Queer | Feminist | Doctor

Archive for February, 2013

Teaching doctors about Trans*

This week I gave a presentation to some of my medical colleagues, about caring for trans* patients – with the recent #transdocfail Twitter storm as the means of convincing them that it is a relevant topic to their everyday practice. I was a bit nervous before as it was an ‘outing’ of sorts – I didn’t directly disclose anything about my gender but I did out myself as someone with a keen interest in trans* issues and some experience in LGBT politics. It was only about 10 minutes long and it went pretty well – my colleagues took it seriously and responded with thoughtful questions, which was a big relief to me! I’ve put the slides up on Google Drive for anyone who wants to have a read – constructive feedback is welcomed.


Knitting Instructions: Zombie Jumper

the finished jumper

This jumper is inspired by zombie flesh – scarred, pocked and decaying. In order that it doesn’t actually fall apart I have cunningly devised a means of making it look that way with no risk of it actually falling to pieces. I’ve used a number of techniques to alter the appearance of the fabric. It is knitted from the top down, seamlessly.

The actual knitting of it is a bit like jazz – you make it up as you go along, and pretty much whatever happens you pretend it was supposed to come out that way. It is probably worth doing a practice swatch trying out each of the techniques so that you get practice at doing them and find out what they look like with the yarn you have. I’ve listed most of the techniques I used to make the fabric look this way, and I have to say I did get better at it as I went along!

Things to bear in mind: certain techniques will make the fabric looser and more drapey (dropped stitches, knitting with the yarn wrapped round twice)  and some techniques will make the fabric tighter and stiffer (knit into the row below, cables). Be mindful of where you are putting these places – do you really want a loose drapey bit over only one boob? Or a tight bit under your armpit?

I used Jaeger Roma (discontinued) in Mineral, 10 balls, and 5.5mm needles.

Fabric close-up: ladders caused by deliberately dropped stitches, and at the top left, the little black hole was made using a yarn over

Fabric techniques:

  • Dropped Stitches:

Set up row = at the point you want to start a ladder, k2tog, m1. Place a marker if it will help you to remember/recognise the position in the row.

Continuation row: When you get to the stitch created in the last row (should be arising out of a “twisted” stitch in the work), drop that stitch, and then make one stitch out of the bar that is left.

Last row: Drop the stitch, don’t make one, and instead kfb into the next stitch.

In the picture to the right you can see that I “set up” a new ladder next to the one that I was about to finish which adds a bit more texture and interest (ladder comes down middle of photo and then finishes about the same time as a new one starts just to the left). In the bottom half of the photo  there are two ladders next to one another, separated by a couple of stitches.

  •  Yarn over

To keep the fabric width the same, precede (or follow) the yarn over with a decrease of some kind – it can be a few stitches away if you want, or it can be immediately before or after. On the next row knit the yarn over loop, leaving a hole in the fabric underneath

  •  Knitting into rows below

close up of fabric detail showing use of yarn overs + cables, and how they can be combined

Pick up a stitch from 2 rows down and put it on the needle. Knit it together with the next stitch. You can do a one off of these or several in a row for a long bump. Makes a horizontal bump in the work which I think looks a bit like scars or stretch marks. You can see these in the picture at the top of this blog, just by my left thumb!

  • Cables

I cabled between 1 and 3 stitches, and usually 1-3 stitches to the right or the left. Cables are good to combine with other stitch techniques as you can see in the pic to the right. They make the fabric look more twisted/tortuous and remind me of the kind of scars you might get from a severe burn!

  • Purl

One of the more straightforward techniques! You can put a purl here and there to break up the smoothness of a stretch of stocking stitch, and you can purl instead of knitting with most of the other techniques. The aim is to get the fabric to look uneven, as if it is worn and decaying, and the bumps of purl stitches add to that effect. Easy to forget cos they’re so simple but worth sticking in here and there! My jumper also has a few irregularly shaped patches of  reverse stocking stitch which look to me like the zombie has a graze – the undead don’t heal well.

fabric close up showing stitches slipped with yarn in front, and a meandering cable of 1 stitch at the bottom left

  •  Knit into back of loop

This is more subtle but makes the fabric look a bit less evenly knitted and adds to the “decaying” look.

  • Slip a stitch with yarn in front 

This leaves a short horizontal bar on the fabric. I grouped these together and only slipped 1 stitch at once, but you could experiment with slipping more than one stitch if you wanted to.

  • Knitting with the yarn wrapped round twice

This makes your stitches looser. You can do if for a stretch of 8 or so stitches for a line in the work of bigger stitches, you can do several rows with the looser stitches grouped together for an area of fabric that is drapier and more open, or you can do a stitch here and there to make the general texture more interesting.

I used a top-down construction which is as follows:

Do a gauge swatch. Find a free top-down sweater pattern in that gauge (via advanced search on ravelry) to tell you how many stitches to cast on and what increases to do. Do a provisional cast on in case you want to come back and change things later. Knit the jumper according to the pattern (or not, you may want to add/remove waist/bust/hip shaping etc) but with all the techniques listed above to make the fabric look awesome. Do not be afraid! If you stick to these techniques then your fabric will hold together!

Bottom edges:

close up of right cuff

close up of left cuff

Zombie rib: *knit 2 or 3, purl 2 or 3* til end of round. So that it didn’t look too neat, I made “mistakes” along the way, adding purls where they “shouldn’t” be, and perhaps an occasional cable or yarn over.

At the bottom of the jumper I tried a few different techniques. Part is the same as the cuffs. At the front did a “double” edge – cast off then went back a few inches and picked up a new stretch of knitting, making a second, rolled edge (stocking stitch with no ribbing). I stopped knitting in the round and divided the bottom of the jumper into 4 or 5 uneven sections, trying a different technique in each one. I’ve got a couple of big holes in one place where I worked back and forth on two separate sections, then knit across both of them for a bit, and then divided them again at a slightly different point. By the time you get to the bottom you will hopefully be pretty comfortable with the techniques you’ve been using and ready to create some of your own!

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