Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gansey Saga, Finis

The gansey is done. Today, I thought I would spend some time describing some of the design details that one has to consider when creating one's own designs. First of all, the bottom border. The pattern of the sweater should flow from the bottom border. I tend to vacillate between ribbing and carrying elements of the design into the border. In this case, I opted for the latter but I still planned the ribbing so it would line up with the pattern elements.

The ribbing matches the vertical lines in the pattern elements so that a vertical knit line doesn't flow from a purl st in the border. To do this, I had to put 2 purls next to each other below the garter ladder.
Another element to think about is what happens at the neckline. The front neckline is especially critical because it is right in front of a viewer's eyes. The pattern must end appropriately at the neckline: Either a full or a half pattern repeat can work depending on the pattern. In this case, I could have succeeded with a half diamond but not a quarter or a three-quarter diamond. As you can see, I was able to end with a full pattern repeat at the front neck.
At the back neck, I was off by 1 row. I could have done one more row but I decided not to as it looked OK. The back neck isn't as critical as the front neck but an obvious fraction of a pattern that doesn't look complete can be quite noticeable.

Also watch out for the pattern at the neck shaping. I was able to hide a couple of decreases in a cable cross which allowed me to cross the cable almost all the way to the end so it didn't suddenly become a stockinette column. Some amount of fudging is sometimes necessary. Aesthetics are more important than being true to the pattern!

I also lucked out at the armholes. I hadn't planned it and was planning to wing it when I got there. I could have converted part of the pattern into a stockinette section but I found that my diamonds turned into waves as half of them vanished into the armhole but the other half remained. That worked out very well but is also something to think about as you design.

I put the design on the sleeve right at the point where the diamonds would fit exactly into the sleeve width. I could have put it lower down also as there are multiple places where the math works out. But I decided to put it at the first place where the sleeve width was an exact multiple of the diamond pattern center. I then backed up to the beginning of the motif and calculated where I would have to start it to place the center at the correct round.

I also think about the types of decreases/increases I want to use. I tend to prefer fully fashioned decreases/increases - where they are placed a little inside the seam and pointing into the seam rather than parallel to it. In this sweater I used fully fashioned decreases at the armholes and sleeve seams but ran them parallel to the shaping at the neckline. It is knitter's choice but decide which one you like and stick with it.
Finally, the back of the completed sweater. I gave you a lot of frontal angles while I was knitting it so I thought I'd end with the back.

I hope you have as much fun as I did designing and knitting a historical gansey design. The yarn is wonderful - it is Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran. I love the hand and the stitch definition but it is a heavy sweater. It was difficult doing the neckband with the entire weight of the sweater on the needles.

I had 19 balls of the yarn and I ended with 2 partial balls - one of which was used for the swatch and the other for the neckband. I was pleased with that.

Next up is lace. I cast on for Stor Rund Dug in Joslyn Fiber Farm's Shine yesterday. I am also planning a Schaefer Undulating Waves Scarf which is for a class I'll be teaching. More on those in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gansey Saga, The End is in Sight

I don't have any photos to post this week but I wanted to share the fact that the gansey is almost done. I just bound off the second sleeve. All I have left to do is the neck band and weaving in of a few ends.

I have been playing with my wheel. I went to a spinning guild meeting on Friday where I learned to spin a bit. I came home and played. I don't have anything exciting to show. I wanted to finish the gansey so I put it aside and continued knitting.

My fall classes start on Saturday and I have to work on the class materials. My next couple of projects will be for class. A shawl and potentially a scarf. After that it is time to Bohus again.

Photos of a finished gansey are forthcoming!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gansey Saga, Part IV

Before I start, I owe Bridget an apology. I accidentally called the spider a Shetland spider when it is a Bridget spider. It bears no resemblance whatever to a Shetland spider except that they are both lace. The Shetland one is an insect with 6 legs, not a true arachnid with 8 legs. Mea culpa, Bridget!

Now, onto the gansey. I have been knitting as much as I can all week between playing with spinning. I am at the cuff of the first sleeve. This is taking a long time. I was sure I'd be done with the sleeve by this time.
That is an overview of the sweater as it stands. I repeated the diamond lattice in a band on the sleeve just for some variety in knitting. Plus I love that kind of gansey design. The original sweater had the body designs repeated on the sleeves as far as I can tell from the photo. The author of the book sketched the sleeves as having the diamond lattice all over on the sleeve but I thought that looked too busy. So I modified it to just have the band which is very common in ganseys.
There's a close-up of the band. I accidentally used 2 more sts in the diamond on the sleeve but I don't think it is noticeable. I counted the sts in the panel on the body while conveniently forgetting that the panel has 2 plain knit sts that set off the diamond. Oh well.
Another look at the armhole and sleeve. It is not a traditional gansey in that I've done a set-in sleeve rather than the usual drop sleeve. However, I did pick up the sts and knit the sleeve downward so it is traditional in that sense.

Next week I hope to have it done! I am in a lace knitting mood so this sweater is now starting to pall. The design thinking is over and now it is just a matter of executing and that is the uninteresting part.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A new acquisition and a new book

I promised to give you a taste of my plans from Knitted Gifts. But before that I have exciting news. I bought a spinning wheel. It is a Majacraft Little Gem, a deliciously portable folding wheel.
You can see how small it is fully assembled below. Once folded, it fits into the silver bag in the background - the one that doubles as a tin foil hat to communicate with the aliens.

In celebration of the wheel, I have made plans to join a spinning guild and actually learn to spin. But first I had to find some tools to tighten up the crank arms under the treadles so it would spin properly. It seems to be a tad loose. You can see the lovely tool kit I found in the basement also in the background. It wasn't the set of allen wrenches that I was looking for but it had the right sized one in it so I was in luck.

Now on to Knitted Gifts. This is a very cool book, not because it contains one of my patterns but because it has patterns in it that I want to knit. This is a very rare occurrence. Usually I prefer to knit my own but this book made me sit up and say 'ooh! I want to make that' quite a number of times.
The first one that caught my eye are these ballet flats. Yes, they are intarsia but very little of it. I think they are gorgeous and I plan on making them some day.
This is also a neat pattern. It is a big cylinder with a draw string at one end. you can wear it many ways and it is a quick mindless knit. It will be just the thing to pick up and take on a trip.

But this is the most exciting thing in the book. Felted oven mitts that have a doubled section at the hand. You know why I love these? Because I can customize them for me. You see, I am a klutz of the first order. I have matching burn marks on both forearms just where the commercial oven mitts end. I reach in and grab something hot and before I know it, my forearm makes contact with the oven door, or the rack or something equally hot and I have a bad burn. Right now, I have a V-shaped scar on my right forearm from two separate burns.

So I can make MY mitts up to the elbow and then I don't have to worry about my forearms! Wait, you say, what about your upper arms? Hmm... maybe I will have to make them up to the armpit! But I can! I have lots of Lopi and other yarns that would be perfect for this.

Aren't they adorable? Another great travel knitting project that will get rid of leftovers. One can even double yarn and make them. Who wants to gift these away? I want them all for myself.
Over and out till next week and I promise I will post weekly. I meant to post last weekend but somehow the entire weekend vanished into a haze and I have no idea what I actually did. But I didn't post.