Archive for the ‘January Aran Sweater’ Category

Aaron’s Aran


Pattern: January Aran Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman

Source: Knitter’s Almanac

Size: 38 chest, Men’s small (thank goodness for slim husbands!)

Materials: The Irish Ewe in Medium Jacob, zipper facing knit in Bartlett Yarns two ply in lovat

Amount: about 3.5 seven ounce skeins

Needles: US8/5mm Addi Turbo Circulars

Started: December 2007

Finished: February 1, 2008! (hurray)


Onward to…February!


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I finished the knitting of the sweater, sleeves and all!  Here is the sweater, pre steeking.


Got to love all that natural wool goodness – I’ve become quite spoiled, fiber wise.  The blanket that the sweater is being displayed on is another Elizabeth Zimmerman unvention, her cushy blanket from The Opinionated Knitter, also knit for my husband, and is become legendary in our marriage lore as the best ending to an argument ever..more on that later.  So, I was so nervous about the steeking that I couldn’t bear taking pictures of my progress, as I was sure that the knitting gods would laugh mightily and unravel all my work, especially since I only allowed for a one stitch steek.  But, I got beginner’s luck, and here is my sweater with sleeves attached!


Horray!   All that is left is to cut the front, install the zipper, knit the facing and sew in the icord zipper hider.  I won’t be posting a tutorial on steeking, since this is the first time I’ve done it, and I don’t really think I did the best of jobs on it.  But, as Mr. Rogers says, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Super-quilter Mom is coming over on Sunday to help us move our family room, and will help me sew in the zipper (she doesn’t know yet, but I imagine crafting is much more preferable to hauling furniture.)

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I’ve worked my first sleeve, and started it on a 16 inch circ, and hated how it was stretching out my stitches – EZ recommends just putting the 42 stitches right on the circs off the bat, but I can’t adjust my gauge like she was able to, knitting master that she was.  At any rate, I ripped it out after about two inches, and recast-on onto four dpns.  But, the dpns were size sevens, and I was working in eights.  So, I switched after about an inch to two size eight circs.  I think the smaller start will hold in the sleeves better.  Here’s a picture of the sleeve on the two circs.


You can see the fishtrap pattern continued up the sleeve.  After the sleeve grew wide enough, (I increased two stitches every four rows) I transfered the sleeve to one circ:


So much easier on one circ, as there’s no shifting of needles.  The sleeve worked up pretty quickly, and now I just have to find the motivation to start the next one.  Then steeking…

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And yes, we will be refinishing our floors soon, why do you ask?  If you notice, I worked the back higher on the shoulders, as per EZ’s advice.  Usually when working a sweater in the round like this, you insert a few short rows so the back doesn’t ride up (I see London, I see France, etc), but with a complicated pattern like this one, you just can’t do it.  So what you do is cast off five stitches at the beginning of each row and work back and forth, (can get complicated working a cable round from the back, ask me how I know!) until you have 40 stitches left live for the neck.  It makes a nicely rounded top, which will be sewn to the front shoulders.


I just love the pattern here – combined with the yarn I used, it feels so earthy, and smells somewhat sheepy (in a good way) and flows so beautifully.  Elizabeth Zimmerman is truly a genius.  I’m going to be very sad when this project is over.  So will the little guy:


I was trying to take pictures of the sweater, and who rolls on over, but my very own personal kitten!  I swear my son has supernatural powers to detect any sort of string, wire or yarn.  Must be the yarn fumes. Well, tangling my ball of leftover yarn is better than his usual hobby of chewing on the power cords (or at least trying his best to do so).  I promise this is the last gratuitous baby picture – here he is caught in the act:

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Okay, now that we have twisting your stitches to the left covered, let’s twist to the right. Again, please excuse my stone age Paint program – it is all I have!


So, again you have your knit stitch and your purl stitch, this time the knit stitch needs to travel right to continue that great diagonal  line.


Just like on the left twist, you slip both stitches as if to purl to the right needle.


So this is the tricky part: you dig into the back leg of the purl (second) stitch  with your left needle. Remember, your two ‘active’ stiches are now on the right needle.


The next move is similar to the last move of the left twist- you slide the left needle so the knit stitch pops off (your purl stitch stays safely on the left needle).  Catch the knit stitch with your right needle.  Now your knitting should look like the picture above.



Slip the knit stitch back on the left needle, so you can work both stitches.


All you have to do is knit, then purl, making sure your stitches aren’t twisted (unless your pattern says to twist).  As for me, I’m going to see a woman about a manicure!

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Since it is January, many people have taken on the challenging January Aran Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac.   The biggest hurdle for me (so far – we haven’t gotten to steeking yet, but I’m in extreme denial about that) has been mastering the traveling stitches, of which there are hundreds in the fishtrap pattern alone.  Once you get used to the technique, it is pretty speedy.  In the January Aran Sweater, you twist a regular knit stitch over a purl stitch in different directions, getting the effect of the knit stitch traveling either left or right and the purl sort of hiding behind.  The knit stitch is always in the front, and it’s not unlike a one stitch cable.  As many things in knitting, there are lots of ways to do things, but this is my favorite twisted stitch method.  I learned it from Meg Swanson, in the Knitting Glossary DVD.  Please excuse my lame picture edits, as I’m just using an old version of Microsoft Paint to add text and pointers.

Left Twist:


So, as you can see, you have the knit stitch, and the purl stitch, and the knit stitch needs to hop over the purl stitch to the left.


Piece of cake, right?  Now comes the maneuver.


So, now that your stitches are on your  right needle,  you want to insert the left needle into the knit stitch which is the second stitch on your right needle.


So this is the tricky part – You have put the knit stitch on the left needle, and now you pull it to the left enough so the purl stitch pops off the right needle.  You catch it again with the right needle, and now it is behind the knit stitch but still on the same needle.  Place the purl stitch on the left needle, and then you can purl the first stitch, and knit the second.  Make sure your stitches aren’t twisted, and you are good to go!


I hope that was clear enough!  I do teach knitting classes, but it’s so different with stills on the internet.  I feel like I should be standing with my back to you, size 15 needles up in the air giving you a visual.

Good luck traveling.  I’m putting up the right twist up soon!

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