How I do Yoke Shaping

There are very few things more disappointing than finishing a sweater only to find out it doesn’t fit. I knit my first sweater almost a year ago and I have learned a lot of things about sweater shaping since.

That first sweater is in the bottom drawer of my desk at work and only sees the light of day when the air conditioning gets so bad I start to wonder if my office was magically transported to the arctic. In all honesty the sweater isn’t that bad. There are really only two things that I really don’t like: the yoke shaping and the collar.

Me in the sweater we don't talk about.
Me in the sweater we don’t talk about.

The problem with the yoke is that I followed a basic sweater pattern instead of my own sense. I knit the sweater from the bottom up and the pattern had me do all of the decrease rounds at the very end, in the last two inches of the yoke. So from where I joined the sleeves to about two inches before the neck hole I was just knitting plain rounds. The problem with this method of sweater shaping is that most people aren’t shaped this way. When I finally put my sweater on I had all this extra fabric in the upper arms/ chest region that just gets bunched up.

Now when I knit a sweater I spread my decrease rows out over the entire yoke. I usually stagger my decreases so that closest to the neck I decrease every other round and the farther from the neck the more plain rounds I add between decrease rounds. At the bottom of the yoke where the body and arms meet I usually knit about an inch of plain rounds, without decreasing, just so that the wearer’s arms have plenty of room to move.

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When I made this gray sweater for my mom I knew I wanted to the yoke to be ten inches deep. I split my yoke shaping into three inch sections, with an inch of plain knitting at the bottom of the yoke. I knit this sweater from the top down so my shaping rows were increase rows rather than decrease rows. So for the first three inches, the section closest to the collar, I increased every row, for the second three inches I knit two plain rounds in between each increase row. For the last three inches I worked three plain rounds in between each increase round.

The result is a more sloped shaped yoke, which for me at least, is closer to the actual shape of my body. I have been a lot happier with yokes shaped this way. Of course this shaping method is specific to raglan sweaters and sweaters made form worsted weight yarn. With different yarn weights the total number of increased or decreased stitches is going to change and so is yoke depth. Regardless I always spread out my yoke shaping so that the shaping takes place over all of the yoke rows and not just a few rows closets to the collar.

Works in Progress

I thought I would do a quick update on my works in progress. This post is mostly for my own benefit because it forced me to pull out all of my wips and catalog them. I am hoping to get my wips back down to a reasonable number because I am starting to get a bit overwhelmed with all of the projects I have going.

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Sweaters

1. Scott’s Wedding Cardigan

Classic Oak Cardigan

As the title suggests this cardigan is a wedding gift for my husband. We’ve been married seven months now and it still isn’t finished. I severely underestimated how time consuming all of those cables would be.

The pattern is the Classic Oak Cardigan by Alexandra Charlotte Dafoe. Overall this has been a really fun knit but at points it has been a bit of a trial. The yarn is a DK weight from Hobby Lobby and it’s an alpaca acrylic blend. I am so close to the finish line I can taste it.

2. My Pull Over

Myra's Pull-Over

This is another sweater that should be finished. I’ve only got a tiny bit left but I have recently fallen victim to start-itus and I have been working on other projects.

This sweater is an original design. The pattern is not yet available on Ravelry but I am hoping to publish it sometime this fall. The yarn is Berroco Vintage DK, which is an acrylic, wool, nylon blend. I’ve really enjoyed working on this sweater and I can’t wait to have it off the needles so I can wear it.

3. Scott’s Surprise Sweater

Scott's Surprise Sweater

This sweater is the most recent of my sweater cast-ons and right now it is the one I am most excited about. It’s a surprise sweater for Scott and the pattern is a free download (links above). The yarn I am using for this sweater is Malabrigo Rios in the jupiter colorway. Malabrigo Rios is 100 % Merino Aran weight yarn.

Socks

1. Daughter Heir Socks

Daughter Heir Socks

These socks are pretty much tied with Scott’s wedding cardigan for longest languishing wip. I really love the yarn and the pattern but for some reason I could not get my self to cast-on the second sock until last Saturday.

The pattern is a free pattern on Ravelry by a designer named Sammilynn. The yarn I used is Malabrigo Sock, which 100% Merino.

2. Scott’s Argyle Socks

Scott's Argyle

Yet another wip that has been languishing for several month but this time I have an excuse… I lost the finished leg for several months and did not have the motivation to work on the other sock. But I found the partial sock this morning and we are back on track.

The pattern is a free pattern I found online, which you can find on my Ravelry project page. The yarn is KnitPick’s Stroll, which is a 75/25 % Merino/Nylon blend.

3. Dana’s Socks

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These socks are for my best friend. I just started them Saturday night and I am hoping to get them done quickly.

The pattern is my vanilla sock recipe and the yarn is KnitPick’s Stroll Tonal in the Wine Tasting colorway.

4. Nameless Socks

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These socks are a gift for someone who will remain nameless. The pattern is my vanilla sock recipe and the yarn is Paton’s Kroy.

Swatch of the Month!

Swatch of the month is gong to be a monthly post about you guessed it, swatches. I’m excited about this series because it is fun way to share new yarns, patterns, and new stitches all wrapped into one post. 

Swatch in Preciosa Tonal Worsted Yarn
Swatch of the Month August 2017

This month we are going back to basics as far as this swatch is concerned. The swatch of the month is a simple stockinette stitch swatch knit out of KnitPicks Preciosa in the Sasquatch colorway.

Preciosa is a single ply 100% merino worsted weight yarn. It is extremely soft and squishy and I fell in love with the Sasquatch colorway for my Sophie Cardigan. Sophie is a gorgeous cabled cardigan that I plan to cast on as soon as I get my current works in progress down to a reasonable number.

When my order came in the mail I was a little apprehensive about knitting with single ply yarn. I didn’t read the description very well otherwise I would have known before the yarn arrived that it was single ply. In all honesty I had a very specific color in mind with I picked out the pattern and it was hard to find in my price range.

Working with the yarn was not as challenging as I though it was going to be. I knit this swatch on US size 3 needles and then I switched to US size 5 needles. I ended up getting gauge with the size five needles, which I was very happy about since the size 3 needles were a little too small for this yarn.

Swatch of the Month

This reddish brown cardigan is going to be a great addition to my current fall/winter wardrobe and I am really excited to see how it knits up. Stay tuned for picture of the sweater.

Updates

In the midst of graduation and starting a new job I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. I’ve been at my new job for nearly two months and I finally feel like I’ve gotten into a routine. I am really excited to return to blogging and filming my podcast because I’ve missed the knitting community while I’ve been away.

I’ve got some exciting new things planned for the blog and for YouTube and I can’t wait to share them with all of you. So stay tuned for tutorials and reviews.

But until then happy knitting.

I am a metal needle convert

I use to swear by bamboo needles. This stems from my hatred of plastic needles. When I bought my first pair of bamboo circulars I thought my two choices were bamboo or plastic and I wanted nothing to do with plastic needles anymore.

At first my bamboo needles served me well. They were sharp and more substantial than any plastic ones I had used. So when I needed needles in a different size I naturally gravitated towards bamboo.

About a year ago that changed. I bought a interchangeable set that was made of laminated birch. My yarn slipped so gracefully over the laminated needles and the points were much sharper than my aging bamboo needles. This needle set was my gateway drug into the world of metal needles.

At Christmas time my then fiance and I were headed to Florida for a week. I had a lot of knitting I wanted to get done and I wasn’t sure that my old bamboo needles would last the entire trip. (They did! In fact, my bamboo circs are still kicking though it is clear they are not long for this world.) I did not have time to order needles off of Amazon or Knitpicks so I headed to my LYS. When the woman behind the counter asked if I wanted metal or bamboo I said metal, on a whim.

Metal needles changed my life. They are like knitting magic. Yarn glides so easily over my needles that it practically cuts the time needed to complete a project in half! Okay, not really but I really do knit faster with metal needles.

I have looked back a couple times. I’ve knit a couple projects on bamboo needles since Christmas though I’ve almost always regretted it. I am slowly increasing my collection of metal needles and that will take time but from now on metal needles will always be my preference.

Bamboo or acrylic needles still have their place. The TSA is less likely to confiscate your knitting if it’s not on metal needles. If you’re going to an event where you will have to pass through a metal detector like a concert or professional sporting event a metal alternative needle is preferable.

Sewn Bind Off

In my last post I talked about how much I hated the look of Jenny’s Super Stretchy Bind off. Lack of a better bind off option had really turned me off toe-up sock knitting. Not only is Jenny’s bind off unappealing to look at, it is so stretchy that the cuff no longer holds the sock up on the wearer’s leg. In my opinion this sliding down completely defeats the purpose of knitting a cuff for your sock in the first place.

Enter, the sewn bind off. It’s still not as aesthetically pleasing as a cast on edge but it looks way better then Jenny’s super stretchy bind off. Plus the cuff actually retains its shape, which is a definite bonus.

Tutorial 

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You need to leave a tail that is three times the width of your project. Since a sock is round you need to remember that the circumference is twice the width of your project. I left a tail that was six times as wide of the top of my sock when it was laying flat.

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After cutting the tail I thread it through my yarn needle. Yes, that needle is orange and no, I didn’t buy is with the intention of doing tutorials. I thread the needle through the first two stitches purlwise.2017-03-31 12.55.27

Next, I thread the needle through the first stitch knitwise and pulled the stitch off of my knitting needle.

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Then I just repeated the last two steps all the way around. It left a nice edge that was stretchy but not too stretchy.

I hope this post helps those of you who are looking for an alternative to the sewn bind off!

My Current Works in Progress

I, like every knitter I know, catch cast-on-itis every now and again. I’d like to think that I’ve been good about new cast ons lately but it’s all relative. Here is a list of my active WIPs and their current status. Hopefully, this post will help me get my behind in gear and free some needles.

1) The Classic Oak Cardigan

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This cardigan has been on my needles the longest of all my wips. I started this cardigan in November because it was so supposed to be a wedding gift for my husband. By our wedding in January I had almost finished the first sleeve. I let the sleeve sit in my knitting basket for a couple of months before I cast on for the body.

When I cast on for the body I thought I was using a US size 7 circular needle. Turns out it was a US size 5! Luckily, my husband was in between two pattern sizes and I opted for the larger of the two sizes. The smaller needle resulted in a sweater that is going to fit him much better than I had planned. Unfortunately, this meant I had to frog the sleeve I had nearly finished.

Currently, I am less than and inch away from starting the arm hole shaping! I am so excited to be almost done with the body. I knit the cardigan all in one piece and it was almost an overwhelming amount of cables.

2) My Pull-Over

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I bought this yarn with the intention of using it for the owl cardigan from a collection of Harry Potter themed knits from Interweave but when I knit my gauge swatch the yarn was so dark it was really hard to see the stitches. I knew that if I knit a pattern with as much detail as the owl cardigan I would hate myself for using such a dark yarn. So instead this yarn became a simple pull-over. I improvised the pattern, like I usually do for simple pull-overs.

Currently, I am just below where I am going to join the arms and the body and begin the yoke shaping. I haven’t started yet because I haven’t had time to knit the arms yet. It’s a bad excuse I know but it’s the truth. Hopefully, I’ll get this finished in a reasonable amount of time.

3) Birthday Socks

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I started these Tuesday night and they are coming along fine. I don’t usually have a problem getting socks off the needles in a reasonable amount of time. There are are a few reasons for that. Socks don’t take very long. Compared to a sweater there are far less stitches involved. Also, a vanilla sock is super easy to carry around and knit while multitasking so my vanilla sock generally see more regular action than my other wips.

For this sock I am using my normal vanilla sock recipe. It’s a man sock so I used 64 stitches instead of 60 on a US size 1 needle. The yarn is turning my needles blue so I will definitely have to wash them before I gift them to get all the runniness out.

4) My Treccia Hat

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I am super excited about this hat. First of all, I have NEVER knit myself a hat before! I’ve knit a ton of hats for other people but never for myself. I also love the Treccia pattern by Michele Wang. AND this hat is knit of Voolenvine yarn!!! I love Kristen’s podcast and her hand dyed yarn is gorgeous. I’ve been trying to get my hands on a skein for ages and I finally managed to get one during her shop update a couple of weeks ago.

The hat is looking a bit stretched out because I accidentally ordered a 24″ circ instead of a 16″. I don’t know how exactly it happened my brain is just turning to mush.