Why We Testknit

Sending your brand new pattern to a testknitter is a lot like sending your baby to a new daycare. The phone rings, “your baby is misbehaving”. Your reply, “Oh, no, no, no, not MY baby.”

So there I was knitting away on my adult-sized sweater and thinking I was doing pretty well and then the email pinged and Yup, misbehaving big time.

My first thought was no, no, no (denial). Then cursing (anger at myself for missing this). Saying, “it will block out” over and over, was probably my first clue. After kicking myself black and blue, I had to finally accept that there was, indeed, a problem. Problem solving is my thing, right? I can do this. Hands rubbing together gleefully, it’s time to solve this puppy.

The problem? The myth that you can pick up 1 stitch for every ridge along the side of a garter stitch piece and it will always, but always, allow you to knit in a perpendicular direction with a smooth edge.

If this wasn’t embedded in your brain from your first garter stitch project, here it is. For garter stitch, if your row gauge is 5 Ridges = 1″/2.5cm (black arrow) and you pick up & knit along the side (red arrow), your stitch gauge will be 5 Stitches = 1″/2.5cm, always. Doesn’t that look lovely and smooth?

garter stitch ridge vs sts

Not so smooth on my adult sample.20200306_110448

See all that puffiness? The pick up & knit is not smooth and the Side panel is much shorter than it should be, that’s the real problem. Apparently working decreases at that outside edge of the Front piece so that the Front stitches go in a diagonal direction causes enough distortion that the myth of picking up 1 stitch for each ridge Does Not Work!

It was much worse on the Back. I had been trying not to look.20200306_110526

I know what you’re thinking. How could she miss that?!

Denial is an amazing thing. In the back of my mind I did think something was just a little  wonky but the rule of stitches to ridges thing works every time, doesn’t it? I’m sure of it. I’ve been sure of it for decades.

Nothing for it but to rip back. There might have been a little cursing. OK, more than a little.20200306_174728

I did mention the denial thing, right? Two x 100g balls, plus a bit more, worth of denial. I was into it big time.20200307_093247

And so the midnight awakenings begin until I finally came up with a workable solution. It was actually the second solution that worked but who’s counting. Solution: Work some increases as you pick up and knit.

Ta, da, look at that! Smooth along the pick up edge and a Side Panel that is the correct length. Worth every sleepless night.20200309_172742

I’m sure you’ve never done this. But if you have I feel your pain.

My child-sized Build a V is published and has the correction in it. Yay.

Hope you’re keeping well and happily knitting. Tell me what you’re knitting on my NEW ravelry group: Debgemmellmods.

Stay well.

Deb

Any Gauge and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

ravelry group: Debgemmellmods

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No Math and Gauge-freedom

Can you make a Gauge-free sweater Math-free too? No gauge swatch needed and no calculator?

What if throughout a sweater you only had8 to refer to one number, call this the primary number. Then you might need 2 times that number and then later, half that number. Does that count as doing math? You can do it in your head. No calculator needed.

I seem to be drawn to what I call Magic Numbers. It happens without me knowing it. When I wrote the Need A Hat book by Cabin Fever, it became clear, very quickly, that the entire book is based on the number 8. It’s one of my favourites. The idea for the book came when I was giving a talk about knitting hats. You take someone into a yarn store to choose yarn and they immediately go to a colour they love. Now you have to find a pattern for that yarn weight and size and with a style the recipient would like. What if we wrote a book where every hat could be worked in any weight of yarn? That got it started.

Now I’m working on this Gauge-Free cardigan idea, Build a V, without stitch gauge numbers in it at all.

The entire sweater is based on one number. That number is the number of Ridges it takes to make the Beginning Triangle for the Back of Neck measurement. It’s a different number for everyone.

build a V count R on triangle

I called this measurement D, for the only reason that it’s the 4th thing you do in the cardigan.

So now we have ‘D’ number of Ridges. For my little person cardigan in worsted weight yarn, ‘D’ = 6 Ridges. That number ‘6’ is going to be used over and over in the making of this sweater.

Make the Fronts ‘D’ number of ridges shorter than the Back. You got it, 6 Ridges shorter.

Publication1

That makes two more pieces of the puzzle that is this cardigan.

Build a V child blank schematic - shaded back panel and front panels

Now join it up to make a half a sweater. Pick up & knit along the sides of the Front. For the shoulder, which is going to link up the Front and Back, Cast On 2 x ‘D’ number of stitches. Pick up & knit along the Back. There it is again, that Magic Number: if ‘D’= 6 Ridges then 2 x ‘D’= 12 sts for the side of the neck opening.

Now knit for the width I want.

Publication2

Half the cardigan is done. YAY. Build a V cardigan is now published.

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Start Small and Gauge-Free

This Gauge-Free Build a V sweater business is a new and exciting idea for me. Being able to dive into my stash and not worry about matching a specific gauge is wonderfully freeing.

I am going to begin with something small. It’s always easier to figure things out on a little sweater, no large time or yarn investment. I’m way ahead of this blog with my knitting and it’s looking great.

I am knitting a baby-sized Build a V sweater for a 12 month old. I have worked my Triangle Beginning to establish the width at the Back of Neck. That’s where it all starts, at the top of the Back. That’s an important measurement as you know but instead of working with a certain gauge we are going to use a ruler. Yes, a ruler with inches or centimeters on it. How simple and familiar is that?!

Dive into your stash, find some yarn and a pair of needles and knit along if you like. It’s a mystery baby knit. (There will be a published pattern soon.) Oh yeah, did I mention NO GAUGE SWATCH IS NEEDED!!!!

This Triangle Beginning took no time at all and measures 4″/10cm across the top finished edge. Yay. Step one completed. That was really quick.20200125_221643

Now to work a Back Panel. This piece of knitting is the anchor of the cardigan. It determines the total length of the garment.

Build a V back panel CHILD

We’ve established the Back of Neck measurement so now, keeping the stitch numbers the same and maintaining the V shaping that started with the triangle, knit a strip as follows:

Work a decrease at the beginning of the row, work the 2 increases at the centre marker as you did for the beginning triangle and then work a final decrease at the end of the row. Two decreases and two increases keeps the stitch count the same. Knit the wrong side row. Repeat the two rows. Work to the desired length for your cardigan. My 12 month size Back Panel measures 12″/30cm. It’s a l-o-n-g, narrow piece of knitting. Easy to knit once you get going.DSC_0105 (2) - Copy

Then, of course, since you know I get a trifle obsessed, I started 2 adult-sized sweaters because if it works for little people it could work for me too. The triangles are finished but there is more to come. I don’t want my sweaters to have a pointy Back Panel pointing towards my derriere, thank you very much. A change must be made to avoid that.20200205_090228 - Copy

DSC_0072 (2)

I may regret trying to knit three sweaters at the same time but here goes nothing…

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

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Gauge-Free Build A ‘V’ Triangle Beginning

We’re not going to make a swatch, YAY. I’m all for that. This is freedom from the tyranny of getting gauge. We are going to be the boss of our knitting!

You can dive into your stash and pick any yarn you like. But … this does change where and how we begin since there are no specific number of stitches in an inch to guide us.

This cardigan is knit in blocks. The first block of the Build a V is a Back Panel the width of the Back of Neck. The Back of Neck is an important measurement in a sweater.

The Specific Gauge pattern Baby J begins in the same way, with the neckband.baby-j-420-640x429-1

That would be my preferred place to begin most of the time too. Because this pattern is worked for DK weight yarn there can be a specific number of stitches to cast on for each size.neckband schematic

Then the Back of Neck number of stitches is determined.Back of Neck on neckband

And a Back Panel is knit with that number of stitches.

All that works a treat.

But when you want to knit it Gauge-Free there are no specific stitch counts. We can’t begin with the neckband because we don’t know how many stitches to cast on. We have to think of another way of determining the Back of Neck width.

We can begin with a triangle. It works just like a triangle shawl. Cast on a few stitches and work 4 increases by working one increase at the beginning of the row, one increase before and one after the centre marker and another increase at the end of the row, followed by a knit row. Work until the finished edge is the width you want for the Back of Neck.

back of neck triangle

20200201_180302 - Copy

The marker is there to indicate the Right Side of my fabric. This is a 12 month size with a Back of Neck measurement of 4″/10cm.
That’s not hard, right? And so it begins.

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns

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Where to begin Gauge-Free

Where do we need to start on our Gauge-Free Build a V Cardigan? We need to start with an idea.

Bernice Vollick and I worked on a series of patterns for Cabin Fever that are built block by block. I am taking the basic ideas we worked on in these patterns and developing them further. Bernice has since passed away but I think she would be happy to see these ideas progress.

If you want to follow along with these specific-gauge patterns we have already published (links in photos), as I natter on, that would be great. You’ll be able to see the changes we need to make to make them Gauge-Free.

Baby J
Junior J
J.J. Jacket

The major change I’m going to make is to make the Gauge-Free version a V-Neck for both the children (Build a V) and adult sizes. It ties in with how we need to get started. There are additional options for adults. One will be to make a standard fitting sweater or a boxy sweater. I’m going to be knitting both. You can knit along too.

The hardest part for me is not the knitting. That’s actually really easy. The hard part is writing the pattern so it’s easy to understand when I’m not there sitting beside you or standing at the front of the room leading a workshop.

I could use some help. If you’re interested in a mystery testknit, I need a couple of knitters (5 for child’s size and 5 for adult size) to critique my instructions as you knit along with me. I am going to work on a child’s version (up to 8 years old, maybe 10 years?); a straight Adult version (no body shaping) and an Adult version with A-line shaping. I’m asking anyone interested to let me know (debgemmellmods@gmail.com), specifying which version you want to knit. It’s a commitment to knit and offer feedback. Beware!! There will be ripping back. There will be corrections, changes and possibly, makeovers (that’s a nice word for “start over again”). This will not be a straight forward process.

I am knitting the first blocks now and will have the first part of the patterns up by next week. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns on ravelry

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A sweater Without Gauge?

Can we make a sweater with no reference to gauge? If we don’t know what the gauge is how can that work? Isn’t gauge the most important thing? Doesn’t it ensure I make the proper size? If I get the correct gauge with my yarn I will be successful, right?!! I will make the sweater as pictured and in the correct size.

Let’s be rash and throw all that gauge stuff out the window. No more swatches, YAY. I call this “knitting without a safety net”!

What if you could dive into your stash, choose some yarn and get started. Is it possible to build a sweater piece by piece, fitting it as you go?

That’s what I’m going to do. I’m practicing positive thinking! I am going to make a Gauge-Free Garter Stitch V-Neck Cardigan piece by piece with a plan, as opposed to a specific-gauge pattern, with no reference to the gauge EVER. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

I’ve already started on a 12 month size. New week, the adult size begins too. You can join me and knit along.

Block #1

How does that sound, interesting?

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns

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Decisions, decisions

What’s in your “knitting time out” corner? Do you know why it’s there?

My 3×3 Cardigan has been sitting in the corner for several weeks. I have found myself putting this new design down to work on something else that seemed more pressing. I look at it every day and pass it by. Nope, not today. Right now I am knitting Climb Every Mountain sweater for my daughter and socks for myself and telling myself I needed this break but It’s TOTAL DENIAL!!

I was just stalled and trying to ignore it. I thought I had made all the design decisions for the 3×3 Cardigan. That’s the idea right? Make all the design decisions at the start, think of everything you want to do and then just knit it up. Easy, peasy, right?  In hind sight, I realize now that I had to do a rethink on some of those decisions and didn’t want to admit it.

This cardigan has a square neck (which will eventually be filled in at the back of neck) and quite wide shoulders, as you can see.DSC_0047 (2)

That means that at the Great Divide many knitters will find that the sleeve size they need will be inside the Raglan Lines. The raglan lines are only used as a guide here, not the exact size of the sleeves. (The orange markers are the raglan lines and the green markers show where the width of my sleeve is going to be.)sleeve markers 3x3

The problem is … what to do with the raglan lines themselves. I used YO increases for the raglan lines and did’t want to leave the line of holes hanging, sort of dead ending at the underarm level.  I’m sure no one would notice that they just stop but it doesn’t seem right or finished.DSC_0068 (2)

Do I continue the lines down at the same angle to make a V under the arms? I did that on the Any Gauge Raglan Pullover which worked fine. The underarm V made nice clean lines and worked into the side seam line.DSC_0071 (2)

Not the case here. Way too much going on to see the V.20190722_100316

Soooo, there my latest 3×3 Cardigan sat in the corner through no fault of it’s own. Just my indecision causing a Big Stall.

I have taken myself in hand and made a decision. I had to take a good look at where I was now and think ahead to consider what kind of shaping I want for the body of this cardigan.

Decision: I’m taking the raglan lines in a straight line down the sides. I’m keeping the YO increases and working corresponding decreases to keep the stitch count even. I know, not exactly earth shaking stuff.DSC_0066 (2)

I think this will work fine. What to you think?

There is going to be A-line hip shaping in this cardigans future because I want to make it quite long. I have the wool. Now doing the A-line shaping should be easy to work. At the  side panel I will work the increases without the decreases every inch or so, and ta, da, it will be wider at the hip where I need some extra room. Now of course the decision is how often to work the shaping. Stop! One decision at a time please.dsc_0070-2.jpg

I have a plan. The sweater is out of the corner and I’m getting a better feeling about continuing. I might have a new spring cardi yet.

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Catch me on instagram for my other knitting projects because you know there has to be more than one.

Any Gauge patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

Sentimental Yarn

I’m back on my regularly scheduled project, the3×3 Cardigan, now that the holidays are over. I hope yours were joyful and have helped you prepare to face and conquer another winter.

Now that I’m back knitting this cardigan I’m looking at the wool I chose. Thanks everyone for helping me choose 3 colours.DSC_0047 (2)

Two of the colours are discontinued wool from my stash. The blue though, well that has a history.DSC_0059 (2)

I have had it in my stash for more than twenty+ years. Yes, a long time. It’s roughish rustic wool  and I believe was hand dyed. Many years ago we were driving along an isolated road in Scotland and came across a croft with a yarn sign outside. In the middle of no where (at least it seemed so to us).

croft bothy

Stop!! There was wool, local wool, from the sheep we had been looking at out of the window. I bought it because the croft was so amazing, the view beautiful and as a treat for myself. But it sat in my stash for all this time. There wasn’t enough for a sweater and it’s too rough for a hat.

I feel like I failed this wool. I’m sure it didn’t want to sit in the dark in my closet for all this time. I’m sure it wanted to be … something special. It wasn’t telling me what though. So now it’s going to be something, a cardigan. A big, cozy cardigan that I will associate with Scotland and an isolated croft in the middle of a purple field of heather.

I’m sure it’s sighing and asking what took me so long. Am I the only sentimental yarn collector?

Deb

ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patternsby Deb

Cabin Fever patterns

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3×3 Cardigan and Mittens coming along

I have been working on my Any Gauge 3×3 Cardigan. Thanks for all your help. If you didn’t read the post last week, I needed some help in choosing colours. I’m really happy with the Blue/Brown/Purple combo.DSC_0571

I’m at the Great Divide and am taking a moment to admire how the colours have come out. There are many garter ridges along with the stockinette rows which give it quite a bit of texture. It also means there is more knitting than purling, Bonus!DSC_0566

Next is to place the sleeves (video). They will sit inside the Raglan Lines which you can see are very wide apart at the shoulders. I would like to do something to extend the lines down the body. Hmm. Still thinking.

Once the Divide is done it will really look like a sweater. I can’t wait.

Meanwhile I have been working on a new pattern: Any Gauge Mittens. It’s based on a workshop I have given several times. This is actually a Gauge-Free mitten. Gauge does not come into it at all. We don’t measure it, we don’t even think about it. It doesn’t matter. So you’ll be able to dive into your stash and cast on with whatever wool and needles you like. Whoopee.

To do this you have to begin the mittens in a different place, the top, and work the mittens down to the cuff. These are my new pair for this winter (knit in Northern Lights chunky weight wool by Cabin Fever).DSC_0559

These are the very worn out pair that needed replacing. They have served me well.dsc_0563.jpg

Converting from a workshop where I am there to guide the knitters, to a pattern where the knitter has to read it and work it on their own, has been a challenge. I am finding I can’t write in everything I would tell you if you were in my class. So this week I’m working on some videos so that you’ll be able to take me home with you. I don’t eat too much, I’m happy to talk knitting any time and I’ll even sleep in your wool room where the yarn fumes will lull me to sleep!

Deb

Any Gauge patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns and Books

3×3 Cardigan Prototype Done

It’s time to get the cardigans out, at least in my neck of the woods it is. It’s also past time to finish a cardigan that I started in the spring. How about you? Are any of your sweaters begging for some attention?

My design process is really slow. I knit a prototype, this cardigan, and then I write the pattern. Now from my written pattern I knit another sample. That’s where I am now, so this is going to be a quick post because I need to get cracking on my second cardigan.

Ta, da, I pretty proud of myself for finally finishing my first 3×3 colour cardigan. I even sewed the buttons on yesterday. That usually takes me months to get around to. Oh, wait, it did take me months!!20191016_101606

The last bit of knitting I had to do was to raise the back of the neck. To get a lower front on this Top Down I made the shoulders quite wide when I cast on. That means the back of neck was low too. Whoo, that really is quite a dip in the back!20190723_145811

20191015_111509.jpg

I needed to fill in some of the back of neck dip for the cardigan to be comfortable. I picked up a stitch for every cast on stitch and worked short rows, making the first turn in the centre of the far shoulder, turned and work to the centre of the other shoulder and turned again. I worked 2 stitches further toward the front with each short row and turned again. The back of neck is over an inch deep now and the front is less than 1/2″.20191016_101746

Finished. I did it all in garter stitch using German Short Rows which I think work really, really well with garter stitch. You only have to learn how to do the short rows knitwise, bonus. Here’s a side view of the neck shaping. It’s all happening over the shoulder stitches.20191016_101812

Today I’m casting on another 3×3 colour cardigan in DK weight Cotton Tweed this time. My pencil is poised over my written instructions. Ready, set, go.20191018_102350

Thanks for reading,

Deb

Any Gauge patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns and books