An Interesting Knit

Hello!

Phew, it’s finished! My Panel Debate cardigan, I mean. It took me about 8 months from start to finish. Well, I knit several other things in between, but on 2.75 mm (US 2) needles and with quite a few technical challenges, it wasn’t a quick knit.

It certainly was interesting, though, and I thought you might like to read about some of the special techniques (so much I-cord!) and what helped me finish it.

Panel Debate is a pattern by Danish designer Bente Geil, and can be found on Ravelry under its Danish name Paneldebat. I used one of the designer’s own yarns: Geilsk Bomuld og Uld – a light fingering weight blend of 55% wool and 45% cotton.

Reading through the pattern, I couldn’t make head nor tail of the instructions for the neckline. There seemed to be something wrong, so I e-mailed the designer. She said she’d look into it and sent me a new version of the pattern the very next day (during her Summer break!). Excellent service, I have to say.

The design is modular and is made up of many panels (hence the name).

Each panel is knit onto the previous one, and the panels are alternately knit horizontally and vertically. The vertical strips end in fans made by knitting short rows.

What helped me knit the fans, was copying the instructions for them onto a separate page, with each step on a new line. I marked the row I was knitting with a sticky note and moved that down after each row. That way I was able to keep track of where I was.

I lengthened the body by 4 cm (approx. 1.6 inches). No problem at all – just added the required length to the first 3 panels and the rest took care of itself. I also enlarged the armholes because I’d heard from several other knitters that they’d turned out rather tight.

After the body was completed, the armholes were finished with attached I-cords.

Armhole before… 

…  and after attaching I-cord.

Then stitches for the sleeves needed to be picked up from the I-cord (the sleeves are knit from the top down). That really was a pain at first. But it went a lot better using a crochet hook and slipping the stitches from the hook onto the knitting needle.

Then I had to adapt the sleeve cap to the enlarged armhole. That was a bit of a puzzle, but after several tries I was happy. I used the magic loop method to knit the sleeves.

I’m not entirely happy with that, because it shows all along the middle of the sleeves. I hope the line will fade with washing and wearing. I haven’t had this problem before. Could it be because of the cotton content of the yarn? Or the reverse stocking stitch ridges?

The sleeves are finished with I-cord along the wrists as well.

Finally there was more I-cord to knit – all along the fronts and the neck. First I had to pick up a zillion stitches. Then I cast on 4 extra stitches for the I-cord.

I knit a few inches, saw that the I-cord ‘pulled’ on the front and frogged it. After repeating this several times, I finally found out how to solve it – by pulling the first stitch (on the outside of the I-cord) up a little longer than usual and holding it between my thumb and index finger while knitting the second stitch, to keep it from tightening.

This is the attached I-cord knitting process step by step:

1 – The 4 I-cord stitches are on the left needle, together with the picked-up stitches on the panel. At this stage, the yarn is hanging between the picked-up stitches on the garment and the 4 I-cord stitches. Now the yarn is passed behind the stitches to the first stitch on the right.

2 – Knit 3 stitches (knitting the 1st stitch very loosely and keeping it from tightening by holding it between thumb and index finger while knitting the 2nd stitch). Slip the 4th stitch knitwise, knit the first picked-up stitch along the panel and lift the slipped stitch over this stitch.

3 – Now slip the 4 I-cord stitches back onto the right needle.

Repeat these 3 steps for hours on end, until all of the picked up stitches along the fronts and neck have been used up, meanwhile making button holes along the right front.

Finally, ‘all’ I needed to do was weave in what seemed like an endless number of ends.

I put on some music, and several cups of tea later that was done, too.

Oh, and let’s not forget the buttons! I happened to have just the right ones, bought long ago in a lovely little shop.

There, all finished!

Here is a close-up of the very special armhole.

And this is what the cardi looks like from the back.

What helped me through the challenging parts of this knit was:

  • Finding moments in my week when my brain was up for a challenge (for me especially Saturday mornings)
  • Cutting the process up into smaller steps, taking a break after finishing a step and giving myself a figurative pat on the back
  • Using a crochet hook for picking up stitches
  • Copying difficult bits onto a separate page and keeping track of where I was by means of sticky notes
  • Relaxing and uplifting music in the background
  • Having good (day)light
  • Blogging about it

All in all, I’m happy with the process and happy with the result!

Well, that was a lot of technical detail. Sorry to the non-knitters among you (it’s a miracle you even got this far). If all goes according to plan, my next post will be of more general interest. Bye for now, and hope to see you again soon!

Domino Knitting

Hello!

After all the gadding about of the past few weeks, I think it’s time for some serious knitting again. I hope you’re up for it.

I first heard of domino knitting from a Danish woman I once met on a campsite in Rondane, Norway. She was sitting in front of her tent knitting back and forth on very short wooden needles. I was intrigued and asked her what she was making.

As is often the way with knitters, she was only too happy to talk about it. She told me that she was making a scarf for her sister-in-law from a pattern in the booklet Domino Strikk, by Danish designer Vivian Høxbro.

As soon as the booklet came out in English, in 2002, I bought it.

Høxbro didn’t invent the technique. In her foreword she tells us that it had been around for at least a century before she discovered it, only it wasn’t called domino knitting then. She was the one who made it popular, though.

The booklet clearly explains how domino knitting works with small modules, ‘knitted together while the work progresses, just as one “pieces” the tiles in dominoes’, and encourages us to try the techniques out by knitting potholders first.

I made a couple of potholders to give domino knitting a try. They turned out too big and floppy to be useful. I have never used them, but kept them as a kind of curiosity. Here they are:

I left it at that, went on to knit other things, and more or less forgot about domino knitting. Until I started knitting a cardigan called Panel Debate last month.

As the name suggests, it is made up of panels. After finishing the first three panels, I suddenly thought, Why does this feel so familiar? Wait, this is potholder number five!

Well, it’s more like a super extended version of potholder #5, but it follows the same principle.

Narrow panels (1-3 below) are knit back and forth in alternating knit and purl ridges. Then stitches are picked up along the long sides for the next panel (4), knit lengthwise. The panel next to that is a narrow strip again, attached by knitting it together with the stitches of the previous panel every other row, and so on and so forth.

Calling Panel Debate an extended potholder doesn’t do it justice at all, of course. What with the knitted-on sleeves and I-cord finishing it is much more than that. The designer has also added lovely short-row fans at the bottom of fronts and back.

It’s a lot of stitches on 2.75 mm needles, and after I’d knit the swatches I wondered if this cardigan really was a good idea and if I’d ever finish it. But because of the modular technique, Panel Debate stays interesting and makes me want to keep on knitting.

There are heaps more domino-knit type of garment patterns around. Many of them use variations on the mitred squares of my potholders.

It’s a technique particularly suitable for colour-shift yarns like Noro. I really love the way this sweater makes use of the colours.

As Høxbro warns us in her foreword, ‘Domino knitting is addictive.’ Why did it take me so long to get hooked?