Recently in LoTech Sweat Category

Why Is This Man Smiling?

Lo Tech Just Before the Zipper

Over the weekend I got Lo Tech most of the way done. All those pieces combined to make a whole sweater. I am always pleasantly surprised when it comes together. This sweater is simple in design and yarn, but that means that there aren't too many places to hide flaws. John kindly agreed to model it so that I could show it off a little bit. He looks good in it, don't you think? If only I could get him to think that cardigans were okay garments. He doesn't really think of them as fashion statements.

Those of you who are familiar with Lo Tech will notice that I have made a few changes. The first change is that I eliminated the hood and replaced it with a K1 P1 collar that matches the ribbing at the cuffs and around the base of the sweater. It's kind of silly, but I'm sort of proud of myself where this collar is concerned. I just picked up the number of stitches that "felt right" -- in this case roughly three out of every four. I know it's not earthshatteringly exciting, but if you would like to, you can see a closeup of the collar here.

But that's not the only thing that I changed. I also decided to go full steam ahead with the zipper instead of buttons. Initially, I was just going to pick up stitches and create a little ribbed edge. But then I remembered Claudia's use of applied I-cord to create a good zipper mounting edge for her Rogue and started to read about applying I-cord to edges.

With help from instructions at the Knitting-And site, as well as Bonne Marie's Tektalk on Applied I-cord I got to work on applying edges to the front's of Lo Tech. Because I couldn't find any pictoral discussions that gave me a visual "how to get started" I took a bunch of shots along the way with the intention of creating such a resource (mostly, I must admit, for myself, because I am sure I will forget how to do it the next time I want to and will need a reminder). Hopefully I will have that up later in the week. I just didn't have enough time to code it up tonight.

However, I can give you an idea of what it looks like on the sweater. To take a look at the edging at the neck line of the sweater you can click here. To see how it looks near the bottom ribbing, click here.

What's left? Well, first, I need to find the perfect zipper. I bought a couple over the weekend, but I don't think either is really going to work out for this sweater. I'm probably going to be checking out Zipper Stop (just imagine me holding up a sweater arm trying to match the sweater to the zipper color swatch card for a good low tech laugh). I'm also going to try to figure out how to implement the excellent idea that Alison at Quantum Tea recommended. Instead of eliminating the pockets, I want to find a way to attach them to the inside of the sweater -- that way, dad can carry some goodies with him when he's out jogging (keys, MP3 player) but they won't get filled with sawdust when he's working in his workshop. The only problem for me is that I really want the attachment to be invisible. I like the way the sweater looks simple and clean from the outside and don't want any extra seams breaking it up.

Looks like I'll have something to think about while I'm waiting for that zipper to arrive.

Lo Tech Possibilities

The Sleeves of Dad'd LoTech Sweat

So now I've cleared the hurdle of the sleeves for Dad's sweater. Normally I would breathe a sigh of relief and be thinking about finishing. And then I remembered the hood. And the pockets. Now, the pockets are no big deal, knitting-wise. The hood, on the other hand, is another thing... it's a big stockinette square.

I just don't think I can bear to do any more large, stockinette only pieces of knitting for a while. But this is a gift sweater, and I want it to be good for the wearer. It's not really about whether or not I feel like knitting stockinette.

So I got to thinking about my dad and this sweater and what he might be doing in it. Originally, I had conceived of this sweater as a simple sweater that he could wear while out running, or in his workshop when he's working on a wood working project.

Now, on the surface, a hood would seem fine for both those purposes. But a hoodie only works well for running when it has a drawstring, and even then, it obscures your peripheral vision, which is not a good idea when you're running alongside country roads. And in the workshop, well, Dad makes a lot of sawdust happen. The workshop is heated, so he's not going to be wearing the hood up. Which means that it's going to be collecting saw dust...and he's going to bring that sawdust into the house and get in trouble with my mom. Doesn't seem like it would be very nice to make him a present that gets him into trouble by accident.

So the hood is gone.

If I get rid of the hood, I'm going to have to add a collar. I've decided that want it to be something that comes up around the neck and doesn't let too much warmth out. I'm thinking of a simple garterstitch band, doubled over to give it a little "stand up" quality.

Then I got to thinking about the button bands and the buttons. If dad wears this sweater out running, the buttons are going to flop around. If he wears it in the workshop, they could catch in his machinery since the sweater is not going to be extremely tight fitting. Even worse than getting him in trouble with mom would be having him get caught in a piece of euipment. At least from a health perspective.

So the buttons are gone. To be replaced by a zipper. This is a radical move for me, because I am pretty much completely afraid of zippers. But I think a zipper is much more practical for both running and the workshop. But this means I also need to narrow the button band because I don't want to add quite so much width to the sweater. I think perhaps I will make mine in K1P1 rib, but only 1/2 wide.

And what about the pockets? Well, I'm torn about the pockets. On one hand, they are sawdust collectors. On the other hand, they are a useful place to put keys, drill bits, sandpaper and other things that dad might want to keep with him when he's doing his thing. I'm also kind of a sucker for pockets in clothes (I hate it that so much women's clothing is pocketless), and have never made any for knitwear before. So the pockets will probably stay.

So now I have to create a hoodless zip up sweatshirt instead of a hooded button up model. I guess I'll just be "bossing my knitting around" a la Bonne Marie. I should mention that this pattern is an ideal one to work with. It's a very easy to follow template from which you can jump off in a lot of directions.

Just before I headed off to the KIP (which was great fun, as usual ) I found this in my mailbox...

What Could This Be?

Could my Phil'Onde have touched down on this side of the Atlantic? Could this Keyboard Biologist now have what can only be described as an obscenely wonderful abount of spring yarn? Only the postman knows...

P.S. Be sure to check out Mary's blog -- she's one of our KIP regulars dipping her toes into the blogging pool. It was her lovely Kidsilk Haze sweater that convinced me that I needed to get started on my lacy jacket. Welcome, Mary!

A Pair of Fronts

The Front of LoTech

I feel like I finally have some momentum going with LoTech. With the addition of the right front, I now have the back, both fronts, and one sleeve finished. Only one more sleeve, a hood and two pockets remain. I'll cast on for the last sleeve tomorrow night at our KIP. I would have tonight, but couldn't remember where I'd put my 4.0 mm needle, and was too lazy to go find it And I wanted to swatch this:

Calmer NightSky Swatches

I really do love Calmer. It's almost hard to believe that it is a cotton yarn. It is incredibly soft and has a lot of elasticity. I did my first Calmer swatch at the last KIP and the gauge wasn't quite on target for the 5.0 mm needles called for. So I stepped down to 4.5 mm needles.

Can anyone tell the difference? Just looking at the photo, I can't (the one on the left was knit with the 4.5 mm needles). So now I've knit two swatches on two different sized needles and I more or less get 20 stitches/4 inches instead of 21 stitches/4 inches (my row gauge is fine). Ugh! First the All Seasons Cotton, now the Calmer. Suggestions anyone? Should I try going down yet another needle size? Or should I just not worry about it because Audrey is mostly ribbing and that extra 1/2 inch of stitches (in the width of the garment) will just get sucked into the ribbing? Hmmm... decisions... decisions... Good thing I still have a wonking big sleeve to knit for LoTech.

P.S. Tonight is the Wicker Park KIP. Come meet up with us at Letizia's between 7 and 9 pm!

It Sounds Like an Old Joke...


What has a back, an arm and a front?

The Right Front of Lo Tech

Why, my Dad's Lo Tech Sweat, of course! Poor Lo Tech, it seems like I only work on it when I'm waiting for something else to happen. For instance, right now I am waiting for US size 7 (4.5 mm) Addi Turbos to show up at my door so that I can work on Rogue and Audrey.

My brand new bowl, however, inspired me to get the right front panel of Lo Tech finished. Lo Tech isn't going to be the most glamorous project, I'm afraid. When I first got the yarn, I was disappointed to find that even though all the skeins were from the same dyelot, they weren't all the same color. Elann very conscientiously refunded my money and let me keep the yarn. What to do with 18 skeins of yarn that might not match? Use it for the project I had originally intended -- a jogging sweater for my Dad. My mom reminded me that it's most important quality was that it be a warm sweater that could take a lot of love. That most of the time it would be under a windbreaker, unseen, but not unloved.

So I persevered, just slowly, because even though I know that the sweater is meant to be functional, it still bothers me that it won't be as perfect as it could be. (Not to fear, I have another beautiful project waiting in the wings for Dad that I will probably start on when I get tired of summer cottons).

In amusing fibery news, check this out -- the world's finest bale of wool (11.9 microns in diameter), under lock and key in Australia. Apparently the very special sheep that produced this bale stay at the "Wooldorf Astoria". Baa!

Back to Basics...


...or, simple stockinette can still teach me something.

With the completion of the back of the BRDP, I moved back to the LoTech Sweat that I had started for my Dad so long ago. I must have been feeling motivated, because by Saturday afternoon I was blocking the first sleeve.

Lo Tech Sleeve #1

Lest you think I am too speedy, I must make the admission that I had the ribbing and a few inches started before I abandoned the project.

Now, I'll be the first one to say that there is almost nothing exciting about one raglan sleeve done completely in stockinette, other than the fact that it moves me a little closer to the completion of this project. But it did teach me -- or at least remind me -- of a few things. And since the stich definition with this yarn is good and the yarn is a light color, I thought I'd post those reminders in the hope of re-inforcing a few neural connections that somehow stopped firing.

Make 1 vs Knit 2 into 1 Stitch

Top: Make 1
Bottom: K2 into 1 Stitch

The increases in this sleeve are done with "Make 1"s. Now at the beginning, instead of reminding myself what a "Make 1" was, I simply decided that I would just knit 2 into the front and back of one stitch to get the new stitch I needed. After all, I figured, would it matter that much?

The figure above demonstrates that it does matter. Now, in this case, these increases are close to the sleeve edge and will not be terribly visible once the sweater is assembled. However, I think it's pretty clear why the Make 1 is a much better instruction choice here. The M1 is visible, but doesn't leave any gaps in the fabric. The K2 into 1 stitch leaves a small but visible gap. In a fabric that wasn't as dense as this fabric it might not show up quite as starkly, but here, it stands out fairly dramatically (at least when I use macro mode on my camera).

In addition to being neater, you can control the slant of the edge much better with the M1 since there are left and right slanting versions of it, whereas my K2 increase was done the same way on each side of the sleeve. Since this sleeve is quite large, I got to practice my Make 1's until they are pretty well ingrained. Suffice it to say, I won't be translating M1 into K2 into 1 stitch in any other garments.

Slip Slip Knit

Top: SSK the Right Way (knitwise)
Bottom: How Not to Do SSK (purlwise)

While I had forgotten about left and right slanting M1s, I'm pretty clear on the need to match up right and left slanting decreases. Slip, Slip, Knit (SSK) causes a slant to the left, while Knit 2 Together (K2Tog) leans the edge towards the right.

What I had lost my grip on here was the way in which the slip stitch operation is performed. In the picture above, the bottom circle encloses stitches where the two stitches were slipped purlwise, while the top circle encloses stitches where the two stitches were slipped knitwise. I suppose it is possible that under some circumstance slipping the stitches purlwise before knitting the stitches together could be considered decorative, but I think for raglan sleeves it just ends up looking sloppy.

I'm not sure when I started mis-executing this stitch (I noticed this unkempt looking decrease edge on some socks I've worked on, too) but it's definitely been a while. I'm also not sure what made me decide to look up the right way this time -- maybe having Montse Stanley's great book close at hand. But this demonstration makes it pretty clear what way the right way is. I am hoping that having to do about a zillion decreases to shape the sleeve cap re-inforced the right slipping procedure.

I think this whole experience is also a good reminder that simple projects are often where I can best hone my techniques. When it's easy to see the stitches it's also easy to see the differences in how two different methods accomplish the same thing or when something isn't being executed quite right.