The fifth project for Nihon Vogue Level 1 is a round-neck cardigan. The first four projects were knit in stockinette (with the exception of the V-Neck Pullover, which encompassed a garter stitch rib every four stitches). Ho hum. Perhaps I went a bit too wild in determining the stitch pattern for Project 5. Well– what really happened was that I was knitting a pattern from Twisted-Stitch Knitting, and had brought it along to the last Nihon class. When Jean asked to see swatches for cardigans, I showed her my swatches and then showed her the twisted-stitch sample and asked if she would allow this type of pattern (assuming, of course, that she would shake her head and say “we do that in Level 4”). To my delight and equal horror, she said yes!
So that meant I had to come up an arrangement of motifs such that a) the overall width of the cardigan is correct and b) the armhole line does not fall right into the middle of a motif. This is my swatch (which hopefully will be just fine and grow up to be the sweater itself). The motifs, from right to left are
- Triple Chain with Alpine Path
- Double Chain
- Forgotten Love
- Tulip with Small Tree
- Burning Love
- Zero Gusset (this is the center, everything repeats in reverse order from here)
On the outsides of the patterns, I knit double moss stitch as a side filler.
The preparation for this actually took quite some time. Since the stitch gauge differs among the motifs (based on my prior “swatch”) I had to come up with what I hoped to be an average stitch gauge and calculate total stitch count from there. This turned out to be about 34 stitches over 10 cm. I am using Cascade Heathers 220, something I never thought I would say with a straight face. But knit at a tighter gauge than its label suggests, and especially with all the twisted stitches, the likelihood that it will pill is minimized. The amount of time that goes into each row (about a half hour) is daunting, but I think the result is worth it, and I simply love this color.
Each of the motifs that I chose have different row counts, and so, because I don’t like to have to think while I am knitting, I did all my thinking beforehand. Using my favorite graphing tool– Microsoft Excel — I charted out each motif and then put them into a single worksheet. I scaled down the print size, printed the whole thing out, and created a working setup that is ideal for me. To wit, a standard black metal music stand, two Lo-Ran metal pattern holders (one large, one small), two binder clips, multiple magnets, and two long strips cut out of a legal-sized manila folder. When I finish a row, I simply tug the manila strips upward one row (the magnets glide along), revealing the next row to be knit. This is not portable, but that was not a goal.
(The cat in the left upper corner of the picture is not actually standing atop the music stand. Loki is standing on the buffet further back against the wall. But it is quite a nice effect, don’t you think?)
A note about the graphing technique used in Twisted-Stitch knitting– at first it was confusing, but then I realized how utterly simple it is. If you want to knit from this book, I encourage you to spend the little time it takes to understand it; you will be glad you did. Another thing– these patterns require the knitter to twist stitches on every single row. If you were to knit in the round it would be fairly easy, but when knitting back and forth it is more difficult to understand the charts, but only at first. It took me little time to realize that no matter whether you are knitting the right side or the wrong side, if the graph symbol calls for a right twist, you hold the cable to the back; for a left twist you hold it to the front. When my little brain got that, things became much easier.
Another project I’ve been working on sporadically is Spectra, the scarf by Steven West designed for a solid and a slowly color- transitioning yarn. I chose to use leftovers in my stash, the solid being Domy Heather and the color being Noro Sock. I’m not sure the yarn combination is great, but the color combo works well. I will be glad when this is over.