Monday, March 05, 2007

Picking up stitches for Jo

Jo (Celtic Memory Yarns) is having a picking up stitches panic exacerbated by Sock Madness nerves. I will see what I can do to help. Here's what I think about picking up stitches.

First off, any pattern that tells you to pick up a few hundred stitches evenly around is copping out on instructions. Particularly if there is any knitting instruction in the pattern that tells you to knit so many inches. And especially if row gauge is not of key importance. And if you may have made any adjustments for said garment to fit you instead of some size ideal. Such as knitting an extra inch of body length (or one less inch of body).

So how will you know how many stitches to pick up. To heck with some magical number, I say. What you need to pick up is the right number of stitches for your particular knitted item.

Let's say you have knit a vest and the object is to pick up stitches around the bottom, up the fronts, and around the neck. Let's say also that the front neck has some v-neck shaping going on. And one more thing, let's assume that this vest is knit normally with the rows going side to side. (These ideas could be applied to a vest knit side to side but you'd have to re-orient some of what I'm about to say).

Now the stitches to be picked up around the bottom are the easiest. Working from the front side, and if the pattern doesn't tell you where to start, I'd start at one of the underarm seams, or where the underarm seam would be, if the vest had one. For each stitch you find, pick up and knit one stitch. Now easier still would have been to have started from a provisional cast on, and when unzipped, all those live stitches would be there waiting, but that ship has sailed some time ago. When you get to the front corner, if your vest has front corners, pick up an extra stitch so you have something to work with to get the corner to lay flat.

Now coming up the front, what you need to know is your row gauge and stitch gauge. I don't care if you did a gauge swatch and I don't care if you know where it is or if it got frogged so the yarn could be used to knit the vest. What matters now is the actual gauge you actually knitted on your vest. So get out your ruler and do some counting. Count a nice big square. Lets say your knit at 7.5 stitches per inch and 10 rows per inch. Divide your stitch gauge by your row gauge (7.5/10) giving .75 This means that you'll pick up 7.5 stitches in every 10 rows.

Now, let's digress. I'm wearing a vest today knit of recycled cotton. I knew from my swatches behaviour that I was going to get somewhat significant shrinkage lengthwise but very little shrinkage widthwise, so I took my vest for a swim in warm water, and blocked it gently before the band picking up game. If your garment can be expected to change sizes when washed, do that now.

Back to the picking up, picking up 7.5 stitches in 10 rows means basically, *pick up 3 stitches, skip one stitch, pick up 3 stitches, skip one stitch, pick up 2 stitches, skip one stitch, and repeat from *. So that's what you do coming up the straight front. Get a good light, get a good look at the stitches and pick up. All you have to do is count to 2 or 3. (Jo, if these calculations aren't clear to you, count your gauge, send me an email, and I'll send you your pick up pattern.)

Now on that v-neck. It has edge stitches at an angle. And if we did some math, the angle and sines, and cosines, and hypotenuses and all that business would mean that you'll need more pick-ups than you needed on the straight away. So the short story that worked for me is to pick up one stitch in every stitch. Until you get to the end of the angley V part. If there is some straight away knitting at the top of the V, go back to the 3-3-2- pick-up pattern.

Now coming around the round part of the back neck, is just like picking up you may have done for lots of sweater necks. Basically, one for one at that part of the back neck that is straight up stitches, one for one along the angley parts that are like the V, and the 3-3-2- pickup pattern where any neckline stitches present themselves like the front edge.

I think I have a post from a few months ago from my pick up experience with this vest. I'm going to look for it and add in a link here.

More later,


Anonymous Angeluna said...

Thank you Jeri. Very clear. Might I make the suggestion that you make a link for this in your right hand column so that it can easily be found for reference. Jeri's Purls of Wisdom, or somesuch.

3/06/2007 12:41 PM


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