This week it’s all about short rows… unless you decide to go the cowl-less route and then your Olga’s Vest will look like the back of the vest…. both the front and the back will have the same drape.  Here is a good image of the vest with the drape it would have if you skipped the cowl section. I have knitted an Olga’s Vest where I omitted the cowl section and I absolutely love the way it turned out.  I would show you a photograph but I haven’t been looking very photogenic lately… sorry.  When I get back home I’ll photograph it on the dress form for all to see.

 

One of the nice things about this pattern is that it allows you to easily customize very crucial parts.  For example in the pattern I say to work X” from armhole and then start the cowl shaping.  But what if you want to make sure this piece fits perfectly, or if you are in between bust measurements?  Then what you want to do is try on your garment.  The first armhole you make is your left armhole, so go ahead and try it on.  Then slightly stretch your work and it should come to the center of your bust before you start the short row shaping.  Slightly? What the hell is slightly?  Don’t you hate it when patterns tell you to slightly stretch a swatch?  I think everyone’s idea of slightly stretched is different…. right?  So what does it mean in this case… you really don’t want to stretch this garment too much.  If you feel that you are pulling it several inches, then double that and consider that’s how much negative ease your garment will have.  The picture below shows how I measured this piece on myself… it’s about 1/4″ smaller than what you see in this image below.  This means that the most negative ease you would have for the fit of this garment is 1/2″… which is not very much so it should fit comfortably.  Make sure to try this on as you get closer to the desired length because you don’t want to overshoot the measurement…. that would make for some very unhappy tinking. 

When you are ready to start the cowl neck make sure you put in another lifeline.  Make a note of the row where you placed your lifeline… just in case.  It is very important (no matter how comfortable you are with the stitch pattern at this point) to  put in a lifeline.  The first time I worked this stitch pattern within short rows my stitch count changed…. this is baaaad news.  This brings me to the second important point, count the number of stitches you have every time you are ready to work a RS row.  Yes! One stitch makes a difference… especially if you lost it within your cowl.  If your stitch count is off by one, this means that your cowl neck pattern will be off by two rows and that means that your pattern wont line up when you are ready to work the remainder of the body.

So how do you work short rows and still keep the integrity of your stitch pattern intact?  Lets say, for example you have to work  in a multiple of two stitches and the pattern tells you to work 11 sts and then w&t, that means you have one extra stitch that doesn’t fit into your stitch count…. so just knit it.  What if your repeat is K2tog, Yo and you have to w&t a stitch after a Yo? So, work a w&t after a yo…. there are no rules against that.  Everything is essentially the same but if you have an extra stitch before the w&t just knit it…. don’t worry, this will not make any difference in the final look of your pattern.

Another thing to keep in mind- I know many knitter’s have their favorite short row technique, as do I.  Usually I prefer the Yo method, but for this pattern I have to say the w&t is the absolute best way to work the short rows!  Oh! And one more tip!!! Place a locking marker after the stitch you are supposed to wrap, this will help you get keep track of where you are in your short row pattern.  For example, if the pattern says K11, w&t – then place you marker in between the 12th & 13th.  This will let you just work to one stitch before the marker and then w&t.  Just move your marker along with you as you progress forward.  If you prefer to work without a marker, then go for it!!! So… lets get started!

 

   

Work up to the stitch in pattern, bring your yarn to the front of the work in between your needles and slip the next stitch as if to purl.

   

Bring the yarn to the back of the work in between your needles, and slip the stitch from your right hand needle back onto your left hand needle as if to purl.  Turn your work.  Work back in pattern on the WS row in the corresponding pattern row.   For example, if your first short row happened to fall on row 5 that means that after you turn your work you will be on row 6.  Make sure to start your pattern on the WS in the place where it would start if you were working a complete row.  An easy way to figure out where you would be is to find the Yo nearest you on your left hand needle and work backwards.  In the third photo above, you can see the Yo is the second stitch from the end of the needle.  The Yo stitches and all the stitches above the Yo are always purled on the WS row so just work back from that.

   

At the end of your first half of the short row shaping your piece should look this.  Don’t let those short row gaps freak you out, they will go away next week.  If you had a hard time with this weeks tutorial and are still feeling a bit funny on short rows I recommend Carol Feller’s FREE class on Craftsy that is all about short rows, click here for more info.

I hope this blog post made sense to everyone…. sometimes I wonder if it just makes sense in my head and not on paper.  If anyone has any questions, please let me know.  My sister and I booked a last minute trip to Barcelona this week and I am not sure abut our hotel WiFi situation…. hopefully there will be WiFi.  If not, I come back on the 30th and will answer every single question upon my return. Happy knitting!!!

I am hoping that everyone managed last week with invisible provisional cast on. This is my absolute favorite cast on technique, because it’s easy and fast to work once you remember it, it takes up hardly any waste yarn, and it’s super easy to remove! I couldn’t ask any more from a provisional cast on!

The next step in the Olga’s Vest is the armhole.  Don’t be afraid of this…. it isn’t nearly the most difficult part of this pattern (Insert evil laugh here- Bwaaah Ha Ha Ha!!!).  Since the pattern is written by inches instead of rows and we are probably all working different sizes, and row gauge is usually harder to get, it’s likely that everyone is at a different point in their stitch pattern repeat at the point when it’s time to work the armhole.  DO NOT WORRY.  It’s much easier that it seems.

I purposefully planned my bind off row to land on the hardest row possible, just to show you that it really isn’t that hard.

The first thing you want to do is put in a lifeline here at this point, right before you are ready to start… just in case!  Mark somewhere which row is the last row worked before starting the armhole row so that in the case that you do have to rip out your work to your lifeline you know which row you’re on.

Next, you want to section off your work.  Warning- I am about to use hypothetical numbers. For example if your pattern says to work he next 10 sts in pattern then bind off the following 11 sts in pattern then work the remaining sts in pattern, this is what you will do: Place a marker after the first 10 sts, place a marker after the next 12 sts after the first marker.  Why 12 and not 11? Because you have to work 12 sts to bind off 11 sts, so once you work all the sts between the markers you know that you have bound off the correct amount of sts.  Does that make sense?

But what if you are on a lace row (where you need to work an odd number of sts and the pattern tells you to work an even number of sts).  For example, the pattern says work 10 sts in pattern, bind off 11 sts, work to end in pattern.  Well there are two ways you can go about this. 1- Just work an odd number instead of an even number so if the pattern says work 10 then work 9 or 11, no big deal (one stitch will not ruin the look of the garment)…. just make a note of this for your second armhole.  2- Work the last remaining stitch (of the 10) as a knit, I know this doesn’t quite keep the integrity of the stitch pattern, but it’s just one stitch, and one stitch is not going to make or break this pattern either.

The next thing to keep in mind is that if you generally tend to bind off tightly then you want to go up a needle size if you are on a lace row, if you are on row 3 or 7 then you want to go up about 2-3 needle sizes.  Don’t try to control your tension by knitting really really loose for this section.  It is almost impossible to control your tension especially when learning something new and when you are comfortable with your work – so when is it possible to control your tension? Almost never. You want to make sure that your arm fits into your armhole, right?

Okay, so let’s get started!

 

Section off your work using two locking markers (as discussed above)

Work up to first marker in pattern (as discussed above), here is an example of how the stitch pattern didn’t work out with the number of sts I had to work in the first section, so just knit the remaining stitch.  The picture above shows row 5 where the repeat is k2tog, yo, this means that if I don’t end in a yo I will be short a stitch. Then I end with a knit one.

Because I knit one stitch right before the marker and to keep the integrity of the stitch I start my bind off section with a knit one.

Start back in pattern with the k2tog.

Bind off the first stitch.  Remember, this counts as one bound off stitch.  Count the stitches as you bind them off and not as you work them.

The next stitch in this pattern is a yo…. so yo, then bind off.  That’s two stitches bound off.

Continue to bind off the number of stitches as suggested in the pattern then work to end of row in pattern.

Try on your armhole at this point and see if it fits comfortably around half of your armhole depth (measurement #7).  Hold up the beginning of the bind off at the top of your shoulder, it should run all the way down to your underarm with a little wiggle room (so you can move comfortably).  If you feel like the opening is going to be too tight just bind off more stitches (in pattern of course) until the opening is a comfortable size – make sure to make a note of how many extra or how many total you bound off. Then continue to work in pattern to the end of the row.

On the next row work up to the bind off gap.  For the cast on- I like to use the crochet cast on method because it looks exactly like a bind off.  But if you are working this cast on in the middle of a row you need to remove the last stitch from your working needle and place it onto your crochet hook.  Make sure to use a crochet that corresponds to the needle size you are using (for example if you are using a size 9 U.S. needle this is a 5.5 mm, find the corresponding mm size in a crochet hook, which is a size I).  Here is a link to a video on the crochet cast on method, the video shows two ways to work this cast on, I prefer the second way.  If you don’t feel comfortable with the crochet cast on method, go ahead and use your preferred cast on method.  Another good cast on, would be to join in a new piece of your working yarn and just work the long tail cast on method and then cut the yarn (making sure to leave a tails long enough to weave in your ends).

To work this cast on, after you have placed your last stitch worked onto your hook, place the needle which you will be casting on your stitched into your left hand.  Position your hands as shown in the image above.  Bring your working yarn to the back of the work.  Bring your hook underneath the working yarn and let that yarn sit in the little nook of your hook.

Draw the yarn through the loop on your hook- Congrats! You have cast on one stitch!

Continue working this cast on until you have cast on the same number of stitches you have bound off.  Remember, the last stitch cast on comes from the loop from your hook (just transfer it from your hook to your needle).  If you lost count of your cast on, don’t worry! Just count how many stitches you have total.  It’s simple math, if you started with 100 sts and you are counting that you have 97, then you need 3 more stitches right? It’s that simple!  Then tun your work and work to the end of the row in pattern.  Not sure where you are in pattern? Just count our your stitches from the beginning, or another easy way to remember this is that you will always purl the stitch over the yo below, then slip the next and the previous stitch.  I hope that makes sense…

After you have worked the armhole and you have the right amount of stitches and are happy with the size of the opening put in yet another lifeline just in case and make another note as to which row your lifeline was inserted.  Continue to work up the the next section in the pattern which is the cowl neck.

Next week I will put up a photo of a version of the Olga’s Vest that I knit without the cowl neck.  It’s much easier and if you are afraid of working short rows in stitch pattern then you night decide to go in the way of no cowl.  It’s really nice, you’ll see…. but I’ll let you decide next week.  Please let me know if you have any questions- you can post them here, Ravelry or Facebook or email them to me@graceakhrem.com.

Also if you would like to join my mailing list for pattern updates, sales and other info, click here!

I hope that everyone had a fun time with last weeks post and learned something about swatching.  Today we will discuss how to determine which size you will make, adjust your garment in length (just in case you didn’t get gauge) and how to insert a lifeline.

Last week we discussed how to check your bust measurement properly.  So what if you measure in between sizes? This happens more often than you may think.  Patterns are usually written for a range of sizes and not for each individual size, otherwise designers would be buried in math and numbers for eternity (my version of hell on earth.  Lol)!

I measure at 43″ the size options for me are 40″ & 44.”  This particular garment is to be worn with negative ease, so I will go with the size 40″ – but if you notice in this pattern I give you the option to make modifications to fit your bust measurements exactly (we will discuss the details of this a little later – towards week four).

If you don’t get gauge you can always adjust the length of your garment by casting on more or less stitches.  For example, last weeks reader Zara got 21 sts over 4.185.”  This comes out to a stitch gauge of 5.017 sts per inch.  How did I come up with that number?  The cast on number of the swatch (21) divided by the width of the swatch (4.185).  Lets say you are going to make the 36″ size and want a finished length of 23.5″, so simply take the desired finished length and multiply that by the stitch gauge (23.5 x 5.017 = 117.89).  If you want your garment even longer or shorter than the finished length simply apply the same method to the desired finished length.

For this particular pattern you need to have an odd number of stitches for the stitch pattern to work out.  So simply round up or down to the nearest whole odd number.  So in the case above where the math worked out to cast on 117.89 sts I would round down to 117 sts.  You are now ready to cast on!

I used the invisible provisional cast on method for this particular garment.  I chose this cast on because I LOVE IT!  It’s easy to do (once you learn it), it’s faster than any other cast-on, it takes the least amount of waste yarn than any other provisional cast on and it pulls out very easily.  Make sure you choose a smooth solid waste yarn in a contrasting color from your working yarn.

Another thing to know about this cast on is that most people (including myself) tend to work it on the tighter side.  So what I do to counter the tension in the cast on is go up in needle size.  One needle size never seems to be enough… for a garment knit on a size 9 U.S. I went up to a size 11 U.S. for the provisional cast on.  I also like to work this cast on onto a straight (single point) needle because it makes it easier to count your stitches (on a circular needle they tend to start twisting over each other- which makes it difficult to tell one apart from the other).

So lets get started.  The following link is to a video for the Invisible Provisional Cast On.  In case you would like to start with some visuals here I have step-by-step photos to help you out a bit.

 

  

  • Tie the waste yarn to the working yarn, make sure to leave a minimum of an 8″ tail of the working yarn
  • Position the waste yarn in front and the working yarn in back and hold your needle above the yarn
  • *With your needle, come in front of the waste yarn and underneath

 

   

  • Come over the working yarn and grab it with your needle
  • Come back underneath the waste yarn and up

 

   

  • With your working yarn, work a yo stitch onto your needle (in the usual way)*
  • Repeat from * to * until you have the total number of co sts needed
  • Turn your work and begin to knit (in pattern) off your larger needle with your smaller needle

 

At this point you are ready to get rockin’ and rolling through this pattern.  I know that this stitch pattern is a it tricky- but I can tell you that will all the people I have assisted with this, most knitters have memorized the Linen Lace stitch pattern by the time they approach their first armhole.

Because of the complexity of the pattern I recommend inserting a lifeline into your knitting at the end of every repeat until you get more comfortable with the stitch pattern and then maybe you can put in a lifeline every 2-3 repeats.  Here is a very helpful instructional video on how to insert and utilize a lifeline in your knitting.

Next week I will discuss how to work your armhole in pattern and inserting a slit into the side of your work if you would like.  If you don’t reach that point- don’t worry, the blog post will still be here by the time you do.  Please let me know if you have any questions- you can post them here, Ravelry or Facebook or email them to me@graceakhrem.com.

Please keep in mind that I am out of the country right now and there is a huge time difference.  I will still answer all questions within 24 hours or as soon as I can.  Happy knitting!!!

Oh! And just to satisfy everyone’s curiosity- the yarns  I am using for my Olga’s Vest KAL is Sweet Georgia Silk Crush held together with Rowan Kildsilk Haze.  I hope you like what you see.

Okay! Well, here we go.  I would like to thank all of you who are joining me in this knit-a-long… it’s my first KAL ever, and I hope it is a helpful and successful one as well.

So I thought we should get started off by discussing the importance of swatching.  It is so important to swatch- I just can’t talk about it enough.  It super important that you get gauge for this project because this will determine the final length of your piece.  We will discuss modifying the length of the piece, if necessary next week.

Make sure to swatch your yarn on the needles you intend to knit your entire project on.  The reason behind this is that every company and every needle material is different.  There is no actual standardization when it come to knitting needle sizes and therefore (for example) a size 9 in Lantern Moon might be 1/4 of a millimeter different from a Addi Natura in the same size- which makes a difference.  The type of material your needle is made of also makes a difference when you knit because you as the knitter reacts to the feel of each material differently.

For example, I am a very very loose knitter and when I knit with metal needles I feel that things are even looser and I start to tense up and tighten up and my hands cramp up as well as my knitting- overall everything gets tighter.  When I knit with Lantern Moon Ebony needles I have the exact opposite reaction.  I feel that the natural texture in the wood holds my stitches for me and allows my tension to flow freely and easily…. it’s like night and day.

After you have swatched on your needles make sure you block this swatch.  Steaming is okay…. if you plan to never wash your vest.  I always say that washing your garment is an opportunity to block it….. hopefully that will take out some of the fear of blocking.  I know you are going to wash your garment because you plan on wearing it… that is the goal here right?!  So wash your swatch!  I’m not saying that you have to put it in the washer and dryer with your darks, but you definitely want to submerge the thing!

Just follow these eight easy steps to block your swatch:

  1. Knit your swatch and bind off loosely :)
  2. Get a mediumish sized bowl and fill it with lukewarm water
  3. Squeeze in a little bit of Soak (this is a no rinse wash available in so many lovely fragrances) into the bowl and swirl
  4. Submerge your swatch and let it sit for 15-20 minutes – don’t panic if you forget about it and come back like 4 hours later, I’ve done it many times and nothing bad happened.
  5. Take out your swatch and squeeze out all the excess water.
  6. DO NOT PANIC if your water turned into the color of your yarn, this is excess dye and is absolutely normal… it will happen a few times (each time getting lighter and lighter), but it will not effect the saturation of the color in your yarn.
  7. Lay your swatch flat to dry on a towel or some really awesome blocking mats by Coco Knits.
  8. Do not check gauge until your swatch is completely dry.

When your swatch is dry then check the gauge.  If you get gauge, great! If you don’t then re-swatch!  You’ll thank me later.  A lot of the time knitters get confused when they don’t get gauge and aren’t sure what to do next… do I change needle? Do I go up a size? Do I go down a size?  Well lets clear that up! If you swatch tells you that you need to have 21 sts and 32 rows over 4″ in pattern and your swatch comes out smaller, that means your stitches are too small and to make them bigger, so you need to go up in needle size.  If you swatch comes out larger that means your stitches are too big and you need to make them smaller, so go down in needle size.

You should continue to swatch until you get gauge… please do not make the mistake of guessing your gauge or thinking that you will just knit tighter or looser to get gauge.  This always fails and results in an ill-fitted garment.  Nobody wants that!

Now after you check the gauge, check that drape! Is it a good drape? Do you like the density of the stitching or do you feel like it could use a change (either more dense or less dense)…. is it the right density but just too drapey or is the drape just right?  All of these could be factors of yarn choice.

When I knit my first Olga’s Vest I used Madelinetosh Merino Light, this is a good lofty wool yarn.  Wool is good because it has lots of air pockets and air pockets equal bounce.  Bounce is good for this garment.  The second time I knit Olga’s Vest I used Wollmeise Pure 100% wool.  This is a fantastic yarn, but not great for Olga’s Vest – and I didn’t find this out until after I blocked the garment.  I got a little confident and thought, “Eh… I wrote the pattern, I’ll check gauge but I don’t feel like blocking my swatch- I just want to start!”  Well fast forward to months later, I have a Wollmeise Olga’s Vest hanging in my closet… neglected and unworn.

Why? Too much drape!  I would have found this out had I blocked my swatch, but we know what happened there… sad ending.  Wollmeise is 100% wool just like the Merino Light…. why did they react differently?  The constructions of the two yarns are completely different.  The Merino Light is a single ply lofty yarn and Wollmeise is a multiple ply, which that many plies in that thin of a yarn… you loose loft and bounce.

So…. I learned my lesson! Not all wools are created equally!  Another thing to keep in mind is that most plant fibers and silk (and blends that include those fibers) tend to have more drape…. this is not necessarily a bad thing… we just have to work around it and make some modifications to the drape of the cowl.  But to be safe, pick something with bounce and loft.  Koigu KPM or KPPPM is another good option.  But don’t limit yourself.  As Clara Parkes (of Knitter’s Review) says, “Get one skein and swatch it.  If you don’t like the yarn, you’ve only bought one skein and not a whole sweater’s worth.”

So once you choose your yarn and get gauge you are ready for the next step.  You want to make sure that you choose the right size to make your garment.  It’s so important to take your measurements before you get started.  It takes less than a minute and will allow you to make the right decision on which size is best for you.  For this particular garment you only really need one measurement, and that will be your bust.  This is not you bra size!!!  Your bra size is seems to be a funny number that someone decides after looking you up and down and then adding a letter… this SOOOOOO does not translate to your knitting.  Your bust measurement is the circumference around the fullest part of your bust and I always like to take this measurement after a comfortable and normal sized inhale (not a deep breath).  Make sure you take this measurement at the fullest point of your bust and all the way around… this is usually where your “point protectors” are (wink wink…. get it?!).  Click here for a visual if you are unsure of the placement.

This brings us to the conclusion of this post, and I now realize there weren’t really any visuals.  I didn’t think they were necessary for this post, but the next post will be full of visual aids, do not worry!  I hope you all learned at least one thing from today’s post and will apply this to this project as well as all your others.  Please let me know if you have any questions- you can post them here, Ravelry or Facebook or email them to me@graceakhrem.com.

Please keep in mind that I am leaving the country on Wednesday, so I might not answer any questions on Wednesday or Thursday.  Throughout the KAL I will be overseas and I will definitely answer all questions it just might take a few hours because of the time difference.  Happy swatching!!!