April 29, 2007

A stash'ing opportunity

I picked up a copy of Knitting for peace as a birthday present. I liked one sweater in particular that was knit with a center panel front and back, and then the sides and sleeves were picked up and knit downwards to the cuffs. The link to the original orphans for orphans sweater is here (and it is cute!)

http://www.tropicalyarns.com/index.cfm?PID=22&ProdID=79


Liked the idea, made the sweater, and hated (absolutely HATED) the neckline, which is very low in both the front and the back. Probably appropriate for the Russian Orphanages, but not my cup of tea. But the construction was unique, and interesting, and the stripes were cool. I used up a lot of wool, created two sweaters, and moved onto working on one for my daughter, but with a slight difference.

The orphans for orphans pattern only goes up to a size 6 or so, and my youngest daughter is a size 10, so I decided to try my hand at a similar sweater, with a few differences.

I call this the 'Swatchless Striped Sweater'. The nice thing about this sweater is that it uses up odd balls of wool, and has interesting stripes that do not need to be matched across the front and back of the sweater.

Swatchless Striped Sweater:

Key measurements: desired finished chest measurement, center back neck to wrist measurement, sweater length from top of shoulder to desired length, drop of the front neck (on adults, roughly 3 to 3 1'2 inches, on children 2 to 3 inches, depending on size), desired depth to underarm.

Yarn, assorted lengths in roughly the same weight. Needles appropriate to the yarn choice: circular needles are needed to accommodate the large number of stitches when knitting the side panels.

Unswatched Back panel:
Start by making an educated guess about your wool, and casting on roughly 6 inches worth of stitches for adults, 5 inches for older children and 4 inches for younger children and toddlers. Keep track of the number of stitches you cast on. (The width doesn't need to be perfect, just a rough guess--necklines for adults are anywhere from 5 to 7 inches across). Knit for a bit; if you like the look of what you are knitting, keep going until the piece is roughly 3 inches shorter than your desired back length (2 1/2 inches for the bottom finish, and 1/2 inch allowed for the back shoulder drop). If you don't like your knitting, pull it out and start again, trying different needles, or a different number of stitches. It isn't a 'swatch'--it is the back center panel.

Front Panel
Cast on the same number of sts as the back panel, and knit a second piece, this time shorter than the first piece by 2 to 3 inches (the neckline depth). Measure your piece across, and calculate your gauge (just to give you an idea of how many stitches you will need to cast on at the top of the shoulder, and to determine your ratio of pick ups when you pick up the stitches along the sides; mostly your sweater is determined by knitting and measuring!). You determine how deep to knit the side panels onto the center front and back panels by subtracting the width of the center panel from half the desired total circumference of the sweater, and dividing this by two (one half on each side of the panel).

Change yarns wherever you want, or when you run out of a ball and have to start another. This is a stash reducing sweater--use all the oddballs up, since the stripes are unique and do not need to be matched, there are not a lot of worries about not getting everything 'perfect'. You can play with patterns, too, if you want (although I didn't with mine--just knitting up all kinds of different yarn bits).

Picking up for the sides:
Lay the panels with the front panel on the right, and the back panel of the sweater on the left, with the top (cast off portions) in the middle. Pick up stitches along the front (on my gauge, I picked up 3 sts every 4 rows), cast on the calculated number of stitches needed for the depth of the front neck (2 to 3 inches) plus the depth of the back neck (1/2 inch), then pick up the needed number of stitches along the back panel. Make a note of this number somewhere (so that you pick up the same number of stitches on the second side!) Knit the sides, to the desired depth you calculated.

Sleeves:
Calculate the number of stitches to 'cast off' for the underarm depth (minus your hem treatment). Put the number of stitches for your desired armhole depth onto a spare thread on the front and the back (to be grafted together after the sleeve is finished), and then knit down the sleeve. I decreased 1 stitch every 4th row, each end, until I reached the desired wrist width (roughly 25% of the desired chest measurement), and then knit until I reached the desired center back neck to sleeve measurement without the 'hem treatment' (ribbing, moss stitch, garter stitch, something non curling is best). Then I finished the sleeve with the non-curling hem treatment (in my case, 2 1/2 inches of ribbing). Complete the second side same as the first. Graft the sides together, and then pick up and knit the stitches around the bottom for the desired hem treatment (in my case 2 1/2 inches of ribbing).

This one is fun, and really gets the extra bits of wools 'gone'.