Thursday 24 February 2011

Comparing Russian sweaters, part 2

Comparing Russian sweaters
Originally uploaded by Asplund
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about one of my modifications when I reknitted my all-time favourite sweater design from Uuve Snidare's Fishermen's Sweaters.

The red version (which I finished in 1992) has a vertical red line from hip to armhole, which is where the row starts. It is convenient, and I rather like how it looks even though the pattern isn't symmetrical on each side of it.What I like less about it is that it sort of pulls, unlike the other side. (It's a similar thing with the sleeves, but I don't mind it that the red sleeve "seam" pulls slightly.)

The armholes aren't shaped in the original version, which leads to a lot of excess fabric under the arms. (And extra perspiration, I'm afraid!) I shaped them in my russet sweater knitted a couple of years ago.

Also, I added a side pattern. When I got to the armholes I put those stitches on a safety pin, cast on new stitches for a steek, and later picked them up along with stitches around the armhole to knit the sleeve.

The red/russet "ribbons" are knitted separately and sewn on. I've become better at sewing over the years! In my new sweater I made them shorter so it's evident the side pattern continues uninterrupted from hip to wrist.

Evident to those interested in investigating my armholes, that is.

Thursday 17 February 2011

A real man

Handmade circular needle
Originally uploaded by Asplund
makes his own knitting needles, don't you agree?

Not that I do - Mac the Knitter does, and he was kind enough to send me this circular needle with one point shaped like crochet hook. It arrived yesterday and I tried it immediately. It works beautifully, and I'm going to use it for my next lace project.

I never thought of a knitting needle as beautiful before, but this one certainly is. Thank you!

"Jaws" sleeve in progress

 I've knitted enough of the first "Jaws" sleeve to see that I like my pattern idea enough to stick to it. This sleeve is veeery far from Marianne Isager's original design.

My plan is to add some colour when I get to the cuff, but I haven't decided what colour(s) or how yet.

Last, I'd like to comment on some of the kind comments on my previous post:

elisaacampbell & Carolina: I think spreadsheets are a great idea, but actually haven't tried it that much. (Only really to see the effect of many pattern repeats together.) I'm so oldfashioned I like squared paper! Actually, my method is very much like Carolina's. I make sure I get the width right, adjusting pattern and/or needle size and make up my mind about the length when I get close to the armhole.

Annika: I learnt how to use steeks by reading Alice Starmore, first (I believe) from Fishermen's Sweaters, but she has also described the technique in her book about Fairisle sweaters.

christinelaennec: I agree completely about the difference between plan and reality! It's a good thing I really enjoy swatching!

Sunday 13 February 2011

Not particularly helpful

Comparing Russian sweaters
Originally uploaded by Asplund
As I mentioned in my previous post, I prefer writing to talking. A good example of the disadvantage of speaking is when I was asked in the interview how I match back and front pieces to make a pattern continue across the shoulder join.

I said something like "um, well, it's about planning... put the pattern in the centre of both back and front sections... and then you try not to make mistakes..." How useful is that?

In this post I'm going to try to explain it better. (More vaguely would hardly be possible!) In the photo you can see two shoulder joins with the same pattern. I knitted the red version in the early 1990s, when I didn't dare to make modifications - and didn't have the skills either. The pattern is from Uuve Snidare's book "Fiskartröjor" (fishermen's sweaters), which is probably the most important one of my knitting books. In August I was lucky enough to get to meet Uuve Snidare at a knitting camp and thank her personally!

Even though I was (and still am) proud of knitting that sweater at 18, there are a few things about it that have annoyed me slightly since I finished it. A couple of years ago I knitted a new russet brown version, in which I incorporated some of the things I've learnt since then. I might write posts about all of them, but blending patterns across shoulder joins will do for today.

Placing the pattern so that the centre of a pattern repeat is in the centre of both back and front is crucial. It isn't in the red sweater, which shows when you look at the shoulder join. There is no row where I could have ended to get the lines to carry across the join smoothly.

The second crucial thing is ending at the (horizontal) centre of the pattern repeat, like in the russet brown sweater. The join is a three-needle bind-off: you turn the sweater inside-out and cast off the back and front sections together. The same thing goes for knit-purl patterns, like in this sweater (photo rather blurred, I'm afraid).

"Lerwick" sweater
You don't have to end in the middle of a repeat, though: in this case I ended after a whole repeat. (This design is also from Uuve Snidare's book.) I guess it depends on the pattern. The tricky thing is figuring out how many repeats you will have to make to get them to blend and get the length you want.

Wednesday 9 February 2011


"Jaws" in progress
Originally uploaded by Asplund
I'm not sure what I think of the sleeve pattern so far, the beginning of a big triangle that consists of many small ones, but will knit a few more inches before I decide whether I want to keep it or do something else.

The radio show a couple of mornings ago was a lot of fun! Actually, the best part took place the evening before: I was on the train from Stockholm and a woman I'd never met before approached me and said she thought she knew who I was. It turned out she was the one who had phoned me from the radio station a few days before and who was to interview me early next morning - talk about a coincidence!

Riddarholmen, Stockholm, Sunday afternoon

How she recognized me? She saw my reflection in the window (she was sitting behind me) and that I was doing something with my hands. Praying? No, knitting! A male knitter on his way to Uppsala, who could that be... I enjoyed talking to Elin a lot, both on the train and in the studio.

I do prefer writing to talking, though, to tell you the truth. Blogging suits me, but I wouldn't even toy with the idea of a pod cast, for example. Too fond of revising my words.

For those who want to hear the show (it's in Swedish) I'll add a link at the end of this post. A word of warning about the photo of me first: it strikes me I've got cheeks like Polomoche in a favourite book from my childhood! (Well, at least I'm not yellow and I don't have horns - and as far as I know I don't smell of rotten apples.) Link to the show here.
Check out Ylva's incredibly beautifully decorated mittens! I was lucky to get to admire them live at a knitting café Monday evening and was happy to discover her blog post about them.

Sunday 6 February 2011


Red dragonflies
Originally uploaded by Asplund
Imagine my surprise and delight when I read the morning newspaper a couple of days ago and saw my blog mentioned in an article about knitting! Thanks, Karin! Later that day they called me from the local radio station and asked me if wanted to come and talk about knitting on Monday morning. Guess what I answered!

"Jaws" is resting while I think about different sleeve ideas, so I've excavated the "Red Dragonflies" sweater from my UFO pile. I'm afraid it may be slightly out of proportion (the sleeves too wide for the body) but I won't know for sure until I block it. I may have to knit some kind of side gussets to add to the width.

Last but not least, a couple of gifts! I recently knitted a shawl with handspun silk yarn fellow knitter Marguerite in France was kind enough to send me. Here it is on a tea towel fellow knitter James in New Zealand sent me. Thank you both! I'm going to give the shawl to a friend's daughter, but the towel is mine.