20 November 2009

A Class with Joan Shrouder

This autumn has turned out to be a rather busy season, mostly full of cleaning and organizing and not nearly enough raw knitting. Part of the cleaning and organizing involved looking around at what was on the needles. There were definitely projects that were only a few hours shy of completion. One of them was this little sweater. This was the project for Joan Shrouder's "Set-in Sleeves Simplified" class, which I took at STITCHES South back in April. Happily, Joan will be at STITCHES South 2010 and will be teaching this class all day Sunday.

The homework for class involved knitting the bottom rectangle of the cardigan. Because I've become enamoured of it, I used Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen's method for a tubular cast-on. I arrived in class with an inch of 1x1 ribbing and several inches of plain stockinette. Over the course of the 6-hour class, Joan shows you how to shape the armhole and neck. Since the sweater is small, there is time to knit it in class. Then she demonstrates how to pick up for the sleeves. Joan uses a rather interesting technique in which she purls up rather than knits up the sleeve stitches. As you can see, the result is a sleeve that truly looks set-in.

Joan is knitting in the Zimmermann tradition, as she works the sleeve decreases on the top rather than the underside of the sleeve. As you can see from the top photo, the outstretched sleeves are longer on top than on bottom. If you hold your arms at your side, you want the longer line to run along the outside/topside. If it runs along the inside/underside, you can end up with a lot of bulk at the underarm. I completed the sleeves with a little 1x1 ribbing and the matching tubular bind-off. (Incidentally, I would be tempted now to use Jeny Staiman's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.)

To finish it out, I purled up button band and neck stitches, worked a little more 1x1 ribbing with a few yarn-over, k2tog buttonholes, and finished with more tubular bind-off. A little blocking, a little weaving in ends, and a few buttons brought the project to a close. Incidentally, I plied a strand of lavender sewing thread with the yarn before attaching the buttons. My hope is that the thread will add just a little more strength to keep those buttons where they belong.

The whole project took almost exactly 1.5 skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash Paints. This lovely colorway, #9860, is really perfect for springtime or children. And with about 100 yards left, there is probably enough for matching accessories, should the inclination strike me. With everything else I want to knit right now, it probably won't.

As a last tidbit, I'm including here a video of how I worked increases after the purl-up row. Since Joan works the same slipped-stitch edging that I like, if you pick-up in every stitch you'll be a little short in stockinette. Depending on the reference source and the individual knitter, you should pick up something like 3 stitches for every 4 rows, or 4 stitches for every 5 rows in stockinette. A slipped-stitch edging means you have 1 stitch for every 2 rows. This is perfect for garter stitch but too few stitches for stockinette. (Quick math example: if you have 100 stitches along the edge and want to pick up 3 for 4, you'll pick up about 75 stitches. 1 for 2 is only 50 stitches, so you'd be 25 stitches short.) To prevent your new sleeve from binding tightly at the armhole, purl up one stitch for each edge stitch, then increase up to the needed total on the first row. There was considerable discussion in class about which increase to use. I stumbled across a very slick and virtually invisible way to do so in this particular circumstance, and the video will show you how. Enjoy!


MaryLou said...

This is a great tip and video to illustrate the method and how it looks! Thanks, Jolie. Very helpful...

Beverly said...


Grandma and I just watched your video. Great explaination.

- B and G Barr

Joan Schrouder said...

Hi Jolie,

I just stumbled across your post and this video. What a great way to inc! I haven't seen this idea before; can't wait to try it!