Before I got started I wanted to make some slippers for friends. What is nice about knitting for others is that you get to use colours that are not your own ideal shades. Orange, or pea green for example. Both these colours make me look a bit unwell. Fine for slippers of course, but I prefer the blue and pink ones…I love these vintage slippers – such a clever and elegant pattern.
OK Knitalongers, let’s get started!
Now we have got our yarns chosen and have a good idea of our gauge, we can cast on for the body piece. This is a simple formulae – your personal gauge [with these needles and this yarn] (say 4.5 per inch) multiplied by the circumference of the chest on your favourite sweater (say 34″ for me) = 153. Obviously different numbers if you are young, modern or European in which case it is centimetres. That is it. Historically I have done between 140 and 200 stitches depending on what weight of yarn or needle sizes I am using. Mrs Z says 200 is always a good number, and I think she is right, but best to get your own number.
Obviously if you are using DK or four ply this will affect the number of stitches. Similarly on needle size. So that is why a swatch is essential. I usually make a guess and start with a sleeve as if I get it right I can carry on, but I am keen to tell you the proper way here. So make a swatch! Please.
What have I done this (busy, book launch) week?
Well, I said green, and this is what I have;
You can probably see that we have a two ply (top horizontal cone) and a double knit (right hand vertical cone) and a mixture in between (mostly four plys). Probably not the ideal combination but I think I can mix and match. Such lovely shades, don’t you think? The little bit of pink is my last supply of bright pink so I will use it sparingly, but I wanted it to set off the greens. I will add a bit of grey, and maybe some mauve I have too, just to liven it up.
My inspiration would be malachite!
How to start?
You can do your border first – using ribbing, or moss stitch, or a few rows of garter stitch. All of these methods creates a stable edge to stop your stocking stitch from rolling. But you may like a rolled edge. Or you may wish to create a hem. Choice is yours. If you are hankering for specific instructions you will not like the Zimmermann approach. It is always up to you. Personally I find this freeing, and it starts you designing your sweater rather than slavish following.
Or you can leave the border decision until much later. You can add hems in particular, or any of these finishes at the end (and I will show you how). However I have found that if you are going to do ribbing it makes sense to do this at the start. The ribbing added later is not as stretchy and there is a seam that you could do without.
Helene suggests provisional cast on so you can decide later on lengthening your jumper. I tried provisional cast on once and found it a bit like hard work. But there you go – these are the options for making a start.
Let us cast on and do our border, or just launch into the body tube. For tube it is. We are going to knit one big tube for the body and two smaller tubes for the arms, and then join them just like we did with the colourful yoke sweater. If you have made one of these before you can just rush on to that point if you wish.
Otherwise do your rows of ribbing, for as many rounds as you like – I have done about 3cms. Use a marker for the beginning of the row. If you are a bigger you may want more ribbing; smaller, less. On commercial patterns they suggest using a smaller needle (.5 or .25 less) for your ribbing. If you have lots of needles you may want to do this. Or you could start with a smaller number of stitches, say 10 per cent less stitches and then increase in a regular way to reach your starting number. Either approach will make your border a little neater and slightly tighter. But I don’t bother.
Then you get the marker and you start knitting your jumper. Round and round you go. If you are changing colour frequently to create the stripes you need to decide on how you are going to join your colours. I will be using a knot, but there may well be better ways and we will wait to find out in the comments below.
You can see how the “seam” looks on my knitting. The “jogs” are there but I don’t feel they are too noticeable, and the whole thing will be fine when it is finished and washed.
If you want to read more about this stage my previous EZ knitalong will help.
Please use the comments to ask any questions, give advice or tell us how you are getting on.
PS The slipper pattern is in Making Life more Beautiful.