Saturday, September 11, 2010

Augusta Lessons UNLearned

I've written about some of the lessons I've learned in knitting the Augusta Cardigan (Lesson 1 post, Lesson 2 post). But today I want to explore some of what I have left to learn.

Better buttonholes

First, how in the heck do you make a buttonhole that doesn't gape?  I checked - even in the original Handstrikket, the buttonholes gape. And it was handknitted by a Norwegian! :-)

With the Augusta, I made a the buttonhole by binding off two stitches on the first row and casting on two stitches on the second row (this graphic shows three stitches, but you get the drift). I thought this would make a tight enough buttonhole. I was wrong. I'm going to have to do what I do with every buttonhole: sew around with either thread or yarn to tighten up and stablize it. I don't mind doing this but there ought to be a better way.

With my extensive sewing experience, I would never make a buttonhole without a facing and interfacing, but with knitting this isn't possible. I've pondered making a placket twice as wide, folding it back on itself and basting it down, and then using a sewing machine to make the buttonholes, but I'm not sure these would be right either. Plus can you imagine knitting a whole sweater and then screwing it up with one lousy buttonhole? Makes me tremble at just the thought.

I would like to use buttonholes on my Melrose Peacoat but Kathy Zimmerman suggests that I use snaps instead. This is what the pattern specs as well. I was lucky to find some red silk-covered snaps at Sew True so maybe they'll work. But I still wish I could do conventional buttonholes.

Short row shaping in the hips

In Big Girl Knits, Jillian and Amy talk extensively about using short row shaping for bustlines, but I think I need them for my ass. My sweaters consistently ride up in the rear. Part of this is because I have hyperlordosis AKA way too curvy spine. I suspect I need to add another inch or two or length in the hips to get a better fit. Not all the way around, just in the back. I'm going to try the calculations provided in Big Girl Knits to improvise short row shaping for the Melrose Peacoat. We'll see how that goes.


With my background in sewing, seaming doesn't make me completely miserable like it does my knitting gal pal, Teresa. She despises it. I don't mind it but I would like to learn more about finishing techniques. Kathy Zimmerman is holding a weekend knitting retreat in November that includes a finishing class - I think I'll go. Another question: which seaming technique works best for the shoulders versus the sides? And as always, I need to learn Kitchener. No matter how many times I watch the YouTube videos, I just don't get it.

Ease continues to trouble me. I'm not sure what the right answer is, but my handknits tend to skim my curves and that makes me uncomfortable. I'm used to wearing baggy clothes that never fit, I guess. Seeing my hips in the Diamond Yoke Cardigan or the Augusta makes me nervous. I'm knitting the Melrose Peacoat with more ease but that's because it's a coat. One of these days I'll figure out how much ease to use - or I'll get used to my curves and get over it.

I'm sure there are plenty of other things I need to learn, too, like how to stop worrying, live in the moment, meditate, trust the universe, and ad nauseum. But I have a far better chance of learning Kitchener than learning to relax. So I guess I'm starting with grafting. :-)


  1. So much to learn , and so much absorbed already this year.

    'Despise' is putting it too mildly...I abhor and loathe sewing seams.

    Here is the Zen of Kitchener; a chant and a tutorial !!

    Have you seen the Knitting at Noon video?
    She demos the K stitch.
    I don't know if these links are going to come out, though.


  2. Seems like in your little Kitchener stitch image, the needle is about to follow the wrong path. Once you finally get it, the Kitchener stitch is really easy. One of these days you will just go "duh"! why did I think it was so difficult?

    As for ease, I think the best thing is to measure a garment that fits you great, then compare to your own measurements, and figure it out from there. Bad thing is though, the needed ease changes with drape, style and fabric... so it's always sort of a gamble.

    Lucy Neatby has a great DVD explaining sewing, side seams, shoulders, armholes etc., it really helped me and I don't mind sewing anymore, in fact, I now really enjoy it, because my seams look wonderful and that makes me feel very clever... like I conquered something...

    Good post today, I really enjoyed it. :)

  3. Michele, the Lucy Neatby DVD sounds like a winner. I'll look for it. Thanks for the hint and encouragement.

    And Teresa, zen and Kitchener are mutually exclusive. They just don't belong in the same universe!