Saturday, July 16, 2005

Miss Bea

Last night I started the button bands on the Miss Bea sweater. (The Windmill Sweater from Miss Bea's Colours, in Cotton Ease color Bubblegum.)

This morning I was excited to finish up the last band, sew the buttons on, and have Molly try it on before swimming lessons. Then I got out the buttons, and Oops. Seven buttonholes, five buttons. Back to Joann's for me. Oh well, I didn't really love those buttons anyway, for some reason, when I was at the fabric store the pink button section was half empty (the papers have been all over the rain shortage here, but nobody has reported on the severe shortage of pink buttons) so maybe they have refilled by now and have a better selection.

I learned something exciting last night while knitting the bands and I thought I'd share it. First of all, I'll tell you how I knit my bands while ignoring the instructions.

1/ If its a really really nice sweater, I'll knit the front bands first, and then knit the collar band. That way, I think, looks nicer, but it is more complicated to estimate the button hole spacing, since your top buttonhole will be knit on the collar band. If it is a more casual sweater, a kids sweater, I'll knit the collar band first, then the front bands.

2/ For the collar band. I pick up and knit: one stitch for every one stitch on the horizontal, one stitch in every "stairstep", and three stitches to every four on the vertical. So, I'll start at the right front, pick up in every stitch across the front, when it starts stairstepping up I'll go once into every stairstep (there will be a bigger hole on the stairstep, and resist the temptation to go into a big hole, you will only make it bigger. Try to go into a tight space, usually right above the big hole right underneath the bindoff, it will be much neater. I learned this in a Sally Melville class. She is a knitting goddess.) Then pick up three stitches on the vertical, skip the fourth, three stitches, etc. I try to skip over the shoulder seam but pull very tightly on those stitches. In fact, I pull very tightly on all the stitches as I'm going around picking up on that first row.

I don't count, don't follow how many the pattern says, and don't worry about making sure they are the same on both sides, they will be, if I follow the formula. If I need a certain amount, say an even or odd number depending on a ribbing pattern, I will decrease on my knitting back the next row.

3/ After the collar band is finished, I use the same formula for the front. I pick up and knit three stitches for every four down the vertical. I do a slip stitch edge at the top and bottom edges of the bands, and it kind of mimics the cast on and bind off edges. That is, I slip the first stitch purlwise, and knit the last stitch of every row, regardless of where I was in the seedstitch pattern.

The top edges of the button band. (Sorry this one is blurry.)

The bottom edges of the band.

Here's the thing I discovered last night that made me really happy (it doesn't take much!)

I have made this sweater before, and I was unhappy with the way the seedstitch collarband didn't lay down nicely, it kind of stood up (like a Nehru collar, for lack of a better description). I wanted the band to continue with the nice slope of the shoulders. But, if you are knitting a straight band on, it makes sense that it would stand up. To look set in, it would have to be smaller at the top edge of the band, does this make sense? I thought about knitting the last couple of rows on a smaller size needle, but I was already on a #3 and I didn't want to kill my hands.

So, on the sixth of eight rows, in the center back, I did a double decrease. I knit 2, pulled the second stitch of the right needle over the first, then pulled the first stitch of the left needle over too. It took the band in by 2 stitches. And its barely noticeable.

Next time, I would do a double decrease twice, at the shoulders instead of the center back, and it would pull it in even more, but I didn't feel like ripping it out and re-doing it. I was happy enough to get the band somewhat shaped, and to have learned something I will use again.
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Blogger Mrs. Mel said...

You have now become my knitting guru. I must sit at your feet and absorb your wisdom.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Wow, that's an incredibly cute sweater. I love it! And you've done a great job with your modifications. Now you just need the cute baby to complete the picture!

7:24 PM  

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