suggestion was to cast on 96 stitches and knit a hat with all the cables. It will fit someone.

That can work as your swatch. Measure across the cable once you have worked the cross several times. Use your stockinette stitch gauge to figure out how wide the cable is in stockinette stitches. That is the number of stitches to set up and how many stitches you need to increase before the first crossing.

Example: Let’s say you have a 12 stitch complex cable, repeated several times on your hat, measuring 1.75″ across. Your stockinette gauge is 20 sts = 4″ OR 5 sts = 1″. 1.75″ x 5 sts = 8.75 sts, rounded up to 9 sts. Set Up the cable with 9 stitches and increase 3 stitches in the first row to 12 stitches and cable away.

Norah Gaughan has coined the phrase SSE: Stockinette Stitch Equivalent. The SSE for the complex cable above is 9 sts, even though the chart for the cable is 12 sts wide. Yeah, I know, this can mess with your head.

I would like to recommend her book, Knitted Cable Sourcebook for this information. There are tons of cables in this book and they all have an SSE. She’s done it for you. No swatching necessary. I don’t receive anything if you buy this book. I’m so happy I bought it. You might know that I am not a happy swatcher.

The latest section of the Saddle Up pattern is in your ravelry library. Update the pattern and set up your cables. Have fun.

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

DebgemmellMods ravelry group

I-Cords, Built-In

Do you know how I-cords work? They are a little bit of knitting magic. When paired with Garter Stitch they do all sorts of good things.

First, 2 or 3 stitches of I-Cord on the outside edges of garter stitch give it a tidy finish. This is sometimes called a Built-in I-cord because you work the I-cord edge as you knit the garter stitch fabric.

Secondly, because these outside stitches are slipped every other row, they give the edge stability. They are a tiny bit shorter because they are not worked every row. These I-cord stitches hold the edges firmly so the edge won’t stretch.

A small sample showing 2-stitch built-in I-cord. It looks the same on both the right side and the wrong side.

Garter Stitch with 2-stitch I-Cord edge: Knit to last 2 sts, bring yarn forward, slip the last 2 sts. This row is worked over and over, on both the right side and wrong side of the fabric.

When you slip the last 2 sts, your yarn is attached to the 3rd stitch in from the tip of the needle because that was the last stitch you knit. So what happens in the next row? You need to pull the wool across the back of your work, from the third stitch to the first stitch so you can knit the row. This pulls the first stitch around towards the back of your work, as you knit it.

On one edge the second I-cord stitch rolls to the back. On the other edge the second I-cord stitch rolls to the front.

Because these two stitches are slipped every other row they look like stockinette stitch. A 2-stitch I-cord is the tiniest tube you can knit around the edge of your garter stitch fabric.

The Saddle Up pullover begins with a Garter Stitch Saddle with I-cord edges, of course.

The Saddle begins at the left shoulder and is worked across to the the right shoulder, with a hole for your head in the middle. Pretty straight forward, right?

But that’s not all there is to it, of course. That would be way too easy. There is another way of working the 2-stitch I-cord.

There are occasions when you would like both the I-cord stitches to be rolling to the wrong side of your work. This can be done, too. The Saddle uses this technique for the Back of Neck stitches.

On both edges the second I-cord stitch rolls to the wrong side of the fabric.

2-Stitch I-Cord rolling to the wrong side: Right Side Row: Knit to last 2 sts, leave yarn in the back, slip last 2 sts. Wrong Side Row: Purl 2 sts, knit to last 2 sts, yarn forward, slip last 2 sts.

What is that line down the middle of the Saddle? The shoulders of the Saddle for this pullover need a lot of extra stability since the sleeve will be trying to pull it down. So I added some non-stretchy stitches right down the centre. It looks like an I-Cord but it isn’t. The middle 2 stitches are slipped every other row and work the same way, in that these 2 stitches are a tiny bit shorter and won’t stretch. Thanks L for pointing this out.

There is one more reason for all this I-Cord business. A 2-stitch I-Cord gives you a sideways stockinette stitch for every garter ridge. In the Saddle Up pullover, stitches are picked up & knit along the bottom edge of the Saddle to form the Front which is worked flat, down to the bottom of the armhole. If you pick up & knit into the I-Cord stitch that has rolled to the back the Saddle, you get a very lovely line of stitches running between the Saddle and the Front. It will never stretch and it’s so very neat and tidy. Don’t you think?

I’ve done the pick up & knit into the I-cord across the bottom edge of the Saddle and have started my cables down the Front.
I picked up & knit along the I-cord stitches on bottom edge of the Back of the Saddle and worked stockinette stitch down the Back.

You can add I-cord stitches to any garter stitch project. You may get to love them as much as I do.

Are you are interested in knitting this Saddle Up, drop shoulder pullover with me? I’m publishing each section as I get it done and tested. I’ll update the pattern with each new section as we go along. The Saddle section is up for sale.

I’m interested in any comments, corrections or problems you have with this pattern. I’ve included lots of photos and my blog posts will be featuring this pullover for the next month. Happy to have you join me.

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Debgemmellmods group on ravelry

A Knit A Long, sort of

While I was walking this last week, I had an idea. It just shows that walking can be hazardous to your blog.

I was strolling along, wondering what I would talk about on this blog post, well not really wondering, because it was going to be about cables, but there seems to be a problem. Cables aren’t the problem. The problem is I’m always going to rattle on about what I’m knitting at the moment. Since I’m designing and writing the pattern as I progress, that’s what you’re reading about.

That’s not going to stop. I almost always have some new idea on the needles in my hands. Right now it’s a drop shoulder, top down pullover with cables. This is my first prototype, for my son.

What I find frustrating is the delay between designing something and the pattern publication date. Maybe you find this too. I go on and on for months about a sweater I’m knitting. Then the pattern goes to test knitters and needs photographs and edits. Procrastination kicks in just about here, especially around photos. It won’t come out for several months after I’m done talking about it and definitely onto something new.

So, here goes. This is the idea. I will publish the pattern in stages. I’ll post the beginning of the pattern on ravelry for a small fee. We can call it a Knit-A-Long, sort of like a mystery sweater. I’ll talk about some aspect of it on the blog every week and send you an pattern update every week or so. We can knit the sweater together. This gives me the chance to write my blog as if I was teaching a class where I give you the instructions one page at a time over several weeks. I can tell you so much more about techniques and sizing in the blog than I can in a pattern.

The pattern is the Family Saddle Up pullover with cables. All sizes from 1 year old to large adult in any yarn (my suggestion would be for worsted, heavy worsted/aran weight or chunky weight yarn). The pullover will knit top down with saddle shoulders and drop sleeves. The saddle shoulders and the yoke will be knit flat to the bottom of the armholes, then joined in the round to the bottom. We’ll pick up the sleeves and knit down to the wrists.

I’ve cast on for a second sweater so I’m ready to go.

I’ll knit both the navy and white pullovers as we go along. While I’m at it, I’ll probably do a 2 year old size because I have a little guy to knit for.

I’m going to start next week. If you’ve got some sweater yarn and some free time, I hope you’ll join me. Stay tuned.

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

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