Push up bobbles

Early in the winter, I deviated to  Webs.  I was not being devious, nor deviant, really.  A friend had mentioned that Rowan’s recently discontinued yarn, “Calmer” was on sale at the Northampton, MA yarn mecca. Staying focused, I crossed that entire store of temptation, quickly identifying the proper warehouse aisle. My favorite colors are rarely the first choice of other knitters, so the leftovers were still very tempting (why doesn’t it ever work like that for shoes?). I chose a bag of kelly green and six skeins of light apple green and managed to escape without falling into a tactile abyss.  Then it was back to my normally scheduled road trip. See?  I can resist!

Of course, this yarn did not knit up for me in the gauge suggested on the ball band.  After trawling Ravelry, I saw that several people used this yarn to make Marnie MacLean‘s Lily sweater from the Twist Collective. Oh, yes, this I could wear.  So I immediately downloaded the pattern and started swatching, despite the fact that I wasn’t quite sure how they managed to get the gauge listed with Calmer.

Fortunately, Twist patterns come in a large range of sizes.  After practicing the bobble and lace panel along the sides, I realized that my gauge was completely different.  I would need to rewrite the pattern.  A bit of math and I found I could basically use the instructions for the 2XL instead of the size medium.  I just needed to pay attention to the waistline increases and decreases.  And off, I went, casting on this sweater in the round from the bottom edge.

My original swatch piece brought two other issues to the forefront:

  • Pay attention to the pattern!  The bobbles travel in a V shape, not parallel lines
  • Make those bobbles pop!

Paying attention to the pattern is easier said than done.  We all make mistakes.  swatching a knitwear project
Looking at the swatch, you can also notice that the first few bobbles aren’t nearly as distinct as the last ones. I took a cue from one of the many tips Annie Modesitt shared with people on the Tactile Travel tour in 2010.  She has her own method of creating defined bobbles.  I just used one part of her toolbox.

This bobble is created by knitting, purling, knitting, purling, knitting in one stitch.  The second, third, fourth and fifth stitches are passed over the first, creating a little ball.  The instructions then sent you on your merry way.  I, however, moved the yarn to the front of the work and slipped the new bobble back onto the left hand needle.

Push up bobble

I then wrapped the yarn underneath the bobble and snugly pulled the yarn to the back of the work. Then I slipped the bobble stitch back to the right hand needle and continued in pattern.

It looks pretty good, but I’m always open to new techniques… anyone else have a way to make bobbles “POP!”?