Sunday, August 23, 2015

Andromeda Cape - Finished!

I finished this last weekend, but was waiting for some good weather to try to get some outdoor shots in attempt to more accurately capture the colors.  While this shawl was actually very easy to convert into a cape, it was a little challenging to block.
Because of the asymmetrical increases there is a spiral element which introduces a bias into the finished fabric (similar to a skirt cut on the bias).  The front edges are always a little tricky because they have a tendency to stretch radially.  When I knit my Treasure Island and Snow Queen capes I was able to match up the front edges and make sure that I didn't stretch them more than the spines in the body of the shawl.  Of course once you start to wear them, they will tend to stretch.

Pattern:  Andromeda Shawl by Janine le Cras (converted into a cape)
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Verve in Magic Mirror
Needle:  US 5 (3.75 mm)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Evenstar Cape - Figuring out Chart 2

Chart 2 presented the first challenge in my conversion.  I remember when I was knitting this shawl the first time I was frustrated by this chart because the motifs don't line up with the motifs in chart 1.  Chart 1 is worked over a 16 stitch repeat and chart 2 is worked over a 20 stitch repeat and they only line up at 2 points.  I spent a fair bit of time trying to modify the charts to make them line up, but in the end I gave up and knit the pattern as written.  The other frustrating aspect of this chart is that the pattern is not symmetrical as it is charted, although it is symmetrical when knitted.  This project gave me the chance to revisit that chart and see what I could make of it the second time around.

The first thing I noticed was the decrease row between the two charts.  First you knit a regular increase row, than a plain knit row, then a decrease row where you decrease 8 stitches, another knit row and then start knitting chart 2.  As I started working the math, the first thing I noticed was that if I did my increase row I would end up with 291 body stitches, while the chart needs 280 for the circular version and 281 for the flat version - remembering that extra stitch at the end of the row.  That meant that I would have 10 extra stitches.  My first thought was to take advantage of the fact that I could work an extra half repeat of the chart.  I fired up my charting software and first entered the chart as written, then I started adding columns and copying and pasting, expanding the chart in both directions.  As I worked I pondered the implications if I were to keep those 291 stitches on working the rest of the shawl and decided that the best course of action would be to maintain the stitch count as nearly as possible.  I also noted that there was a very simple way of making this chart work perfectly for knitting flat.

The solution was so simple that I wondered why the designer didn't adjust the chart during the design process.  All it requires is a little arts and crafts.  First, print the chart, then cut the chart vertically between stitches 15 and 16.  Also trim away the "no stitch" in column 20, cutting carefully around the 3 stitches in rows 47, 48, 49.  Now take that strip of stitches and place them to the right of stitch 1, carefully lining things up and placing those 3 stitches into the no stitch section of column 1.  Apply tape to secure.  When you knit the chart, there will still be an extra stitch at the end/beginning of the right side/wrong side rows.  Just knit/purl that stitch as appropriate.  On rows 33 and 53 that stitch is needed to handle the s1k2togpsso stitch as it was handled in chart 1.

Pattern:  Evenstar Shawl by Susan Pandorf, converted into a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Eos in Midnight Delight
Needle:  US 3 (3.25 mm)

Once and Future King - Clue 6 Done

And of course, the Mystery Knit Along is still going, although we're getting close to the end.  Clue 6 came out yesterday and here is mine.  Clue 7, the final clue, comes out next Friday.  I suppose I should try to get some beauty shots of my shawl this weekend.  I also need to get some beauty shots of my Andromeda Shawl and see if I can capture the colors.

Pattern:  The Once and Future King by Janine le Cras
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Eos in Roi Soleil
Needle:  US 3 (3.25 mm)

Evenstar Cape - Chart 1

I will be starting my Evenstar Cape Knit Along in two weeks, but I wanted to work out the details of the conversion to make sure that I wouldn't lead anyone down the wrong road so I cast my cape on this past week.  Readers of my blog will get a look ahead at what I will be covering in the Knit Along as I capture my process.

When making a conversion like this the first thing that you have to do is carefully review the pattern.  The main things to look for are stitches that cross the end of round marker (also denoted in patterns by "dancing markers") and asymmetries in the pattern that might not lend themselves to being split into a cape (or semi-circular) shawl.  This kind of pattern review is most easily done by looking at the charts, so for the non-chart knitters I strongly recommend that you take the plunge and learn how to read charts.  It really isn't that hard.  I recommend J. C. Briar's book Charts Made Simple:  understanding knitting charts visually.  You can still spot these things by looking at the written directions, provided that they are well written - just look for the pattern repeats and then look at what other stitches you have to do that are not included in the pattern repeats.

For Chart 1 of Evenstar we are very fortunate in that the motif is symmetrical, although it does wrap across the end of round marker on rows 7, 13 and 27.  Row 7 begins with a special stitch - increase 7 in a k3tog.  The other two rows begin with a slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over (s1k2togpsso).  That special stitch is going to take a little careful thought (and some experimentation), so lets look at the easy stitch first.  The s1k2togpsso stitch is a type of double decrease, we're taking 3 stitches and turning them into one.  If you split that stitch apart by converting  from knitting in the round to knitting flat and you still want to retain symmetry in the design you would need to start those rows with a k2tog, yo and end those rows with a yo, ssk.  That takes care of the double decrease, but we need 4 stitches, not two.  What to do?  Easy, add an extra stitch at the end of the row.  When you're not knitting one of those 3 rows you just knit or purl that stitch as appropriate.

Now lets go back and look at the special stitch.  This one is easier to decipher if you look at the chart.  You will note that in row 6 there are 3 "no stitch" spots, so you know you need to increase 3 stitches.  After a little trial and error (and you have to be willing to experiment) I decided that an increase 4 in a k2tog is the way to treat this special stitch at the beginning and end of the row.  A word about the increase stitch.  Susan Pandorf offers 3 different ways to work this stitch and recommends that knitters try out each of the methods while working the swatch to determine which one they like best.  I prefer the method that uses the yarn overs.  It results in a nicely symmetrical Evenstar, with an open center, and is also easy to work.  There is just one small problem with using yarn overs, you have to do an odd number of increases because the yarn over has to be worked between two regular knit stitches and at the beginning and end of the row we need to work 4 increases.  To handle that I did the knit, yo, knit, and ended with a knit into the back of the stitch.

Now that we have all of those things worked out (and hopefully you've annotated your pattern appropriately) take a look at the pattern again and ask yourself if there are any other modifications that you would like to make.  For example, in rows 11 and 25 there are k4tog stitches.  I decided to work the first k4tog in row 11 as a ssssk and the second k4tog in row 25 as a ssssk, so that they would both slant away from the central petal.  The other thing to consider before you begin is whether you want to add beads, and where you would like to add them.  I decided to add beads to the points of the Evenstar.

Okay, we're now ready to figure out how many stitches to cast on.  Looking at the pattern we note that this is a traditional "Pi" shawl so it starts out with a number of rounds of knitting followed by increase rounds.  The last increase round before Chart 1 gets us to the stitch count for that round, which is 144 stitches.  But wait, we need an extra stitch to work this flat, so we need 145 stitches when we complete that increase round.  Obviously we don't want to start the shawl with 145 stitches, so go back to the stitch count before the increase round, which is 72 stitches.  We also have to consider edge stitches.  I like to work a 3 stitch garter stitch border, which would bring the cast on stitch count up to 78.  I cast on 78 stitches and knit 4 rows and then worked the increase row.  When you work one of these yo, k1 increase rows in a circular shawl you double the number of stitches, but when you work one of these yo, k1 increase rows while knitting flat you wind up at the end of the row and you've just knit a stitch and there are 3 edge stitches left.  If you do one more yarn over before you knit those 3 edge stitches you will actually increase by 73 stitches instead of 72, which gets us that extra stitch that we wanted for Chart 1.  Pretty cool, huh.

Pattern:  Evenstar Shawl by Susan Pandorf, converted into a cape
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Eos in Midnight Delight
Needle:  US 3 (3.25 mm)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Peter Pan - Chart 2 Done

Not the best picture, but you get the idea.  I finished up the center motif (charts 1 and 2) late this afternoon and started working on Chart 3.  The sides are on waste yarn and I have a needle in the stitches on each end that I'll be knitting from.  I switched from a US 6 to a US 5 when I started working in the flat.  I'm using knitCompanion and have all of my charts set up.  The charts for the wings have those fun instructions, work so many rows, so many times.  I actually created sub-charts of the rows being knit and am using smart counters so I don't have to remember how many times I have to knit each section of a given chart.

I knit the entire center motif using Skein 1, and ended up with 8 grams left.  Not bad.  I started with 52 grams.  I am planning on using skeins 2-4 on the wings and skeins 5 and 6 for the edging.

Pattern:  Peter Pan by Janine le Cras
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in Tinkerbell
Needles:  US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 6 (4 mm)

Peter Pan - Decisions, Decisions

The way this shawl is designed is interesting.  The graphic below shows how the skeins are used as you knit the shawl.
After you knit the body of the shawl, an edging is knit along the long edges, changing skeins to match the skein usage in the body.  I've been busy this morning running numbers in my spreadsheet and thinking about possible options.  I also looked at all of the finished projects to see how it all comes together and I have figured out several different schemes.  Given the yarn requirements I have a lot of options.  The one I'm leaning toward would use skeins 1-4 in the body and skeins 5 and 6 for the edging.  I've laid out my yarn to see how that would look.
I really like the contrast of the greens against the yellow and especially the pink.  I'm also thinking that I will use skein 1 for the entire center motif instead of switching to skein 2 towards the end of the second chart.

Pattern:  Peter Pan by Janine le Cras
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in Tinkerbell
Needle:  US 6 (4 mm)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Peter Pan - Chart 1 Done

I blocked my test knit this morning, and then finished up my Andromeda Cape, but I can't block it until my test knit dries, so I picked Peter Pan back up.  I had knit the swatch back in January of 2014, and then hadn't done anything else.  This shawl has an interesting construction.  The center motif is knit in the round, and then it is knit from 2 sides out, and then a knit on border is added to the long edges.  I'm not a big fan of knitting shawls in the round - the start is always so annoying.  I have figured out a good method though.  I used two 24 inch circular needles and did Eunny Jang's circular cast on using this video.  I work one row after the cast on, then split the stitches between the two circular needles and started working the first chart.  Here is a picture about half way through the first chart.
The needles are a bit floppy until you get some stitches on them, but it doesn't take long for things to stabilize and it is a lot easier than juggling double pointed needles - at least you don't have to worry about these slipping out of the stitches (been there, done that).  I did my usual spreadsheet of stitch counts to calculate where to switch skeins, but I still haven't decided if I will deviate from the pattern especially with regard to the knit on border.  I want to get a sense of my yarn usage, and I need to wind the rest of my skeins so I know how much yarn I have to work with.

Pattern:  Peter Pan by Janine le Cras
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Luxe in Tinkerbell
Needle:  US 6 (4 mm)