KTS: here we are again

I made it to the top of the last big set of spirals on the second double-knit jacket front today, which means that I'm about a third of the way from finishing the second front and starting on the back.

Once the fronts and the backs are done, I'm going to work on the collar next, I think. Knitting patterns always tell you to work the collar last, even on projects like this jacket which use a seamless construction method (ie: you keep adding on to the main shape until the entire garment is done, instead of making smaller pieces and sewing them together). I've always found it odd that you're expected to knit ~10 rows onto something as heavy and big as an entire hip-length jacket. Doesn't it make more sense to do the collar as soon as I can — once the shoulders are done?

Some of this grousing is because now that the fronts are getting done (and supposedly the upper back right behind them), the sleeves are coming up. I hate knitting sleeves directly onto garment bodies. They get twisted as you work them in the round, so if you are having a longish knitting session you need to untwist the work from time to time. Then again, I don't understand the modern world's horror of sewing seams. Whatever works best, really. It's not like seams are difficult or anything, not compared to the hoops people make themselves jump through to avoid them.

Still, this pattern calls for sleeves knit in from the armhole down, worked in the round, so that's what I'll do. If nothing else, it will be too much time and arithmetic to do them any other way in the time constraint I have.

Four more weeks until the trip to New York City. Which really means, come this time next Sunday, I better be working on the first sleeve.

Wish me luck.

KTS: emerging symmetry

I finished the first front on the double-knit jacket this morning, and started the second front. The first front came out shorter than what I'd planned, but still within a comfortable length for good fit. The total length of the jacket is is going to be 83cm, give or take.

The second front feels better to do, probably for the usual reason that I know now how it turns out. I made it past the armhole shaping, and am almost done the most complex of the remaining spirals:

You can see in the photos that the shoulders got actually cast off. Usually I leave them raw and do a three-needle cast-off, but that's physically impossible with the double knitting colourwork holding the pieces together. So instead I'm doing a variation — casting off the fronts, and then grafting the back to them. I prefer to have only one cast-off line on shoulders — otherwise, they get too thick and misshapen.

I am so looking forward to working on the sleeves and collar.

KTS: further adjustments

Today it became glaringly obvious that the armhole on the double-knitted jacket was going to be far too long if I made it according to the chart. The original length given was 23cm, and I figured with the thicker yarn and larger needles I'm using it would come out to about 27cm. I could deal with that —  it's a coat after all.

When I started the neckline tonight, though, the armhole was already at 30cm. Add on the neck and shoulder shaping, and it was going to be 33-36cm, or more than halfway to my waist. The usual length I make my regular-shaped pullovers is 60cm.

So, after a serious engineering session with J-A, I took a photo of how the front looked when I stopped knitting:

Then I ripped back until just below the tops of the inside spirals on the last tree motif. I started the neck there, and am now working my way up (two rows short of the treetop). The shoulder shaping will take me to the top of the first bird above the tree, so I'm shifting the bird motif down a couple of rows so that there will be some plain blue rows above it. The other three birds won't show up at all.

That will give me an armhole depth of about 25cm — my favourite for a coat I'm going to wear long-sleeved tops under, and close to the original pattern length. According to the math, I should still be able to pick up 81 stitches from around the armhole to knit the sleeve with.

This is also going to change how I planned to finish the shoulders, but that's okay — I have a plan.

Tomorrow I should have a photo of the finished front done. I've lost time, but not that much.

KTS: knitting, not blogging

The good news: I made it past the tops of the trees on the first front of the double-knit jacket, and the first of the four birds is almost done now. I'm less than ten rows from the neck shaping, upon which things will speed up again, of course, simply because I'll have fewer stitches to work.

The bad news: I'm still on the first front, my NYC trip is five weeks away, and the overtime at work is not letting up. That part is discouraging.

But it is nice to be able to see the top of the first tree.

More photos in a few more rows.

KTS: reach for the sky

I'm now working on the very last set of spirals that form the very top of the tree on the front I'm working on. After that, there are four birds, but those will go faster because the neck and shoulder shaping will happen at the same time.

So there's no excuse for not finishing this part and starting the other front tomorrow. I can't wait. More photos are coming.

KTS: respite

It's the Friday of a long weekend in Canada — Labour Day Weekend, the official end of summer and the last three-day weekend here until Thanksgiving in the middle of October. I did about another row on the double-knitted jacket, but my right arm is... uncomfortable, like it's not quite in its shoulder socket. It's been two weeks since I went to the chiropractor's, so that's not surprising. It means that it's probably not a good idea to knit too much until after my appointment tomorrow morning.

Still, a row is a row, and the chart really is getting easier now — almost a little too easy. Therefore, I'm challenging myself to another sprint: the front I'm working on done tomorrow, and the other front done before the end of Monday. That's about 110 rows, but they do go quickly after the most complex part of the trees are done.

Besides, if it's the last long weekend of the summer, then the weather that I want to wear this jacket in is coming, and quickly. And even after this epic beginning, there's the sleeves on this jacket and the seven other sweater-sized projects I have slated to get done (gah!) as part of the Knit That Shit meta-project.

KTS: lather, rinse, repeat

Today I had the vending machine special at work (melba toast, individually packaged cheddar cheese slices, and a small bag of locavore white cheddar popcorn), stayed until 7pm, went home, and fell asleep. Dead sexy, I know.

Once again, all that's got done on the double-knit jacket is half a row while this computer was booting. The computer boots pretty quickly, and is long done before I get anywhere near finishing half a row, but I use it as an excuse to knit.

If nothing else, blogging this knitting meta-project is pointing out how much my schedule has sucked as of late.


KTS: argh

Today I fell asleep as soon as I got home from work, woke up four hours later, and made lunches for the rest of the week (because living on take-away sucks, and the options are worse than the usual around the office).

But that mean I only got a row and a half done on the double-knitted jacket, mostly while waiting for this computer to boot up (okay, and listening to Rosemary Clooney on Youtube. All is not doom and gloom.).

Tomorrow better be better.

KTS: zoom

Today I had yet another dental appointment (the last for two whole weeks), so I got some TTC knitting in, plus some more in the waiting room at the dentist's office. It's got to the point where the receptionist just says, "You've got your knitting, right?" instead of, "Help yourself to the magazines."

This is what the double-knitted jacket looked like first thing this morning while I was waiting for my work computer to boot and log into VPN:

To orient everyone: the right-hand side is the part I'm currently working on. You can see the two straight needles I'm knitting with right now on the right, plus the points of the circular needle that I knitted with until this point. Its current job is to hold the stitches for the back and the other front until I'm ready to knit them.

It took a while to get used to double knitting on straight needles, but I think I've finally got the hang of it. Today I got about ten rows done on just this one front, which is about the equivalent of 2.5 of the main body rows, and in a lot less time. I thought having to look at the chart after only one repeat instead of after every four would have slowed me down, but it doesn't seem to have.

The other good news is that now that I've made it this far, the chart starts getting simpler, because I'm reaching the very top of the tree. There's one more pair of spirals, then a bird and a sort of heart shape, and then the tree ends and there's four more birds and the neck/shoulder shaping.

In fact, I think it's just as well that I'm only doing one repeat (and a mirror image, at that) of the chart, because the tree got pretty complex for a while:

Each row in itself wasn't too bad, but I know just before the hygienist said it was time for my Marathon Man-style torture cleaning and disinfecting, I looked at the pattern that had been rendered so far and felt surprised that the geometry had built up so much.


KTS: finally

Today was a red letter day of sorts, because I finally got to the armholes on the double-knitted jacket (photo tomorrow!). The body from the bottom hem to the armholes is 60cm long and 420 stitches wide. Normally when I make a sweater for myself it's somewhere around 200 stitches around and 60cm long in total. It really feels like this thing ought to be done already.

I'm working on one of the fronts now. What this means is a bunch of new things are in play that I've never done in double knitting before:
  • Double knitting worked flat can have an open edge (the two sides don't connect together and are just like any other raw knitted edge), or a closed edge (the two sides connect together, typically with an edge chain stitch). So far I've only had closed edges. Now I have an open edge on the armhole side. The open edge is actually a bit easier to work since the whole point is that you don't do anything to achieve it, but I'll have to be careful not to accidentally close it by twisting the yarns together.
  • The armhole edge has decreases, which I've never done before. I managed to do the double decrease all right, but one of them is slanting the wrong way and will have to be fixed next row.
  • I'm working the front on straight needles while the rest of the jacket hangs off the circular needle I was using. I'm going to have to be careful that doesn't change my tension.
The other thing that happened with the jacket today is that I started my very last skein of matching black yarn. I figure I'll work both of the fronts first and the back last. The back will wind up being in the odd dye lot (so will the sleeves, but that will be less noticeable). I have long hair and usually wear it down, and the change will happen right at the armhole. That's as hard-to-notice as I can manage to make it.

KTS: fading back in

I did something today that I haven't done in two days — I knitted. Not much done yet, but it's an accomplishment, especially given that I only got out of bed at 2pm. (I'm allergic to coffee. The slightest little amount, I get ill. I had the slightest little amount mixed with some tea from a coffee shop.)

There's loads more to do, not just for knitting but for other things, but the row and a half I've got done is a start.

I still feel like the double-knitted jacket will go faster once I get to the damn armholes.

KTS: sprinted

I made it to about nine and a half rows for my knit sprint this weekend. Close enough to the finish line to count. I would have got more done, but the time in the squirrel cage constricted things in a bad way.

The second-last row of birds before the armholes start is now done, and the tops of the trees are now substantial enough that you can tell they are the start of the tops of the trees. It feels weird to not knit the same three alternating vertical lines for the trunks anymore.

So I'm about eleven rows from the armholes. If the day job is reasonable (which it won't be, but one can always dream), then I can be at the armhole shaping by the weekend.

KTS: surprise sixteen FINISHED

Today I had an appointment to get my hair done. The double-knitted jacket is getting too big to work in a hair salon chair, so I decided to pack up the yarn for the Doris Daymat MK II flowers. While I was doing that, I discovered that I had a sixteenth (urp) project on the needles:

It's a facecloth/dishcloth, and it's supposed to look like the one in the pattern I put in the photo. As it happens, however, I found out about a free leaf pattern facecloth this very morning. So ripped out the two spikes of the pinwheel that I already had done, threw the needles and the yarn in my knitting bag along with the Daymat flower materials, and headed out to the hair salon.

It turns out that the leaf facecloth only takes about forty-five minutes to make, and I can get two comfortably from a ball of the Bernat dishcloth cotton. I made one at the hairdresser's, and then another one once I got home (they're for a gift, and two is better than one):
The wee stems aren't part of the pattern, but I think they help them look a bit more leafy, and I just made them with the cast-on ends of the yarn.

This was a great pattern, and I'd definitely make it again (er, I already did, after all). The only other mod besides adding the stems was to add two stitches at the edges so I could make a chain edge instead of just a plain garter edge. That meant the start and finish were a little different from the pattern, but not by much.

At this point, if you read yesterday's blog, you may well be screaming at your screen, "but what about the double-knitted jacket???"

Things are getting done on that too. I've already done about three rows today. By the time I go to bed tonight, I plan on having at least one row of birds done (there are two before the armhole shaping). Tomorrow I have to do a stint in the squirrel cage, but it's still at least semi-plausible that I'll make it to the armholes by Sunday night.

Speaking of which, I better get knitting again.

KTS: another sprint

Usually I write these blog posts after I'm done knitting for the day (usually right before I go to bed, actually), but today I'm writing before I've even got anything done. If anyone has read these posts besides me, it's pretty clear what comes next on the double-knitted jacket: I need to work the twenty-odd rows that stand between the end the jacket's lower body and the start of the armhole shaping.

What's standing in the way of achieving that (besides the obvious knitting to do) is weekend overtime, an appointment on Saturday, the usual household chores, and the fact that this week's overtime has left me bone-tired. I'm only halfway through the working day, and I'm yawning my head off as I write this.

Still, onwards, so it's time to attempt another sprint. Ten rows done this weekend and it's a success. If I make it to the armhole section itself, that's fantastic. If nothing else, I'm very curious to see if working shorter rows with straight needles will speed up things overall or not.

Tomorrow's report will tell.

KTS: starting to see the forest

I knitted the start of the tops of the first tree today! And not much else, because it's been one of those weeks (and there's still one more day of it to get through). But I made it. The part where I start working on the armhole shaping is very near. Inspirationally near.

Stay tuned...

KTS: halfway

Tonight I finally finished knitting the last row of birds on the double-knitted jacket before I make the Great Leap Up the Chart. The leap happens in two parts. I recently leaped about twenty rows, and am now in this weird space where the only colourwork I have to worry about are the very vertical tree trunks (here's the most recent photo to help you visualise):
No birds, no side branches, nothin'. I haven't looked at the chart at all today.

Three rows from where I am now, I get to start the tops of the trees. It's exciting to think I'll be working something besides birds (all the birds are the same motif, I memorised it ages ago) and curlicues, which, while gorgeous, are just lead-ups to the main tree-topping event. On the other hand, that means a lot of gawping at the chart, and probably a lot of ripping back mistakes as well.

Deep breath. Be positive. Once I start the treetops, I'll have about twenty rows before I get to the underarm shaping. That will be another cause for excitement.

Since I'm working from stash yarn, this also seemed like a good time to take a real account of how well I'm doing with using up all the yarn without running out. This thing's been on the needles so long I don't know how many skeins I started with (there are knots in the skeins, so counting ends isn't a good measure). So tonight I put my big stainless steel mixing bowl on top of my digital food scale, hit the tare button, and then dumped the whole jacket into the bowl, working yarn and all. Then I took out the jacket and just weighed an empty circular needle that's about the same size and material composition as the needles I'm using.

The entire jacket, including needles and working yarn, comes to 787g as of tonight. The empty needle was 11g, so that means the yarn itself weighs about 776g. The skeins are 100g each, and I find it believable that I've trimmed off about 24g of ends in the course of making the jacket (that's 12g per colour, remember). So call it 800g, which means 8 skeins total, or 4 skeins of each colour.

I have 5 skeins of black left (and supposedly 5 of the blue, although it's been knitted up into something different that is hard to weigh out). Only one of them is in my current dye lot — the rest is in the very-close-but-not-quite dye lot. I'm about halfway through my current working skeins, which should take me almost to the armholes to use up. That means I'll be switching dye lots in the treetops, which is probably the least worst place it could happen.