Saturday, November 9, 2019

Should you work your swatch in the round?

The answer to that question is, "It depends." Some knitters can get away with working the swatch flat and some may need to work the swatch in the round. If your knit stitches are not the same size as your purl stitches, then you definitely should work your swatch in the round because the sweaters from Phrancko.com patterns are all worked in the round. So they are made up entirely of knit stitches (except for a little bit on the shoulders of course). So naturally if half the stitches in your swatch are purled then your gauge for the swatch would not match the gauge on the sweater. So you would need to knit your swatch in the round and enter that gauge when you create your pattern.

How can you tell which you are? There are two ways to find out.

  • If you have a Stockinette stitch swatch that was knitted flat, look carefully at the back of the swatch and see if there are gutters between every other row of purl bumps. The gutters are the result of knits and purls being two different sizes. So if your swatch has them, you should knit your swatch in the round. Here are pictures of a swatch that has gutters.  Notice that you can also see enlarged rows of knit stitches on the right side. But sometimes these are even harder to notice. By looking across the swatch, the gutters and the enlarged rows, also call "rowing out," are more visible. 



Gutters, looking straight at the swatch
The same gutters, looking across the swatch
Rowing out, looking across the swatch

  • However, some people who are not used to looking for gutters just don't seem to see them when they are there. I know because I review submissions to the Master Hand Knitting program of TKGA and the first thing to do in the program is knit a swatch and answer the question, "Do you see gutters on the back?" It is not uncommon for people to say "no" when I see very prominent gutters. So if you are not sure, here is the sure way to find out. Knit a swatch in the round and then knit a swatch flat and see if the two gauges are the same or not. You don't have to do this every time you start a project. Just do it once and then you'll know whether you need to work your swatch in the round or not if the project is worked in the round.

How to knit a swatch in the round

You should always knit your swatch using the same needles you will use to work the garment. I assume that since we are knitting sweaters, that means you are using circular needles (I guess you could use very large double-pointed needles. I don't recommend that though). The obvious, but slower method, would be to cast on enough stitches to knit your swatch in the round, probably using the magic loop method or the two circular needles method to avoid having to work a 16 inch circular swatch. You could then steek (cut) the swatch from top to bottom, flatten it, block it, and then take your gauge measurements. 

But here's a simple method. Using your circular needles, cast on enough stitches for a 5 or 6 inch swatch plus about 5 or 6 extra stitches. Knit a row and then push the stitches back to the other needle. Drape a loose section of working yarn across the back of the swatch and knit another row. Push the stitches back to the other needle and continue in this manner until you have worked the size you need to work.

You can still use the two swatch method I described in an earlier blog entry. Just create each one as I just described with drapes of working yarn across the back.

You should block your swatch before you measure the gauge since blocking can change the gauge. And you also should cut the loops of yarn that are draped across the back so they don't mess with your measuring. Finally, there will be as many as three loose stitches at each edge of the swatch, so don't include them in your measurement. That's why we added 5 or 6 extra stitches when we did the cast on.

And please do not skip the swatching step. As I said in the earlier post, there is nothing more important to create a garment that fits. Your gauge will almost never match the gauge on the yarn band. 

My Workshop Last Weekend

I had the great privilege last weekend of leading a workshop for the What the Knit Guild in Bakersfield, CA. Sixteen women took part and worked through all the details of knitting a crew neck and a saddle shoulder sweater using the pattern on Phrancko.com. We has such a good time and I can't wait to see the sweaters they now produce. Check out PhranckoForum.com (or click the Forum link at the top of any Phrancko.com page) to meet some of the women who were there. Hopefully we will also get to see their works in progress and their finished garments as well.

The What the Knit Guild is led by one of my favorite teachers, Suzanne Bryan. If you are not familiar with her videos, check out her channel Knitting with Suzanne Bryan.





Happy knitting!

Phrancko

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Crochet Cast On - New Video

Crochet Cast On

Yesterday my sister Carol Ann asked me if I could help her learn how to do the crochet cast on that I recommend using at the underarm in the patterns generated at Phrancko.com. I first made a video just for her, but then I realized it might be useful for everyone to see how I do it. Also, that first video only showed how to get the stitches onto the needle, but did not include how to pick them up later, which can also be a bit tricky. All the patterns tell you to cast on a number of stitches but then later tell you to pick up one more stitch than you cast on. You may be wondering why that is the case also.

So I expanded the video to produce a full explanation of the crochet cast on, how to work it, why there are more stitches in the opposite direction than you originally cast on, and how to pick up those stitches when you are ready to do that.



Happy knitting!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Picking up Stitches at Cast On Edge in the Crew Neck Pattern

In the Crew Neck pattern, one of the most confusing parts, yet very important to do correctly, is this line:

Front Shoulders

With WS facing and CO edge of left side at the top, using the needle emerging from the sweater's left side below and a separate strand of yarn for each piece, pick up purlwise and purl XX sts from the middle of each st of the CO row—XX sts on each piece.
I have tried to explain it in response to a question in the PhranckoForum but it is very difficult to put into words. However, knowing the proverbial "picture = 1000 words" here is a picture that I hope will make it perfectly clear:

As you see, we have "the WS [wrong side] facing" and we are looking only at the "left side" of the sweater, the one that does not have the right side marker, and we have oriented it with the "CO [cast on] edge at the top." We are about to use the needle that is "emerging from the sweater's left side" which is actually on your right side. And we have positioned the point of the needle to pick up purlwise starting in the selvedge stitch directly above where needle emerges from the work.
Now it's perfectly clear, right? I sure hope so. This is the most important reason for marking the right side of the sweater. Without that, would you know that this picture is looking at the left side? It's upside down and wrong side facing. Now that is very confusing!

How do we then pick up the stitches purlwise?

We want to pick up the same number of stitches that we cast on in the beginning. That means we need to pick up one stitch in every single cast on stitch, including the selvedge stitch at each end. Each stitch other than the selvedges looks like a V, when you are looking at the fabric on the right side and also not upside down. You want to pick up a stitch in the middle of every one of those V's, right next to the cast on edge. For the selvedge stitches, you just have to find a good place to pick up a stitch since it doesn't look like a V. But the main thing is not to forget to do it or you will not have enough stitches and the connected edge will not be flat. 

To pick up purlwise, you insert the needle from the RS (i.e., the far side since the WS is facing you) through to the WS, wrap the needle and then pull it through the fabric. Then you insert the needle in the next stitch from the RS to the WS. It will feel like you are purling since you insert the needle towards you as in making a purl stitch, hence the name "pick up purlwise."


A Wonderful Visit with my Sister

I just completed a visit with my sister in Maine and we had such a great time together. She has a couple of friends who came over to let me show them all how to get started on the crew neck sweater pattern. We worked from a baby-sized pattern so we could get through the entire process of creating the shoulders and starting the sleeve caps, the only difficult part of the pattern. We had such a good time!

Here are the three beautiful knitters patiently enduring my hovering over them to make sure they did everything exactly right.



And here I am reminding my sister how to do the standard long tail cast on. She taught me to knit when we were teenagers. Since she always uses the knitted cast on, it was so nice to return the favor all these decades later and show her some things in return.
 
We also went to a yarn store and bought yarn for her sweater, so the next day we generated a custom-fit pattern for her and started her sweater. The picture above, as you can see, was taken on her plaid table cloth and it is a picture of the start of her sweater using Cascade 220 Aran yarn.

Happy knitting!

Phrancko

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Invisible Ribbed Bind Off

I just published a video describing the Invisible Ribbed Bind Off that is recommended in all my patterns at Phrancko.com. Of course you can always use whatever bind off you choose, but this one is my favorite by far. To learn why and get a demonstration of how to use it, take a look at this:



Happy knitting,

Phrancko

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Published patterns using Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves

Since the Summer, 2018 issue of Cast On magazine, I have been publishing patterns with Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves. Each of these patterns started as a plain sweater pattern generated by earlier versions of the website while it was still under development. Each plain pattern was then enhanced in some manner to produce the design for publication. Here are all of the results with thoughts about why it was advantageous to use Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves construction.


Ultra Wide Mock Cable Pullover
Ultra Wide Mock Cable Pullover
Appearing in the Summer 2018 issue of Cast On, this was the first pattern I published using Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves. This is a V-neck so the neckline does not get closed until farther down the sleeve openings than for a crew neck. The mock cable pattern however only does cross-overs on every other row until the neckline join, so they are easy to do while working back and forth. After that knitting in the round begins and the pattern immediately begins doing cross-overs on every row, which would be more difficult to get right if knitted flat.












Triple Mock Cable Sweater
Triple Mock Cable
The Triple Mock Cable sweater in the Fall 2018 issue has a complex Alpine style mock cable design that would be very difficult to work flat. However, it doesn't begin until after the neckline closes, so it is never worked back and forth. By using Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves design it is no problem to work it in the chest area between the neckline and the underarms, unlike every other method for set-in sleeves.





Ziggy-zaggy Child's Sweater
This pattern also appeared in the Fall 2018 issue to accompany the original article describing Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves. The only modification to the Crew Neck pattern produced on the website was the knit-purl pattern. Being a knit-purl pattern, of course it could be worked flat. But by working in the round, it is a bit easier than remembering to reverse the meanings of the symbols on every other row of the chart.



Book of Kells Sweater
This sweater, published in the Winter 2018-2019 issue of Cast On, used only Aran style cables which has not cross-overs on the WS when worked flat. So it could have been worked using a different method for set-in sleeves. However it was such a complex pattern, it was nice to be always working on the right side in the round as it developed down the chest.


Weaving Diamonds
Appearing in the Spring 2019 issue, this was the first sweater using the Saddle Shoulder version of the pattern available on Phrancko.com. Not only is the stranded color work easier to create because it is done in the round across the chest and back, this sweater also takes advantage of the fact that the technique works entirely in the round across the chest/back and around the sleeve caps at the same time. As a result, there is no effort required to get the pattern to match across the set-in sleeve "seam."  



Fibonacci Striped Sweater
Another Saddle Shoulder sweater, this appeared in the Summer 2019 issue. There was no complex cabling or stranded color work here. The design is as simple as following the pattern as it is produced on the website and changing yarns at the designated times. Easy peasy!



Gray-dient Sweater
This is the back view of the sweater in the Fall 2019 issue of Cast On. This Crew Neck version of the pattern also simply changes yarns to produce the transitions from one color to the next. The focus of the pattern was how to do the transition in two different ways, depending on whether or not the two colors blend readily. 

And that's not all, my knitting friends! I'm am currently working on another variation for publication in the Winter 2019-2020 issue and have also worked out a plan for another one after that. You can see all these and so much more at TKGA.org for just $25 a year.

It seems the possibilities are endless. I can't wait to see what some of you come up with in your designs. Future blog entries will discuss how to make modifications to the plain patterns generated on the website to create incredible designs. Of course, if you just want to follow the directions without enhancement, you will still get a beautiful sweater in the yarn and colorways that you choose.

Happy knitting!

Phrancko



Sunday, August 25, 2019

Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves

It is often said that set-in sleeves are the best fitting type of sleeve. That's probably why T-shirts and polo shirts are constructed with set-in sleeves. A set-in sleeve sweater will not have the extra fabric at the underarm like you get with drop shoulder and modified drop shoulder sleeves and also in yoked sweaters.

So let's take a look at how a sweater is is constructed with set-in sleeves. The traditional way is to knit four flat pieces of fabric, namely the front, the back, and two sleeves. These pieces are then seamed together.

And that is the first problem. You may or may not be very good at seaming straight edges up the sides of the body and up the length of the sleeve. But then you get to that place where you have to fit the sleeve into the hole left in the body. This is considered the most error-prone seam in knitting. Many times it takes more that one try to get it right. How frustrating it is to get the seam finished and then realize it is stretched in some areas and puckered in others! So you tediously take out the seam and try again.




But that's not the only problem with this construction. What if you have a pattern that is very difficult to work on the wrong side. Some people have a lot of trouble working Fair Isle in alternating right-side and wrong-side rows, for instance. Or perhaps you want to use a complex Alpine style pattern, which unlike most Aran patterns, works cross-overs on every row. It can be very confusing to get the cross-overs in the right direction when working on the wrong side. Or maybe you just hate to purl and now half the sweater in Stockinette Stitch has to be purled. For any of these reasons and perhaps a few more, knitters may want to do as much of the sweater as possible in the round.

It is possible to modify the traditional approach by working the lower body in the round (and maybe also the sleeve. But everything above the underarm still needs to be worked flat since the sleeve is knitted separately. And you still have that pesky shoulder seam to sew.


If you Google the phrase 'seamless set-in sleeves' you will find a number of books and articles. Most of them will suggest a top-down approach that works something like this. The top of the sweater is worked flat from the shoulder to the underarm, leaving shoulder holes as usual. Then the lower body is completed in the round. Finally you pick up stitches around the armhole in the body. But you can't just start knitting in the round because the sleeve needs to be given a shoulder. So you then have to work a number of short-rows, working flat, back and forth, until you finally get to the point that you can finish the sleeve in the round. Look how much of the sweater is still worked flat, even though now don't have any seams to work.


With that construction, it is still difficult to work complex patterns above the underarms where you have to alternate right side and wrong side rows. It can also be difficult to work the shoulder area if you want to have a complex pattern there as well.

So I have developed a method and enhanced it over the past year to construct a sweater with set-in sleeves that is seamless and is done almost entirely in the round. Of course nothing is really new in the thousand year old craft of knitting so I am sure this has been done somewhere or some time before. In fact, the general idea was suggested by Barbara Walker in her book Knitting from the Top.  But her suggestion did not produce a sleeve cap that is bell-shaped as would properly fit the shoulder. See the sleeve cap in the traditional sweater construction above? It is shaped like a bell. Not like a witch's hat with a flat brim, two flat sloped sides, and a flat top, as JC Briar pointed out in her class on set-in sleeves. 

What I developed was a computer algorithm to use properly spaced increases down the sides of the cap to generate a five-sectioned curve that closely resembles a bell-shape that perfectly fills the sleeve hole with the proper depth and recess to replicate the traditional set-in sleeve construction. An early version of this algorithm was published in an article in TKGA's Cast On magazine in the Fall, 2018, issue. By all means, you should subscribe to that magazine for only $25 per year and not only get every new issue that comes out, but also access online to their entire archive of issues, including the one with that article. 

Take a look at the construction of a sweater using Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves:


 As you see, the only part that is knitted flat is the very top on the sides of the neck. Once the neckline is joined, you work in the round down to the underarms by working across the front, around the left sleeve cap, across the back, and around the right sleeve cap. When you reach the underarm, you place the sleeve stitches onto a waste-yarn, cast on a few underarm stitches and complete the lower body in the round. Then you begin working with the stitches that have been waiting on the holder plus the cst on stitches and finish each sleeve down to the wrist...all in the round.

I have published a pattern using this technique in every issue of Cast On magazine since the Summer, 2018, issue. An article I wrote specifically describing an early version of the algorithm appeared in the Fall, 2018, issue. In the next blog entry, we will take a look at those patterns to see what you can do with Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves that is more difficult with other means of construction.

Once I realized the algorithm would work for almost every realistic sweater size and knitting gauge, the idea occurred to me to create Phrancko.com to create custom-fit sweater patterns using the technique. Even though the sweater pattern is for a plain sweater, you will see in the next entry how the pattern can be modified to create all kinds of sweaters that would be difficult in any other type of set-in sleeve construction.

Happy knitting!

Phrancko


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Why aren't the sizes Small, Medium, Large, Ex-Large, etc?

If you have created a pattern (or looked closely at the sample pattern in the Forum), you may have wondered why the Sizes are not the usual ones, like S, M, L, etc. like you are used to seeing in published patterns. But instead they are words like Snug, Tight, Standard, Roomy, etc. Here is the top of a Sample Pattern where you can see these Sizes:


That's because this is a custom-fit pattern for exactly one person whose measurements have been entered in the process of creating the pattern. Usually the chest circumference from S to M or M to L, etc. is 4 inches. Notice in this pattern, the chest circumference is 26 for Snug which is the measurement of the chest as it was entered with no ease. Tight is 27 with one inch of ease, Standard is two inches of ease, and Roomy is four inches of ease, all for the child whose chest is 26 inches. There is also Form-fitting (-1"), Undersized (-2"), and Oversized (+6").

And now for another aha moment consider this. Just because the ease is different for different fits, the person's neck size does not change. Nor does their shoulder width, their arm length, or their shoulder to waist measurement. Those all stay the same no matter how you want to vary the sweater's body and sleeve widths. So now take a closer look at the schematic for this sample sweater:



Notice that the measurements that don't change show as only one measurement on the schematic while the measurements that depend on the ease all show four sizes. This means the pattern is custom-sized for a single person in four different fits, each with its own chest circumference, arm circumference, armhole depth, and set-in sleeve recess.

Odds are you have never seen a pattern like this before! In fact if you wanted to use a standard pattern but increase the ease for a looser look, you had to go up a size, increasing the chest by four whole inches in most published patterns. Maybe that was just fine, but you also got a wider neck, longer sleeves, and a longer body. If you wanted it to fit properly you had to adjust the pattern yourself or just live with extra long sleeves, etc.

Now that you understand what this is about, I hope you are as excited as I am about having custom-fit patterns with various eases, all for the same person.




























Saturday, August 17, 2019

Yardage estimates!

The pattern now includes an estimate for how many skeins are required. However, there are lots of caveats so please read on...

First, please be aware these are only best guess estimates. I believe I have made them liberal estimates, so you may have a skein or two left over. But I thought that far preferable to finding out that you have run short and then can't find the same dye lot at your local yarn store. Please let me know if you ever have it turn out that the estimate was too short. I do not want that ever to happen to anyone. But also if you have more that one or two extra skeins at the end, let me know that too. (The best place to communicate with me is in the PhranckoForum.com, rather than in comments here. Thanks!)

If you do not provide the yards or meters in each skein of your chosen yarn when entering the yarn data from the band, then of course the number of skeins can't be estimated. So then the estimate shows in yards and meters.

Sometimes you may not see a yardage estimate in the yarn description in your pattern. Instead you will see "[sorry, no yardage estimate]." There are a couple reasons this may occur. If your stitch gauge is less than 3 (i.e., 12 sts in 4") or greater than 7.5 (i.e., 30 sts in 4") sts per inch or if the ratio of row gauge divided by stitch gauge is not between 1.2 and 1.55, then I think any attempt to estimate would simply be too far off. This should cover all common cases using Sport (#2) to Bulky (#5) weight yarns in Stockinette stitch. Of course you may use any stitch you like, but if the gauge falls outside of these ranges, you will have to estimate the yardage yourself.

This is an experimental attempt to estimate the yardage. I have tested it against all of my published patterns and it seems to work quite well. But I certainly cannot test it against every possible gauge that you may use. So let's work together to perfect this over time by letting me know if it works, or if  (horrors!) you did not have enough skeins, or if there were way too many left over.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What to do if you no longer want a name in your "who for" list

Suppose you created a sweater pattern for someone that was a one time deal and you'll never make another one for them. Maybe you added that person as a test just to see how the website works and now you don't need to ever see that name again. Or worst of all, maybe the "curse of the love sweater" turns out to be true and you really, really don't want to keep seeing that name in the list. How can you remove that name from the list in the "Who for" dropdown menu?

The answer is to update that recipient's details, change the name to someone else and put in that new person's measurements. Here are the steps to do that:

  1.  If you have created a sweater pattern that you have not yet purchased, click the "Edit" button  to go to the "Edit sweater specifications" page as if you were going to change that sweater. If you don't have one that is not yet purchased, then start a new one and enter some yarn information to get to the "Edit sweater specifications" page.
  2. On that page, select the name of the person you want to remove in the dropdown. It doesn't matter if the sweater you are editing is not for that person. You can change it back later.
  3. Click "Update [recipient's] measurements".
  4. Change the name to someone you will knit a sweater for and enter their proper measurements and click "Save recipient."
  5. If you are editing an already created sweater, change the "Who for" back to the person that one is really for. If you are creating a new pattern, either continue creating the pattern, or abandon the effort by clicking the "Sweaters" link at the top of the page.
Now the person you don't want to see in the list has become a new person with new measurements. However, just so you know, changing the recipient's name or measurements after a sweater pattern has been purchased will not change that pattern. It will always be for that person with the measurements at the time you purchased the pattern. But if you don't want to see even the pattern that you created for them, all you have to do is hide that sweater from your view by following the instructions in my earlier post.

I know that seems a bit confusing. So if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments on this page or, better yet, in the forum.

Phrancko

Hide sweaters you don't want to see any longer

If you have purchased a sweater pattern that you are done with and would rather not see in your "Sweaters" listing any longer, you can hide it from your view very easily. Just click the 'hide' link in the lower right corner of that sweater on the "Your sweaters" page.

But what if you click it unintentionally and it just disappeared from the listing? Or what if you change your mind and want to use it again?

That's easy. If you have any hidden sweaters, the "Your sweaters" page will have a "show hidden" link in the lower right corner of the page to the right of the "Create a new sweater" button. If you click that, you will see all the sweaters you have hidden. Each one will have an "unhide" link that will bring it back to your listing page.

And just to cover all the possibilities, if you are looking at the "Your hidden sweaters" page but decide not to unhide any of them, the lower right corner will have a "back to sweaters" link to get you back to the "Your sweaters" page.

So it's very easy to hide them and bring them back. Feel free to try it out even if you don't really want to hide any sweaters right now.

Happy knitting!

Phrancko

Saturday, August 3, 2019

We are going live!!!

After starting development on this website a year ago in July, it is finally ready to launch. I am so excited!

I conceived of the idea while writing an article for the Fall 2019 issue of Cast On magazine describing the technique I was developing called "Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves." I developed a basic spreadsheet to do the calculations as I understood them at the time. Then I thought, if I can calculate the upper body of a pattern in a spreadsheet, why not try to calculate an entire pattern in a website.

After a year of development and many iterations and improvements of the algorithm for both the sleeves and the overall pattern, it is finally ready to put it out for all to try.

Here's the plan


Starting Monday, Aug. 5, the "Under construction" blockade on the homepage will be lifted and we will officially enter the "beta test phase" of the project. During that period, anyone who signs up for an account will be able to create patterns for FREE!

I don't yet know how long that phase will last--perhaps a few days or a week or possibly even longer. It all depends on how well it goes.

Once I am convinced that we have a fully functioning website that successfully does what it is supposed to, the beta test phase will be ended. But we will still be in a more extended phase called the "Charter Member" phase. Anyone who signed up during the beta test phase and any one who signs up during this next phase will be designated a charter member.

Initial pricing


Charter members will then use a credit card to purchase the patterns, but the cost will only be $1.00 for them for some longer period of time. That's right, one dollar. Even after the Charter Member phase ends, those designated as Charter Members will still get the charter member price for some period of time while new members will pay the regular price.

Initially, the "regular price" for each pattern for non-charter members will be $6 for the first fit, $2 for the second fit, and $1 for each additional fit for a given sweater. These prices are subject to change over time, however. There may be promotions from time to time when the regular price is lower and there may become a time that the regular price goes up.

Fit vs. Size


Notice I used the word "fit" rather than "size" for the multiple versions available in a single pattern. That's because each pattern is designed to fit one single person. So we do not create a pattern that is Small, Medium, and Large, for instance, for different sized people. We create patterns that are Standard, Tight, Snug, or Roomy, among others, all for the same person. The neck size and shoulder width are the same for all fits for that person because those don't change on the person just because you want a looser or tighter fit. The ease around the chest and arms is what changes from one fit to the next. So all the variations in a single pattern are intended for the person whose measurements you have entered.

Here's hoping this website will bring you as much joy and successful knitting as I have dreamed it would.

Happy knitting,

Phrancko



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The MOST important step for a good fit

I know most who read this will hate to hear it. But the most important step to get a good fit for a sweater is to knit a gauge swatch before you begin. You cannot depend on the yarn band to tell you what your gauge is because everyone knits a little differently.

Now that you know what I'm going to talk about, please continue reading anyway because I will give you a tip to make this much easier before the end. And it's a tip that I have not heard anywhere else, though of course nothing is really new in the 1000 year old craft of knitting.

Just to drive the point home, suppose the yarn band says the gauge is "20 sts = 4 inches" using Size US5 needles, but in fact your gauge is 22 sts in 4 inches with those needles. The band is claiming 5 stitches per inch, but your fabric is going to be 5 1/2 sts per inch. If you knit a sweater that is supposed to have a 40" chest circumference and the pattern calls for (40 x 5 =) 200 stitches around the chest, your 200 stitches will be only 36" inches around. Your sweater will be 4 inches tighter than you wanted it to be!

There is no way to be sure you will get the fit you desire if you don't start by getting accurate stitch and row gauges for your work. That means, knitting a swatch and blocking it the same way you will block and wash your sweater after it is completed, and then measuring at least 4 or 5 inches and counting the stitches or rows in that measure. Blocking can also change the gauge, so make sure you block your gauge swatch before measuring. Suzanne Bryan even suggests carrying the swatch around in your pocket or purse for a week or so in order to get it to be exactly the gauge your sweater will have after being worn for a while.

Why don't we all do it?

I know, we all have excellent reasons. But it basically boils down to this. You found a pattern you love, hopefully one you created here on Phrancko.com. Then you picked out the yarn that will make a spectacular piece of work. Now you just can't wait to get started on the real thing. Taking time to knit a throw-away little piece just seems like an unbearable task! But, trust me, you don't want to spend weeks knitting a sweater only to try it on and realize you have to find a much smaller or much larger person to give it to. The whole point of Phrancko.com designs is to allow you to create a sweater that perfectly fits the person you are creating it for. Please don't ever think that our custom fit patterns do not fit because you did not first work a swatch. I beg you!

Now the good news

Guess what! You do not have to knit a 5" by 5" swatch to get accurate row and stitch gauges. Instead, knit two swatches, one for the row gauge and one for the knit gauge. The row gauge should be enough stitches to create a 5 inch wide swatch, which you then work for 1 1/2 inches and bind off. Then you create a 1 1/2" wide swatch and work it 5 inches for the row gauge. I recommend 5 inches in each direction rather than 4 because the more stitches or rows, the more accurate the gauge.

The 5x5 inch swatch you may have worked is a total of 25 square inches. But the two swatches you will work is only 15 square inches! You have avoided 10 square inches of swatch knitting and you still have 5 inches of work to measure in each direction.



Surely it is worth the time to knit 15 square inches of fabric to make sure you will love the finished project.

The next question is, should you knit your swatch in the round? I answered that in a later post.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Introduction

Phrancko.com

Welcome! As I get ready to launch this website, let me tell you what you can do at Phrancko.com once it goes live, and also tell you a little about myself. But first, if you would like to be alerted when the website goes live, enter your email in the box at the right and I will create a blog entry here on that date and you will receive the notice of that blog entry.

I was motivated to create this website to share with you an innovative method of knitting sweaters with set-in sleeves, which I have developed and improved over the past year. You probably know that a sweater with set-in sleeves fits better than some other styles as it does not produce the bulk of fabric under the arms like drop shoulder and modified drop shoulder designs. But you may also have heard that set-in sleeves are the most difficult to work. Traditionally, these sweaters are worked in several different pieces. The body is created with holes where the sleeves are attached and then the sleeves, worked separately, are seamed into that hole. But that seam is one of the most difficult to get right.

An alternative method that has gained in popularity in recent years avoids that difficult seaming task by working the body first and then picking up stitches around the sleeve opening, working short rows across the top of the sleeve cap, and then finishing the sleeve in the round from there to the wrist. 

In both of these construction techniques, even if the lower body is worked in the round, the back and the front of the body from the underarm to the shoulder seam must be worked flat. This makes it difficult to use a pattern that is not conducive to alternating right side rows and wrong side rows, like for instance Fair Isle patterns and Austrian-Bavarian/Alpine patterns (which, unlike Aran patterns, usually call for cross-overs on every row, not every other row). So even if you use the easier alternative construction technique, you are still limited in the style of patterns above the base of the armhole.

The origin of Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves

Of course nothing is new in the thousand year old craft of knitting, so it is unlikely that I have invented something no one else has ever done. But as far as I know, no one is currently suggesting the exact algorithm of shaping the set-in sleeves that I now call "Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves." A less developed form of this technique was briefly described by Barbara Walker in her book Knitting from the Top.  After following up on some suggestions by JC Briar, I have simply expanded on that technique to create a true bell-shaped sleeve cap. I also published an article called "Learn Something New--Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves" in the Fall 2018 issue of Cast On magazine describing a simplified version of the calculations.

The beauty of this technique is that you work in the round from the neck down, including both the front and back of the sweater at the same time as the sleeve caps.  The two initial patterns presented here are a traditional crew neck sweater and a saddle shoulder sweater, also with a crew neck, both worked from the top down. Only the part of the sweater at the very top at the sides of the neck is worked flat, allowing for all kinds of pattern designs to be used on the chest, back and sleeve caps.

The algorithm I have developed has been tested using ordinary gauges for sizes child through adult as well as with yarn weights from Light (#3) through Jumbo (#7). It may in fact work for other sizes, gauges, and yarn weights, but frankly I have not been able to try all the thousands of possible variations.

Customized sweaters from Phrancko.com

This website was created to allow you to enter the exact measurements of a person for whom you are knitting a sweater. You also describe the yarn you are using along with the needle size as well as the stitch gauge and row gauge for that yarn and needle size. Finally you enter a few specifics for the sweater itself, like the hem length for this particular sweater and the fit (or multiple fits) you desire for this pattern to produce, for example undersized, tight, standard, loose, or oversized. A customized pattern is then produced for all the fits you selected for that particular person using your specific yarn and needle size. These are not your usual Small, Medium, Large, etc. sizes. The multiple sizes you may choose to have in your pattern are all custom sized for the same person, just different fits.

In short you are generating a pattern for a custom sized sweater for a particular person, possibly with different fits, using the yarn and needle size of your choice.

My Story

My name is Frank H. Jernigan, aka Phrancko. I retired in 2005 after a 28 year career as a software developer at the age of 59. A few years later I took up knitting as a hobby. I had learned the basics and knitting a few things thirty years earlier, but I had put it aside to focus on my software career. I was immediately smitten with my new craft. A couple years later, after knitting a few scarves and a couple of sweaters, I heard about the Master Hand Knitting program offered by The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA). I immediately signed up for the course and charged ahead, driven by a desire to learn everything I could about my newfound craft. Two years later, in September, 2017, I was awarded the Master of Hand Knitting Certificate. Since then I have published at least one pattern in every issue of Cast On magazine starting with the Spring 2018 issue. I no longer tell people I am retired. I have started a new career as a knitwear designer. And I am well into my 70's! I guess that proves it's never too late to get started when you find something you love to do.