Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Going Around in Circles

The other day it occurred to me that all of my latest knitting projects are being knit in the round.  There are my various socks-in-progress, my Strata Sphere swirl jacket, and this sweater, Abi, made with Berroco Remix.

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In fact, the pattern calls for Abi to be knit in pieces but I couldn’t see any reason for doing all that sewing when it would be so easy to convert it to a bottom-up circular sweater.  After knitting a gauge swatch I did the calculations, cast on for the front and the back, and began working in the round.

Let’s face it, until you get to the yoke Abi is a pretty boring knit.  After the ribbing comes inch after inch of stockinette, broken up only by occasional decreases and increases for the waist shaping.  Not a sweater to keep your interest under normal circumstances but the perfect project to work on while watching tv or going for a drive.  In other words, the perfect project to work on this past weekend, during which I was guaranteed to spend at least nine hours in the car.

When we left home Saturday morning the sweater was already almost 7” long.  By the time we arrived home again Tuesday evening I was into the third ball of yarn and the sweater had grown by another 7”. 

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Just the final set of increases and another 5” of knitting, then it would be time for the interesting part.

As our freeway exit approached I returned Abi to its project bag and remarked to Cameron that I really should run some yarn through the live stitches and try it on, just to make sure it fit.  In fact, I said, I probably should have done it before now.  And with those prophetic words, I set myself up for a major fail.

When I tried the sweater on this afternoon I was shocked to discover that it was WAY TOO BIG.  How did this happen?  I checked my gauge and it was bang on.  Puzzled, I reviewed the cast-on numbers and found that they were also in order.  A quick glance at my knitting confirmed that I had indeed decreased after the ribbing.  Another look at the pattern, then another scan of my notes, some figuring on the calculator, and then it hit me.

After working the ribbing, instead of decreasing 28 stitches on both the back and the front for a total of 56 stitches, I had only decreased a total of 28 stitches all around.  At 4.5 stitches per inch that made a difference of just over 6”.  No wonder it is WAY TOO BIG.

Right now I don’t even want to think about frogging it back to the ribbing, working the correct number of decreases, and starting all over again but I know that’s what I’ll do (and the sooner I get the frogging over with, the better).  An eternal optimist, I can’t help looking at the bright side of things.  If I’d knit the sweater in pieces I might not have discovered my mistake until after I’d seamed it together so there’s something to be said for knitting in the round.* 

I’ll try to remember that when I am reknitting the inches and inches of stockinette…

*I later realized that if I’d knit the sweater in pieces I never would have made this mistake in the first place.  Oh dear, there may be no bright side after all.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Knit, Swoon

You know you’re excited about a project when you sacrifice an extra hour of sleep so you can get up early to work on it. 

I can’t remember when or where I first heard about Knit, Swirl, I only know that I was immediately smitten with the beautiful, drapey sweaters with their unique, circular construction.  What can I say?  I am a sucker for knits with interesting construction techniques.

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After pouring over the book several times I finally chose Strata Sphere as my first project, partly because I thought the off-centre circle would be flattering and partly because the Noro Silk Garden would be easily available and entertaining to work with.  When you have to knit band after band of alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette, frequent colour changes help to keep it interesting.

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My yarn arrived the other morning while I was writing my last blog post (thanks for the warm welcome back) and it wasn’t long after I hit “publish” that I picked up the needles and started swatching.

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After soaking and blocking it soon became apparent that even though I was getting stitch gauge I was going to have to go up at least a needle size because row gauge is equally important in this type of sweater construction.  I knit a second swatch and after its bath it seemed to be pretty much bang on.  If I was a good, little knitter I would have waited for it to dry and pinned it out and checked and double-checked but I was too impatient to get going.  I decided it was good enough and cast on the required 537 stitches.  (The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding—cross your fingers!)

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So far, so good.  I managed to join in the round without twisting and am into my third welt (each band of stockinette and reverse stockinette is called a welt).  I love how the colours are playing out so far—unlike some Noro colourways there isn’t one, jarring colour that clashes with the rest—and I look forward to seeing the stripes of colour widen as the circle grows smaller.  

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Meanwhile, it’s the first of the month and, therefore, time for the next round of the Silk Road Socks and Knit. Sock. Love. knitalongs.  

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I’ll be casting on for Gordes

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and Cusp later this afternoon, as soon as I finish vacuuming.

Just to make it clear, it’s not that I’m virtuous, just realistic.  If I start casting on now, the vacuuming will never get done.  We’re going away for the long weekend and I want to come home to a clean house.

With all that plus a secret project for my yarn fairy (more about that later), not to mention a variety of half-finished socks and sweaters kicking around, I have more than enough knitting to keep me going for a while.  Even though September no longer means “back-to-school” for me or my family, there is still a sense of new beginning at this time of the year that fills me with inspiration.

Except when it comes to housework.