Monday, June 1, 2009

Knitting Short Rows at the Back of a Collar

I was working on a pattern from Webs for a simple zippered jacket sweater out of their Rainbow yarn, but wanted to make the following changes:

- Collar - I wanted to make sure that the collar would be long enough in back to fold over; sometimes, if you just pick up stitches around the neck and knit a simple rectangular-shaped collar with pointy ends, the entire height of the back of the collar is taken up in filling in the natural curve at the back of the sweater, so there isn't any length left to fold over.

- Fit - the pieces were basic rectangles and I wanted my sweater to be more form-fitting, so I decided to add 2 x 2 ribbing at the sides, gradually decreasing the amount of ribs as I approached the armholes.

- Zipper - well, I didn't have any issues with the zipper, but I thought it might be handy to describe how to sew one in by hand.

First of all, let's look at how to fix the collar issue:

The answer? Short rows. Short rows enable you to insert extra fabric in between two straight edges of knitting, kind of like creating ease where none would have existed before...

To do short rows, you basically cast on all of the collar stitches as you normally would, but then just knit to about 1" past the center, and turn. Elsebeth Lavold has nice instructions in her books for how to "wrap" the yarn around the stitch just before you turn, and then "catch" that loop wrapped around the base of the stitch the next time you knit past it. With every row, you add in a few more stitches at each side before you turn (I added 2), and so every row gets longer, until you decide to knit all the way across. This makes a curved shape that "fills in" that space at the back of the neck, so that your nice rectangular collar will lie flat and be the same "length" after the fold in back as it is in the front.

I've added a picture of the short rows at the back of my collar above - note the semi-circle knitted in between the top edge of the back, and the straight bottom of the collar edge. And it worked!

The wondrous has a beautiful explanation of how to do this, as well as really clear photographs of the actual process:

Next Post: We'll take a look at those side ribs! (I'm working really hard on losing 25 pounds this summer- come next winter when it is cold enough to wear this, I want the slimming effect of the ribs to show off my long-lost waist!)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Baby Cocoon Knitting Pattern

Here are my instructions for knitting a baby cocoon.

Note the short row shaping at the back edge, to accommodate the baby's head.

I don't have a baby handy to model this for you (my son is 12 now, 5' 9" tall, so he's a bit too large!), so I took a few pictures with one of my son's stuffed animals in it to give you the idea.

Baby Cocoon Knitting Pattern

May 2009


Size 13 straight or circular needles

Size 13 double-pointed needles

Heavy worsted (approx. 4 st/inch) yarn - about 170 yards

(I used Valley Yarns Rainbow, 85% wool, 11% acrylic, 4% polyester, available at Webs,, 2 balls each of colors 20 and 35 held together)

One (I) large button.

Gauge: 3 stitches and 4.5 rows to 1” over stockinette stitch.

Explanation of Shaping:

The baby cocoon is shaped like a cornucopia. You start knitting in rows back and forth to make a garter-stitch cuff which will go around the baby’s head. Then, switching to stockinette stitch, you will work short rows to create a curved shape, making the cocoon longer at the back than at the front, to cradle the baby’s head.

Then, you will go back and forth for a few rows and make a buttonhole on one edge, and decrease 6 stitches at the other edge; and then you will join the stitches in a circle and work in the round, making decreases every 4 rows until only 12 stitches remain, then decreasing and drawing the remaining stitches up in a circle.

Knitting Instructions:

Garter Stitch Cuff:

With straight or circular size 13 needles (or size needed to get gauge), cast on 66 stitches – work in garter stitch (Knit every row) for 17 rows (approx. 3.5”).

Short-Row Shaping:

Change to stockinette stitch (knit on front rows, purl on back.

Row 1: Knit 35 stitches, holding yarn in back, slip next stitch purlwise, wrap yarn to front and slip wrapped stitch back onto left-hand needle, turn (one wrapped knit stitch).

Row 2: Purl 4 stitches, holding yarn in front, slip next stitch purlwise, wrap yarn to back and slip wrapped stitch back to the left-land needle, turn (one wrapped purl stitch).

Row 3: Knit to wrapped stitch, knit wrapped stitch together with wrap at its base, k1, wrap next knit stitch, turn.

Row 4: Purl to wrapped stitch, purl wrapped stitch together with wrap at its base, p1, wrap next purl stitch, turn.

Continue Rows 3 and 4 in this manner until only 12 stitches remain unknitted at each end of the needle. Work next knit row all the way to the last stitch, knitting wrapped stitch together with wrap at its base, and purl next row all the way to the last stitch, knitting wrapped stitch together with wrap at its base.

Body of Cocoon:

Row 1: Knit sts.

Row 2: Purl all sts.

Row 3: Knit all sts.

Row 4: Same as Row 2.

Row 5: Buttonhole Row: Knit 2 sts, cast off 2 stitches, knit across remaining sts.

Row 6: Purl to cast-off sts; cast on 2 stitches, purl last 2 sts (buttonhole completed).

Begin decrease rows: Knit 10 stitches; place marker (PM), k1, sl 1, psso (one dec. made); )knit 18 sts, PM, k 1, sl 1, psso) twice (second and third dec. made); knit to last three stitches, k 2 tog, k 1. (62 stitches remain).

Row 7: Same as Row 2.

Row 8: Knit to last 3 stitches, k2 tog, K1. (61 stitches remain)

Row 9: Same as Row 2.

Row 11: Knit to marker, k1, sl 1, psso; repeat across to last 3 stitches, K2 tog, K1. (57 stitches remain)

Row 12: Same as Row 2.

Row 13: Same as Row 8. (56 stitches remain)

Row 14: Same as Row 2.

Row 15: Same as Row 11 (53 stitches remain).

Row 16: Same as Row 2.

Row 17: Switch to double-pointed needles, dividing onto 3 needles and knitting with the fourth, working a decrease in the 2 sts after each marker, and then slipping last stitch in the row, knitting the first stitch from the first double-pointed needle, and then passing the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch.

Rows 18 – 20: Knit 3 rows straight.

Row 21: knit across, working dec after each marker.

Continue in this way, working 3 decreases every 4th row, until 12 stitches remain.

Knit 2 rows.

Knit 2 sts together across, then cut yarn and draw through remaining 6 stitches.

Weave in ends; sew button opposite buttonhole.

Find really cute newborn (is there any other type?) and take photos of them tucked cozily inside.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Welcome to Twin Cities Knitties!

Hello there!

Welcome to my blog. I'm a passionate knitter who lives and works in the Twin Cities, and I decided it is time to find a better way of making friends with fellow knitters who share my delight in this craft. I hope to keep in touch with my fellow knitting pals, and to share some of my own ideas and patterns for you all.

First subject - a baby cocoon knitting pattern! I was asked to help design one of these by a pal who pointed out that the pattern she found on Etsy was being sold for $35.00. I thought, whoa, that has to be the price for a fully knitted cocoon! But, no, although no longer available on Etsy apparently, the listing was in fact just for a mere pattern.

Keep an eye out in the next few days; I'm working on revising an easy pattern which, rather than just consisting of a knitted tube, uses easy short-row shaping so that the back is longer than the front, creating a cozy cuff that will cradle the baby's head.

I'll post pictures and instructions for anyone who wants to give them a try, for free.