the little things

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I promised posts about the little design details I’m using in the babyStripes! cardigan, and hey, look at me follow through on my promises! That’s gotta be a first here on the blog!

One thing I think I might be a bit notorious for amongst my knitting friends is my obsession with details and finishing. I plan the finishing details of my sweater right from the beginning of the design process, because I find that there are things I can do as I knit to set everything up for a very nicely finished sweater, and for me it’s those little details that make all the difference between having a finished project that’s just going to get stuck in a drawer somewhere, and one I’m actually going to wear proudly as part of my regular wardrobe. A little extra time spent in the planning and finishing stages can go a long way!

So, as I mentioned in previous posts, I’m borrowing liberally from the design elements of my grown-up Stripes! sweater, but since babyStripes! is a cardigan, there are extra little details to consider.

munchkin sweater!

Like grown-up Stripes!, I began with a Twisted German Cast On. I love this technique as the base for corrugated ribbing. The cast-on is slightly stretchy, and creates what looks a bit like a row of purl bumps in the main color at the hem. I don’t know why, but I just think it looks perfect that way. Since I’m knitting this flat, rather than in the round, I established a slipped stitch edge on either end (this is made possible by using an odd number of stitches, so that the cardi starts and ends with a main color stitch once the corrugated rib starts).

Unlike my grown-up Stripes!, I decided to add a row of vikkel braid atop the corrugated ribbing (to be honest, I’m pretty sure I just didn’t know this technique when I knit Stripes!, or else I’d probably have added it there, too!). I planned it so that the contrast color stitches were atop the main color columns from the ribbing, and the main color stitches were atop the contrast color columns, because the contrast is really nice that way – otherwise it just looks kind of muddy.

The main “little detail” of interest in the remainder of the cardigan is the sl1, p1 edge I use. I’ve used this a lot (the garter rib cardigan has it too, as does Vahtralehed and Addie), because I think it provides a really attractive base for picking up stitches for a button band. Basically, what I do is pick up the outermost legs of the knit stitches that are formed on the wrong side of that purl column, if I’m picking up for a traditional button band, or I pick up both legs of the slipped edge stitch, if I’m picking up for applied i-cord. For the latter, I alternate a i-cord round with picked up stitches with a plain i-cord round to get a non-puckery edge, since the slipped stitches correspond to 2 rows of knitting; this is what I’ll be doing on this little cardi when the time comes. I’ll show y’all what I mean when I get to that point in the knitting, but this is what I mean when I say that I plan the finishing before I start knitting so that I can set it up in the best way possible.

munchkin sweater! (wrong side)

The other benefit the sl1, p1 edge is giving me in this particular sweater, given that I’m starting my stripes on the WS rather than the RS, is that I can carry the colors up the side in a way that works better for me. One problem I had when knitting Budgie was carrying those yarns up the sides without pulling too tightly and making a mess of the front edge; I don’t know what it is that makes it work better, but carrying the yarn up along the side to form a knit stitch on the wrong side lets me keep my tension on that first stitch in the new color much more under control.

I’m not sure if these “brain dump” posts where I write about the things I think about as I’m knitting a new piece are as interesting to y’all to read as they are for me to think about and write, but I’ll keep posting them anyway – maybe they’ll help some of you if you decide to knit a sweater of your own design someday! I’d love it if they did.

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11 thoughts on “the little things

  1. I think it’s great. =) If nothing else, it’s great to know that I’m not the only one who’s obsessively planning the entire project before starting anything…! The sl1, p1 edge is a great idea, and I do like the addition of the vikkel braid. I still have a skein of some sort of Noro that I picked up when you were talking about writing up babyStripes the first time, if you get around to writing this up! (Otherwise, I’ll end up winging my own version at some point — the idea is too fun to pass up that use for this ball of yarn!)

    • I’m also glad to know I’m not the only one who obsessively plans the whole project from the beginning! I’m leaning towards writing this little cardigan up as a pattern, so hopefully that’ll happen pretty soon! Perhaps I can even work up the pattern and “test knit” from it for the rest of the cardigan.

      -whitney

  2. I go back and forth between obsessing over every little detail from the beginning and just seeing where things take me. After all, it’s the details that really make something standout.

  3. I need this kind of information, because I’m too nervous to design my own stuff yet. I’m still learning to alter things. I don’t yet visualize the end product well enough to adapt before I get there. So just keep dumping your brain, please! ;-)

    • Happy to oblige on the brain-dumping :) You’ll get there, I’m sure – it took knitting several sweaters from other people’s patterns before I really started to “get” how sweaters came together. That, and reading a lot of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker!

      -whitney

  4. Rachael

    I really appreciate your posts on this kind of detail because I too think the finishing and details make the project, but am not good at figuring them out (working on it!)

  5. It’s looking good! (As is the baby – love the ultrasound shot.) And I do like reading design posts, in general – it keeps my brain moving, in a good way.

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