SP logo

Schoolhouse Press—Newsletter #12 May 2010

"Now, have a good summer. Dabble your feet in the water, and fill the sock-drawer against next winter. "

— Elizabeth Zimmermann, in The Opinionated Knitter

a newsletter from
Meg Swansen

Dear Knitter graphic

Here is the front yard of the Schoolhouse; our cool Spring has lengthened the life of my bulbs.

I look out each morning and think of one of my fave Swinburne passages from Atalanta in Calydon (and the haunting tune by Bill Evans).

"And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins."

My mother's 100th birthday (08-09-10) is being acknowledged by knitters around the world as they cast on her designs; I believe there is an organized group on Ravelry. Dover Books will present a special hardcover edition of Knitter's Almanac, with all designs re-knitted by contemporary knitters and photographed in color. Our celebration will take the form of EZ's garter-stitch book, Knit One Knit All, which we hope will be available in late fall or early winter.

Meanwhile, we inch closer and closer to the publication of two other titles that have kept us busy of late:

  1. Katharine Cobey's, Diagonal Knitting, A Different Slant. Katharine's contributions to knitting innovation plus the tough and touching political statements embedded in her sculptures are increasingly appreciated and welcomed by today's fearless and inquisitive knitter. What a beautiful book.
  2. Spinning Around: Spinning, Dyeing and Knitting the Classics by Jeannine Bakriges. Imagine seeing something you'd like to knit, then having sufficient knowledge and skill to decide which breed of sheep would produce the most suitable fleece; which spin and ply to use and what colors you'd like for the final garment. The long journey was well worth it, and Jenny spells out each step along the way - from sheep to finished garment - with a masterly editing job by Lizbeth Upitis.

Many knitters welcomed the augmented instructions in the ABCSJ (Adult, Baby, Child's Surprise Jackets) and have asked us for a similar treatment of EZ's classic Tomten Jacket. We are happy to oblige, and the Tomten Pattern is available now with multiple sizes and gauges.

Michelle writes, "Elizabeth's sign off, 'Knit on, with confidence & hope, through all crises' has remained apropos all these years. Our new spring EZ quote tote has just been printed.

Size: 14.5"h x 18.25"w x 6.5"d.
Material: Pigment-Dyed Cotton Canvas
Color: Stone, with choice of Bright Blue or Purple printing.
Accents: The large main compartment has a delicate brown-striped lining and an interior pocket. The front pocket is lined to match interior and has a velcro closure. Cotton handles are padded for carrying ease in hand or close to the shoulder.We love the easy style of these spring bags, and the cotton canvas has been test washed by Meg with excellent results!" $28

The steady stream of queries I receive feed this electronic Newsletter beautifully; thank you—and keep ‘em coming.


Q: Hi! I'm making progress on my Box-the-Compass sweater and am about to join the sleeves to the body. It is not entirely clear to me from the leaflet when I should start changing colors. Is that when I start to decrease or after the 6 short rows or when? Thanks for your help.

A: Way to go, Amy - you're in the home stretch. Join the 3 units and knit 2 or 3 rounds on all sts (minus the 4 sets of underarm sts). Now work the 3 sets of staggered Short Rows. Please read the section on page 3 of the SPP: Yoke decreases. You will have to do a bit of calculating to figure the depth of your yoke. Decide if you want the stripes to be equi-distant ...or get narrower (or thicker) with each color change. Once you have calculated the total number of colored-yoke rounds, you can determine how many rounds will be knitted in each color and change color accordingly. The 8 double decreases begin somewhere after the Short Rows, depending upon yoke depth and number of stitches.This is the exciting part ... Onward.

Q: Hi, I want to make the Saddle Sleeve Cardigan using the Bavarian twisted stitches and I would love to put in pockets. Would using the thumb trick work? I was not sure about using it with traveling stitches.

A: My only experience adding pockets to a Twisted-Stitch fabric was in an Aran coat (the one my ma and I made on the Knitting Around DVD). We installed EZ's After-Thought Pockets once the coat was finished, by snipping a stitch in the middle of the proposed pocket- opening. Although, I see no reason why the Thumb-Trick opening would not work just as well.

Q: Hi---Although I am an experienced knitter (having been knitting for--yikes--59 years) I am just now starting my first EZ sweater, the Aran cardigan featured in The Opinionated Knitter, p.66. The finished chest size given is 40 inches with a 5 st/1 in gauge, yet we are instructed to cast on 240 sts, which when you do the math makes a 48" finished chest. The Aran patterns look rather flat to me, so I wouldn't anticipate much pulling in. My husband's chest is 41" so I am looking for a 44" finished cardigan, but I hesitate to play with adding/subtracting more sts or changing gauge until I find out what I am missing for the 40 inch size.Can someone help me? I really would like to do this sweater (and my husband loves it).

A: Dear Lisa, Thank you for your enquiry. Actually, my mother and I went separate ways on this question... you will see her "Gauge measured over stocking-stitch". I find this information relatively useless; your stocking-stitch gauge may match the designer's, but not necessarily your cables and travelling sts. My Aran directions call for gauge to be measured over blocked-patterns. I recommend you knit a swatch cap - in pattern - and take your gauge from that; then multiply it x 44" and cast on (maybe 10-15% less for a ribbed or garter-stitch border).

Q: Am now knitting my own ASJ, in beautiful imported Italian merino wool with a Lamé stripe and I am still unhappy and puzzling about the neckline. Ideally I would love to achieve the neckline of the Adult-Baby jacket featured on the BSJ DVD and on page 107 of the ‘Opinionated Knitter’. I also would like to retain the buttonhole band on both sides because I am planning to make toggle buttons with chain links for this jacket. I would settle for some guidelines on how to achieve the neckline but I am wondering whether it is possible to achieve the Adult-Baby neckline on an ASJ pattern. Any light you could throw on this would be appreciated.

Oh, and one more question, please: what does the one plain ridge at the changeover from the decreases to the increases in both, the BSJ and CSJ achieve? Is this something ASJ knitters should also consider in a jacket meant for an adult. Hoping that also in your parts spring has sprung – it certainly took its time round here.

A: Dear Daniela, The Adult Baby Jacket follows the BSJ pretty firmly (but lengthens body and sleeves significantly), with the built-in buttonholes as instructed, and finished off with Contrasting Color I-Cord. The original BSJ has a fairly wide neck - which, in the Adult Baby becomes quite wide at 2-1/2 sts to 1". The child's green and blue version does the same; just BSJ buttonholes and I-Cord trim; no additional border as in the ASJ. To achieve the button band for your toggles, but keep a wide neckline, work additional ridges from the bottom of the neck opening, down the front, around the body and up the other front; as many ridges as you like. You will further widen the neckline with each ridge.
2nd question: I think it is just a breather - and to prevent immediate juxtaposition of dbl-dec to dbl-inc.
Indeed - daffodils are having an exceptionally good year; lovely.

Q: I'm working on a podcast and I would like to mention I-Cord. I would like to check my facts with you, though. I think your mother "unvented" it, called it idiot-cord at first, then dubbed it I-Cord because it is so useful. Is all of that correct?

A: Dear Lara, my Ma did not invent Idiot-Cord, but learned to produce it when she was a kid - using a wooden spool with bent nails around the top. Applications for lengths of the knitted cord it produced were limited... she used it for reins when playing 'horsey'. Decades later, she figured out how to achieve the same result with two needles (changed the name to I-Cord as she found 'Idiot Cord' was rather rude) and originated numerous variations:

  • Built in I-Cord
  • Applied I-Cord
  • I-Cord Buttonholes (Looped, Hidden and Tab)
  • I-Cord Corners
  • I-Cord Cast On and Cast Off - etc etc

Joyce Williams came up with Braided or Cabled I-Cord and Blipless Applied I-Cord (for strongly Contrasting Color).

I came up with a few variations myself - as have other knitters over the years.

Q: Hello again. I am making the raglan sweater from Knitting Without Tears in a hand-dyed yarn. Because of variation between predominant colors I need to knit with 2 skeins changing skeins every 2 or three rows. I have been twisting the yarns one time around each other when I change skeins to avoid a ladder. Is there a better way? The twisting leaves a track which is slightly less flexible than the weave of the sweater.

A: Dear Talley, The track might be eliminated by simply picking up the 'new' strand OVER the old. No twisting. That is the trick for jogless-single-round color-changes. Please let me know if it works. (P.S. Aha - Talley replied, it DOES work...)

Q. Hi Meg– How are you? I purchased EZ’s Knitting Around book as I would like to make the moebius vest as shown on page 58 & 59. Am having trouble following the instructions on wrap and would really appreciate your help. On page 58, it said: knit to centre of the piece, wrap, turn, knit back. On page 59 under Option, it mentioned that the inside edges should get the short rows. Can you please clarify what this all mean, and where the wraps are to take place. Is the front supposed to be 2 inches longer than the back?

A. It IS confusing, dear Gwen - because when finished, you are going to flip the fronts 180-degrees. The OUTside edge (as you knit) will become the INside edge when flipped. The drawing on page 58 might help you: the edge with more ridges will become the outside edge. If you have worked the back as one (seamless) piece - from side to side, then - when you divide at the shoulders and work each front separately, you will knit from the Inner Edge to the middle; wrap, turn and work back (as in the drawing on the left). Then, when those fronts are turned 180-degrees, the short edge is in the middle.

If you have questions you wish to see answered in a future newsletter, please write to us at info@schoolhousepress.com.




Meg's signature




Schoolhouse Press Patterns

Elizabeth Zimmermann,
Meg Swansen, and Cully Swansen

The Tomten Jacket

New Edition w/sizing


Cully Swansen's

Cabled Yoke Sweater and Hat


Meg Swansen

Weeping Sun and Moon


Elizabeth Zimmermann and
Meg Swansen

Arch Shaped Stockings





Book Sale

Check out our book sale page for 30-40% discounts. You'll find going out of stock books, out of print books, gems from the past in limited supply, and hurt books (most are Amazon returns with minimal damage). This sale is for newsletter subscribers only, until June 1st when it will open to the public.
















©2008-2010 Schoolhouse Press PatternsWool Gathering New Products