December 07, 2005
Swatches are for losers
Thank the knitting gods that I have smart friends, virtual and real-life.
1. You were all absolutely right: the chart as I had it doesn't knit up nearly as nice (left) as when all left- and right-slanting decreases are reversed (right).
Not that it matters, because...
2. You were all absolutely right - yarnovers with sportweight yarn are wonderful for scarves, shawls, throws, but not the smartest idea for a pullover.
(the mistakes in this make me cringe)
Two reasons: first, this pattern results in very lacey fabric, which doesn't match the inspiration and which won't give me the look I want. Second, the fabric grows tremendously when blocked even without putting it under tension, making it very difficult to account for the stretch while planning the correct sizing. This type of math is a full-time job without a matching paycheck.
3. You were all absolutely right - it is the silhouette of the sweater that I'm after. The eyelets of the original are hardly noticeable and as I noted above, not trivial to reproduce without going completely bonkers.
So, I switched gears - done with lace, on with stockinette!
I draped a tape measure around my wrist and decided that a 14" circumference at the cuff would give me nice bell-shaped sleeves. Because wide sleeves are fun, and long sleeves are fun, but wide and long sleeves are no fun at all (they get in the way of everything!), I decided that my sleeves would be 16 3/4" long to armpit, which will hit right above my wrist bone, or whatever it's called. I admit all of these choices were made on a whim.
From knitting and washing a stockinette swatch, I knew the fabric was going to grow after blocking, so I took that into account, made my calculations, and cast on.
I decided to knit a folded hem at the cuff, which mimics the bands of the inspiration sweater. I think I'm liking it so far:
Once I had completed a good, oh, 10", I reached a nice stopping point (joining skeins) and decided to dip the lower three quarters of my knitting into water and block it, just to double check gauge.
According to my calculations, the 13" cuff was supposed to expand to 14", but immediately after its bath, it expanded to 17". I didn't exactly panic because this is a sleeve, a sleeve of a Kimono-inspired sweater, so a little wider is okay. But of course I was a bit ticked off.
The sleeve dried (not under tension), and lo and behold, it shrunk to something like 15.5" at the cuff once dry! I'm no stranger to rapidly-changing gauge, so I said, okay, I guess I have to work with this. I readjusted my calculations, picked up where I left off, and started to work my way towards the sleeve cap.
I little while later, I decided to re-measure the gauge in the previously measured section and I found that it had changed once again. This time the cuff stayed the same width, but the row gauge changed. I don't know why, but I guess from handing the fabric? I readjusted my calculations once again.
After all this, tell me - what is the purpose of a gauge swatch? A small one does more harm than good because it hardly ever translates accurately to a larger piece of fabric, and even a gauge swatch that's about 15" wide and 10" long (the blocked portion of my sleeve) likes to change its mind every 10 rows.
Or is it this yarn? Don't tell me it's my little angel baby kitty bunny goodness foofoo yarn's fault ;).
Because of many changes along the way (but no ripping - it's a sleeve!), the sleeve shaping of this particular garment will be very... how should I put it... non-standard. I'm very optimistic, though, because there isn't that much shaping - the sleeve decreases in a non-uniform, non-standard fashion from somewhere between 14-17" at the cuff (depending during which stage of the blocking process the sleeve is measured), to what I hope will be 12.5" before the sleeve cap. I guess I'll have to see about that.
Just wait till I start freaking out when this same bullshit happens while I knit the body of the sweater, where precise fit is SO important.
Carole tagged me for the knitting spot meme. Carole, I must tell you that because I live in the tiniest of apartments (most would call my space a very spacious walk-in closet), my knitting is everywhere. Not just knitting, in fact - whatever the fixation of the moment happens to be, it overtakes everything. Anyway, we all have some voyeur tendencies, and as curious as I am to have a sneak peek at your house, so you at my.
My couch, witness of much knitting action - I sit in the middle third and the rest of it is covered with knitting, books, sketches, yarn, etc. I have a wicker basket to keep current WIPs, but if it's a true work in progress, it lives on my couch. The lowest shelf of my bookshelf houses my knitting books, and often I sit on the floor right in front of it as I browse (my view is exactly as you see in this picture).
In other news, I finally have all the supplies to start my mom's shawl, namely, the yarn and the needles. But that deserves a whole separate post (besides, I don't think I'll get a chance to start until this weekend).