WEEK 1: Getting Started
It is so exciting to be knitting this gorgeous poncho together. Welcome and thanks for joining the knit-along! My name is Signe Swanson and I am one of the sample knitters for June Cashmere. I have been a sporadic knitter for over 30 years and am now enjoying time to knit to my heart’s content after retiring from a very satisfying career in health care.
If you have never experienced June Cashmere yarn, you are in for a treat. It is a dream to work with and the yarn blooms so beautifully when it is washed and blocked. Knitting together is a great way to learn and share. I will be posting a few things I have learned about knitting this poncho as we go along and I hope you will share your learnings, as well as ask any questions you may have. Feel free to submit your comments or questions to the June Cashmere website on the form provided at junecashmere.com. If you post your work on social media use #junecashmereKAL so we can all see and admire.
The knit along is planned to go for six weeks. You probably won’t finish the poncho in that time because you are creating a significant length of fabric. I will be coming to you every Friday on this forum during the KAL to provide tips and support from my own experience in knitting the poncho. This first blog is to help you get set up to start the poncho with some thoughts on gage, swatching, and casting on and additional pattern notes.
Additional Pattern notes
- The poncho is knit from end to end width wise. Finished blocked width is 22”/56 cm and the length 65”/165 cm.
- Because it is knit width wise, the length of the poncho can be adjusted by eliminating or adding a pattern repeat. Each repeat is 28 rows which is a little over 3”/ 8cm.
- There are no button holes to knit, the cable holes at the top edge of the poncho are used very effectively as button holes. It is a good idea to reinforce the top two shoulder buttonholes to prevent stretching, but I’ll talk about that in a blog on finishing tips.
- Knitting the poncho pattern is deceptively simple once cast on. The knit and purl rows are exactly the same throughout, even on the cable rows. This will make it easier to read your knitting and recognize errors. In the next blog post I will be talking exactly that and sharing some tips on how to fix errors without having to unknit so much.
- When you read through the pattern the first time, it looks somewhat daunting, at least it did for me. But, it turns out that Row 2 and Row 3 are repeated throughout the entire cloth. The cabled rows 9 and 23 just cross 9 stitches in front or in back of each other in the same pattern.
- I encourage you to read through the instructions while looking at the chart. This is why charts are so helpful; they allow the knitter to see what is happening in the cloth and to process the pattern as a whole. Who says knitters don’t do math!
- Because Cashmere is a down fiber, which is soft and smooth when twisted into yarn, the yarn slides off needles very easily. Bamboo or wooden knitting needles can help control the yarn when knitting, slowing down the stitches just a bit, if you need that. Needles with a longer lace point also help prevent splitting the yarn when knitting the lace and cable stitches where more manipulation of the yarn is required.
- The gauge is so important. I knit very loosely and always have to go down a couple of needle sizes to get the right gauge. The suggested needle size is 3 US or 3.25cm. I used a size 1.5 US or 2.50cm.
- If the gauge varies a lot from the one specified, you could end up doing fewer repeats of the pattern or more. Blocking can help get the correct sizing, but the pattern repeats will be either elongated or squished. And while it is still beautiful and will drape and fall in waves, it may mean you end up buying more yarn to finish and that the dimensions don’t work for your body.
- In this case, swatching also helps with learning the stitch pattern if you are less experienced in lace and/or cable. I would suggest two repeats of the pattern, roughly an 8” swatch so that you can learn the pattern and have enough fabric to test your gauge.
- I cast on with needles one or two sizes larger because my cast on is tighter than my knitting and the cast on edge can end up looking pulled in. In this case I think it is even more important because after the long tail cast on and knit back rows, the set-up row increases the number of stitches from 166 to 206.
- Once the cast on and increase rows are completed, the pattern rows begin. I find it the easiest to follow the pattern using the chart, it helps me keep track of where I am in the pattern. I also love this fuscia tape I found to mark the row I’m on. It’s fantastic on a plastic sleeve.
- A couple of things to watch for when going from knit to purl rows. Pay attention to which side you are on so that you are not purling two together on the knit row or slipping the stitches to knit together on the purl side. I will show you how to correct this mistake in a future blog, but it is easier to avoid it in the first place. That mistake shows glaringly.
- The second thing to watch for is making sure the yarn is where it is supposed to be when starting a new row. I did a whole poncho with the yarn in back on the purl edge because I had started it that way and couldn’t change in the middle. I didn’t read my instructions as well as I should have the first time through!
- The edge was lovely, but not the same as the knit side edge. The yarn is in back on the knit side and in the front on the purl side when you slip off the first two stitches.
Here are a couple photos after my cast on, knit back, increase and first couple rows of pattern.
So let’s get started!! This first week, take the time to read the pattern, cast on and make your swatch. When it’s done, gently hand wash and dry and then check the gauge, noting any adjustments you need to make in needle size. If you have time, cast on and get your poncho going! See you next time.