Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Waffles #7 - Sleeves

Sweater so far:

Pick up 54 stitches around the armhole opening.

The stitches should be arranged as follows: 2 stitches over cast-off stitches at underarm, 26 stitches to shoulder, 26 stitches back to underarm.

Sleeves are worked in the round, with no underarm seam.

Begin work in pattern stitch at the 2 underarm stitches. The two underarm stitches will be "purl 2" of the pattern and a "knit 4" rib will be centered at the top of the shoulder.

On the first round, P1, place marker, continue to end of round. The marker is at the center of the underarm.

Work pattern stitch for 5 more rounds.

Begin sleeve decreases on next round Decrease one stitch on each side of marker, every third round.

In other words, decrease 2 stitches at underarm every 3 rows, 12 times. (30 stitches remain).

(Hint: I found it easiest to keep those two underarm stitches as "purls" on each side of the marker, adjusting the next stitch away from the marker as the pattern gets decreased away)

Continue to work even in pattern stitch until 7 complete pattern repeats have been worked (7 purl ridges), ending with row 6.

Change to smaller needles and work 6 rounds in P2, K4 ribbing.

Bind off all stitches.

Work second sleeve to correspond to first.

Weave in all yarn ends.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Waffles #6 - Collar

From the last set of instructions: Sweater is inside out, ready for 3-needle bindoff at right shoulder.

Left upper front is removed from holder and ready to be worked. Yarn is joined at neckline.

34 neckline stitches picked up, ready to work collar.


Knit 3 rows even.

Increase row: Increase 3 stitches, evenly spaced. In other words, increase one stitch at each shoulder and one stitch at the center back.

Repeat these 4 rows twice more. 43 stitches total.

Knit two rows even.

Bind off all stitches.

Take a moment right now to search out a tapestry needle and weave in all of the yarn ends so far. You'll feel so efficient and when the sleeves are done, the sweater will be DONE.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

End of an Era

In 1997 we moved a reluctant 7th grader 90 miles north to a new life, new district, new school. Elizabeth had already made quite a name for herself in the music, math and science programs at her previous schools and we were anxious to get her involved in something similar as soon as possible. Without much idea of what we were getting into, we encouraged her to try out for a spot on the middle school Science Olympiad team.

Unknowingly, we had stumbled on to one of the finest middle school teams in the state. Within 6 years, they qualified for National competition 5 times. Parental help was an expectation, and Dave and I discovered niches we hadn't looked for, but came to love, as "parent coaches". Dave coached winning teams of bridge builders, tower constructors and model airplane pilots. I quickly garnered a reputation as a very versatile coach, working with helium balloon lofts, graph and chart events, metric measurement and estimation, climate, oceanography, physics, chemistry. There's no question in my mind that the coaching helped me last year when I attempted teaching certification in "Composite Sciences" for the state of Texas...I'd been reviewing for years!

As our children grew, each one earned a place on the middle school team, then advanced to the high school level. We learned to work around after-school practices, Saturday reviews and the weekend tournaments each year; Regional Qualifiers, then in late April, the State event. The school teams were excellent, each year the competition became more intense, the honor of reaching the State level more satisfying.

And each year, the family collection of medals grew.

Elizabeth stood out in middle school for her computer skills. Before the days of "Google", she was an expert (and State Champion) at combining keyboard and language in internet searches. We watched her friends grow up, graduate and move on, and last year, one of my early coaching proteges ended up working with Dave in the professional engineering world. We watched in awe as her team captured the first State championship of several we were to experience and wished her team well as they went off to the University of Chicago.

In the following years, at least one child would participate in National Competitions in Colorado, Delaware and Pennsylvania. They learned the finer points of group dynamics, tour buses, shared hotel rooms and time schedules. As parent/coaches, one or both of us went along on most of these trips. We were honored to be a part of "that Texas team" with its signature black cowboy hats, neat tucked-in logo shirts and blue jeans.

And the medals kept on coming home.

When Alex was in middle school, a last minute event change meant that he'd be competing in an event he'd never studied for. In what I consider one of my finest moments of parenting, I drew on what I remembered from long-ago chemistry classes and coached him for just 3 days in "Polymer Science". He represented his school alone, without an event partner, and placed first in the state competition. Never mind the parenting...the child was willing and capable. The honor was his. At the high school level, he earned a reputation as a meticulous detail man in balsa wood construction. He, his event partner and Dave spent many afternoons fine-tuning wings and propellers and occasionally watching a competition-worthy plane fly directly into a gymnasium basketball hoop.

Two years behind, Isaac observed and absorbed the knowledge. His forte has always been memory/recall and he quickly earned the respect of students, teachers and coaches in a variety of "academic events". Oceans. Glaciers. Insects. Water chemistry. Ecology. One year at the State level, he had the distinction of medaling in 3 out of his 4 events.

I have great respect for the teachers who orchestrate the practices and the paperwork to make this event what it is. I'm proud to count several of our children's teacher/coaches as my mentors as I begin my own teaching career. In a world where the headlines include teenagers who seek to break down and destroy, it has been an honor to work closely with some of those who search for excellence and aren't afraid of the hard work necessary to achieve it.

In Texas, the competition has become fierce. More and more schools participate, and there are more levels to the competition...not just anyone can go to "State". A few years ago, Regional qualifying tournaments were introduced, and the State competition was capped at 30 teams. A school team that advances to the State level has every right to be proud of the accomplishment. Regional competitions allow more local participation, and I'm always happy to hear the name of a "new" participating school. Best of luck to them...I hope they'll be back next year, and the next, and the next.

This weekend was the 2008 Science Olympiad Texas State Tournament, and late last night, 4 weeks away from high school graduation, Isaac arrived home triumphantly displaying his final medal in the Science Olympiad. Second place silver in "Environmental Chemistry". A brilliant finish to something that has bound our family together for 10 years. It's truly the end of an era.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Waffles #5 - Upper Front / Neckline

Sweater so far. Left front stitches are on waste yarn and right front is ready to be worked.

The crossed stitches at the center front will provide reinforcement at the bottom of the neck opening.


Work back and forth for 10 rows, keeping pattern as established and ending at the shoulder edge. Break yarn, leaving about 4 feet.

Use your preferred method to attach the shoulder stitches to each other. Either use a Kitchener Stitch from the "right side" to graft 12 front and 12 back shoulder stitches together, or turn the sweater wrong side out and use a 3-needle bind off from the "wrong side". Keep the last stitch "live, and place it on a stitch holder along with the 8 neck-edge stitches.

(Hint: do not fasten off the yarn used to graft or bind off the shoulder seam. Leave 6-8 inches of yarn; you can use this tail later to draw up any slight "holes" at the shoulder after working the collar).


Take left front stitches off holder. Join yarn at center front. The wrong side of the sweater should be facing you. Beginning with pattern row 3 (and keeping neck edge section in garter stitch), work back and forth for 10 rows, ending at neck edge. Do not break yarn!

Place back left shoulder stitches on a double-point needle and use reserved yarn at shoulder to graft shoulder seam (from right side of sweater) or work a 3-needle bind off (from wrong side of sweater). Again, leave the last stitch "live" and place it on the circular needle next to left front neck stitches. Again, break shoulder seam yarn, leaving a tail for later.

Pick up the yarn at center front and with wrong side of sweater facing you, knit across 8 front neck stitches, 1 shoulder seam stitch, 16 back neck stitches, 1 shoulder seam stitch and 8 right front stitches.

34 stitches total.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Waffles #4 - Front to Neckline

Upper back with stitches divided for shoulder, back neck, shoulder. Yarn is saved at left shoulder for grafting shoulder later.

Yarn is joined at right underarm. The first row worked on the section will be a "wrong side" row.

You will begin the pattern stitch with row 5. Work back and forth for 11 rows, ending with pattern row 3.

With right side of front facing you, work 12 stitches in pattern, place marker, K 16 stitches, place marker, work 12 stitches in pattern.

Keeping the side panels in pattern stitch and the center panel in garter stitch (K every row), work 9 rows.

With right side facing you, work 12 stitches in pattern, slip marker, K 7, cross the next two stitches, K7, slip marker, work in pattern to end of row.

(To cross stitches, remove the first stitch from the left hand needle, hold that stitch at front of work, knit the next stitch, replace the first stitch on the left hand needle and knit it. You have made a mini "cable twist").

Place the first 20 stitches on waste yarn or a stitch holder. These will be worked as the left upper front later. Work will continue on the remaining 20 stitches to form the right upper front.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Waffles #3 - Upper Back

Body worked to front/back dividing round:

Body after front/back dividing round: yarn is at the left underarm of sweater. "Wrong side" of back is facing you and you are ready to start working "back and forth" on back section.

Work back-and-forth across these 40 stitches for 32 more rows, ending with row 6 of pattern, and with yarn at left shoulder. Break yarn, leaving about 4 feet of yarn. This yarn will be used later to graft the shoulder seam.

NOTE! Remember to reverse the pattern stitches when working "wrong side" rows - knits become purls and purls become knits when the wrong side is facing you.

Place back stitches on stitch holders or waste yarn as follows: 12 stitches (shoulder), 16 stitches (back neck), 12 stitches (shoulder).

Turn work so wrong side of front is facing you and join yarn at the right underarm.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Waffles #2 - Main Body

Here's where we stopped:

Continue in pattern stitch for 27 more rounds, ending with row 3.

You should have a total of 6 purled "ridges" and be at your beginning-of-round marker. This is the left underarm of the finished sweater.

Bind off two stitches, work across next 40 stitches in pattern as established. Place these 40 stitches on waste yarn or on a spare double point needle. They will be used later for the front of the sweater.

Bind off two stitches (right underarm) and work across the remaining 40 stitches, keeping pattern as established.

NOTE - To center the pattern on the top of the sweater, the two bound-off stitches at each underarm should be the "Purl 2" stitches of the pattern. Both 40-stitch sections, front and back, should begin and end with the "Knit 4" stitches of the pattern.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Waffles #1 - Getting Started

Begin at bottom of sweater body.

Using 24-inch circular needle, CO 84 stitches. Join, being careful not to twist stitches.

Place marker to mark beginning of round.

Work in P2, K4 ribbing for 7 rounds.

Begin pattern stitch, work through 6 rows of pattern (13 rounds completed).

Solid dot - P on right side, K on wrong side
Open space - K on right side, P on wrong side

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Pattern stitch, for those who prefer not to use charts:
(Worked in the round over a multiple of 6 stitches)

Rounds 1 and 2: Purl 2, Knit 4
Round 3: Purl all stitches
Rounds 4, 5 and 6: Purl 2, Knit 4

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Putting the "Mock" in "Mockingbird"

You can't see it.

No, you can't, but Pandora can.

One of Texas' finest, the State Bird, is out there just on the other side of that window.

It comes every morning and drives that cat mad.

"Bird Brain"? Not that one...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Waffles For Brunch" Sweater Instructions Coming Saturday

Beginning Saturday, April 19, I will begin posting the instructions for the Waffle sweater in a "Knitalong" format, a section every other day or so.

For now, here's the materials list:

(Sweater is about a 3/4 Toddler size - intended for charity knitting where "every sweater will fit some child")

Gauge: 3 stitches = 1 inch and 4 rows = 1 inch

About 400 yards bulky weight yarn (I used Lamb's Pride Bulky by Brown Sheep Company for the red sweater pictured in a previous post. The sweater that will be pictured in the Knitalong is made from Reynold's Lopi)

Needles to get gauge (I used US size 11)
24-inch circular
Short circular or double points in same size for knitting sleeves in the round
Double point needles one size smaller than main needles for working sleeve cuffs

A couple of stitch markers

Waste yarn, an extra circular needle or stitch holders