Sunday, February 27, 2011

Article and video on jogless stripes, part 1 of a series

Circular knitting, as you know, is actually a spiral.  Therefore, if you change colors to make stripes, the knitting will "jog."

Jogging stripes

A couple of years ago, in the summer 2009 issue of Interweave Knits, there was an illustrated article by TECHknitter (that's me!) about avoiding this problem with two different kinds of jogless stripes:
  • barber pole (helix)
  • slip stitch jogless (two variations)
Under the contract signed with Interweave Knits, the copyright reverted to this blog after a time.  TECHknitting blog is now free to re-publish the article as it was originally written and illustrated for submission.  However, the article was rather long, so it will be run as three separate posts.

Today's intro installment contains two things:
First, here's a link to a previous post in TECHknitting blog covering the slip stitch variations.  This post contains everything about the slip-stitch jogless method which was found in the Interweave Knits article--only the illustrations are different.

Second, here is a link to a video done by Interweave Knits' editor Eunny Jang, showing how the TECHknitting jogless stripes are done.  The video covers one of the slip stitch variations (stationary style jogless stripes), as well as the helix (barber pole) jogless stripes.  Unlike later videos done by IK, this one does not mention then (then-concurrent) TECHknitting article, but it IS based on the article--the techniques are identical.  I think Eunny does a great job of showing the techniques (and even if you already know how to make these stripes, the video is worth watching to see how incredibly fast Eunny knits, and using a unique style, too).



The next post in this series contains that part of the IK article relating to barberpole (helix) stripes.  This is all-new material for TECHknitting blog because there has never been a post on barber-pole stripes before.  Helix stripes can be made as narrow as a single round, and are therefore very useful for narrow jogless stripes.  (Click here to be taken to the second post.)

The third post in the series will contain that part of the IK article relating to slip-stitch jogless stripes--the material which is identical to the previous TECHknitting post mentioned above.  The only reason to reprise this material is the different illustrations.  In other words, although the previous TECHknitting post on jogless stripes and the third part in this series are to cover the identical ground, yet each has different illustrations, and sometimes a new and different illustration is capable of shedding new light.

* * *
This is the first post in a series: the second post is: Helix (Barberpole) stripes.

* * *

-TK

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Socks falling down? Consider elastic

Socks won't stay up? You're not alone. Socks are a very popular item to knit but recurrent discussions on Internet knitting forums show falling-down socks are a problem to many.

There are many, many ways to solve this problem, but one of the most direct is elastic. Here are four different methods.

Elastic garters inside the sock 

TECHknitting blog has already shown how to make knitted hems, both sewn shut and knitted shut.  If you create one of these hems at the top of a sock, you can insert an elastic garter into the hem, thus turning the hem into a "casing" ("casing" = a fancy word for a hem which is encasing something: a hem with something inside of it).
wear the garter around
the house for a while



A few tips:
  • Make the garter out of non-roll elastic because if it gets twisted inside the casing, you'll have a hard time straightening it.  I use 3/4 inch wide non-roll, but some prefer one-inch wide.
  • There are various weights and strengths of non-roll elastics--try to feel of them before you buy because some are quite thick and stiff.
  • Make up the garter by cutting the elastic longer than you think, then pin or tack it down (tack = sew quickly with a couple of big stitches) into a circle of approximately the same diameter as your leg, sock-top-high.  Leave some overlap so you can adjust as needed.  WEAR the pinned/tacked garter around the house for a while, trying it on both legs before you sew it down permanently.  (Elastic garters need not be very tight to do their work--your underwear elastic doesn't bite into your flesh and neither does the elastic on store-bought socks, yet they both work.)  By wearing the garter around for a while, you can adjust it until it is as loose as possible while still doing its job.  Also, remember--it will be slightly tighter inside the casing than around your bare leg, since it has to stretch slightly further. 
  • You can insert the garter into its casing at the sock top either by sewing the casing shut over the elastic as the last step in finishing the sock, or--for a top-down sock--knitting the casing shut as-you-go with the garter trapped inside.  
  • Elastic can loose its oomph long before a handknit sock wears out, so if you do sew the casing shut, use a contrasting color yarn--that'll make it easy to snip and resew a new garter in.
  • An elastic garter sewn into a casing often makes the sock top stand out because the unstretched garter is larger than the unstretched sock top, but when you put the sock on, all will be well. 
...the sock top stands out because the
unstretched garter is wider than the
unstretched sock...

...but when you put it on
all will be well

Thread elastic added afterwards

Another method to make your socks stay up is to use thread elastic, threading this onto a needle and working this around and around the inside of the sock ribbing in a spiral.  The easiest way I know is to catch the elastic under ONE arm of a knit column on the inside.  This is a (receding) purl column on the front of the sock, which helps hide the elastic. Don't over-tension the elastic as you sew it in.  In fact, don't tension it much, if at all--the inside of a sock is a lot smaller than the outside of your leg, so an elastic worked into a sock top must have enough slack to stretch as the sock does.

thread elastic worked into the ribbing at the top of a sock

Working thread elastic into sock ribbing is an good solution for already-made socks.  The only drawback to thread elastic is that it doesn't last very long--a few years at most, whereas a hand-knit sock might last many times that.  However, it is no great chore to snip out the old elastic and insert new.

Knitting in elastic as-you-go

It is also possible to knit in elastic as you go.  This trick is possible with thread elastic, but, unless the thread elastic is the same color as your yarn, there is the possibility of the elastic peeping out when you wear the socks. Plus, you know, thread elastic loses its oomph pretty quick. A better sort of elastic to knit in is a European product called "knitting elastic" which is invisible. (And that's why there's no illustration--it is literally hard to see this stuff even when it's in your hand.)

The trouble with knitting in elastic is knowing how strongly to tension it as you knit. Start by tensioning as little as possible, rather than trying to stretch it as you knit, then tighten up from there if that's unsatisfactory. I haven't used the knitting elastic product very extensively and so don't know how long it is likely to last.  If you have more experience, maybe sing out in the comments? I will say that the stuff has amazing stretch and feels very sturdy, at least when it is new.  It also washes up OK, but I haven't yet tried it in a dryer.

Elastic garters worn outside the sock
The first three methods of adding elastic all work on the inside of the sock.  However, traditionally, it was understood that socks and stockings were likely to fall down, and that's why many ethnic and historical costumes include socks and stockings held up with garters worn OUTSIDE the sock.  (aaand, for history buffs, these garters were traditionally knitted in garter stitch,which is why...)

My maternal grandparents (born 1896 and 1902, respectively) wore ordinary business attire, not ethnic costume, but they did keep their socks up with elastic sock garters every day of their lives--grandpa used the men's version, grandma used an elastic garter at the top of each thigh-high nylon.  Retro-style garters like this are still for sale on-line, and the men's version has always remained part of a formal-wear outfit.

The cheapest modern equivalent to outside garters are rubber bands. Snap one around each sock top, flip the ribbing down, and you're out the door.

For a better-fitting version, you can make custom elastic garters, as in the first part of this post.  However, because these are now meant to be worn outside the sock, under the flip of the ribbing, use narrower elastic.  There is no need to use non-roll elastic either, since you can easily reach the elastic to straighten it. One pair of custom garters will work for all socks of the same length--a time saver over knitting a pair of garters into each pair of socks: easier and less clunky, too.

If you do opt to make elastic garters, you can gussie these up by sewing a ribbon onto the garter, arranged such that the ribbon peeks out from under the folded-down sock top. This trick makes it look as if the ribbon itself is holding up the sock, while the elastic remains hidden. These little ribbon ends are called "garter flashes" and they can also be made out of woolen fabric--particularly for wear with kilt hose.

ribbon-end garter flashes

 (We'll end with a link to a handsome fellow wearing kilt hose held up with garters showing garter flashes. Remember to look at his socks, OK?)

Good knitting, TK
You have been reading TECHknitting blog on what to do if your socks fall down.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Linky for KD readers (Fixing errors at the side edges of your knitting)

Here is a handy link for readers coming from Kathleen Cubley's dropped-edge-stitch article in Interweave Knit's web site, Knitting Daily.  Kathleen's article covers the ground admirably, while this link takes you to a TECHknitting article about the same problem, which offers a similar, yet not identical slant on the how-to of fixing these kinds of errors.


These sorts of dropped stitches at the edge are quite terrifying looking, no?

(And the reverse is true too--if you've already read TECHknitting's article on this subject, go on over to Kathleen's article to see a different illustrated take on fixing this same error).

Good knitting--TK

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Horizontal fold lines in knitting, part 2: purl sides out, knit sides in the fold

As shown in the previous post, it is easy to make a stockinette fabric fold along a horizontal line so the smooth knit side of the fabric is out and the purl sides of the fabric (the reverse stockinette) are trapped inside the fold. This is done by simply making a row or round of purls on the smooth stockinette face of the fabric, and voila: the stockinette then folds smoothly at the purl line, smooth knit side out; bumpy purl sides, back-to-back, inside the fold.

As strong as this structure of this fold is, however, no immediately obvious counterpart exists to make a fold line on the purl side, so that the bumpy purl sides face out and the knit sides are trapped, back-to-back, inside the fold.

Here is a little "unvention," the result of fooling around over a couple of years, which I believe does fit the bill.  It is WORKED from the smooth (knit) side but, when FINISHED, causes the fabric to fold so the purl (reverse stockinette) fabric faces out while the knit side of the fabric is trapped inside the fold.

Step 1: On the stockinette fabric, with the smooth (knit) side facing you, locate the stitch TAIL, illustrated in RED, below.
Step 1

Step 2: Draw the tail up and place it, right arm forward, on the tip of the left needle.
Step 2

Step 3:Insert the right needle tip into the next ordinary stitch on the left needle (illustrated in dark green), then into the loop made by the tail (red), as shown below.  Knit the two loops together from this position using the running yarn which is shown in lighter green.
Step 3

Step 4: The final result will be an assembly of two loops worked together, looking remarkably like a k2tog (Knit 2 together). If you look at the below illustration and all the previous ones, there are several stitches already worked according to this trick, with the tail-loops being illustrated in pink, the main stitch in green and the running yarn in lighter green.  The upcoming tails to be worked in this trick are also illustrated in pink.
Step 4


Here is a photo of the finished product, as seen from the purl side, with the fold line at the bottom of the photo.

The finished result

I think it makes a pretty nice fold, especially for a purl fabric.  Try it, and see what you think! 

* * *

big thank you! to the three test knitters: Anonymous (you know who you are!) Christina and Tatterbat, not only for trying this out but thanks, too for your ideas: one test knitter plans to use this for the hem of a reverse stockinette sweater, and another mentioned a set of square baby blocks--some to be made knit-side-out, using the ordinary purl-on-stockinette fold of the previous post, some to be made purl-side-out using this new technique. 

Good knitting! --TK

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Horizontal fold lines in knitting, part 1: knit sides out, purl sides in the fold

Just as the universe folds and twists in accordance with laws of interest to physicists, so knitting curls and folds in accordance with laws of interest to handknitters.  For example, the tendency of stockinette to curl purl side out is well-known and many excellent knitting designs take this into account, working with the roll, rather than going all out to conquer it.  Perhaps less well-known is an equally strong force of knitting, which can equally add a structural design element: the tendency of stockinette to fold along a purled row.

purl-line on the knit face of stockinette, unfolded (left) and folded (right)

Specifically, when you want knitting to fold back on itself along the row-line, such as at a hem or cuff, it's easy to make the fabric fold sharply by running a row of purl on a stockinette background.  This strongly forces a stockinette fabric to fold in half with the knit sides out while the purl sides are trapped in the fold, back-to-back, as shown in the photo above.

HOW-TO
flat knitting
If knitting stockinette back and forth, you simply knit on the purl side for one row, then return to pattern.  This means that you will work 3 rows of knit successively and the center of these three--the one that looks like a purl line, but is located on the smooth knit side of the fabric--will be the fold line.

circular knitting
If you are working in the round, it's a little different.  As you know, when knitting stockinette circularly you're always working on the knit side, so you'll simply purl a single round to get the same effect.

This is all very simple, but there is one little wrinkle to getting a neat fold line when knitting circularly.  As you know, however, knitting in the round creates a spiral.  This means that the beginning of each round is stacked above and one stitch over from the end of the previous round.  In the context of a fold line, this means that the beginning and end of the purl round "jog," they won't line up because they aren't actually in the same round at all. The discontinuous purl line is highlighted in pink in the photo below.
discontinuous purl line "jog" when worked in the round

To avoid this "jog," use the same trick as for avoiding color jogs:
  • work the entire purl round as usual.  
  • on the next round, where you would set off knitting in the ordinary course of things, simply SLIP the FIRST purl stitch you worked instead.  In other words, at the end of the purl round, instead of working a knit stitch as the first stitch of the next (knit) round, simply slip the next stitch on your needle INSTEAD of knitting it. 
  • All further rounds are worked normally, and this is the only stitch slipped.  
This slipping trick drags up some stitches and squishes others, aligning the beginning and end of the purl round, and essentially eliminating the jog.  As seen in the photo below, the resulting purl line, highlighted in pink, is waaay better than the jogging line of purl in the photo above.
discontinuous "jog" alleviated by slip-stitch method above

In sum so far: the introduction of a purl row/round on a stockinette ground will cause the fabric to to fold very sharply along the purl row, knit side out and with the purl side of the fabric trapped inside the fold.

VARIATIONS ON A THEME
As with many things knitting, there are some neat variations.

beefier fold line
For a beefier thicker fold very suitable to utility wear, consider a double purl-line fold.  Although this looks like (and is!) the surface decoration called "welting" when seen on unfolded stockinette, if you fold the fabric at this welt-line you will find you've created a thick, pleasant, sturdy edge--much more substantial than a single purl-line fold line, and very suitable to outerwear or rough use or heavy yarns.

beefier double purl-line (aka "welting"), unfolded (left) and folded (right)


contrast-colored fold line, method 1

There are two ways to make a contrast colored fold line, a gold fold line on a green fabric, for example.  The classic method is done in three steps:
  • On the row or round BEFORE where the fold is wanted, work a row or round in contrast color, but keep to your stockinette pattern (knit if in the round, purl if working back and forth)
  • On the row or round where the fold is wanted, return to the main color and purl
  • On all following rows/rounds, return to the ordinary pattern of the stockinette fabric
contrast-colored method 1, unfolded (left) and folded (right)

When folded, this single line of contrast color yields a fold with a pleasant "stitched" sort of appearance--the main color (green) shows in little dots below the gold contrast color fold, per the above illustration.

contrast-colored fold line, method 2

For a more consistent-colored fold line (no "stitched" appearance) two rows or rounds are worked in the contrast color, as follows:
  • On the row or round BEFORE where the fold is wanted, work a row or round in contrast color, but keep to your stockinette pattern (knit if in the round, purl if working back and forth)
  • On the row where the fold is wanted, remain in the contrast color and purl a row or round
  • On all following rows or rounds, return to the main color, and work in the ordinary pattern of the stockinette fabric
contrast colored method 2, unfolded (left) and folded (right)

Note--although two lines of contrast color have been worked, this is nonetheless a single purl-line fold, because only one row has been purled.  If you wanted to combine the beefy double-purl line fold with the contrasting color trick, you'd have to work THREE lines of color and two lines of purl.

* * *

This is the first post in a two part series about horizontal folds in knitting.  The next post will be about getting stockinette fabric to fold the other way, so that the PURL (reverse stockinette) sides are out, with the KNIT sides trapped in the fold, back-to-back.

Until then, good knitting
--TK
PS: Why yes, I am from Wisconsin.  Did my green and gold color scheme give it away?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Circular swatches knit flat (back and forth on two needles)

Here are a couple of tricks to make swatching circular knitting easier. No longer do you have to make a hat to test your gauge for that new seamless sweater, or knit half a sock before discovering you're really making a mitten for your favorite kid.

Today's little tricks let you test your CIRCULAR gauge on a piece of FLAT knitting. One of these tricks has been shown on TECHknitting blog before, although rather hidden, but the other trick is making a first appearance here.  

Why tricks are necessary 

A swatch cannot normally be knit flat to test the gauge of a circular-knit object.  This is because creating stockinette fabric in the round involves nothing-but-knit, whereas creating stockinette fabric knit flat involves knitting-there-and-purling-back.  If, like most knitters, you purl and knit at different tensions, the result of flat-for-circular substitution is a lying gauge swatch.

All knitters know that swatches are dishonest two-timing, bald-faced liars in the best of times, so a substitute swatch is only going to make matters worse.  Yet, nothing-but-knit worked flat (back and forth) yields garter stitch, not stockinette. So, the issue is, how to create a flat swatch in nothing-but-knit yet still produce stockinette fabric?

Trick 1:  "Half-loop" method

This is the trick which was shown on TECHknitting once before, a long time ago (complete with an old-school black and white illustration!)

Here's how in 5 steps:
  • 1. cast a bunch of stitches on to double pointed or circular needles.
  • 2. knit a row  
  • 3. to knit the next following row, slide the whole swatch to the opposite needle point
  • 4. bring the running (working) yarn back to the starting edge by forming a big sloppy loop across the back of the work, then knit the next row
  • 5. keep repeating steps 3 and 4 over and over again until you get a swatch large enough to measure.  
[circular-flat+swatch.jpg]
    Because you bring the yarn back to the row-start via a large loop on the back, rather than via purling, you're creating a swatch of nothing-but-knit AND working stockinette fabric at the same time.

    In fact, you are creating a series of giant loops.  You're working the first half of the loop (the knit part) then closing the loop by drawing the un-knit second half of the loop behind the swatch, from left to right.  Because you're only knitting half the loop, this is called the "half-loop" method.

    Half-loop is a nice trick, yes, and I made circular swatches this way for years.  However, over time, this method became crazy-making: the sloppy loops across the back make it hard to lay the darn thing flat to measure it; the SUPER-loose edges affect the gauge a long way into the swatch; and it's really hard to keep messy swatches like this hanging about--laborious to knot off the edges for re-purposing as pot holders, hard to keep intact for future measuring purposes.

    "There has to be a better way," was my constant thought every time one of these loopy messes was laid out to be measured, and ... lo, after a while, a better way did reveal itself.

    Trick 2: "Whole-loop" method

    The essence of this trick is to knit the whole loop, both halves of it, rather than drawing one half of it, unknit, behind the swatch.  Here's how in 8 steps and three illustrations:
    • 1. cast on to double pointed or circular needles, as many stitches as you think your gauge swatch ought to have
    • 2. knit a row.  Mark the end of the row with a pin then tink (tink=unravel, stitch by stitch) back.  Note how long this stretch of yarn is--easiest to measure it against an outstretched arm, a local sofa-back or something equally solid and informal -- a yardstick or tape measure would be not only wobbly but also time-consuming.
    • 3. now, reknit this measured length of yarn (side note: you ought to come out where the pin was placed originally.  If you don't, this is a sign of inconsistent tension from row to row, and something to maybe spend some time working on, swatch-wise)
    • 4. slide the swatch back to the right side of the dpn or circular needle
    • 5. draw out a new measured length of yarn (ie: a piece of yarn the same length as the one originally measured).  In the illustration, the measured yarn is colored red and the end of it is marked with a blue "x."  Note also that the yarn PAST the blue "x," the yarn which is running back to the ball, is colored purple. 
    • 6. Starting at the beginning of the RED MEASURED LENGTH, knit a single stitch, as below.
    • 7. for the rest of the row, work with the RED MEASURED LENGTH and note that you are NOT knitting with the purple yarn which runs back to the ball.  In other words, the blue "x" marking the transition remains parked at the side of the swatch, never moving and the purple yarn remains untouched, while the red loop gets smaller and smaller with each stitch.
    • 8. The last few stitches will take some fancy maneuvering because you can't tension them as usual off your finger due to the ever-shrinking size of the red loop.  However, since the yarn was measured, you KNOW you have enough yardage to finish the row, and will manage somehow!  
      This "whole loop" trick has several advantages: without the unknit back half of each loop coiled up behind the swatch, the swatch lays out smooth at measuring time; if you keep your gauge swatches, you'll easily be able to re-measure these nice, tidy swatches in the future; and you'll eventually be able to re-purpose these nice neat squares as potholders or patches for a quilt top or cushion cover.

      One last note:  In a recent Ravelry discussion of this exact trick, a comment was posted, wondering whether knitting an ever-tightening loop wouldn't distort the left edge. The answer is that yes, the left edge will be distorted.

      Buuut...this doesn't matter very much, because ALL the edges are distorted.

      See, even if you have perfect tension, like from a knitting machine, the tension at every edge of any piece of knitting is always distorted, due to the structure of the knitting itself.  TECHknitting blog has a whole illustrated post about WHY edge stitches are always wonky, but if you don't feel like reading all that, take it on faith, and stay at least an inch (or better, inch-and-a-half) away from EVERY edge--left, right, top and bottom--when measuring a swatch for gauge. 

      Good knitting! --TK

      Tuesday, February 1, 2011

      Men's sweaters: E-Z adjustments for better fitting garments

      Poking around Ravelry the other day, I found a thread where a bunch of fellows were wishing for sweaters which fit better than standard "cylinder" sweaters--they want to show off their manly figures in better-fitting garments.

      Yowza!  OK!  I'm ALL for that, so here are two super-quick informal methods to adjust any "stockinette cylinder" sweater for the rising "v" shape evidently at issue. (Naturally, these methods will also work for anyone, male or female, with a chest significantly greater than their waist, but this particular post is pitched towards the fellows who got me started thinking about all this in the first place.) 

      METHOD 1: Graduated needle size
      Here's a handsome fellow in his graduated needle size jersey--4 different needle sizes were used to knit the scrap of fabric laying under this sketch of a body-builder and you can see the difference in gauge as the fabric climbs the rising V shape of this imaginary fellow's torso.

      graduated needle size method

      Here's how: Start by closely examining the sweater pattern schematic:  you are looking for a sweater which will fit around the chest at the nipple line with the amount of ease deemed appropriate. Make up your gauge swatch until you get the stitch count for the fabric called for the pattern.  (The nipple line is used because for many men's bodies, this represents the widest part of the chest, so this is the point of departure for garment chest measurements.)

      For a standard stockinette-cylinder bottom-up sweater, start the sweater body with waste yarn--knit a few rows or rounds with yarn of the same weight as the sweater to be knit.  The best waste yarns are acrylic or cotton, because these are easy to remove.  You'll go back and take out the waste yarn at the end, working the bottom ribbing last.  (When the ribbing is worked last, you can try the garment on, allowing you to perfectly adjust the length and bottom circumference of the ribbing in real time, rather than worrying about these measurements at the outset, when you really don't know how the garment is going to fit.)

      In any event, after the waste knitting, commence to knit the sweater body with needles TWO sizes smaller than the ones needed to get gauge. Work until the garment reaches the lowest rib bone.  Switch to needles 1 size smaller than those needed to get gauge (which would be one size larger than those used so far).  Work until the garment reaches about the third rib bone (this might be a short-ish rise, that's OK--this short stretch is in the nature of a transition zone). Switch to the needles used to get gauge and work further.  If the shoulders are in proportion to the chest, you can stay with these needles all the way up the rest of the garment.  If the shoulders are not in proportion, but larger, then switch to one size larger needles 1/2 way up the armhole.

      The sleeves are similarly started on needles two smaller, switched to 1 smaller partway up the forearm (how far up depends on the forearm development) then to the size used to get gauge somewhere around the elbow--again, this depends on the degree of arm development.  For a disproportionately larger upper arm, switch to needles 1 larger just before the bicep bulge, otherwise, work to the top of the sleeve in the needles used to get gauge.   Obviously, if making the garment in the round, it is easy to match the graduation in needle size, but if making up in pieces, be sure to take a note on which rows the change occurs, or you will have trouble matching up the pieces when sewing-up time comes, and there will be puckering and flaring.)

      To nail down the needle changes with an example:  suppose the sweater pattern you choose requires a gauge of 5 st/in at the chest.  You would find which size needles you need to get this gauge--say for the sake or argument, a size 6.  You would then knit the bottom of the sweater on size 4, switch to size 5 where the chest begins to flare--the bottom of the ribs, switch again to size 6 just before the nipple-line, at about the third rib up from the bottom.   Stay with the size 6 all the way up, unless you need to accommodate some massive shoulders, in which case, switch to a size 7 halfway up the armhole.

      Naturally, graduated needle size comprises an informal approach, and one which may not work on the most heroic figures--despite my strongman sketch-models, actual weight lifters and body builders are probably best advised to get out pencil and paper and do the actual math to figure a rising gauge, as well as actually adding to the stitch count.  However, experience demonstrates that simply graduating the needle size does work for everyday body variations: many women have the identical problem, only just turned upside-down ("^" instead of "v") and this approach has successfully been part of my informal bag o'tricks for a long time--my oldest is 21, so these adjustments have been in use around here for a couple of decades, at least!

      Method 2: ribbing

      This handsome fellow sports a jersey knit in a 2x1 rib (k2, p1) and you can see how the ribbing stretches as it climbs the rising V shape of his body-builder torso. 

      Ribbing method 


      This method has the potential to be even easier than graduated needle size.   For this trick you simply work a standard stockinette "cylinder" sweater as instructed in the pattern, with the only change being the switch to ribbing, allowing the clinginess inherent in the fabric to overcome the sagging and bagging which would otherwise occur.  For a sweater which fits around the chest in stockinette, a ribbed fabric will cause the garment to have a moderate amount of negative ease.

      A 1x1 ribbing requires the least modification--being a multiple of 2+1 (ie: any odd number), the only change to the stitch count might be the addition or subtraction of a single stitch.  Wider ribbings, such as 2x2 (a multiple of 4+2) or 3x1 (multiple of 4+3) and so on, take more adjustment to the initial stitch count.

      Combo approach
      The same needles were used to knit the entire ribbed scrap underlying the second sketch, with the nature of the ribbing itself providing the stretch.  However, there is nothing to stop you from COMBINING these methods--using graduated needle size PLUS ribbing to get a really "v" shaped sweater.

      A note on yarns
      For the graduated method, experience shows that lofty woolen yarns work best.  A very tight twist could look stringy at the largest gauge while feeling stiff at the smallest gauge, but a loftier yarn takes the gauge change without either effect being particularly noticeable.

      Good knitting!

      --TK