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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!