what keeps me awake at night

Design WIP: Cabled Sweater > Sleeve Decisions

I’m quite picky about a lot of things in my life. I don’t like 3/4 length sleeves. I don’t wear logo t-shirts or necklaces that hang lower than my collarbone. (A squash blossom necklace—only turquoise and silver and not the needlepoint style—would be an exception, but I don’t own one yet.) I never sit on the bedspread in a hotel room. I hate getting my hands dirty. The sound of a mockingbird “singing” for hours on end makes me want to commit a felony. And yoga students who hang their head in paschimottanasana after being corrected a million chicken pluckin’ times heat my internal organs.

In knitting, I don’t like drop sleeves or ribbing knit on smaller needles than the main body to make it tight. (I never did get that in the first place. The nature of ribbing is to draw in, so why knit it on smaller needles?) I don’t like lace and I don’t knit shawls. Ribbing must naturally flow into a cabled design. I’ve already outlined how I feel about asymmetry and particular kinds of cables. And I’m a lazy knitter.

Traditional Aran sweaters crowd several of my knitting quirks. They were originally knit for men who did physical work in the outdoors and elements. Nothing should restrict or bind their arms and shoulders, so the sweaters had raglan sleeves or drop/modified drop sleeves—effectively square shapes with no fitting and lots of bulk around the resting arm.

Raglan (l) and drop (r) sleeves, along with the extra ick of diamonds, honeycombs, and abrupt ribbing.

This sweater I’m designing is not for working men, but rather fashionable women with curves. They might wear the sweater to meet a friend for coffee in the city or they might wear it to muck out horse stalls as a volunteer at a Boy Scout camp. Whatever we do, we should look like women, not hand-me-downed little sisters.

The drop-sleeve Aran sweaters also sometimes use a saddle shoulder, which is a little strip of knitting that continues up from the sleeve to the neckline to add a little bit of shaping to the shoulder.

Saddle shoulder and honeycomb cables.

To me, a saddle shoulder says “more work.” Instead of two shoulder seams to deal with, you have four, plus the extra maths of measuring, plus the drama of working the saddle strip into the neckline. Knitting and designing are already a lot of work, so I didn’t think I wanted to saddle myself with this design element.

I love raglan sleeves, and that was my default direction with this design, but I know that a lot of knitters don’t like them even a little bit, so for this sweater, I’m working on a compromise—a little bit of raglan shaping to reduce bulk at the underarm, then work straight up for a little bit of a square armhole, then a saddle shoulder. (Yes, I decided to do the work.*)

That’s the intent anyway. I’ve knit the front of the sweater to the armholes and started the raglan shaping.

Raglan shaping in a pasture of seed stitch**.

Cool cable continuation along the decrease line, yes? I had to dance a little to make it work for all sizes.


*I was forced by laziness to do the work. (An irony that has forged many parts of my life.) After knitting that far, I thought that the raglan decreases were happening too quickly and I needed to slow them down, which meant ripping and reknitting. But because I don’t want to start over, my only other option is to leave the decreases as they are and change the sleeve.

**If you think you might want to knit this sweater when the pattern is available, start falling in love with seed stitch (rice stitch for you Brits). There’s lots of it.

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Back Cover Intrigue

Except for a few lapses here and there, I’ve been a subscriber of both Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits for many years. And in all that time, Classic Elite Yarns has sponsored the back cover of both magazines.

Subscriptions don’t pay a publication’s light bill; advertising does, and both the inside front cover and the back cover are the biggest, most prominent, and most expensive spaces you can buy. Ergo, Classic Elite spends a significant portion of their advertising budget to have their marginally interesting patterns featured back there.

I have a few magazines, and this sponsorship goes back years and years. From my own library, I see that they’re on the back covers of Interweave Knits’ Spring 2001 issue and Vogue Knitting’s Fall/Winter 1988. Probably even further back. They’re also on the back cover of the few issues I have of Knitscene, Knit Simple, and Knit.Wear.

So that means that Classic Elite has been sponsoring the back cover of VK for at least 26 years. They’ve changed the typeface they use, their style and styling, the placement of their name in the ad—center, sideways, top, bottom—and their models. But that four-color ad has always belonged to Classic Elite Yarns.

Until now.

The back cover of Vogue Knitting’s Spring/Summer 2014 issue

I always hold my cowl up with my hand, don’t you?

is sponsored by

Good thing she’s wearing tights.

We’ll be in suspense for a few months as we wait for the next issue of VK. Was Rowan’s sponsorship is a one-time thing, or has Classic Elite been toppled for good? If so, then the question is, what happened?

Organizing 134 Knitting Magazines

A couple of years out of college and into my “career” in the 90s, I had lost interest in knitting, so (it still makes me queasy to think about this), I gave away all of the needles, magazines, and yarn I had accumulated since the early 80s.

And it wasn’t even to a knitting friend. I didn’t have any at the time. I threw everything into bags and dumped them at a thrift store. Yes, years’ worth of now-vintage Vogue Knitting.

When I picked up knitting again—on a trip to Monterrey, Mexico of all things—I had to rebuild my stash and library. And since I had money and an eBay account, it happened pretty quickly. According to my Ravelry library, I have 134 magazines, which seems like a low count compared to what I can see on my shelves.

Eventually there came a time that I needed to organize them, which was on January 6th, apparently, because that’s when Amazon says I bought eight of these magazine files—with two-day shipping because I was motivated. But the files have been sitting on the floor of my studio since January 8th because I’m not sure how to go about organizing them.

By publication, in issue order is the obvious answer, but that’s not how I like to use my magazines. Sometimes I’ll grab a bunch of fall and winter issues and look through the designs, or I’ll want to compare Vogue Knitting‘s spring designs with the spring designs of Interweave Knits. (I don’t know why; I just do.)

So, do I break them up into seasons? Or split them into two types: warm weather, which includes the spring and summer issues, and cold weather, which includes fall, winter, and holiday. How do I handle all the different publications I have? I own one or two copies of other magazines, like Knitscene, Knit Simple, Rowan, etc. Do they get their own magazine file or do I mix them in with the big ones? And what about all those kitschy vintage leaflets?

I also have to consider that I’ll have to put them back where they came from after I use them, so I need a system that allows me to do that easily or I won’t do it and I’ll be back to the same mess I have now.

I looked online to see what other people had done, but it appears that no one but me has this problem. I had a glimmer of hope when I found this post about organizing magazines by month, but these are for home arts magazines that offer seasonal ideas, so in that case, it would be helpful to have every July magazine filed together when it’s time to plan a picinic for the 4th.

After much thinking and mulling, considering and rejecting, and a glass or two of merlot, here’s how I finally decided to file them: by publication, in issue order. Yep, the obvious answer. It’s really the best way, because of how I use them most of the time. I’ll do a pattern search on Ravelry, looking for, say, pullovers with cables in worsted weight yarn, and choose the option to show me patterns in my library. So, chronological order is what’s going to work best when I go hunting for the magazine.

After purging almost every vintage leaflet and several of the magazines that I know I’ll never use, the onsie-twosies are lumped together in one magazine file. Rowan gets its own section because its size demands it. And Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits each have their own shelf.

On the bottom shelf, notice that Vogue Knitting changed from colored spines to white around the year 2007.

My Ravelry library is now accurate, reflecting 150 magazines. (I hadn’t added absolutely everything to the database, apparently.)

How do you organize your magazines?