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!


Emily said...

Who could be puzzled by a fascination with tubular cast-ons? They're so sexy!

Exciting that you're working towards finishing your first sweater. My confirmation word is "auras": Tu auras un très beau pull. :-)

Zel, The Grimm Witch said...

Love the way it's looking...and that piggy mask is hysterical

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.