Machine Knitting: Sweater Basics, live!!

Hello!

It is live!! Machine knitting:Sweater Basics is up and ready for casting on!

machine-knitting-sweater-basics-by-renee-callahan

photo credit: Craftsy

I am really pleased to be able to offer you a whopping 50% discount on the purchase of the class! Just follow the link above or go to my website for more information and a link for 25% off any other Craftsy class you may like to take!

In Machine Knitting; Sweater Basics, you will learn everything you need to know to knit a sweater on the machine: from basic machine maintenance, how to cast on, making fabric you love, to seaming, blocking and everything in between. The class includes my Sweater Blank–a worksheet that will lead you through making your sweater in any gauge or fabric you want and making it easy to customize. I will post more about the Sweater Blank later, but I have to say I am pretty pleased about it and I hope you will be too.

Although it was excruciating for me to watch this the first time, here is the trailer, for your amusement!

Happy knitting,

Rx

Enso Progress

Hello!

What is more beautiful than a clear and crisp day of Autumnal sunshine? A day like today makes me wonder why I don’t own a single Aran or Guernsey sweater, as they have suddenly sprung up everywhere, like beautiful ecru wild flowers. So I am resisting the urge to cast on, even though I really, really want to. I think I have to finish at least 2 sweaters before I am allowed to cast on anything else. That is, certainly, the reasonable thing to do…

I started this Enso sweater at the beginning of September for the Zen Variations knit along, and I am onto the sleeves now. The end is in sight!

Here is the progress so far:

Tea time #ensosweater progress update: rib hem underway. 👍 #zenvariationsknitalong #eastlondonknit #sweaterknitting

A post shared by Renée EastLondonKnit (@eastlondonknit) on

Let there be knit!

A post shared by Renée EastLondonKnit (@eastlondonknit) on

I’m knitting the sleeves with the 2-at-a-time magic loop method, which is really my method of choice. I was convinced that I wanted to knit them with double-pointed needles, but when I tried it, I felt like a had no patience for constantly shifting the needles around. Maybe one of these days I will try Karen Templer’s method of knitting them flat, but for now, round and round I go!

How is your Slow Fashion October going? I am working on some more posts about it and really enjoying the conversation on Instagram and the Fringe Association blog. What do you think?

Happy knitting,

Rx

Zen Variations the Front

Hello!

Autumn is here!! Whoop!! Bring on the sweaters and cast on ALL THE THINGS!

This is my mantra and I am practicing what I preach by having 4 sweaters on the needles at the moment. My monogamous knitting is, apparently, a thing of the past.  I’m not sorry! It’s great to have the option of knitting on different projects and not worrying about running out of knitting, or sweaters for that matter. I’m probably not the only one who constantly thinks the next sweater is going to be the perfect sweater of dreams.

If your dream sweater is a top-down, seamless construction like those of the Zen Variations, then let’s talk construction! A post published few weeks ago, I discussed beginning a Zen sweater with the back. Today we are carrying on, working the fronts to the same point.

Zen Variations by Renée Callahan Left front

After knitting the back to the underarms, work the fronts individually:

7. Pick up stitches for the Left Front along the Left Shoulder.
8. Work straight for the length of the flat at the top of the sleeve head (see A below).
9. Begin Left Neck increases: this will be a different instruction for every sweater (+).
10. Work Left Front Underarm increases (+).
11. Put the Left Front sts on waste yarn and work the Right Front in the mirror image.

It should be starting to look like the top of a sweater now!

If you are interested in learning more about the process of knitting top-down seamless sweaters, please do join me you can join me at one of the Zen and the Art of Sweater construction classes coming up:

1 October (this Saturday) I will have the whole Zen Variations collection at Wild and Woolly for a trunk show and little party to celebrate sweater season!

6 October Zen and the Art of Sweater Construction at Wild and Woolly, London

8 October Zen and the Art of Sweater Construction at Ida’s House, Caterham.

16 October Zen and the Art of Sweater Construction at A Yarn Story, Bath

Also, I have just found out the Curious Handmade Country House retreat has a couple of places left. It promises to be a wonderful weekend–do join us if you can!

Happy knitting,

Rx

Zen inspirations: the European Shoulder Seam.

Hello!

As a result of my background in fashion design and particularly machine knitting, the Zen Variations sweaters are constructed slightly differently from some of the other top-down sweater patterns.

Whereas many patterns call for matching short rows on both the front and back shoulders to create a shoulder slope, with machine knitting, the knitter works as many straight bits of knitting as possible to increase the speed at which a sweater can be produced. By pushing all of the short rows to the back shoulders, a steeper shoulder slope is created and the front can be knit straight–in other words very quickly.

I hadn’t really thought through this construction as a hand-knitting technique until I noticed the work of Linda, aka the Gauginator, on Ravelry. Linda has had an impressive career to date working for major yarn companies and developed a recipe for what she calls the ‘ESS’ or European Shoulder Seam. She has been perfecting this recipe with some beautiful sweaters:

Gauginator's ESS ( European Shoulder Seam)

These details from a couple of Linda’s designs showcase the beauty of the design: above the ESS (European Shoulder Seam) and below: Martina.

Gauginator's Martina hand knit sweater

I asked Linda about how she came to this process and she send me a wonderful email detailing her knitting adventures:
 I wanted something that mimicked a set-in sleeve, where the sleeve cap seam was in closer to the proper chest width.
Also, having the shoulder seam positioned further back on the shoulder provides for a much better hang to the sweater. As we know, a proper fit in any garment emanates from a perfect fit in the shoulder.
At the time there were a few commercial patterns out there that pushed the shoulder seam toward the back of the shoulder, but they were very cumbersome and bulky; simply sewing the seams together to force them to fit. I’ve seen this construction referred to as English-, Italian-, French-shoulder seams … I decided to call it European Shoulder Seam (“ESS”) to encompass all the countries 😉
So I took to my drafting paper and literally created a sewing sloper to achieve the three-dimensional shoulder portion. From there I applied my knitting gauge and off I went.
The magic of it all lies within the Front shoulder section which, surprisingly, is just a straight piece with no shaping. The way that piece “torques” over the shoulder is what causes the perfect fit. I had to go on faith, because I can’t “quantify” that torque. All I know is that it works in all gauges. Since that’s the case I’m happy to not be able to explain ‘how’ it works, just that it does 😉
Gauginator's Notched Lapel

Linda’s Notched Lapel cardigan.

 

While I had appreciated the idea of the set-in sleeve construction for its simplicity and for the speed at which a sweater could be produced, I had never considered the ‘torque’ aspect of the shoulder and how that makes it equally as relevant to hand-knitting as machine knitting. I am indebted to Linda for bring it to my attention!

Happy knitting,

Rx

Constructing the Zen Variations

Hello!

I’m visiting the family in Seattle this week, but I am not neglecting the Zen Variations knit-along while I am away! As I mentioned in a previous post, my travel knitting is the Enso sweater, knit in Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK.

It’s all the rage to knit seamless, top-down sweaters and it is a construction I really love for a few good reasons.

With top-down, you can try as you go, checking the fit at the crucial junctures, making the armhole deeper if you want to, or shorter, and of course making the sweater body and sleeves as long as you want them.

Today I want to begin a step by step tutorial for knitting a Zen Variation sweater, which starts with the upper back:

Zen Variations by Renée Callahan back

In this schematic, we are looking at the Back from the right side, and working from casting on at the top down to the underarm/bottom of the sleeve opening.

1. Cast on the number of stitches required for both shoulders and back neck (the red line).
2. Place markers (m) to mark shoulders.
3. Work short rows to create shoulder slope: knit across Right Shoulder and Back Neck to Left Shoulder, wrap and turn (W&T) the next st; purl back to Right Shoulder, W&T the next st; knit back to the 1st wrapped st, k3 (wrapped st + 2 more) W&T, purl back to 2nd wrapped st., k3 (wrapped st + 2 more), W&T, etc.
4. Work straight until the back armhole is as long as necessary.
5. Work increases (+) at the underarm edge until the full back measurement (minus the stitches that will be cast on for the underarm) is reached.
6. Put Back sts on waste yarn.

I will continue the tutorial with the Fronts in a couple of weeks.

If you are interested in learning more, I will be teaching a several workshops in and around London, and further afield, leading students through understanding the construction as well as all the techniques associated with the design (working the wrapped short-rows, picking up stitches for a beautiful set-in sleeve, a perfect finish for  your new sweater) as well as choosing the right size, making modifications, and more. I’m teaching Zen and Art of Sweater Construction in several places this Autumn:

25 September  the Village Haberdashery.

1 October I will have the whole Zen Variations collection at Wild and Woolly for a trunk show and little party to celebrate sweater season!

6 October Wild and Woolly

16 October A Yarn Story. 

Mon, Oct 24 to Fri, Oct 28 I will be in Romania teaching a number of knitting classes at the Taking a Moment in Time  Weaving, spinning, knitting and photography retreat.

12 November The Yarn Dispensary

For a more complete list of classes, including Brioche Stitch Basics among others, please sign up to the newsletter here.

Happy knitting,

Rx

It’s (almost) knitting season: Let’s knit together!

Hello!

Regardless of the temperature, September brings out the student in me, and I’m nostalgic for those crisp Autumn mornings at the beginning of the school year. This year, I’m embracing the nostalgia with a knit along to kick start the knitting and learning season. I’ll focus on the Zen Variations because although each sweater is quite simple and clean in terms of design, there are several techniques that might not be obvious to inexperienced sweater-knitters. I will make some tutorials and explanatory blog posts which I hope will encourage knitters to make sweaters they will wear forever.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan

The knit along will run from 1 September to 31 December in the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group. Cast on any EastLondonKnit design on 1st September and post a photo of the finished object in the thread before the 31st December (bonus points if it is modelled on a person:) and I will pick a number of winners in the early hours of 2017.

To sweeten the pot, I have put together a few fantastic prize packages to tempt you into joining the fun!

Llovely Llama prize from EastLondonKnitThe first prize is a Llovely Llama ‘un courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co. Linda who has generously gifted one of her popular LlamaLlamaLlamaLlama bags to the prize pot. I am pairing it with 3 gorgeous skeins of the Fibre Company’s Acadia yarn for some lucky soul… 

I have also organised A Very Tweedy Prize of a woollenflower notions bag with 3 matching skeins of Acadia by The Fibre Co., because everyone knows you should coordinate your notions bags and yarn…
EastLondonKnit tweed prize

My final offering is a Woodland Zen prize: a cute foxy notions pouch and three more skeins of yarn among other presents: a beautiful skein of Acadia, a hand-dyed beauty from Dirty Water Dye Works and a lovely, crunchy skein of indigo blue Skudde Wool from Natures Luxury.

EastLondonKnit prizes: woodland zen

I hope to see you in the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group for encouragement, help and a chance to win some wonderful prizes!

You can browse the Zen Variations and all the other EastLondonKnit patterns here.

Happy knitting!

Rx

Buji Tunic

Hello!

Happy weekend to you! Throughout the last week and a bit, I have shared the inspiration behind each design in the Zen Variations collection: Takumi, Yama, Intoku, Enso and Kaizen. Today I give you the final installment of the Zen Variations series: Buji.

BUJI is the Japanese word meaning ‘all is well, no trouble’. The tunic features short sleeves, a boat neck and patch pockets that play with the colour blocking on the body.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-3

The concept of buji is one of perfect freedom from trouble or hindrance, and while it can veer toward carelessness, in the most generous understanding, it evokes a playful freedom. The Buji tunic felt like a playful garment to me–the longer length, short sleeves and particularly the geometric colour blocking with the patch pockets all added up to a grown-up version of a smock.

Zen Variations Buji Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-6

SIZING

79.5 (83, 89, 92.5, 96.5, 102)(110.5, 114.5, 120, 125.5, 129.5) cm or 31.25 (32.75, 35, 36.5, 38, 40.25)(43.5, 45, 47.25, 49.5, 51)”
The sweater is intended to be worn with 5cm / 2” of positive ease.

Buji schematic by Renée Callahan

YARN

The Fibre Company Acadia (60% Merino Wool, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk; 145 yds/133 m per 50 g skein) in main colour: Driftwood, 6 (6, 7, 7, 7, 8)(8, 9, 9, 9, 10) skeins, contrast colour: Cranberry, 2 (2, 2, 2, 2, 3)(3, 3, 3, 3, 3) skeins.

Acadia is a DK weight yarn. Buji uses approximately:

276 (296, 312, 327, 343, 362)(386, 401, 421, 440, 460) MC grams
79 (84, 88, 93, 97, 103)(109, 114, 119, 125, 130) CC grams

805 (860, 910, 950, 995, 1055)(1120, 1165, 1225, 1280, 1340) MC yards
230 (245, 255, 270, 285, 300)(315, 335, 345, 365, 375) CC yards

735 (785, 830, 870, 910, 965)(1025, 1065, 1120, 1170, 1225) MC meters
210 (225, 235, 245, 260, 275)(290, 305, 315, 335, 345) CC meters

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-48

The Zen Variations patterns are for sale individually for £5 and the collection of all 6 sweater patterns can be purchased for £15.

The Buji Pattern 
The Zen Variations 

Happy knitting,

Rx

Note: The Zen Variations were beautifully photographed by Tommy Martin for The Fibre Co.