… completely different! That’s right! You heard me! No whining today, not moaning about the hour – it’s 10am! – and no bewailing my lack of tea! I’m enjoying a day off and the exclamation mark! Hooray!
While I gather myself together and try to dispel a little of the cloud of euphoria I am feeling in order to think clearly, please enjoy this post from Hyperbole and a Half. It is so funny, I actually cried.
Right, now that everyone is feeling as silly as I am – and by everyone I mean my five readers – I will post my latest crafting triumph: a knitting pattern I made entirely by myself which actually looks like what it’s supposed to be.
Because knitting patterns read like gibberish to me, I will publish this one in plain English, with links to any techniques you might need to use. I am, however, presuming that anyone who wishes to try this already knows how to do the basic knit and purl stitches. If you don’t, there are many very good instructional videos on youtube, or you could bribe someone into teaching you. I find that chocolate, or the threat of a temper tantrum are usually good incentives.
The bold instructions tell you how to make the project exactly as I did, whilst everything else provides in insight into the demented ramblings of my brain and how I came up with this pattern. The plain text also offers suggestions as to how you can alter the size to suit your own needs.
Front and Back
Step one: Untangle the cat from your wool. I used very thin wool for this sweater – it was hand spun on the tiny Danish island of Fanø so I don’t actually know what gauge it is. Or if wool comes in gauges. Anyways, you could probably substitute this for something soft and expensive if you wanted it for a small child. Here is a picture of the wool next to a biro for scale:
Step two: select your needles. I used size 11 because I am apparently still living in the knitting stone age. In fact, when I went to Germany the other day and tried to buy straight needles which weren’t tied together like mittens, I was told in a very discouraging voice that, “We don’t use those any more!” The internet tells me that old UK size 11 needles mean 3mm ones in modern talk, or US size 2. Have a look at the wool you buy though – most yarn comes with a tag that tells you the size of needle that you need.
Step three: cast on 82 stitches. Some very cunning people might have noticed that my sweater is very wide… I would advise you to first cast on 10 stitches, knit about 10 rows and then measure how wide this section is. Then measure your bear/offspring/potted plant and figure out how many you should cast on from that. To make a slightly more proportionately correct top, I think I would cast on 72 next time instead.
Step four: rib stitch 10 rows in your first colour. For those who aren’t familiar with rib stitch, this link offers a very nice explanation. I used the 2×2 method, but you could use whichever you feels looks nicest, as long as the number of stitches you cast on is divisible by the number of stitches you choose to rib. I kept things as easy as possible by picking even numbers throughout – I’m not much of a one for maths.
Step five: change to your second colour and stocking stitch 10 rows. I like stripes. A lot. For some reason though, I’d never tried them before this project, thinking that knitting two colours would be super-complicated. It isn’t – it’s about the easiest way in the world to make a really simple project look professional. All you need to do is stop using your original colour of yarn, and start using the next without casting anything off. This tutorial is very good. If you don’t know how to do stocking stitch – knitting one row and then purling the next – why not take a look here. As the site says, cloth made in this stitch does tend to curl, however once you sew the sweater parts together, this ceases to become an issue and even made the collar of mine look pretty stylish.
Step six: change colour to your original and stocking stitch 10 further rows. You can cut the yarn, leaving long tails after each join, but I chose to carry mine up the side of the knitting. I don’t know if this makes it neater or not, but it gave the cat less to grab hold of, and me less things to tangle up.
Step seven: repeat steps five and six until you have 8 stripes, not including the rib stitch. Or you could keep going until your front/back is as long as you need.
Step eight: cast off. If you’re like me and mostly make scarves, casting off only comes once in a blue moon. Here is a good ‘how to’.
Step nine: repeat steps one to eight to create the back of the sweater.
Step one: cast on 60 stitches. Or if you knitted a 10 stitch sample as described in step three of making the sleeves, cast on however many you feel are appropriate for the width of your bear’s/child’s/1976 Buick’s arms.
Step two: rib stitch 10 rows in your first colour. Again, for those who aren’t familiar with rib stitch, this link offers a very nice explanation.
Step three: change to your second colour and stocking stitch 20 rows. If you would like longer sleeves than the ones I have made, all you need to do is measure how fat one of your stripes is on the main body pieces of the sweater. As these are 10 rows each, you can add or subtract however many rows you feel are necessary, either before or after the detail.
Step four: change to your original colour and stocking stitch 6 rows.
Step five: change to your second colour and stocking stitch 2 rows.
Step six: change to your original colour and stocking stitch 2 rows.
Step seven: change to your second colour and stocking stitch 10 rows. Or however many you decided you would need to make the arms long enough.
Step eight: cast off.
Step one: fold the sleeves vertically in half so that the wrong – rough – side faces outwards and stitch together along what were the sides of your knitting. You should now have two tubes. Lay to one side.
Step two: lay the two main pieces of the body on top of one another so that the smooth sides are touching with the rib stitch at the bottom. At the top of this sandwich, overlap the red strips and stitch the side edges together, making sure not to join any of the purple. This overlap will form the shoulders of the sweater. Making it easier for you to push Rupert’s/your child’s/Dr Zoidberg’s head through the wide collar. If you prefer, you could join the shoulders conventionally, stitching along the top edges of the fabric and leaving the desired amount of space in the middle for the collar.
Step three: figure out where your cat/mother-in-law/OCD housemate has put your sleeve tubes and bring them back to the project. Form a T shape using the main body as the vertical line and the sleeves as the horizontal. For a neat finish, you want the seam of the sleeves to be at the bottom so that they’re hidden when Rupert puts the top on.
Step four: sew the sleeves to the main body, and then stitch the open sides of the front and back sections together, finishing your sweater. Reverse this, so that the smooth sides are facing out and the rough facing in.
Step five: spent 5 hours blogging about how you… oh wait…