April 7, 2004
Are you as excited as I am about today's topic. You know you are. (Stop that complaining, don't we always have a good time? It's not as bad as you think)
Your local yarn harlot is knitting a cardigan. We have another boring picture of the boring raglan cardigan in boring navy blue. This sweater is so boring that I have included my cat for interest. (Yes I know I've mouthed off about the cat pictures before, but that was before I discovered that I was knitting something that had absolutely no blog-merit. I'm hard up for a way to hold your interest) It would be better if the cat would do something besides look bored, but you can't say I didn't try. (She can't even be bothered to look at the sweater. I'm alone in my efforts, I swear it)
This is an ordinary run of the mill cardigan. Stockinette stich, 1x1 ribbing, no cables, no stripes, no reason to live, very little to motivate the knitter. (The urge to knit a single row of yellow into it is nearly overwhelming.) Since clearly, I have very little to think about while knitting this cardie, I have decided to attack the simple button band.
Let's establish my bias. I hate button bands. I hate them with a purity and faithfulness that I have not felt since a girl named Cindy and her two pigtailed thugs chased me home from the 4th grade almost every day for a month. I hate the ones where you pick up stitches and knit the bands out. They always look like I'm investigating freeform knitting until I've frogged it twelve times. I even committed the rule to memory. Two stitches for every three rows. I'm not reckless, I knit it very carefully, and yet....each and every stinking time there is a band that is flared, concave or convex.
To avoid this test of skill, I have accepted that the vertical button band is my alternative. Sadly, there is nothing to love about the vertical band either. Simple instructions though: Cast on 6 (or 7, or 10 stitches, just enough to inspire you to learn to knit backwards to avoid turning for the 467th time at the end of the annoyingly short row) and knit until the band, "slightly stretched" is the right length. "Slightly stretched" is a particularly maddening instruction isn't it? Isn't that sort of subjective? What if you're kinda high strung? Relaxed? Drunk? It is this writers personal suspicion that the reason that they give this vague instruction is because the exact appropriate length of a button band is a complete mystery to them as well. After much experimentation I have determined my own personal system for determining band length. I knit until I feel like I'm going to scream. Then have a coffee and knit until I feel burning, bitter resentment. Then I measure, have a little cry and knit until I feel the apathy of the doomed. This is usually the right length.
So here's the thought. Why knit button bands? Really, especially vertical ones, why wouldn't you just include the stitches for the band when you knit the fronts? Really...why not? What is there to stop me from adding the 7 stitches for the band to the stitches for the front and keep them in rib while I knit it up? I'll do the front where the buttons go first (Aside: Am I completely alone in absolutely, completely not caring in the very least about the left side, right side, boy/girl button thing? Has there ever been anything that mattered less?) Then I'll mark the rows that should have buttonholes, and knit them as I go on the other side. Bob's yer uncle. In my head, this plan marks the sweet release from vertical button bands forever. I feel an odd lightness....oh wait....IT'S JOY!!!
If anyone has a compelling reason why I should not proceed with this plan, speak now or forever hold your peace. (I've always wanted to say that).
Kathy asked yesterday for a refresher on where to get the shawls. I like Kathy, so:
Posted by Stephanie at April 7, 2004 10:30 AM
Get your shawl kits here or from the designer (and my charming lys owner) Margret Haas at the Yarn Boutique, 416-760-9129.
When I bought the green yesterday she was already sold out of the blue. I wonder who got the last one? Could we have a moment of silence for Blue Mexican Wave yarn? It shall not pass this way again.
This is a good way to do the bands, knitted as you go. It worked out great on my last handknitting project, wish I could do it that way on the machine.
Go for knit-as-you-go! When moments like these hit me (and they do often) I try to read two or three patterns that claim to be successful that feature what ever the thing I'm attempting is. But in all honesty I think its easier to just pick up stitches at the end of the sweater and that way I don't worry about forgeting a button hole... I have been dreaming for weeks about how I want to knit up a navy blue raglan cardigan (but grown up sized) how funny to see you making one...
I love the cat.
You know the secret to keeping your mind from collapsing while knitting a boring, boring sweater? TV. Lots and lots of tv. (Books work too, but only if you can rig up some way to keep them open that doesn't drive you mad.)
I've got a baaaaaad feeling about this. I mean, call me a devil's advocate, but this sounds kind of risky. You've got to ask yourself- "Would I rather knit the whole cardi to find out that my knit as I go won't work?" I don't know.... I would invoke the swatch to be sure. Am I really this conservative a knitter? Have I had to rip out whole sweaters before? You bet...
Do it! I do this all the time. At first I worried that the bands would be too long because my rib gauge isn't exactly the same - but they actually look a lot better than the sewn on ones and you don't get any sort of nasty jog at the bottom.
The solution for the cardi I'm doing is a zipper. No button bands..that's my rule. LOL
Oh, the kitty (even bored) is completely adorable. My kitty doesn't like to pose for pics either.
Done it, it works. I have done it in a twisted k1,p1 rib; regular; and garter. The garter pulls in a little more.
Live dangerously, go for it!
I have the summer braids cardigan band all picked up and knitted to the button holes. (6 months ago). Now that I have it all scrunched on the needle, neck, left, and right sides, it says "evenly space the button holes on the band". Yeah, right.... someday, when I'm in the mood.
ooooh. I really hope it works! I get hives just thinking about trying to pick up that many stitches, and so have only envisioned pullovers or zippers in my future.
Maybe this will save me from a closetful of cardis with only one button at the top...
But the pessimist in me wonders: unless all the knitting-pattern writers of the world are sadistic--and so perpetuate the separate band as a form of knitterly penance (for our excess stashes, perhaps)--doesn't there have to be a really good reason why doing it your way won't work?
Books on tape, baybee.
Entertaining, engaging, and no need to look away from my knitting, a skill I do not currently possess.
The only problem I run into is if I'm working on something complicated. Then I tend to lose track of the story I'm listening to...
Go for it Stephanie. Going all the way back to my grandfather, all of my aunts, my mother, sister, girlfriends and everybody I've ever come across - nobody ever knit buttonbands. We always included the stiches when we knit the front. Maybe it's a Danish thing?
Those of you who knit the band and front as one piece, do you use a smaller needle for the band and a larger one for the stockinette part?
There is an option I have been wanting to try which is to knit the band as a separate strip but attaching it as you go. I think I saw the instructions in Principles of Knitting (June Hiatt) but they may be available elsewhere as well.
I am with you on the boy/girl button band thing. The only time I have ever noticed what side a button was on: when going shopping at a yard sale or thrift store and the shirt or sweater is in such an ambiguous style that you aren't sure if it is meant for a boy or a girl. You check the buttons as a last resort :-).
As for boring knitting, 90% of my projects could be considered mindless. With four kids under 12, I have to lock myself in a closet to knit anything more complicated than stockinette.
I think it depends on several things (I'm not saying these are all *good* reasons, they're just the ones I can think of)
1) The stitch you use for the band. The vertical gauge of garter stitch is smaller than stockinette. So if you use g.st. for an included band, make sure to put a couple of short rows in the band every 8 rows or so. Otherwise the band will be "convex" as I think you called it.
2) The size of the buttons. Buttonholes are usually vertical, and the bigger the buttons are the more awkward it seems (to me) to fumble with a horizontal buttonhole when wearing the sweater. And vertical buttonholes are easier (I think) to do when the button bands are perpendicular. But hey, there's probably a Cool Exciting way to do vertical buttonholes that I don't know.
3) Durability. With perpendicular bands, you can use a smaller needle to get a firmer fabric that theoretically is less likely to wear out. The cast-off edge will be the place where the wear occurs, which is probably more durable than a side and easier to repair if it does get a hole. Same with the buttonholes. This applies to vertical separate bands too; they can be knit firmer, and isolated and repaired more easily.
4) Channelling "Fiddler on the Roof"... Tradition! In some cases, I'm sure it's because the design of the knitted garment was done as if it were a sewn garment... you knit all the shapes to be the same as the cloth shapes, then sew them together.
Anyway, just my $0.02.
I did it as I went, just once, blowing off what the pattern had to say about adding on afterwards. I don't remember what stitch I was using, just that it somehow came out a different length from the sweater and I was stuck. It looked terrible. I wimped out and never tried again.
You have discovered the true reason for the existence of cats. Blog Accessories.
I hate button bands as much as you do. Maybe more since I haven't knit one in the last five years.
Be the guinea pig.
I do the button bands at the same time all the time. I don't like the way the sewn on ones look. When they are 1x1 rib, they always sit nicely, but I tend to rib tighter than stocking stitch on the same size needle.
When I do garter stitch, I throw in short rows. I look at the bottom...if it has that horrible joggy thing, I put in a row. I don't know how often it is, although it is more often at the beginning than it is later.
I find dogs work as well as cats to spark up the bland knitting thing.
Oh yeah, do 'em as you go! It certainly hasn't been a problem for me with a moss stitch button band. And yes that left-side/right-side button thing is sooo annoying. I have yet to figure out which is "correct".
I do a garter stitch band on my stockinette swatches as I go along... as instructed by my LYS owner. It makes it easier to know how many stitches to measure (you do the req. number in stockinette with 4 garter stitch on each end) and lets the stockinette lay flatter for measuring. It looks really nice on the edge - however I haven't ever done it for more than 4 inches, so I wouldn't know how far off the row gauge gets.
If you want a visual aid in case I'm not explaining this clearly, you can see the picture of my first (horrendous, atrocious) swatch ever here:
(Don't worry, every swatch since then has looked much better - that was just my first attempt.)
Why not skip the button band AND the zipper and just use those fancy hook and eye things with the Norwegian type designs on them. It would make the sweater more interesting too. Kitty might even look at it then.
You know, Chelsea hits the nail on the head. Before I just haul off and try stuff like this I always think, It can't just be that pattern writers are "sadistic" (though...I do have my concerns) there must be a reason that I don't understand. Then I think, how many people haven't bothered making enormous strides in knitting...held back by this?
Amy makes excellent points (clever girl) I'm particularly concerned with her "durability" argument.
hmmm...should I be at all concerned that Claudia's just trying to talk me into doing her test knitting? I'm wondering if she's even on my side, or if I'm just some kind of button-band entertainment.
A cat that looks that cute adds tons of interest even to the most boring project ever.
When we were taught to knit at school the generic rule of thumb to pick up stitches was 3 per 4 rows. Except for socks, where the ratio is 1 to 2. I hate buttons with passion so I have no experience with button bands. The 3 to 4 ratio works fine with sleeves, though.
Right now I'm knitting a black top down raglan reversed stockinette cardigan a la Adrienne Vittadini ad. I read blogs to fight the boredom that set in after the first centimetre. I used to watch TV or listen to audiobooks, but blogs are more interesting than TV and I lost all my books when my hard drive crashed.
I think some of the reason bands are picked up later is a stability thing. Having the bands pull differently should keep the fabric more stable. (Look at your sewn clothes. Most of the button facings have interfacing for stablity, right?)
However, if your bands are a nice stable stitch (moss stitch comes to mind) that shouldn't be an issue.
Granted, it could be that pattern writers just think bound off edges look better than row turns :-) Or Tradition. Or, they secretly steek everything...
Well, thanks for liking me and for repeating the address for the lovely shawl. Mwah!
Must confess I'm not much interested in chatons, but I'll pester you again by asking what's that pretty blue/yellow thing beside chaton's head?
That I'm interested in.
My extensive experience tells me that there's really no dreadful reason not to work the button/hole (also could not care less which is which, does that make me gay?)bands at the same time as the body.
Garter works quite well, and you could sneak in a short row here and there, but sicne you're immeasurably tiny to begin with, you're not likely to need short rows.
Ribbing works a little less well, largely because it'll have a tendency to turn under.
If you're not totally anal, you'll be able to steam it into submission.
Seed stitch (US:k1, p1. P the k's. k the p's on the way back) is a winner, as the row gauge is not as tight as garter, and it won't flip under.
In the end, if it looks good to you, lovey, it works fine.
If I may add another couple of cents (hopefully without ruining my image of cleverness :>)...
For perpendicular picked up bands, I have to say that two different binding-off techniques Changed My Life. I discovered that a big part of the ugliness of my bands was my too-tight traditional "knit two, pass the first stitch over the second" bind off.
Instead, I tried a tubular cast-off for ribbed and moss stitch bands (http://flor.trix.net/tips5.htm) and Elizabeth Zimmerman's "sewn cast off" for garter stitch bands, in the appendix of Knitter's Almanac. Boy howdy, did this make a difference!
(almost as big a difference as realizing that "picking up stitches" means "pulling a loop of new yarn *through* the fabric" and not "snagging a stitch *from* the fabric, twisting and distorting it" Oops, I'm screwing up the "clever" schtick now, aren't I? :>)
Amy hit it on the head. Since stockinette and garter st have a different vertical gauge - you can just add a few short rows and all will be well.
The only good reason for boy button bands and girl button bands I can think of is that it keeps him from stealing my silk shirts. He has the typical runner's body (narrow hips, no fat, and not much muscle above the waist) while I am a bit "buxom", so we wear almost the same shirt size.
On a cardigan? No good reason at all, as he also has the metabolism of a runner and never needs a sweater.
Elizabeth in Norway
Suspicious today, aren't we?
She of Pure Motive
I definitely think you could knit as you go. I usually knit this kind of boring sweater in the round, though, with a steek, because I can go a lot faster on stockinette in the round and not have to match lengths and do seams, etc. Doing the steek and buttonbands seem a small price to pay, and I knit wider ones that fold back and hide my steek stitches. Knowing different techniques to suit different projects sure makes knitting more fun and productive. Keep us posted on how your project comes out. I love the blue color, by the way.
Stability? My grandmother often sews a wide grosgrain ribbon to the back of the bands, as a facing. Lasts forever.
Yes absolutely knit them on. No reason not to. The only reason I can think of to choose one way over the other is if you prefer your ribbing to run up and down vertically, or outward horizontally. Sounds like that will be a secondary consideration for you .... ;->
Re: The Carnival Shawl - I'm not sure what the big deal about this is. Am I missing something? The colors? Is it soft? What?
Wow! Your cat looks so much like my old cat "Bootsie" that I had from 3rd grade until college. Twins, I tell ya! :)