So I finished it – my Yokey-thingy (or Yoke Vest by Teva Durham from Loop-d-loop, to give it its official title). And of course, as it’s something I’ve knit and especially because it’s for me, I’m not happy with it. Yes, I probably should have gone one size up – DH describes it as body-hugging, and he doesn’t mean it as a compliment, me thinks. I “suffer” from an over-positive body-image, in that I still think I have the figure I had nine years and three pregnancies ago. Only rarely, with tops like these, does the stark reality make an impression on my rose-tinted mind.
However, I’m stubbornly going to remain in denial about needing a bit less negative-ease and focus instead on the thing I don’t like most about it: how it rolls at the bottom and whereit sits – on my hips. Lest I be accosted by Trinny and Suzanna for wearing something that draws the eye to exactly where I don’t want the eye drawn I’ve decided on an Elizabeth Zimmerman- inspired remedy: add a garter stitch hem, but horizontally, a la Pi Shawl border. Why? Eh… why not!
What you’re looking at here is the cast-on I used at the bottom of the original top – a thumb-loop cast-on. So I picked up stitches by inserting the needle into each of these loops – the stitches look like a series of yarn overs. (If I were going to knit down in stocking stitch, rather than knit accross in garter stitch, it would be better to pick up the stitches from the row beneath the cast-on loops and pick out the cast-on. But I’m not, so it doesn’t matter.) My new Denise interchangeable needles came in very handy here as I could set up with a smaller sized needle on the cord initially, then fit the correct needle size onto whichever end you want to start with.
Set yourself up as follows: in your left hand: a circular needle (of correct size for guage) through all the body stitches and with right side facing. You will need a second needle of the same size to knit with – this can be a straight needle. But first, a provisional cast-on…
I use a version of the crochet cast-on that I learned from Aileen at her “Top-down, set-in sleeves” class. Basically, you’re making a chain of single crochet stitches but, rather than go back and pick up the bumps of each stitch afterwards, you crochet around a knitting needle so you’re picking up as you go – very clever. My alteration is that I hold the crochet hook and yarn in my right -hand, as though I were knitting rather than the yarn in my left-hand which I would do if I were crochet-ing. I find it easier to get the yarn under the needle for each stitch. So, make a few chain stitches then place the needle (in your LH) over the yarn (in your RH) and place the crochet hook over the needle – from the top: crochet hook (RH), needle (LH), yarn (RH). Throw the yarn (I’m a thrower, not a picker) from under on the right and over the crochet hook and back to right, then pull the yarn through the loop on the hook – the needle has a stitch cast-on to it (see the loop, with a crochet chain stitch underneath). Return the yarn to be under the needle, which is in turn under the hook and continue on until you’ve cast-on enough stitches. When you’ve cast-on enough make a few single chains again to finish off and pull yarn end through the last loop to fasten off.
Okay, so I admit it – my first attempt was… a learning experience. I learned that I’d cast-on too many stiches, making the band too deep – that eye getting drawn down there again, aaahh! I tried out a few different methods for knitting the two stitches together: slip the body stitch knitwise or purlwise; with yarn in front or back etc and what the effect was on the join between the hem and body. Most importantly, I learned what guage I have in garter stitch and thereby how many rows I need to get round my hips. Guage (slightly stretched): 4″ = 18 rows; hip dimension (ahem) 36″. Therefore number of rows needed: (36/4) * 18 = 162. However, there’s only 86 stitches on the body so for each stitch I would have to make 162/86 = 1.88 rows of garter stitch – let’s say two rows per stitch.
Ready to go? Leaving a long tail (for grafting later), knit into your provisionally cast-on stitches – these become (what I’m calling) your border stitches. Move the yarn to the front, slip the next stitch (a body stitch) purlwise onto RH needle and turn your work (wrong side now facing). Now, K2tog (the border stitch and the first stitch from the body), knit to end. After that continue as follows: every RS row – sl1 knitwise, k all border stitches, sl body st pwyf, turn; every WS row – k2tog, k to end. Continue all the way around finishing with a WS row – ready to graft.
Remove waste yarn from CO edge and place resulting live sts on needle, beginning from the body so that tip of needle is at outer edge. With WS facing, hold needles parallel, with needle with working yarn attached held to the front, with needle tips pointing to the right. Graft seam as follows:
Step 1: Insert needle into first stitch on front needle from back to front, as if to purl.
Step 2: Insert needle into first stitch on back needle from front to back, as if to knit. Drop first stitch from back needle.
Step 3: Insert needle into first stitch on back needle from back to front, as if to purl.
Step 4: Insert needle into first stitch on front needle from front to back, as if to knit. Drop first stitch from front needle.
Repeat Steps 1-4 until all sts have been grafted.
As I was doing this I realised why EZ often refers to grafting as weaving – the action of the bodkin going from right to left between the front and back needle is similar to the shuttle going through the threads on a loom. Thinking this helped get my head around what I was doing.
An improvement, I think you’ll agree. Now, to rip the body and knit it one size up… I’m kidding – for now…