I have to give snaps to Sandy Barnes of Knit-Purl. Not only is the shop an extraordinary experience for knitters, crocheters, and spinners. It offers an unbelievable collection of yarn, spinning/felting fibers, pattern books, notions, and about a million other things I don’t have time to see during my visits.
Woo hoo! Thirty-hours of intense knitting later and a few misadventures along the ride, here is my first-born I am smitten with–out of the 18 swirls in Sandra McIver’s self-published Knit, Swirls.
Sheer Beauty is pleasantly light and drapey. It’s surprisingly comfortable in the heat–worn over sleeveless top–because of the lighter mesh sort of welts alternating with heavier, warmer yarn. One would sure get a load of wear out of it in a warmer climate. It weighs merely 306 grams or 1917 yards (5.2 skeins of Staccato and 2.8 skeins of Silk Cloud.) Both available online or in store at Knit-Purl.
The instructions are much easier to comprehend once you have the piece in front of you. So, dive right in. Things will gel as you knit along. Before you start, be sure to print out errata on Sandra’s website.
Offering up are some of my personal insights…hopefully it will help you along the way knitting up your swirl:
1. The patterns are beautifully written. The charts are great. All made good sense. The sizing is very versatile. Here you see my friend Jewel who is 5’6″ in my Size 2 swirl…perfect fit for a Woman’s Medium.
2. Detailed explanations for different body shapes/styles are very helpful in determining which swirl is best for your body. Sizing instructions are really clear. Modeled pictures help me visualize my body in each silhouette. Shown below is on a 5’5″ woman’s medium with a fitted bust-line than Jewel above.
3. Be sure you’re looking at the correct chart correlating to the pattern you are working on. A quick, accidental glance at a wrong chart may create a minor stroke or heart attack when you think your stitch count is significantly off.
4. Casting on 665 stitches is a bear! Here is a nicely demonstrated clip on long-detail cast on. I use quilter pins to keep track of the enormous stitches cast on. Each pin for every 10 stitches, 10 pins each row on a foam.
5. Before joining round, I placed a clothespin on each end to keep from twisting.
6. I didn’t carry the yarn up. Instead, I did the back to back joint and hide the ends in with Russian joint method as I go for a better finish–not perfect, but, it’s best option available. You don’t see much of these when the seams are stitched up in the end.
7. Be warned: Pairing of Addi Turbo circular needles and silky yarn can be challenging as the stitches are very slippery and could potentially slip off involuntarily. I like my 600+ stitches to glide so I work around it. Bamboo needles may be best for most knitters.
8. While there is a bit of knitting in the swirl, it was fun to watch it take shape. In fact, the rows got shorter as it grows. Now, here I have Lynn–with a gorgeous 5’9″ basketball player-frame who fits between a medium and large.
9. Creating a square swatch is a must. Wash it, squeeze out water excess, and pat to block (no pins.) Shape it only so sides are perpendicular to each other. When completely dry, pin the 4″x4″ center of the swatch to respective gauge stated in the pattern. When a stitch structure is achieved appropriately to the resilience of your yarn–fairly firm structure for less resilient yarns, less firm for more resilient yarns–and the stitches aren’t distorted or stretched, your gauge is good. If your gauge is distorted or stretched by following this approach, it could either be your needle size or, if you substitute the yarn, then the yarn may not be suitable. Stitch structure is every bit as important as measuring gauge in a welted swatch. Now, let it hang/rest for a day or two to see its final result. I put clothespin on my swatch for a few days to see how it would drape in the swirl when knit up. Because both of the yarn I used have silk content, mine didn’t loosen up too much from original swatch.
10. Don’t be concerned if your swirl seems way too small while knitting. It will open up with blocking…do great magic in the final outcome.
11. Use stitchmarkers that doesn’t come off easily. Ask me how I know!!!
12. After the 25th welt in Size 2 version, I did find the decrease instruction a bit vague for the flat knitting part. I math’d out total number of stitches to decrease over 10 welts–based on number count at completion of 30th welt–to figure out, while decreasing a stitch at each end of 4th row, I needed to continue the two k2tog for the first and last wedges.
13. When knitting sleeves two-at-a-time, you do sleeve decreases every other row not every row, in reality. Designer treated the sleeve-knitting one piece thus written instruction as such.
14. Though it appears long on me (I am a petite small, 5’3″) my sleeves on Sheer Beauty are exactly the right length for my friends who wear medium or large sizing. Check out Sandra’s website for sleeve adjustment however as many people made the swirl have issues with theirs. The designer gives a different gauge in the pattern to use in adjusting sleeve length. That gauge arrived by measuring the sleeve length of a completed garment and adjusting for stretch factor exhibited in the 10-percent range. However, it may be much greater in a low resilience yarn. If your yarn is less resilient than the sample used in the book, you will need to take that into account. For example, if I use a silk-alpaca blend in lieu of wool-mohair blend, my sleeves are going to stretch more. If I substitute merino wool with a 100% silk, the sleeves will stretch less. Be sure to check your stitch structure–the looser it is, the more the sleeves will tend to grow; the tighter it is, the less they will tend to grow. Handle the sleeves with care during blocking: DO NOT stretch, block (pin) them at all during blocking. They are very prone to stretching when damp. Just lay them out gently and encourage them to stay as compact as possible. I did shape them to desirable length by hand. Next is the same swirl that fits my talented fiber-artist friend Pam who is 5’6″, wears woman’s large.
The center-circle silhouette in Sheer Beauty offers generous fit around torso and upper arm with gentle draping around the entire torso. It really does offer a lot of space for the bust.
15. Measurements before blocking/relaxed not stretched out: Sleeves 20.5” long; Armhole-to-Bind-Off edge 12”; Collar 8” deep; Column-between-panels 1.25”; large wedged-panel 19”; small wedge-panel 12”; Edge-to-Center-Back excluding collar 23”
16. Finally, blocking to knitted measurements provided was a breeze using my gauge as a guide: 2-welt height=1″
You would think the swirl would be stretched out by now–worn by a few fully-framed gorgeous women. Look, it’s still fitting as it was hot off the blocking mats!
I do hope my experience and sharing different ways to wear a swirl helps your swirl-knitting process in a small way. As you’ve seen my swirl on different models, though bust measurement was not provided in the book, one-size Swirl does accommodate a wide range of bust sizes. Decision in your swirl size/pattern should be based on silhouette characteristics. Though the swirl here is knitted following Size 2 instruction, the silhouette still hangs rather nicely on me with small bust, just with more drape, oversize-ease, and swing.
Good Luck and enjoy your very own swirl! I am hand-dyeing some cashmere yarns tomorrow for my next adventure.
Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!
(still doesn’t do texting, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…)