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the Denim Saga [part 4] – Picking Up Stitches using Denim Yarn

Like many of the knitters I know, I have a dedicated bag that goes with me almost anytime I leave the house. I LOVE to knit in public.

Newest addition to it? Besides the current indigo WIP, along comes that apron I wrote about in the last post so my clothes stay neat and blue-free. I’ve been taking it all everywhere and getting lots done.

Captain Den-M-Knit approves! (Love love love this label!)

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But why is the Captain sporting that little Mona Lisa grin?

Methinks he agrees that knitting with indigo yarn is FUN but maybe also that knitting in public at a place with dangerous treats is just redonkulous (even with an apron!).

To wit, witness this scene at my local coffee house

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This is me not being able to resist a fabulous treat at the counter then faced with the messy reality at the table. But, OH, the sacrifices one must make for their knitting!

But I digress…

My Cerisara WIP is finally starting to look like a cardi! After another seven inches of body knitting, I cast off and am now onto the first sleeve.

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Picking Up Stitches Using Indigo Yarn
Before I could get going with the sleeve knitting, I realized there was going to be a challenging step I had not considered when I started this sweater.

The Cerisara pattern is part of what I call Chic Knits’ the Sweater Organic™ series.

These sweaters all have something in common: they are seamlessly grown while knitting. All begin with an initial piece, then progressive sections are added by picking up stitches on the original section.

[[[You can see Chic Knits The Sweater Organic Bundle here.]]]

For my indigo Cerisara, the next section added, after the Body is finished, is a sleeve and it is started by picking up stitches around the armhole, then working down to the cuff, in-the-round.

However, if you recall, in compensating for the shrinkage factor of the denim yarn, I added extra length to the armhole, which now throws off the pick up ratio given by the pattern (3 sts picked up for every 4 rows worked).

How to adjust? Not too hard actually – the same principles of the initial calculation when I wrote the pattern would work here as well.

How to Determine a Pick-Up Ratio While Adding Stitches to Rows Worked
• Take number of Rows worked
• Determine number of Stitches needed
• Divide Stitches by Rows

In this case, on the first side, the armhole measured in rows to shoulder = 64 rows.

Stitches needed: 41

SO: 41 / 64 = 0.64 which is approximately 0.66 OR 2/3

(You can visually round out the above numbers to 4/6 pretty quickly which gives the same result).

Now, since this doesn’t produce the exact number of stitches the pattern calls for, some adjustment would probably (and was) necessary on the first row worked after the pick-up row.

But this was simple – in most of my Sweater Organic patterns, the first row worked is a purl row (or mostly purls) and it’s easy to p2tog (or add a stitch) as needed to achieve the needed overall beginning count.


Now that I had the proper stitch count, I could get going on those sleeves.

But wait just a minute please. What about all that Sleeve Shaping in the near future?~!

THAT would be the most challenging part of the equation yet…

Coming Up in [part 5]: Real-time Shrinkage in Denim Yarn

…to be continued…

The Denim Saga
[part 1] – About that Yarn
[part 2] – The Sweater Awakens
[part 3] – Knitting with Indigo Denim Yarn
[part 4] – Picking Up Stitches using Denim Yarn
[part 5] – Real-time Shrinkage in Denim Yarn
[part 6] – the Final Rose – After Shrinking Denim Yarn

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the Denim Saga [part 3] – Knitting with Indigo Yarn

Lots of progress being made here on the Den-M-Nit front! It’s been spring showering and I’ve been happily knitting away on my Cerisara indigo cardi. It was time for another flower portrait – this time in the back yard by the Clematis montana ‘Fragrant Spring’ which is actually done flowering so I added in a few Senetti bi-color blooms to spice it up…

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Notice the sweater is looking rather long and lanky here – especially the armholes. Am I panicking? Well, I have to admit, now that there’s some serious fabric at play, I’m a little more anxious than when it was just the back section.

This is one of those love/hate times in knitting: it’s something you might not have tried before and even though you’re following directions and have seen with Your Own Eyes other folks’ successes, it just looks Weird.

But somehow, it just Feels Right!

I’m a deep veteran of felting and this has most of the hallmarks of that type of technique. Just like this one, you have to Boldly Go and just trust that the end of the road IS your destination.

Exciting! (But still a little scary).

What’s surprisingly not as scary as I thought it would be?

The Effect of Knitting with Indigo Yarn
When I started this project, I went out and bought an apron. I was convinced I would be covered in saturated blue every time I picked up the needles. The only one the store had was black so I got it – even though I wanted a white one because I wanted to see, from the beginning to end, just how much of a mess using this type of surface-dyed yarn is.

Well, it’s not showing up on that dark apron but check this out.

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This is taken after an hour or so of knitting at my knit group – it sort of looks like I’ve dipped my digits in an olde ink pot! :)

But just a little soap and warm water and everything comes off nicely.

There IS a permanent situation, though.

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If you recall from [part 2], I switched from working with nickel needles to bamboo and they have become quite colorful!

The needle you see in the middle is permanently colored now – but it’s rather beautiful don’t you think?! Not sure I’d use it on a light colored yarn – but maybe there’s some more indigo yarn knitting in my future. I still have two cones left! :)

Coming Up in part 4: Picking up stitches using Denim Yarn

…to be continued…

The Denim Saga
[part 1] – About that Yarn
[part 2] – The Sweater Awakens
[part 3] – Knitting with Indigo Denim Yarn
[part 4] – Picking Up Stitches using Denim Yarn
[part 5] – Real-time Shrinkage in Denim Yarn
[part 6] – the Final Rose – After Shrinking Denim Yarn

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the Denim Saga [part 2] – The Sweater Awakens

This is, perhaps my favorite time of the year.

Spring brings a fresh start to almost everything. You can almost witness the changes in real time here in Portland – everywhere you look, something is bursting fresh. OH, the colorful blooming bushes, things poking up through the ground and that so very green Pacific Northwest landscape – it’s a beautiful momentum that just can’t be ignored.

Fueled up by this incredible energy, it was easy to dive into that Den-M-Nit yarn and cast-on my Cerisara cardi.

It’s been a little bit of a learning curve to here but wow, I actually think it’s going to work:

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I’ve had lots of fun getting to this point! I love learning new things, especially when it comes to knitting. And gardening and yes, even photography. This project has everything!

Because I’ve been surrounded by blooms everywhere lately, I’ve been adding them to my knitting pictures a lot and if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been enjoying it so much.

So pretty AND it keeps track of what was going on in my garden. :)

Here you see something I planted last fall – a blue potato vine (Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’) and some chartreuse naturalized coral bells that are popping up along the side of my house.

My Knitting Progress
Chic Knits Cerisara has a built-in neckband with a modular construction that adds areas as you go. So far, I’ve completed the upper Back section of the sweater and the Left Front.

Right now I’m working on the Right Front – am now a few inches in and it’s just a few more pattern repeats to where it all really comes together. All three segments are worked to the same point then joined for the lower Body.

But is it coming out like I expected?

Now, I am a total newbie when it comes to working with indigo yarn. But at the end of the day It’s Just Cotton.

I knew the big diff was maybe the color coming off on my hands (stay tuned for part 3 of the saga where we take a look) but I also knew after a few rows that this yarn felt much like other cellulose fibers I’d worked with in the past.

And here was where I hit my first glitch, where even though I’ve had an experience before, I forgot to learn its lesson.

On my first try (yes, what you see above is Try #2), I cast on using nickel needles. I was concerned with the color migration and thought I’d be able to bypass it with that type of surface.

But what happened was even though my Stockinette swatch was great, the tension of the lace patterning once several inches of the cardigan were done was just a bit loose for me. Since I never have been shy about re-do’s, it was time to move on to Try #2, this time working with bamboo needles, who have happily brought the fabric back in line.

Bamboo (or a wooden needle) offers a bit of surface resistance to a cellulose fiber like cotton (which can be slippery) and that makes for a more controlled gauge and enjoyable knit.

The Stitch Patterns
Part of picking this sweater pattern was to have something that would show off the natural wear patterns that would happen with a surface-dyed yarn like this.

I wrote in [part 1]: “The best kind of design for this variable fading fabric is something
that has Highs & Lows.

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This is a close-up of the upper Left Front. You can see the lace pattern developing and how it merges in the neckband area. Lovely – but how will it fade?

Answer: I can’t wait to wash this – check it out:

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Can you see the variations in color already happening? These will continue to fade and overall, the entire fabric will lighten through washing and wearing.

The lace patterning HAS those Highs & Lows it needs and at a smaller scale, so does that field of purl stitches.

I can’t wait to see what happens as it develops its colorful landscape (just like Portland!)

Coming Up in part 3: Colorful and challenging – working with and photographing that incredible Indigo BLUE.

…to be continued…

The Denim Saga
[part 1] – About that Yarn
[part 2] – The Sweater Awakens
[part 3] – Knitting with Indigo Denim Yarn
[part 4] – Picking Up Stitches using Denim Yarn
[part 5] – Real-time Shrinkage in Denim Yarn
[part 6] – the Final Rose – After Shrinking Denim Yarn

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