Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Manhattan Project, Part I: A Tale of Tubular Cast-ons

As many (or maybe some, or perhaps few) of you know, I recently moved across the world (read: Country) from Portland, Oregon to New York, New York. The whys, whens, and hows are another subject, but suffice to say that I was (and am) very excited about this move. As you might expect, I'm still in the midst of exploring the City and figuring out how to make it work for me, but that hasn't caused so much as a pause of my knitting needles. When figuring out how to get my stuff from there to here, I ultimately decided the best way would be to ship everything and fly in. Of course, as soon as I decided I would by flying, my first thoughts were how I would get my knitting on the plane and what I would work on. I'm obsessed, I know, but knowing is half the battle.

The moving preparations included buying a sweater quantity of Cascade 220 in Ruby (color 9404) from Davitron at Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks in PDX. I'm an unrepentant fan of Cascade 220 for several reasons: 1) It's cheap (relatively) 2) It knits up to a lovely, soft, sturdy fabric and, most importantly: 3) It comes in eleventy-pi amazing colors (like Ruby). All in all, it's the natural choice for proletariat yarn crafters such as the one writing this blog. I can tell you now that the pictures here don't do justice to the color. If your LYS carries this yarn, I recommend you check it out in real life; between my camera and my (lacking) photo editing skills, these pictures are not a true representation of the color, and the color is freakin' amazing.

So I had decided I would work on a Ruby Sweater on the plane. More than that, I decided this will be the first sweater that I finish, and that it should be an Elizabeth Zimmerman Seamless Hybrid. Really, you can't mess up one of her sweaters.

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman Seamless Hybrid
Yarn: Cascade 220 Wool in Ruby
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars in sizes US3, US4, and US7

Since I am who I am, though, I couldn't just do a straight-up long-tail cast on and start from there; I needed to do a tubular cast-on. Some of my knitting crew in Portland is familiar with my 'fascination' with tubular edgings. Some of my old knitting crew finds this perplexing, confounding, and maybe a little bizarre. Call it Warholian; most of the knitting that we're familiar with is machine-knit, and machine-knits generally have tubular edgings. Not only that, but tubular edgings just look good.

My first attempt included a 1x1 rib with a tubular edge that starts out as Judy's Magic Cast-On. (link to Judy's Magic Cast-On video) It's amazing, really, and it does create quite a nice-looking cast-on edge. Here's a link to the video showing how to go from Judy's Magic Cast-On to a nice 1x1 ribbed edge. This does create a nice-looking edge, but once I transitioned from ribbing to stockinette, I decided that I didn't like the size difference between the knit stitches in the ribbing and the knit stitches in the plain stockinette (see previous re: obsessed).

a view of the 2x2 tubular edge demonstrated by Ysolda

Fast-forward to take 2 (or so), where I use the tubular cast-on that Ysolda Teague demonstrates on her blog here. I chose this one because I had decided (after some goading/stern input from Davitron) to use a 2x2 rib instead; it was easier to get a more consistent knit-stitch size this way, and the technique that Ysolda demonstrates works beautifully for 2x2 ribbing.

an edge-view of the tubular edge demonstrated by Ysolda

After several trial attempts, I settled on using US3's for the cast-on and first couple of rows of k1, p1 prior to the 2x2 setup on Ysolda's technique. Once I switched to the k2, p2 ribbing, I switched to US4's. All in the name of getting knit-stitches to match.

Stay tuned, knitters; the body is mostly knit (5 1/2 weeks later) and then it'll be time for sleeves! Now that I have the edging and needle sizes worked out, the rest should go much more quickly. Hopefully it'll be finished before it's too hot to model the FO!

Keep on knitting!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Because every 'pandemic' needs some levity...

I had an exceptionally boring day at work. I mean, I cleaned everything, stocked everything, all that jazz... and still had time left over. So, I started working on a "funny project". And thusly, I bring the world, The "Swine-Flu Masque". The full pattern text is published here, but it's also available as a free downloadable PDF at the bottom of this post.

SwineFlu Masque
(flickr photoset)

Patterns: Swine-Flu Masque by David R. Castillo (aka GoGoDavitron)
Yarns: GGH Bali in pink, Cascade 220 in Jet
Needles: US2 straight needles, US3 DPNs for the Nose.
(I knit kinda loose, you might want US5-6)

Well, okay, it's pretty much a one-size-fits-most kind of thing. The part that will cover your face is about 8-9 inches wide and about 6-7 inches tall. You can adjust it while you're knitting if you need more or less.

6 sts/inch or 24sts/4inches in stockinette.

Approx. 100 yrds of your favorite DK weight yarn. I used GGH's Bali (not my favorite, but servicible). Appropriate needles, Sense of humor. Oh, and a little bit of black yarn for the nostrils.

Make It!

Top Strap:

CO 200 sts

knit 3 rows in garter stitch (knitting each row)

At the beginning of the next 2 rows, cast off 75 stitches.

K 1 more row.


Row 1: K
Row 2: K5, P to last five stitches, K5

Repeat rows 1&2 once more.

Short Row Shaping: Use your preferred short row method (wrap and turn or yarnover would be best) to work a total of 6 rows in shaping. I spaced them one right next to each other to mimic the folds in a real surgical mask. Here is the shaping method I used.

Row 1: K to last 5 stitches, turn work.
Row 2: YO, P to last last 5 stitches, turn work.
Row 3: YO, K to last 6 stitches (not counting YO), turn work.
Row 4: YO, P to last 6 stitches (not counting YO), turn work.
Row 5: YO, K to last 7 stitches (not counting YO), turn work.
Row 6: YO, P to last 7 stitches (not counting YO), turn work.
Row 7: K to end of the row (SSK the yarnovers and adjacent knits as you come to them).
Row 8: P to end of the row.(P2tog yarnovers and adjacent purls as you come to them)

To Finish the mask, knit as follows:

Knit rows 1&2 of "Mask" 4x
Repeat Short-row shaping.
Knit rows 1&2 of "Mask" 4x
Repeat short row shaping
Knit rows 1&2 of "mask" 2x

At the end of the last row, cast on (either backwards loop, cable, or knitted-on cast-on are appropriate) 12 stitches.

Knit across the next row, then cast on 12 stitches at the end of the row.

Knit 2 rows plain, then cast off knitwise.

Stitch the ends of the the shorter ties so that the form a comfortable triangle with the longer ties.


Cast on 40 stitches and divide between DPNs with 13 stitches on the 1st and 2nd needles, and 14 stitches on a 3rd.

K 8 rows
P 1 row

SSK the first two stitches on the needle, K to last 2 stitches, k2tog. Repeat until you can no longer decrease in this manner. Cut the yarn, thread through remaining stitches 2x and then pull it tight, weave the end in on the other side.

At this point, i whip-stitched the black nostrils on the mask. you don't have to, you don't have to use black... Whatevs! it's all good! You'll notice the nostril is slightly triangular, but the base stays kind of circular.

When i made the mask, i intended the cast on edge to be the top, but i carelessly stitched the whole nose down to the wrong side. don't make this mistake - it works better if your cast on edge is the top. Stitch the nose down to the middle, still keeping it approximately circular. It works really well if you just whip stitch it. If it's in the same yarn as you knit the whole thing, it doesn't really matter cus you won't really see it. Voila! Swine Flu mask! (don't forget to weave in your ends)

The pattern PDF is also available as a free download by clicking the button below. You do not need to be a Ravelry member to download from this page.