November 29, 2005
Life isn't all peaches
Warning: picture-less post. Lots of rambling. I attempt to crack jokes, but it's bad, real bad. Lots of opportunities for all of you who seem so invested in the project to give me advice, though :).
Contrary to what you might imagine based on my typical jovial predisposition (ahem), Grumperinia is NOT the land of milk and honey. We have issues here, serious doubts on a regular basis, and I don't have to tell you that the MO is grumpiness. We make wrong choices, and sometimes we stick with them for far too long - Adrienne Vittadini sweater, anyone? Curlicue? latest pair of socks for grandma? I'm notorious for picking really difficult projects, giving them a run for their money, but eventually deciding that they aren't going to work out.
And so with my latest obsession, the Kimono-inspired sweater. I'm really excited and inspired by all your enthusiasm, flattered by your claims that this will come out "just perfect," and surprised by premature pattern requests (Uhm, maybe I should knit a swatch first?). But I can tell you right now - I'm getting myself into a pickle, a really big pickle, and although I have the absolute best intentions and will give it my all, as I always do, I do not exclude that this will be a short-lived dream.
And it all has to do with gauge.
As all of you know, and as I painfully learned when knitting the orange Filati sweater, lace stretches during the blocking process, and in fact should be gently encouraged to stretch in order to open up and look pretty. Now, combine that with my desire for a well-fitted sweater and you get what I call obstacle #1: this project needs serious, diligent swatching in order to account for the stretching the lace will do when blocked. And this is NO easy task. If not done properly, I will knit something that grows to potato-sack size upon first contact with water (like those little foam animals that I used to get from the 25¢ toy vending machine).
Preliminary results indicate an 18% stretch in both directions, but I need a bit more time to have a firm number. In any case, yes, the lace will stretch significantly. I'm very worried about bound edges - the stitches at the edges of the sleeve cap and along the neckline, for instance. How will all that expanding lace be accommodated within these physical boundaries? (I learned to worry about this from the Curlicue, of course).
Moving on to obstacle #2: a lacey pattern knit with fingering/sportweight yarn looks remarkably dissimilar to the original sweater, which is knit in something closer to laceweight yarn, and much more tightly. As June pointed out, "yarnovers in thicker yarn are huge - big enough to get fingers stuck in the holes when you put the sleeves on, etc. It's fine for wraps and stuff, but I personally would not knit lace for clothing using anything bigger than a US 3 needle." I know, June, I realized it as soon as I swatched with a US 4 needle.
I have since moved down to a US 3, but I'm still only approximating what the original looks like because the yarnovers are much more noticeable in my version. I'm not sure if they are big enough for fingers to get stuck, but they are big enough that I'll have to wear a camisole beneath this sweater. I'm willing to entertain that idea for now, but there's also
obstacle #3: this stitch pattern bores me to tears. Oh my God, does a more boring pattern exist? It's complicated enough that I can't knit without looking as I do for stockinette and ribbing, but boring enough to put me to sleep. And, hello, did you notice that I'm swatching this on US 3s, assuring me that this won't be a quick knit? Mama mia!
So, we'll see. I'm swatching diligently and deciding if this lacey fabric will work for an entire garment. If not, I may keep the beautiful sweater shape but knit it up in simple stockinette. I just don't want another Adrienne Vittadini disaster - not being able to finish that thing upset me for like months (did I tell you I cried over it? I cried. So much work, a ton of pressure, such high hope, and at the end, bubkes) (didn't cry over the Curlicue - that just caused pure and unadulterated rage).
Oh, and I've decided to use the light blue Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000, absolutely contrary to all your votes. Like Claudia, I'm typically in the minority. This yarn is like little angel baby kitty bunny goodness foofoo, if that makes any sense :).