Here’s a sneak-peek of something new. Could it be… a ribbed sleeve with ribbed facing at the cuff? (is it, though? you can’t actually see the facing, can you?)
The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but I’m enjoying this one a lot. The hem/facing thing is tremendously satisfying, as is the knitting in the round and adapting bits of one pattern and ideas from elsewhere to fit with a whole new yarn with a whole new gauge and behaviour. But let’s start with the little things first — how glorious is it to have knitted a sleeve right up to the armshaping with no seaming to be done and no ends to be woven in? Well OK, there was the end from the very beginning of the first round, but I wove that sucker in before I knitted in the hem, and god it’s so beautifully neat.
I’m not starting from the beginning, am I? Right. For those of you who haven’t come across Ysolda’s blog, she’s well worth a look. A while back I was very impressed by a project where she’d incorporated a knitted hem with a different colour for the facing. Around the same time, while diligently following the pattern for my own Ribby Cardi (still, sadly, languishing in my knitting basket and awaiting the re-knitting of the two front pieces and then finishing, collar-knitting, and zip-inserting…) several thoughts started nagging at me. Wouldn’t it be good to knit the sleeves in the round? What about knitting a version in some kind of gorgeous cotton blend? How about making it into a jumper rather than a cardigan, and knitting the body in the round too? Never really been satisfied with the standard cast-on I’ve always used when it comes to ribbing (unless it’s k1p1 ribbing, obviously, where the tubular cast-on is king) — wouldn’t it be ace if I had a knitted ribbed hem, which would look neat and stretch as much as all the rest of the ribbed material?
Wouldn’t it, though?
So. Ysolda demonstrates a beautiful knitted hem with a gloriously vibrant hidden facing. I thought long and hard about how I could do the same with ribbing, but ultimately there’s no getting around the fact that different colours will bleed together if any variety of purl stitches are involved. No concern — let’s make this project all in one colour. Now, if one were inclined, one can do all sorts. So here’s what I did.
- First step — knitting maths to see how my yarn (Cotton Fleece), with its gauge of 5.5 stitches per inch when using 3.75 needles, can be used to follow a pattern inspired by good ole faithful Ribby (requiring a gauge of 4.75 stitches for inch). Maths, my old bete noire, appears to have been defeated this time around. Ha, take that, sums! I win. But I digress.
- Provisional cast-on with one more stitch that I needed for the cuff of my sleeve. I wanted the sleeve to be 48 stitches around at the cuff, so I provisionally cast-on 49 stitches. Knit one row on a needle a size or two smaller than your main one (my main needle size is 3.75, so I’m using 3mm for these inside hems).
- That extra stitch is worked away after the first round — the last stitch is knitted together with the first stitch of the first round. This makes the edge of my circular knitting nice and neat, and it helps everything look even more fabulously neat later on (see four points below).
- Work the stitches in k2p2 rib, but the reverse of the way the stitches will go on the actual cuff (we’re working the inside of the cuff here, remember). I did 13 rows of k2p2 rib on 3mm needles. With the first round of knitting I’d done this makes 14 rows. Then a purl row (this’ll be the turning row), still on the 3mm needles.
- Switch to the larger needles, and work the k2p2 rib the correct way for the outside of the cuff. (Is this making sense? In essence, for the inside I did p1, *k2p2 to last three stitches, then k2p1. For the outside it was k1, *p2k2 to last three stitches, p2k1. ‘K?)
- Work 12 rows of ribbing in total on the larger needles. At this point, weave away the end of your yarn from when you first cast-on. You’re not going to have the opportunity to do this ever again, very shortly, and I like to be neat even if I can’t see the neatness, so weave weave weave.
- Then comes the fun bit. We’re going to remove the extra yarn from the provisional cast-on, transfer the exposed stitches onto additional needles, and then knit (or purl) the working stitches along with the provisional ones. Fiddly? Yes. Worth it? Hell yeah. This is another point where that extra cast-on stitch comes in handy. When you unravel the provisional cast-on, you get one less stitch that you originally cast-on. But how convenient would it be if you’d originally cast-on one more extra stitch than you were ultimately going to need? Ah ha ha!
- Once you’ve achieved the fiddly bit, the hard work is done and you can just keep on knitting up that sleeve. The attractive, stretchy, and fabulously neat hem you’ve just created will keep on smiling at you all the way.
The keenly observant among you will have realised that the ribbing can’t match up exactly on the inside. There’s no way to avoid this — the stitches picked up from the provisional cast-on are all half-a-stitch out of synch from the main ones (you’re really picking up the stitches in between the ones you originally created). If you’re knitting in stocking stitch it doesn’t really matter because you can’t tell, but it’s quite obvious in ribbing. However this doesn’t faze me — I still think it looks brilliant, and the off-centre nature of the ribbing just illustrates the fact that this is the inside of the cuff.
Planned future episodes: set-in sleeve vs raglan; adventures in seamless set-in sleeves for the foolhardy; choosing the right collar type (zip, no zip, hood…?); will I run out of yarn; do I really like pink..?