Finishing

jenjoycedesign©steeking
Little piles of trimmed yarn from finish work makes as good of a place as any to put down a hot cup of coffee. (*) I happen to love saving all these little ends, and keep them in a place to use one day, like filling a pillow or something. I’m in the middle of steeking and knitting button bands on two cardigans. Two cardigans which will be given to my nieces around the Autumnal Equinox ~~ our little tradition.

These were my left-over yarn project gone ship-wrecked on the remote deserted island of Bad Planning (I try not to visit often, though I find myself stranded there without warning, still.)  The blue one was inspired by about six balls of left-over yarn I had from a project of last Autumn , and I thought to use it up for a lovely turquoisey cardigan for Niece Who Is Thirteen, thinking only another couple of skeins would do the trick (I was thinking a vest at the time, two or three designs ago…). Plus the same yarn in another colorway for Ten Year Old Niece. Long story, and three colorways later (**) I had to re-order two more balls of each along the way, then just before binding off at the neck I was groaning as I realized I *still* wouldn’t have enough yarn to do the bands. So one more… just one wee skein more of each color, will surely do the trick. Yeah, got the yarn a couple of days ago, now I’m finishing these cardigans , and will surely be finished by the Autumn Equinox next weekend.  Here’s to a fun week ahead of finishing !

(*)  Yes Lizzi, that is the wee Queen’s Jubilee cup you sent, which I use every single day. Heartbroken I will be the day it cracks.

(**) So what if I will have even more yarn left over from this project than I had before !!!

~~~~And now,

I wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH

to   ELIZABETH over at Island Time   for nominating me for this  . . . 

one_lovely_blog_award

Knitting Couture


Some vintage buttons I bought from Knitterly in Petaluma last February, especially for this sweater. They are wood, not sure what kind, but one thing is for sure, they are lacquered well. They were in the vintage odd bits bin, wired together and rather spendy. Twelve bux for twelve (and I will use nine), but you know, they were the only buttons of the seemingly thousands at Knitterly, which seemed to enhance the colors in the yoke. I’m so predictable to choose the natural materials when making things.  What do you think? Shall I sew ’em on???


I’m performing cosmetic ‘surgury’  with a steam iron, on this badly fitting sweater.  I’m doing things with moist rags I probably ought’nt, but I’m hopeful I can gently coax and block the fit into the right proportions for my shape.  The couture of knitting, I’m finding is more and more important , as each project seems to have it’s own couturesque challenges. This one, as we know, has a whole nest of them !

The Genius of Elizabeth Zimmermann


Here is Michigan Winter ‘Hers’ in the home stretch, about to be washed & blocked.

Just look at that lovely switching of direction of the grain in the knitted fabric !  All knitted in, seamlessly, and very tidy.  Isnt’ it just so exquisitely clever ? Just wonderful is the Elizabeth Zimmermann Shirt Yoke seamless sweater design ! I have done things a bit differently overall, but stayed true through the shirted yoke section at least, because that is the element of design I’ve wanted to learn. And learn I did. And I love, love, love the EZ Seamless Shirt Yoke !!!!

Am finishing off the neck with something different for me, as edge for a K2/P2 rib, I’m trying a 2-stitch i-cord bind-off ! Yes, the highly esteemed and beloved Elizabeth Zimmermann  ~ Mother of Modern Knitting ~ is responsible for this knit-trick of the “i-cord” , and brought it into the limelight with so many of her designs, as applied, cast-on, bind-off, and anything in between. I don’t know why people just don’t refer to it as the ‘ EZ cord’ , or even the E-cord (for Elizabeth). I think I shall for fun. (call it the e-cord). I’m going to just ‘toss one on’ each of these neck finishes as a bit of an afterthought,  because quite frankly… Everybody’s Doing It !

  * *    * *    * *

Edit in :  Both His & Hers sweaters are all done, washed, blocked. Need to just sew on the “hand-knit by Jennifer” labels,  photograph & post final pictures of them…. then send them off to Mr & Mrs  Homesteaders in Michigan.  Yay… done & dusted !  I am off for a celebratory walk in the cold post-rainy mossy green woods, and I’ll be bringing my knitting of course.   C’mon Emma, lets go stir up them giant salamanders !

Spring Sweater Tee’s Finished

Finally finished with another epic sweater duet for my two nieces, which started back in January in this post.

Done and dusted !

I’ve been experimenting putting the rather crisp charm labels in the back near the bottom band.

Time for the Spring Sweater Tees to arrive into the arms of my smiling nieces tomorrow,

 as they’ve been waiting patiently since January.

It has been raining all day, and weather will undoubtedly *not* give us a daffodils-and-blue sky photo session.

It will be cold, it may even snow

(insert disappointment here)

… but that’s okay.

I will take photos of them regardless and then post here very soon. Stay tuned !

(((Oh, and this is my second post of the day, crazy obsessed with this business of knitting and sewing on charm labels !

 Have I gone crazy ?)))

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop

For the moment I am immersed in knitting-while-watching this instructional dvd I borrowed from the local library.  I am blissfully captivated for hours and hours,  learning all about everything Zimmermann Knitting, even the things I thought I already knew, I am learning again, and better.   Taking a break, while about two thirds the way through the series ~ while working untiringly on Eleanor’s birthday sweater, which is rather ending up quite another  improvisation, I must admit.  I can’t get enough of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s lessons on seamless yoke sweaters, and her Percentage System,  her very creative ways of  hemming ( and with messages in the hem, now that is clever !)… just about every kind of decrease and increase,  and just all those Zimmermann-esque finer touches.

Right now, I’m on the lesson about how to do applied i-cord. I had only suspected before, but now I know for sure that it was Elizabeth Zimmermann who developed the  ‘ i-cord’ in knitting.  The name she called this cord was just her more polite rewording the name idiot cord ( how unbelievably sweet of her. )   I think the i-cord was her way of achieving the same product that was made from  ‘spool knitting’,  and she pretty much figured out how to do on knitting needles, casting on with it, binding off with it, and applying it from picked-up stitches just about anywhere in between. Brilliant.

Oh , but she, the Mother Of Modern Knitting also brought the i-cord into center stage, and demonstrated  just about every concievable way to use it on a piece of knitting or lace border, or for just about everything.  For me the genius of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s i-cord is only just being realized, as I watch her “Knitting Workshop” , oh, she is showing her i-cord applied as edging for , or instead of ~ button bands , and she has created dear little buttonholes too, both invisibly as detached in intervals along the applied border, and also decoratively as loops !  All this she demonstrates and talks so with a manner of teasing,  as if I would want nothing more than to take that piece of knitterly candy right out of her outstretched palm. Genius ! If the Mother Of Modern Knitting wants me to use it , I shall.

Watching this dvd  just today is just perfect timing, it’s uncanny, because I’ve been deliberating on how to do the button bands of Nora’s  pullover, which has a neck button band, which is tricky and I’ve never done one. I do believe EZ’s instruction on how to apply the i-cord as an ‘invisible’  buttonhole band is going to be the answer to my puzzle.  It was meant to be !  I am smitten.

Anyway,  I have SO many ideas coming to mind, and I love most how she encourages thoroughly, total experimentation,  and figuring out as you go.  And well, it’s no big deal because as she always says ~” it’s only knitting “.   How wonderful she is.  I just love her !

And now to quote EZ ~

~~~~Good Knitting !

Edit In :  Just finished the dvd.  I am refreshed with a tenacious desire to knit some textured Fisherman ganseys as well as more traditional Scottish Fair Isle things.  And, well, I have just learned a NEW thing that I’ve never seen before.  EZ’s sideways border and sideways join on front and back of sweaters, looking very much like a saddle shoulder on textured knitted sweater, but it’s especially brilliant because it is more like a yoke and  allows the neck shaping to be easily done.    I always wondered how these things were handled. Now I know.  I will likely go wild with the SIDEWAYS BORDER and JOIN …  so much that I am afraid I will become Sideways !  I will have to watch this over again and again, I think that she just has a way of rubbing off a certain amount of No Sweat, its-only-knitting sort of attitude which I just adore.

Hey ! It’s only knitting !

Steek & Soak

My thoughts about steeking are only that I am improving with each project. I am happy that I didn’t give up those first times when too many crocheted loops were making the edge ruffling out, or when I crocheted then tighter to  compensate, and then distorting the edge as well. I’ve figured that similar to picking up stitches for the bands, that to crochet 3 rows and then skip a row, makes it seem to be just right, not too many, not too few.

Now, the big thing this time which I’m doing differently, is that I’m going to crochet the edges, finish it all off, then wash and block… all before cutting the steek. I can bet then that picking up stitches won’t be so difficult as I wouldn’t have varying length edges from mismatched tensions and washing/blocking with edges cut apart.  Personally I think this discovery might be an improvement on the process of steeking.

Now it’s time for the magical soak !

Refining Details

This cardigan is the second sweater that I’ve bordered my signature rib with a  vikkel braid stitch.  I only say ‘signature rib’ not because I had anything to do with inventing,  but it is a hybrid rib & moss stitch edging I made up for myself  after some experimentation, and which I love so much that I don’t see any end to using.  In particular,  the bound-off edge I use matches it perfectly, or mirrors the vikkel, making the rib nicely bordered by a braid on both sides.  With the addition of the vikkel braid stitch, I feel my edging style is symmetric, pleasing , and finished.


The vikkel works so well as a transition between the ‘body’ and the ‘edge’ because it seems to cover up a sometimes awkward and messy decrease row transitioning into the rib band that seamless yoke sweaters tend to have. Next time I may try two rows of vikkel braid stitch. Or three !

The finish of the two short seems at the join of the body and arms, has become a matter of finer finishings for me. I always do a rough job of sewing seams from raw bound-off edges, but I do love the grafting idea, so I just transfer the stitches onto two short needles (or scrap yarn, or stitch holder) instead of binding off, so they’re all ready to graft together with no hassle. In fact, I think next time I will graft first thing so I’m not having to knit the whole yoke with the hardware hanging out of the armpits. Get it over and done with!

Each time I do this grafting thing to bring the tiny seam together at the ‘arm pit’, I get better ( that is in theory, unless there’s a bit of a time lapse between the last, which in this case, may have been too long).

Practice makes perfect and I’m observing that once the stitches are taken off the needle and grafted together, that trying to take them apart to do over is courting disaster. So, rather than doing the grafting over, I’ll just leave it looking messy and smoosh out the bulky grafted seams when I wash and block.

Finish Work

I have decided that not only must I weave in all loose ends, but I must stitch down the steek crocheted edges down the front and armholes.  I am learning that ‘couture detailing’ really does matter. In mere minutes I will block out a second and last time, and tomorrow I will sew on buttons.


These vests have taken a huge amount of time relative to their wearing span ( knit to fit rapidly growing kids, who will likely not be able to wear next spring ). I think pullovers will be the choice in future, as sweaters and vests which are buttoned up front really do take a considerably more amount of time as well as complexity.  I am learning perspective about these things~ kid’s seasonal garments vs. adult’s seasonal garments ~ I must say, this is quite the ‘aha!’ moment.

I am learning about seasonal gauge, and how to look ahead at what I want the garment to be, not only what It Wants To Be, which has been for decades my personal motto in creating.  For instance, these vests which are the Vernal Equinox project for my nieces, (missed that deadline by nearly 3 weeks, not really acceptable, but fortunately our cold spring is lingering) should have been knit in a much, much looser gauge than I knit them. As I didn’t fuss over a lot of swatching the unfamiliar yarn, I ended up knitting the vests rather too tightly, and so they are more as very winter weather-tight type of fabric, not loose and airy as a Spring garment would be desired.  Lesson learned ~ seasonal gauge is very important !

Vikkel Braid Finishes

I have learned the Vikkel Braid trim ! I am so excited !

I found the instruction on YouTube, and learned also that Nancy Bush’s book “Folk Knitting In Estonia” has Vikkel braid finishes in her pattens.  (I must get this book !)

I did the first row after a long-tail cast-on with the Vikkel Braid, then after my rib/moss border, I did another Vikkel. The really exciting thing is that the bind-off method I use matches , so I can have the cast-on edge look like the bind-off edge. And it’s stretchy too. This shall among my signature edgings !

With the long-tail cast-on, the Vikkel Braid is very square, thick, and looks braided from beneath as well.

With the simplest back loop cast-on, the Vikkel Braid lays flatter, but the braid shows underneath, not on the side.

Still Steeking

Crocheting the edges, cutting open:  I am beginning to evolve into opinions about when steeking is worth the extra work of all the crocheting, and more importantly, the hassle and lack of ‘couture’ from the bulk and sometimes flapping cut edge on the inside/backside.

Rule : Steek most definitely for patterned knits (both textured relief motifs and stranded color.. yes!), but, for solid backgrounds, especially of anything worsted weight and heavier…um.. I”ll leave it as a very reserved ‘maybe not’ . My preference only. For these  vests, I think maybe would have been better to not steek, as the bulkier worsted weight yarn is quite cumbersome on the backside of the front and armhole openings. Of course, I could have used a different and finer yarn to crochet the steeks, but I didn’t have any around.  Rule reconsidered :  Use finer yarn to crochet steeks !

And who said it had to be the same yarn?  Also,  why not crochet before washing and blocking, then after all that, cut steeks ?

Rule : Use finer yarn for steeking.  When purchasing heavier yarns as worsted or bulky weight, purchase also a lighter weight yarn in similar fiber, and matching color, for crocheting and stitching down the steeks. Oh, and for sewing on the buttons !