Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kelly Sweater Techniques Tutorial

So, just HOW did I do the beige sections on the Kelly sweater?

When I first started, I was using worsted weight yarn on the SK155.  Or maybe I was using the LK150.  I have no problem with worsted yarn on that, though many people say not to use it.  I only had a single bed, so there was lots of reforming stitches.  The swatch I got was slightly different than what I ended up with on the Singer 327, but still close.  But, I still had to re-swatch on the 327.

I started with examining the picture of the inside of the sweater.

I know that's not a great picture--it looked better on my iPad.  I examined how the lines of knit stitches moved, and where the eyelets were.  Although it was the inside, I figured if I could get the inside to match then the outside would.  Also, the inside is what was facing me on the machine--or what I thought would be the easiest side to have facing me.
 Just another shot of the whole sweater.
 Once the fabric is stretched out a little, you can see the undulating columns inside.  I think I matched it pretty well!
This is one of the swatches, trying different ways to get the eyelets.  I actually liked this side better, LOL, but Kelly did not.  You can see places where the stitches did not form above the eyelets.  Then it becomes drop lace, and Diana Sullivan did a video on this while I was actually working on this sweater.  WAY easier than what I was doing, but it looked too different, especially on the public side.  It would have been an alternative if I wasn't trying to copy the sweater so precisely.  Anyway, more about those dropped stitches later.
 This is the "public" side of the above swatch.  Still pretty messy!!  I still wasn't 100% sure how I was going to form the stitches over the eyelets when I casted on for the back.  But I wanted to move ahead.
Not sure why I took this picture.
This was my first run at doing the back.  I wasn't happy with the proportions of the light and dark. It also seemed a bit long, and once stretched, a bit wide.  I recalculated my gauge after letting this sit for a month and indeed, I needed to re-work the math.  I later found out that the KnitLeader was malfunctioning partway up the pattern.  And it was kind of sloppy knitting.  I hadn't "warmed up" enough.

I started out with 2x2 ribbing, using the cast on in the book for "heavier" yarns.  I started with a tight tension and after the circular cast on, gradually increased.  This kept the bottom from flaring out and helps eliminate stretching.  
 First step of the pattern is to move all the ribber stitches.  Of each pair, the left ones got moved one stitch to the left, the right ones, moved to the right.  At first, I was doing this with the single prong tool, because I was looking just at each group of two stitches.  Then I realized I could use my adjustable 7 prong tool, and move two stitches over at a time.  Sometimes, if I lost focus, I got confused, but in general, this really sped things up (I think I knit almost the entire back the first time using the single tool!).
 These two pictures are just to show the steps needed.  Pull needles all the way up, place transfer tool in hooks, push needles back down so stitches go onto tool, lift off tool, pull up needles being transferred to, put tool on needles, and push back down so the stitches go into the hooks and in working position.
 Once the stitches are all moved, they now line up directly with the mainbed stitches.  Of course, this is a no-no with double bed knitting!
 Then, I pushed all the mainbed stitches forward to hold position.
 Using two two prong tools, I transferred all the mainbed stitches to the ribber bed stitches that were now directly below the mainbed stitches.
 I think there's three steps to transferring.  Slid the MB stitches onto transfer tool, slide another tool into those stitches from the top,
 use the top tool to hook them onto the ribber stitches
 I wondered if the little P carriage could have transferred these stitches, but I didn't want to try mid-sweater!
 Mmmm, not sure why it's sideways.  After all the MB stitches were moved down, the empty needles went back to A position, and the alternate needles (that fit into the spaces on the ribber bed), came into work position.
 Take one pass of the carriage over.  Now, here's where the big issue lays.  You can't have essentially what is a double yarn over.  In hand knitting, you would knit and purl into a double yarn over to form two stitches.  On the machine, I tried doing a single YO  then knitting a row and  then trying to make the YO bigger.  I tried bringing up the heel of the stitch from the ribber.  I could maybe have done one of the needles on the ribber and one on the MB and then moved the RB stitch back up?  What I ended up doing what taking my single prong tool and inserting it from the top into the loop,

 Twisting it 180 degrees to the left (because that way just felt easier)
 And placing it back on the needle.  At the bottom of the back piece, I had all 200 needles in work, so this was done to all 100 mainbed stitches.  Every six rows in the cream section.
Then I would knit the row.

Here came the biggest game changer I figured out part way through.  When I would knit the first row after twisting the eyelets, not all the eyelets would knit.  I was finding myself having to re-work many of them.  Some groups would have just the twisted stitch that didn't knit, some had both stitches that didn't knit, and the twisted stitch would have come untwisted, so I essentially had to re-do that row.  I realized it was because there was no weight on the mainbed, after moving all the stitches to the ribber bed.  So I tried hanging the ribber comb back on, and that helped, but not 100% and was awkward. I was in the last beige stripe on the second run of the back, when I had the idea to use ravel cord (or, thin waste yarn).  I figured this was sort of like casting on--forming new stitches where there were none.

It worked!  Almost every stitch knit!  This idea, shown in that last picture above, truly saved my sanity, and combine with switching to the 7 prong tool for the ribber stitches, really shaved time off.  
I still ended up with mistakes.  Some of the mainbed stitches were fond of tucking instead of knitting, and even though I tried to check them every row, some still slipped by, so I'd have to decide if I wanted to unravel that stitch and re-work it, or let it go.  Then, once while checking for tucked stitches, I noticed that I had a row of eyelets where quite a few hadn't formed right and the stitches above laddered.  So I took it off the machine and when I laid it out to rip back, found that I had forgot two rows in between the first and second rows of eyelets (in the top beige section above, see how the lower two rows of eyelets are closer together?).  Ugh.  What a pain in the butt to get back on the machine.

After knitting the back and most of a front, I decided to do a run through of the other pieces, without patterning but with changing colours, to see how the yarn was going to last.  It appeared I would just squeak by, so when I re-did the front, I went a bit smaller.  
 Finally, I had all the pieces.  And a lot of ends, loops at edges, and other tidbits to clean up.  The sewing didn't go too badly, everything fit pretty well together!  After sewing the shoulder seams, I made the collar.  I used the cast on edge as the outer edge, knit half the collar, until I had used up half the yarn I had left.  Took it off on waste yarn.  Hung the body edge, right side facing me, onto the needles, spacing evenly (I found the middle first).  Then hung the collar, right side facing the body.  Knit a row, then casted off. Repeated for the other half of the collar.  I was glad I had shortened the sweater, otherwise I would have had to do three sections, and would not have had enough yarn at all.
 The biggest problem with sewing and blocking was the dog kept laying down on the pieces I had spread out on the floor.
I washed it up and laid it out to steam it so it would open up.  When I looked at it, and then at the picture of the original, I was mighty pleased!
I didn't have it stretched out for the length enough for this picture, it was just a quickie.
So hard to get a good picture!  I really needed a model, but there's no one here this size except me LOL.  I was quite pleased in the end.  It's really cozy, she can wear it as a shawl collar, or let it just fall open.  The sleeves aren't too long for a normal sized lady, LOL.  The only thing I wish was different was a bit more width on the collar (that half ball I found, without a label...I wonder...).  And I wished I had swatched a bit more, to learn the two tips that really made a difference in my speed.

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