The Answers

All right, Gentle Readers, here are the answers I've promised you.  Please keep in mind that I always always always follow these instructions to the letter, every single time, myself.  Unless I don't.  Because, sometimes, I won't. 

And even though this may be my longest post EVER, please take the time to read the responses to everybody's queries, because the questions were all so good that we will be total geniuses for having shared the answers:

For Teddy, who pursues the jogless round in striped knitting:

There are 3 tricks for making jogless rounds:  1.  Quit trying to knit them because there's really no such thing. 2.  Knit all your stripes flat and join them with good old-fashioned perfectly-sewn seams.  3.  Get over it and knit round, understanding that those stinking jogs will be there, to some degree, no matter what you do.  The real problem is semantics, in my opinion:  If we are going to call something "jogless" then that's what it should be.  Unfortunately, the techniques commonly known only produce "minimized jogs".  Use the least annoying trick you know (slip 1st st from the prior round, or knit up 1st st from prior round), and spend the rest of your energy hiding the place in the round where the ugly happens (side seam, armpit, you know the drill).  This is one of those times to remind yourself that perfection exists only in machine-made knitting.  And kudos to your wee lass for liking Violets, all precedent to the contrary.

Abbott wants to know whence came Double Knitting:

Imagine the unknown originator of double-knitting sitting in a snowed-in cottage in front of a roaring fire, holding a swatch of 1x1 ribbing and idly compressing and releasing it. As she looks at the compressed fabric and turns it over and over, an idea forms in her head. Doesn’t it look like stockinette stitch on both sides? If she could keep it from relaxing, the compressed ribs would make a really warm fabric. What if …?  She takes up her needles and two ends of yarn, casts on, and starts knitting in 1x1 rib, using one end to create the knit stitches and the other end to create the purls. After a few rows, she pulls on the fabric. Her eyes light up and a smile creeps across her face. Double-knitting is born!    By Alasdair Post-Quinn 

Sadly, I was no luckier finding the origins of Double Knitting than Abbott was, but you can find the rest of Alasdair's insightful article here.  Many thanks to Twist Collective for publishing it.

Janice asked what I said that time about armhole and chest fit:

I was telling Janice one time about my theory regarding the fit of sweaters on the upper body of ladies.  My premise is that it matters less whether the chest measurement accommodates the bust perfectly than that the armhole is deep enough, and that the sleeve cap has enough fabric in it.  We get away with murder, fitting sleeves in knitting, because it stretches.  However, making an armhole as though it were going to be tailored in fabric demands a much better fit.  And this idea translates to all body styles - the curvier/fuller the figure, the more important a variable it is.  The armscye/sleeve proportions of the Faery Ring and Caora Dubh are fleshed-out applications of my theory.  Try them out and let me know what you think!

Lacey's making stripes, too, and wonders: Should we carry yarn vertically, or cut it and weave in the ends?

My experience is that prior-stripe yarn can be carried nicely up for reuse in the next repeat, as long as it's being tacked (wrapped around the working strand), or used, every two rows or so.  It also makes a HUGE difference what type of yarn you are using:  You can get away with this much easier if your yarn has some "tooth" to it (think 2-ply shetland, and its friends).  Superwash sock yarn, on the other hand,  is just too slippery to strand vertically with comfort.  In the case of a big repeat, or slick yarn, I'd rather cut the ends and weave them in.  See also Kay's Query, below.

Bonny wants more on Double Knitting:

Thanks to Abbot for suggesting this. It is beautiful and challenging work - send us pictures of whatever you make!  I've never tried it myself.  Yet.

Sarah remembers something about the correlation between infant mortality and knitting:

Although I was unable to find specific statistics on the connection between populations who knit and their rates of infant mortality, there does seem to be quite a bit of anecdotal evidence relating the two. 

Societies who embraced knitting as a cottage industry when other forms of employment suddenly ran dry (fishing, farming, and coal-mining are well-known examples) often showed improvements in overall standard of living, which presumably would include the health of mothers and infants. 

In the U.K., we know that the Gansey knitters kept themselves warm and fed by supplementing their income from the herring fisheries with knitting.  The Bohus Strickening knitters famously saved their families when the coal industry in Sweden took a nosedive, and the makers of Selbuvotter in Norway not only fed themselves, but helped establish a national identity for their country, all by knitting mittens.  

And these are only a few well-documented, post-industrial instances.  A look to the history of knitting in Spain, Italy, and the Middle East informs the theory even more deeply:  Any time the lives of women are improved by fair wages for a sought-after product, their place in society, their health, and their welfare all follow suit.  If you want to keep a woman warm, knit her some socks.  If you want to keep her children warm, teach her to knit. 

Further research on this topic would be welcome reading to knitters everywhere, Sarah.  Please consider taking it on for us?

Kathy offers advice on slicker brushes and removing mats:

And right she is!  I have tried the slicker myself, and now I'm converted.  Thank you, Obi-Wan Dog-Nobi!  Now please tell me which clippers to buy?  I'm so confused...

Sharon wants to finish Japanese short rows on the right side of her circular knitting:

Japanese short rows are my personal favorite.  Lucy Neatby (who learned this technique from Jean Wong) teaches this technique in her class "Short Row Wizardry", which you should take, if you ever get the chance.  She also sells a DVD here explaining this method, and others too.  Knitting allowance well-spent, in my estimation.

The Japanese short row is worked without wraps.  You just stop working where you want to, turn the work, and go back the other way, slipping the first stitch.  It helps to put a marker where you have done this, because you have to deal with it again on the last "neatening" row.  In that last row, each time you come to one of those markers, you pick up the stitch below the one you slipped, place it back up on the left hand needle, and work them both together.  No holes.  No wrapping.  No bother.  Works exactly the same on the WS as on the RS.  Changed my life (and fear/loathing of short rows) forever. 

KayLynn wants to know if I'm pulling my dogs' hair:

She only asks because she has met me and knows that I am mean.  The answer is yes, I'm pulling their hair, but not intentionally by stripping it.  Even I am not fiddly enough to hand-pluck two dogs.  It's gonna be all clippers, all the time, for us.

Judy needs a reliable buttonhole, and where does the long tail go in a long-tail cast-on, anyway?

It matters a lot how big the button is that your buttonhole must accommodate, but after you figure that out (or decide to buy the first button which fits the holes you have made), I recommend the old warhorse, single-row buttonhole:  k2tog, YO.  Or if you like the look of it more; YO, k2tog.  Practice this while you are making the dreaded gauge swatch, to determine which is your cup of tea.  Also, check the back of your work to see which side it looks better from.  It seems to me that I usually like the WS better.  Then write down your preferences on your pattern, so you will remember what you decided when you get there.  As for the long tail, it matters not which part of the cast-on it is used for; as long as you have one.  And I don't know why that is - if anyone else does, kindly wise us all up?  I would only add that it's a swell party trick if you do a long-tail cast-on using both ends of the same ball of yarn, to avoid running out prematurely.

Pat needs a way to remember which way an SSK leans:

Oh boy, baby, do I ever feel your pain.  If my mathematical deficiencies weren't bad enough, I also have trouble telling left from right.  I have to make up a rhyme for everything, and some of them are so dumb that they actually work:

SSK Leans Left All Day.  You're welcome.

Kay's yarn tail ends make her colorwork socks feel bulky:

There is no way to change the fact that when we add a second strand of yarn to our knitting, we are doubling the number of ends to weave in.  Not only is it twice as much work to weave them in, it can amount to 4 strands of thickness wherever we do it.  Be sure to alternate the directions of your yarn-tail weaves - no cheating and doing 2 at a time, if you are trying to avoid bulk.  Also, make sure you are truly weaving the ends, and not just running them randomly through the back of the knitting.  This is what it should look like:

This way preserves the elasticity of the fabric, which, although not less bulky, is still nicer to wear.  An excellent lesson on this technique lives here. Thank you, 

Deb needs help choosing cast-ons:

And don't we all?  I consider the pursuit of the proper cast-on every bit as compelling as the search for the perfect yarn and pattern combination.  The truth is, the only way to understand that relationship is to learn and try as many different cast-ons as you can.  My favorite reference for cast-ons is here.  One thing I like to think about as I consider the merits of a particular CO is whether it has a corresponding bind-off.  I feel so squirrely if the two don't match that I can hardly sit still.  I know. Deeply. Disturbed.  But there it is.  Make yourself a promise to try a new edge at every opportunity; that way you'll learn a lot of new things, and avoid starting each project the same way.

Jill wants to graft a bottom-up cuff onto a top-down sleeve:

No reason at all not to do this - especially if it involves a cast-on edge that doesn't reverse, and your sleeve is being worked from the top down (see Deb's answer above, re my squirrely need for symmetry) .  Just think carefully about where in the design you would like the graft to happen (at a color or stitch pattern change is good).  And also, remember that when you invert knitted fabric, the "upside-down" edge will have one less stitch than a bottom-up piece with the same number in its cast-on.  Have fun and feel smug when you pull this off.  It's pretty sassy.

All right, you lot.  You really put me through my paces on this one.  To those whose questions came in after my arbitrary time cutoff, I promise I will save yours for next time.  Thank you, Thank you, Gentle Readers for keeping me sharp.  I am so much smarter after locating all your answers that I now require a nap.