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mindful mindless knitting

by ysoldateague January 27, 2007


So my cute 40s waistcoat was good reading knitting while I did the ribbing, but that’s finished now and the rest of the pattern isn’t quite so ideal. Yesterday I ended up buying wool to make a simple stocking stitch hoodie. Because nothing is more perfect for mindless knitting that stocking stitch in the round. I’m generally useless at taking notes while I’m knitting something, so I thought it might be useful to myself to outline what I’m doing and why. Even though I may be the only person who wants to knit a stocking stitch jumper with 4ply yarn my process might be useful or inspiring to you too. If you’re feeling adventurous you could even knit along with me. Because you’re smart enough to make conversions (and I’m lazy) I haven’t bothered altering my very British mixture of imperial and metric measurements.At the moment I know that I want contrast colour facings, waist shaping, few seams, long sleeves and a hood lined in the contrast colour. I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to shape the shoulders, or whether I want thumbholes but that doesn’t matter yet.

I’ve seen a few things about Catherine Lowe’s Couture Knitting Workshops recently in blogland. As Nona describes Catherine recommends that instead of knitting to gauge you knit tighter and then stretch it out while blocking. The logic of this makes a lot of sense to me, and last night I did some swatching. I knit one on 3mm needles (this is 4ply / fingering weight wool) which before blocking had a stitch gauge of 30 sts = 4″ and one on 2.75mm needles which before blocking had a stitch gauge of 32 sts = 4″. I pinned the swatches out, stretched as much as possible, and sprayed them with water.


When dry and unpinned the 3mm swatch had a stitch gauge of 26 sts = 4″ and the 2.75mm swatch was 28sts = 4″. The suggested needle size and gauge on the ballband is 28 sts using 3.25mm needles which it looks like I would have matched, but after stretching out while blocking I got the same gauge with needles 2 sizes smaller. So I’m going to knit my hoodie with the 2.75mm needles, block it to gauge and hopefully end up with a jumper that doesn’t stretch out over time.


Guage after knitting in the round with 2.75mm needles and blocking out: 28 sts and 36 rows = 4″, 7 sts and 9 rows = 1″

I want to make a jumper with hip and bust measurements of 36″ so I cast on 36 x 7 = 252 sts. To make a knitted up hem I began with a provisional cast on with crochet cotton. There are lots of ways to do this but my favourite method is to crochet around the working needle, as shown in this video.

As described in this helpful tutorial Elizabeth Zimmerman suggested working the contrast facing on 90% of the total stitches. I decided that with the fingering weight yarn I’m using I wouldn’t need to do that so I just decided to work the facing on 2.5mm needles, mainly to avoid having to count that many stitches more than once. If I was using a thicker yarn, which would require the facing to be slightly tighter proportionally because that thickness would make the inner circumference of the tube proportionally smaller, I might have gone down a couple of needle sizes or done the whole 90% of the stitches and a needle size smaller thing.

I knit one row in gray, and now I’m working on knitting 17 rows in pink so that my hem will be 18 rows and (at least after blocking) 2 inches deep. I’m working such a deep hem for two reasons: firstly simply because I think I’ll like how it looks and secondly because I want to give some weight to the hem of such a lightweight jumper. Now I’m going to do some reading while my hands work on my mindful, but mindless to knit, jumper. I’ll be back, when I’ve made some progress, to document the next stage.



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