Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chat Back for February 14

Answering questions from comments and email.

After I wrote:
Eye of partridge is a prettier heel than the standard heel flap, but I think the standard heel flap has more sideways elasticity and gives a better fit to the foot.

Susan asked . . .
Ok, what do you define as a standard heel flap?

Good question since there is really no such thing as a standard heel flap.

My standard heel flap is the first one I learned when I started to knit socks:
Row 1 (right side): Slip 1, knit 1, repeat these two stitches across row.
Row 2 (back side): Slip 1, purl the rest of the row.

This results in a cushioned heel flap that pulls in to snugly fit the heel. The man sized sock in the picture is too big for my sock blockers to stretch, so the pulling in of the heel shows nicely.

All the people I knit socks for have narrow heels so the pulling in is important to a snug fit. Without a snug fit the heels would quickly have holes in them.

For someone with a wide heel/wide foot/square shaped foot this may not be the best heel to use.

Megan asked . . .
Do you graph the stitch patterns on paper first or do you have enough experience that you can wing it?

For a simple kids sweater like the Peace Fleece Gansey, I pick out stitch patterns that are charted in one of my gansey books. The only thing I write down is the pattern width to make sure I have the right number of stitches for the sweater and to guide in knitting the first several rows until the patterns are visible in the stitches. After that, I usually don't need the charts anymore.

Once I know what size sweater I want to make and the gauge, I know the number of stitches for front and back. Then I look for a center panel of approximately one third that number and pick a few smaller panels to flank it.

The sides of the sweater are usually about 20 stitches of something super simple like seed stitch or even stockinette with a fake seam up the center side to eventually flare out and become an underarm gusset.

The stitch markers visible on the sleeve at the top of the picture are the sleeve decreases. Instead of writing down the sleeve decreases and losing the paper or not being able to figure out my notes (which were perfectly plain when I wrote them but somehow got incomprehensible when I wasn't looking), I just look at the markers in the first sleeve when knitting the second sleeve.

Dani asked . . .
If I may pick your brain a bit:
What is the secret formula to converting patterns with stitch motifs like that to work in the round?

The stitch patterns I'm using for the Peace Fleece Gansey are charted out in a gansey book where the sweaters are meant to be knit in the round, so there's no problem. Just start on the right side of the chart for each row.

When knitting in the round all rows are right side rows. For written out (uncharted) stitch patterns with wrong side rows, the wrong side rows need to be knit in the reverse.

For stitch patterns that aren't charted, I chart them, converting the wrong side stitches to their reverse equivalent, and then cross off the edge stitches that I don't need for knitting in the round.

Once they're charted, it's usually easy to see how they need to go, but I've found a few that are so challenging I decided to use something else.

The Third (yellow) Barbara Walker Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Charted Knitting Designs, has a nine page chart of stitches and what they are in reverse. It even includes some cable crossings.

A super simple example: A purl stitch on the back side needs to be worked on the right side when converted to the round, so it becomes a knit stitch.

Another example: A p2 together through the back loop on the back side needs to be worked on the right side when converted to the round, so it becomes a slip, slip, knit. There's a note that k2 together through the back loop or slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over will also work.

She also gives excellent, detailed instructions on how to execute the stitches.

Sheila asked . . .
Your sweater is looking good. Why would you not normally use tweed for a gansey?

Normally for a traditional gansey with intricate stitch patterns, a knitter wants a solid color, tightly twisted yarn with excellent stitch definition to show off their work.

Even when knitting a more modern gansey with a less harsh yarn, the stitch definition is usually important to the knitter who wants the stitch patterns to be the outstanding feature of the garment.

For my Peace Fleece Gansey, the tweed effect and the nubbly yarn both distract from the stitch patterns. That's one reason I chose a simple stitch design. It's more to entertain me while knitting than to be showcased. The tweedy, nubbly Peace Fleece would be just as attractive knit up in stockinette. Maybe more so.

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