Friday, November 25, 2016

A Fine Day for a Knit-a-Bike



It seems that a good portion of LB readers are fellow knitters! And recently someone asked whether I know of any bicycle knitting patterns that are designed around a step-through, not a diamond frame bike. I recalled having seen one, but couldn't remember the source. So I did a little search, and not only found it, but ended up testing it out.

The pattern is available for free, and from none other than Po Campo - the Chicago-based manufacturer whose Loop Pannier I reviewed here a few years back. The "Bike and Be Free" dishcloth pattern features a 2-tone colour chart for this step-through bicycle motif.  And of course the chart need not be used exclusively to make dishcloths; you can integrate it into anything from a simple scarf, to a hat, mittens or a sweater.

My idea was to possibly incorporate this pattern into a Scaninavian-style yoke design, similar to the Woodrup cardigan in Ann Kingstone's Bespoke. In knitting my swatch, I modified the chart slightly by mirror-imaging it (so that the bike is shown from the drivetrain side!) and lengthening the crank, but otherwise I followed the design and found it pretty simple.

Not sure I will actually make anything using it, as I prefer to design my own motifs and am not a fan of intarsia colourwork (although repeating the pattern in a yoke would actually make it possible to adapt the stranded method). But in case you want to try it, here is a how-to idea using free resources:

Seamless "Bicycle Jumper" with Scandi-Style Yoke:
Follow this bottom-up sweater pattern from Drops Design, completing the body and the sleeves. Join it all in the round, but stop when you get to the yoke. Now, instead of following their colourwork chart, you will do repeats of Po Campo's "Bike and Be Free" chart. Work out how many repeats you will need by dividing the yoke stitches by the number of stitches required for each bicycle (for example: in my size I will have 240 yoke stitches to work with, and can repeat the bicycle motif - which spans 40 stitches - 6 times). Forgo the hearts in Po Campo's original pattern. Instead, use those spaces for your yoke decreases (depending on fit, you can do either single or paired decreases between each bicycle). Once you've knitted up the yoke, return to the original Drops pattern instructions and finish the neck.

Alternatively, here is a cool vintage bicycle sweater pattern, also available for free. This one is an original 1940s pattern for a man's cycling jersey ("jerkin"). To make the styling more contemporary, I would suggest lengthening both the torso and the sleeves. But otherwise it should look fabulous.

If you have never knit a sweater before, but want to learn the principles of basic, bottom-up sweater construction (it will have to be bottom up, unless you want to knit the bicycle motif upside-down), there are several free resources out there. I've recommended this easy to follow knit-along by Hands Occupied to a few friends now, as it seems particularly accessible. You can follow the method to knit a simple single-tone sweater, then follow Po Campo's chart to knit a single bicycle in the centre using contrasting yarn.

Or, if you are like me and prefer to design everything from scratch, you can also make your own bicycle-themed knitting chart, based on a drawing, logo, or even a photo of your favourite bike. One method of doing this is to use an online ap, like this one (yes, also free). It works pretty well, but if you use a photo, you will need to clean up the image of the bike in photoshop first by removing as much of the background as possible. Alternatively, you can transfer your favourite bicycle picture onto graph paper by tracing the image over a piece of carbon paper. Don't trace every detail, just the prominent parts. A semi-abstract bicycle motif could be nice as well.

Finally, if you fancy some "free" yarn to do all this experimenting with, one way to get it is from your own closet. Find a sweater which is either damaged, or no longer worn. Make a cut at either end. Then unravel the yarn, winding it up into a ball as you go along. This is called "frogging." And yes, you can do it even to factory-made, machine-knit sweaters, with interesting results.

If anyone tries any of these - or other bicycle-themed knits - I would love to see your handiwork. Get in touch, and maybe we could do a feature post over the holidays. Or, would anyone be interested in an actual bicycle themed knit-along? Get in touch and if there is enough interest, I shall organise it. When not out riding our bikes, it's a good antidote to all this black-Friday-cyber-Monday-sheepauction-Wednesday nonsense anyway. Keep warm and enjoy your week-end!





20 comments:

  1. I am confused, is it a pedelec with hub drive to the front and an inhub gear arrangement? That is some steep headtube arrangement and no basket...

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    1. If only there were a tactful way to ask a bicycle pattern about its drivetrain anatomy!

      The steep headtube might just be the angle and bunching up of the fabric.

      Here's a pattern for a bike with basket, chaincase, CAT, and child riding it.

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    2. Wow that is a great pattern, what a find!

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  2. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing this and count me in for the knit along. I had no idea Drops did free patterns so thank you for that as well!

    Kat

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    1. Yup. You can find a pattern for pretty much anything in their catalog. Lots of Scandinavian colourwork designs, too, since they are Norwegian.

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  3. What a great idea. I doubt that I'll have time to join in, but will love seeing everyone's results!

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  4. Thank you for this. My mother wants to knit me a new jumper and I think the cyclists jerkin may be it. Maybe in merino wool and go the full cyclist. Black or cream I think. Or something brighter. Maybe that reflective yarn I was reading about somewhere. How did that sweater go, by the way?

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    1. The sweater came out well, but I think its hi-vis usefulness is limited in that the person who ordered it tells me she usually wears a coat over it! At least she is highly visible when off the bike and indoors : )

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    2. Oh and re the bicycle sweater: I envision it in blue and cream. Blue background, cream bicycles.

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  5. I'd be interested in a bicycle knit-along, though I'm just learning how to knit.

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  6. email sent with some knitalong suggestions!
    Barb

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  7. found this via twitter, what a great idea and thank you for the links to free patterns, i did not know drops had an online catalog!!

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  8. I forwarded this post to the knitter in the family. She seemed intrigued. A few years ago, I bought a skein of American bison yarn at a fundraiser. She went to work: click, click click... and before I knew it, my favorite hat was born.

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    1. Bison? Never seen that. I still regret passing up the opportunity to buy some cat yarn at a craft fair. I am told it feels like a cross between alpaca and angora when knit up...

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    2. Bison is very soft, kind of like alpaca. As for its color, I guess you could call it bison brown. Here's one source: https://thebuffalowoolco.com/collections/yarns-patterns

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  9. Are you familiar with Kate Davis? She is into round yokes and bicycles, so it sounds like you may have some common ground. Also: Email sent!

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    1. Yes! I think her style might be too traditional for a bicycle motif, but it would be interesting to see her take on it anyway.

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  10. The Pocampo pattern is exactly what I have been looking for, thank you! I am planning to make a Christmas jumper for my little niece and this is just perfect. XO Maeve

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    1. Ooh. You could replace the hearts in their original motif with snowflakes!

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  11. Another belated newcomer here. I followed your link to the Drops patterns and couldnot believe their yarn prices. Any advice where to buy similarly inexpensive wool yarn in the US? Thank you!

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