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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Gauge-Free FREE beginner scarf

Does this idea of Gauge-Free really seem weird to you? What do you mean you can just pick out some yarn and start with no stitch counts and no idea of a gauge you need to get? How can you knit the correct size? Any yarn at all? Any needle I think is reasonable? How can that be?!

If you are knitting at home more than usual during this time and want a stash diving  project, give this a try: Gauge-Free Triangles Scarf/Shawl. This is one of the workshops I teach and I’m offering it Free here for the duration. Knit GAUGE-FREE or, as I call it, knitting without a safety net!

The trick to knitting Gauge-Free is getting started in the right spot. You need to start where you can get to the size you need, regardless of your gauge, and measure it with a ruler (tape measure).triangle workshop height measurement

 

Here’s a beginner project, the GAUGE-FREE TRIANGLES SCARF/Shawl that totally works because it starts at the corner of the first triangle.

gauge-free triangle scarf workshop

It’s a modular, join-as-you-go project. You can use any yarn with any needle you think is reasonable. You can knit a scarf with all your odd balls or have a more thought-out plan of two colours. You can knit every triangle a different colour or knit stripes (as soon as you work stripes you have a right side and wrong side, keep that in mind). You can knit this as a large rectangular shawl (or is it called a stole?) if you make ‘Triangle I’ about 12″-14″/30-36cm deep or even deeper and then go on from there for as long as you need it to be. Add a stitch pattern or two?

If you make many scarves you can sew them together into a blanket.triangle scarf blanket

The options are endless.

Enjoy,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns

 

 

 

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

Gauge-Free Back of Neck

The Back of Neck is an important measurement. I’m sure you know what your favourite Back of Neck width is, No? Go and measure some sweaters. I’ll wait here ….. well, what did you find?

I bet you found that you wear not one but several different neck styles with different widths for the Back of Neck. Me too. Wider for the summer and narrower and cozier for the winter. I’m sure you like to wear some better than others. Maybe the neck width has something to do with that.

To knit this Gauge-Free sweater you get to choose. You are the boss of this knitting.20200120_164454 - Copy

The Beginning Triangle sets up your Back of Neck measurement to whatever you feel like making it for yourself. Then you knit a long strip the length of the cardigan.

Build a V child blank schematic - shaded back panel

But I can’t seem to leave it alone. So for the adult versions I added a 2 stitch I-cord to each side edge. That gives you 2 stitches of stockinette stitch at the edges of the garter stitch. I  think the I-Cord edging looks so neat and tidy. It also holds the garter stitch from stretching when you have a narrow strip of knitting that is at least 20″/51cm long. 

The other change I made from the child version,Build a V, to the adult version is to give the bottom of the Back Panel strip a rounded bottom. The child version has a nice pointy bottom edge, fine for kids, not so wonderful for adults. I didn’t want an arrow pointing to my butt.   

I made it rounded by working the centre increases further and further apart as the strip is knit. It makes the knitting go quickly when there is something to concentrate on. That seemed like a good idea at the time too. 20200128_092409 - Copy

So now the Back Panels are done for all three of my cardigans. Now onto the Front Panels. My testknitters are also hard at work. But that’s another story.

Thanks for reading. I have to get back to my knitting so see you next time,

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew knitting patterns

Deb on Instagram

 

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

Deb on instagram

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

Deb on instagram

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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