There are so many ways to work every possible technique in knitting that you could, if you are adventurous, view a knitting pattern as a guide rather than written in stone. The ability to substitute different techniques to get a slightly different look means that many more patterns are available for you to use to get the exact garment you had in mind. This also, by the way, could save you quite a bit of time when choosing patterns.
If you are knitting a raglan pullover or cardigan here are 5 ways to work the increases that make the distinctive raglan lines. Do you want decorative holes, small holes or no holes at all? Keep in mind that an increase that is easy for you to work also makes the sweater a happier knit.
The pattern you have chosen to knit is a Top Down with a shaped neckline which you really like … Can you hear the “but” coming? But … it uses short rows that you don’t like. There are at least 5 ways to work short rows and they had to choose that one?! How could they do that knowing that you don’t like working them that way?
Or maybe you have a pattern you like a lot and would like to make a new one, the same but different. I really like the Take It From The Top sweater. I have two already that I wear a lot. Now I would like to change things up for a brand new sweater. This basic pattern is a great starting point. I’m planning on having some fun with this. Would like to join me and Knit A-Long?
Sometimes techniques that are awkward or unrewarding can stop you in your tracks. The pattern had so much potential and now that you’ve started you are less than impressed. You gaze over at the time-out corner and wonder if it will be headed that way.
But wait. You have more know-how than you realize. Since there are usually several ways to do every technique in knitting, you could find another method to substitute, one that you are more familiar with or learn a new way which is it’s own reward.
I’m going to change the short rows and add a stitch pattern down the front, add bust, waist and hip shaping and maybe do something weird along the imaginary side seam. I’ll be expanding on more modifications and answering questions on the Knit A-Long.
After working the neckband, consider the short rows. Short rows are used to lower the front of the neck which makes the sweater more comfortable to wear. We actually work more rows across the back of the neck, raising the back of the neck, to lower the front. No one every says that but that’s what is really going on.
The Take It From The Top uses the most basic of short rows to shape the neck. *Knit around the short row as written, Turn to wrong side, slip the first stitch, purl around as specified and Turn to right side, and slip first stitch; repeat. This totally works and if you have never done short rows before this is as straight forward as it gets. These short rows work best when the yarn has some distracting elements: texture or colour variation. They are not the most sophisticated of short row methods.
I am changing these short rows to Twin Stitch Short Rows (video) which we used in the Need A Circular Yoke book. They are one of my favourites. They are done by knitting into the row below, pulling the loop up and slipping it back onto the left needle. You then have 2 stitches coming out of the row below, twin stitches.
When you next come to them you knit the twin stitches together. Yes, it’s that simple. I love when techniques are simple and look great. Why complicate things?
Substitute in a Twin Stitch for the stitch before the Turn (K1, twin stitch, Turn). That’s my first change up.
Next add in a panel on the front with a stitch pattern. I’m looking forward to this. Thanks for reading. Join me on the KAL if you want to knit along with me.
Do you have enough knitting books yet? I have a huge stack even after I went through them and discarded quite a few. Heartbreaking but necessary. Some books served their purpose at one time but now I will not be going back to them so they got donated to my public library. Hopefully a knitter new to them will pick them up.
Check out the Knitting Around patterns in the book. If you are looking for books where you will learn about the basics of knitting, you can’t go wrong with any of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I counted today and I have knit 11 different garments out of this one book alone (the Mystery Mittens are the best!). I would highly recommend the Moccasin Socks for something different and we all seem to be trying out new ways to knit socks.
It’s still mitten weather. I have knit all of the mittens in this book. Aren’t these Norwegian Mittens beautiful?
This is not a book I own but I have read it a couple of times and can recommend it. I have also never knit anything out of it but lots of knitters have posted projects on Ravelry. I think she appeals to a younger crowd than I. The most important part of this book for me was the section on picking the correct style for your figure. Sweater success starts with picking the neckline and shape of sweater which will flatter your figure. She also points out that how you look in the mirror, head on, may not entirely tally with your measurements. I am much less hippy when looking in the mirror than is indicated by my measurements. Choose a style according to the mirror and then work with your measurements to make it fit. Great advice.
This book is based on a workshop for knitting triangular shawls. I have knit from this book several times. It’s wonderful. What I love about it is the freedom of choosing different stitch patterns and the wonderful way she has set up transitioning from one stitch pattern to the next. Amazing. Mix and match the patterns, every shawl is different. Work them in stockinette stitch and then in garter stitch and see the difference the wrong side row makes.
Do you have some recommendations? I love to hear about books I haven’t seen yet.
I am working on the Easy A by Kat Riddell, a garter stitch sweater with a KAL (knit along) on ravelry. I love garter stitch and this looked like it would be a perfect spring sweater.
I had some Heritage by Briggs and Little and one ball of hand dyed by Essence of Autumn in my stash. Well, not exactly in my stash. It was masquerading as a partially knit sweater in the time-out corner. The sweater had severe gauge problems and sitting in the corner did not seem to be solving them so I undid the sweater, steamed the wool and decided to rework it here. I knew I didn’t have enough green so I thought I would add stripes on the body since I had a ball of these two other colours.
Then as I was thinking about stripes, I just happened to see a women wearing a top where the stripes on each side of the front were different widths. Perfect.
To my mind the stripes started as Maroon and Green, Maroon and Green. Then I started on the pink stripes. My first attempt did not work. Even I could see that the last green stripe did not appear as a stripe.
Second time lucky. I am quite happy with the results.
I am seriously running out of the green. Oh, no, was my first reaction but I still had lots of the other two colours. Working the sleeves in one colour of pink did not look good. I ripped them back and now I’m on a roll with striped sleeves. At least the first one.
The best part of writing a book for me, is discovery. There is always something that I learn that makes the book special. It may be a small detail that you, the knitter, might never notice. It might be one pattern that was especially interesting to develop that is the highlight. It won’t necessarily be the most popular pattern in the book but it will be special to me.
In the Need A Circular Yoke book I had an “aha” moment. We, Elizabeth Fallone and I, discovered that the short row system using Twin Stitches which is usually used to turn the heel of a sock, could be used to raise the back of the neck. That’s not the moment though. I also discovered that it could be used in a different way to shape the bust. Short Rows can be used for bust shaping to make the Front longer to compensate for a larger bust, that’s not new. We didn’t do that. We didn’t use the short rows themselves. We used the Twin Stitches from the short row system to widen the Front so there would be less pull-up on the sweater.
Imagine if you could accurately position the bust shaping. You want to work increases to widen the Front of your sweater so that the fabric is at its widest just above the widest line across your bust. I work from the Top Down so I am always trying to position the beginning point of the bust dart the correct distance from the underarm of my sweater. Not too high above my bust line and I definitely do not want to start the dart too low and run out of room.
The twin stitches allow you to work an increase every round. In knitting, we don’t have very many increases that work well when worked every round so this was a find. When you can work an increase every round you can know accurately how much vertical room these increases will need.
Working with worsted weight yarn (because the math is easy) let’s say you want to add 3″/7.5cm to the front of your sweater. That would be about 8 stitches on each side of the Front for a total of 16 sts added to the front. Your row count for worsted weight yarn is 7 rows = 1″/2.5cm so working 8 increases over 8 rounds would take just a smidge over 1″/2.5cm (1.14″/3cm to be exact). Ta, da. Start your twin stitch increases just an inch and a bit above the widest part of your bust.
What is a Twin Stitch? It’s a “Knit in the Row Below” stitch where you hold onto the loop you made in the row below and use it as an increase. You do not pull off the original stitch on your left needle (the stitch you knit into the row below of). Wow, that’s really confusing. It’s much clearer on my video. Check it out.
I’m fascinated when I see a traditional garment worked in an entirely different way. How did they come up with this idea? Was there a process the designer has gone through to make this breakthrough? Is it a breakthrough at all? I mean do we need to work this garment in some strange way? Was it just the whim of a designer with too much time on their hands?
I know, they are just there to mess with my head.
This is the beginning of a mitten. “Yeah, right”, you say.
How does this turn into a mitten?
It’s a mitten cast on in the oddest place. I have no idea how this came to be. You might have guessed that this is a design by Elizabeth Zimmermann. She called them Sideways Mystery Mittens .
When you fold this weird garter stitch thing you get a mitten. I was truly amazed the first time I knit these.
But after knitting several pairs it was “ho, hum, so what”, ha, ha, NOT. They are still amazing no matter how many pairs I’ve knit.
Then I modified them of course because I just can’t let well enough alone. I added short rows to the back of the hands, I felted a pair, added stripes to another and then made them in different weights of yarn and sizes. I never figured out how she came up with the idea in the first place. A mystery still.
Share if you enjoyed reading this. Leave a comment if you’ve knit these or would like to. Thanks for reading,
Adding a couple of inches to the bust on a Top Down sweater is fairly straight forward. But what if you wanted to add more than 2″ in total across the bustline? Could you start your bust increases in the Yoke while still working the raglan increases and then continue them down into the body? Vertical Darts work from the Bottom Up, why not from the Top Down?
Since I raised this question I decided I had to try it out. I started working the bust shaping increases when I still had 8 rounds left to work in the Yoke. This is the same strategy as the Top Down Easy Bust Darts but this time the bust increases are worked in a vertical line away from the raglan line. The vertical line of increases will allow me to continue to work bust increases until I have reached the largest point of my bust. (This schematic is an approximation – the raglan and bust increases are worked in the same round – dots on the schematic make it look like the bust increases are worked more often, they are not.)
I worked a raglan increase and a bust increase on each side of the Front for the last 4 Increase Rounds before I divided for the underarm. After the Divide I continued to work the bust increases 4 more times for a total of 8 increases on each side of the front giving me 3″ of extra width.
My main concern was what would show.
While the increase line is visible it is not so noticeable when I’m wearing the sweater (or when my best girl is wearing it) and the extra room is well worth the effort.
This was easier to do than I expected. It shows but only as a dart which is acceptable. I got quite a bit more bust room because of it. I’m really happy with the result.
How about you? Could you add this into a Top Down raglan?