Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Big Swatch progress

What an awful name for a sweater. I'll have to think of something better. It is kind of like a big swatch, since I'm making it up as I go along. 

OKAY. I got the fronts and back knit up to the underarms (Seed border plus 11 repeats of Fleurette). I put them in order on one needle. On an earlier swatch I had obtained a gauge of 5 stiches per inch and 8 rows per inch. I decreased 5 stitches plus another 6 (1 extra for luck) on alternate rows for armhole shaping. I used the basic instructions in the excellent book, Vogue Knitting: the Ultimate Knitting Book.  

Since that point the trick has been to match the decreases while maintaining the lace pattern. The Fleurette pattern has 12 rows. It's pretty easy to eyeball it and keep the motifs centered but here's the catch. In row 4 you increase the total number of stitches and in row 6 you reduce them to the original number. Then you do the same thing in rows 10 and 12. This adds a bit of interest to maintaining the ongoing decrease for the armholes.

While contemplating a dish of cream, my aunt's husband was asked if he wasn't worried about cholesterol. "There's a pill for that," he replied. Well, I can just hear you all saying now, "there's a computer program for that."  

Well then, it wouldn't be any fun as far as I'm concerned. I am handling it by keeping a couple of principles in mind. First, you don't want too many holey bits near the edges because you will have to set the sleeves in and will need something to stitch onto. So, opt for getting rid of yarn overs on the sides. There was a Knitting Daily piece about this recently which was very helpful. Second, I keep looking at what I've already done. It helps me figure out how to start the row in mid pattern.  I'm also writing down everything as I go to help me keep on track.

I am very glad that I am doing all three pieces at the same time so won't have to experience it all over and over. Oh, and I did remember to put in lifelines. 

All this has caused me to think, why did I pick Fleurette? If I'm using a lace pattern only to break up the colour pooling in a variegated yarn, why not just do a basic eyelet pattern? Why bother with a pattern that is complicated by varying numbers of stitches? There is no good answer to this question, only the consoling thought that if this does work out, I will be able to repeat it in a solid colour and have another lovely lace patterned cardi. Good thing I enjoy the process.

Meanwhile, work is being done elsewhere. On Sunday night we saw the last installment of Mrs. Gaskell's Cranford on PBS.  At one point Judi Dench's maid says to her fiance in horror after he pledges to build her a house, "But I could never live in a wooden house!" Well, here we do live in wooden houses and very happily I might add. I can tell you though that being inside one that is being banged on is not fun. My consolation is that I will soon have a covered porch on which to sit and knit!

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And to end on a better looking note, a final hail to the lilacs...

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1 comment:

Marjorie said...

I don't know if it is too late for you to do this, but you could have a selvage or edge stitch on your lace (around the armhole) and decrease there. If you made that part of the seam, it wouldn't show on the outside of your sweater. It would also give you a firm edge for seaming, whereas the lace will have some holes at the edges.

I'm in the throes of figuring out a sleeve cap too, and I'll probably put in about an inch of rows that is neither increased nor decreased to get the cap length I want. The sources I've read don't do this, but it is a common practice in lengthening flat patterns for sewn garments. I don't see why you couldn't knit straight for the couple of rows where the increases and decreases balance and then resume the decreases after that. (I'll eventually post on what I have in mind, if this description isn't clear.)