Sunday, February 15, 2009

A new technique for starting closed cables

Ever since I started knitting cables, I've been looking for a flatter way to start closed cables for those cases where a rounded beginning is desired. Now, I'm happy to present a new technique whose beginning is both flat and full. One right-side row, you haven't started your cable; the next right-side row, you have two 2-stitch cables that are already separated by four purl stitches.

Here's what it looks like, along with an initial try at a matching decrease.
Before blocking, a circle:

After blocking, it's actually a bit wider than it is tall:

How is that possible? The core of the new technique: it relies on short rows to create the bulk at the bsse of the cable, rather than relying only on added stitches. It should probably be called the Bobble Method, because that’s what I was thinking of when the idea was born.


On a wrong-side row (on which you’re working knit stitches):
  • Purl into the front and back of 2 consecutive stitches.

  • TURN THE WORK. Knit those four stitches.

  • TURN THE WORK. Purl those four stitches, then continue knitting to the end of the row.

On the next row, a right-side row, perform two cable crosses when you get to within 2 stitches of the lump of knit stitches:
  • Cross the first two knits over the two preceding purl stitches

  • Cross the other two knits over the two following purl stitches

Pros and Cons

What’s good about this method (and by good I only mean it satisfied my goals), is that it doesn’t depend on crazy increases: it adds bulk directly to the very base of the cable via a couple of extra short rows, and adds only 2 new stitches. As a result, it disturbs the underlying fabric less than a technique that depends on making 4 new stitches. In addition, the 4 stitches in the new pattern are well established before they're pulled hard apart, so that no hole is created when that happens.

Caveat: this is probably best for making cables that do quickly separate to place 4 purl stitches between the new knit columns, since there is a gap naturally formed on either side of the initial short rows that is hidden by (and helps to accommodate) the 2-knit-over-2-purl crosses that move the cables apart from one another.

Caveat #2: it's hard to chart. :P

Why I had to invent it now

I needed something new for the Hourglass Aran I'm designing: a sweeping, luxurious entry into a cable of Annie Maloney's, to go on the sleeve cap and lead the eye downward. (If you like the cable, it's an adaptation of No. 46 from her Cable Knitter's Handbook, a book I highly recommend to any cable enthusiast.)

My thanks to TECHknitter over at TECHknitting, who had nothing to do with this technique, but who first got me thinking in terms of "how can I put more yarn in this particular spot?". I hope this is helpful to those of you out there designing this style of cable.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Hourglass Vest

Have you been wondering whether my crazy sweater-construction idea with the shaped cable panels was going to work at all? Yeah, me too. :)

It works...

Here's a side view (impossible to take this one without distorting the fabric of the front and back rather a lot):

Here I am looking smug, perhaps because instead of a handful of pieces I suddenly have a functional Aran vest. Or perhaps because it was windy out and I was squinting.

If you look at the sides, you can see I got bitten a little by the rows of plain reverse stockinette stitch on the side panels, which have a larger gauge than the cabling and caused the ribbing there to actually pull in. Though that's annoying, I think it'll block right out when I wash this and is not worth fixing in the knitting, at this point.

Now, onto the next huge challenge -- sleeves. I left a generous armscye in this sweater body, which make it very comfortable as a vest (I'm still wearing it as I type this!) but now need to be accommodated.