the Sweater Saga part 3b: finding the mistakes

When faced with a dilemma so huge as to be off by 5 stitches, sometimes the only thing to do besides frogging everything and starting over (which is unacceptable) or drowning one’s sorrows in vodka (I don’t drink), is to chart the pattern. Some patterns come in charts, like most lace patterns, and this makes total sense: in order to “read” your knitting you need to “see” the pattern and charts help with this.

But I’m not knitting lace, I’m knitting a simple, stockinette sweater back – really, nothing to chart about. But in helping me to narrow down why I’m off by 5 stitches (not some nice, round number like 2 or 4), I had to go back to the beginning and chart.

Here’s what it looks like:

SweaterMistake1Simple enough, right? Okay, so the next step is to count what I have:

SweaterMistake2See the problem? Maybe this will help:

SweaterMistake3Mistake #1 in the red circle is that on my last row I didn’t decrease when I should have. Great, that is 1 stitch accounted for. Mistake #2: I didn’t do the last whole row – which accounts for 4 stitches. 1+4 = 5, and now that I’ve accounted for all 5, now I need to figure out how to fix.

I’m thinking I’ll need to tink back to change the 11 to 10 (in the red circle), which means knitting back 1 whole row and then a partial row to get back to the middle stitch marker on that side.

*sigh* Knitting backwards is not my strong suit. Wish me luck!

the sweater-saga part 3: waist-shaping

Its been a few weeks since I’ve posted – primarily because I’ve been too busy with school stuff and haven’t had time to knit. But I am a little further along than when last we met. Further along enough for me to know that things aren’t working out. Yeah, again.

So the last we met, I had divided my knitting up into 6 sections – three on the left and three on the right (complete with matching pairs of stitch markers). The best I can make out in the directions, I am to do the decreases in rows of 2 – two decreases at the center stitch marker on each side on row 1 and 4 decreases (one on each of the remaining 2 stitch markers on each side) on row 3. So doing this 6 times would be…6×6, or a total of 36 stitches decreased.

Okay, so, I cast on 194 stitches. That means that if I decrease by 36 stitches I should have 158 stitches on the needles. However, my directions say that I should have 156 stitches on the needles. However, I have 159. *sigh* In case you haven’t figured out what my problem is – none of those three numbers match the other. Something ain’t right.

*sigh* Now to try and figure out what *THAT* is. But it is late and past my bedtime. The brain shut down 15 minutes ago. The investigation will have to be placed on hold.

*sigh*

sweater saga part 2: *those* directions

Reading directions must be an art form that I have yet to master. I’m to a certain point in the progress of the back of my sweater when I came to these instructions:

sweater_directions_markersReading this for the first (or, say the 10th, or 100th time), I read the instructions as “work 16 stitches, place marker, change to color C, work 16 stitches…”

Honestly, I probably spent about 3 weeks fretting over the fact that my directions called for three colors of yarn to be used when I was only planning on using one. Jeesh!

Thankfully, I didn’t do anything to the work-in-progress until I had this little dilemma resolved. Here’s what the WIP looks like tonight:

01232635af426b07072da2bc077240a0d294abf683Notice the THREE different colors of MARKERS and the ONE color of YARN. :-)

Now I shall proceed with the shaping of the back. Wish me luck!

the sweater saga part 1: to frog or not to frog

I’m knitting my very first sweater. Or more accurately, I’m attempting to knit my first sweater. I’ve been intimidated by clothing for, well, ever since I learned to knit, so I guess for about 9 years now. Why? Well, because I hate clothing, or more importantly, I hate the way clothing looks on me, so I’m never happy with clothing. (don’t worry, I’m just as unhappy about not having clothing, so I guess you could say that I’m not a very happy person. Truth is, I rarely think about clothing, or not having clothing, so really, I am a very happy person most of the time.)

Anyway, there is a knitwear designer by the name of Amy Herzog who specializes in teaching people to knit sweaters that fit them. She has even designed a website where you (if you were a knitter), could plug in all your bodily measurements, and then plug in your swatch* dimensions and then magically, voila, she’ll give you a pattern to knit with all the perfect instructions to knit something that fits you. Since she is such an esteemed designer, and the math part of all of this seems kosher, I thought I would give it a try. After all, what have I got to lose?

So here I am, attempting to knit my first sweater. Now, any decent knitter will tell you that you should read the pattern before you knit. It’s like the old carpentry adage: measure twice, cut once. Ah, you think you see where I’m going with this. But I’m not. Things are going well. Except.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to sweater construction. Pieces or seamless. When you knit pieces, you usually knit the front piece, back piece (and hope they match measurement-wise), then the sleeves (separately) and then block everything and then sew it all together. I’ve seen some designers swear that this is the “better” method. The other school of thought, though, says, why knit pieces and sew them together when you could knit an all-in-one thing and be done with it? Well, I think I prefer this second option. Problem is that I missed the one line note at the beginning of the pattern that said that this was an option.

So I’m 24 rows in (roughly 2.25 inches) and I’ve discovered that the seamless sweater was an option. Hm…do I rip back or do I go forward and knit the darn thing the way it was designed?

While I’m tempted, I think I will move forward and knit it the way it was designed. I’m writing this so that, two years from now, when I’ve finally finished the sweater and it doesn’t fit, I can always refer back to this and think, yeah, I should have frogged.

Onwards and upwards.

 

*swatches are little squares that you knit using a specific needle size and yarn and then measure it so that you know how many stitches per inch and how many rows per inch you knit. This is the most important aspect to the math involved with garment construction. If you need a sweater that is x inches at the bottom, then you must know how many stitches per inch you knit, otherwise you will be either terribly short of stitches or you’ll have way too many. We’ll have to reserve judgment as to how well Amy’s website can do accurate math.

a new year…a new look

This past fall was extremely busy for me – school just consumed most of my “free” time, leaving little room for anything else, much less knitting. My course this year was one that I needed as an elective, for which I had to write a major paper (“major” consisting of 30-35 pages of research). The paper turned out to be 31 pages and while there were some criticisms of the paper itself, I managed a B+ on it, which I am happy to receive.

Just 4 more classes to go. *sigh*

My knitting this past year was more productive than usual. I started the year by having major knee surgery and couldn’t drive for 4 months. While it was really frustrating, it provided a ton of knitting time. I started the year by making 2 versions of the Follow Your Arrow shawl by designer Ysolda Teague, one of my favorite designers. She went far and above my expectations for fabulous design by writing a pattern that could be knit in 32 different ways. I knit two of them and gave them away to women who helped me with transportation needs during 2014Q1.

I then finished a shawl for me, one that I had started in November 2013. It was the second time I had knit the Sunset shawl and I decided to make one modification: make it bigger. You need a little perspective here. The original pattern called for 3 skeins of Malabrigo Rios yarn. By the time I finished the three skeins I knew I needed more yarn so I purchased 2 more. And by the time I finished those, I still needed more yarn. Six skeins total to finish this shawl. Let’s just add that I really don’t want to do another cable pattern for a very, very long time. :-) The biggest, uh, challenge with purchasing skeins of yarn this way is that the Malabrigos company only dyes yarn in lots of 10. This means that unless you order all your yarn at the same time, chances are the dye lots won’t match. They certainly didn’t match with my shawl. While noticeable, it worked out okay. You can definitely tell where the new yarn was purchased, but it works. At least that’s what I tell myself.

So, what’s in store for 2015? I don’t like to make resolutions, but I would like to set some goals. Here they are:

  1. Finish the project for one of my drivers – I’m currently about 8 rows shy of being finished, so I think this one is a done deal.
  2. Finish another project for the last of my drivers. I have messed the lace up a tad, so it will take some repair work to get back on track, but I think finishing is also quite possible.
  3. My sister has requested a “fashionable” cowl, so I will have to fulfill that request before next winter.
  4. Finally, I have an idea for a shawl for my Aunt. I think I finally enticed her to let me knit something for her. :-) I love looking at patterns!
  5. To make progress on my first ever sweater. I can’t make any promises as to how finished it will be by the end of the year, but I will plug away on it steadily. Someday I will wear it.

Well, that’s it for my knitting goals. Quite modest and I think doable. What are your goals for 2015?

i just wanna cry

I’ve been furiously knitting away on a little lacy shawlette (one that has beads on it too) trying to get it done for my friend Rebekah’s wedding on Saturday. I’m working on the border, which is knitted on sideways. In truth, the border is only 8-stitches wide and is a 4-row repeat – how hard can that be? I can memorize 32 stitches, no problem.

Except.

I was knitting away Monday night when I suddenly noticed a dropped stitch. I think a bad 4-letter word came out of my mouth at that time. It had fallen about 3 rows down. With great calm and poise that even surprised me, I placed the knitting on the table, pulled out my crochet hook and started trying to figure out what went wrong (okay, that’s not true – I didn’t really care at that point what went wrong) and more importantly, how to fix it. An hour later I ended up with *something*, though I’m not sure what I really did. Who cares? It is 100% noticeable, but only if you’re looking for it. *hopefully*

Onward I went, knitting happily way.

Until.

Another dropped stitch was found.

*sigh*

Into time out the project went.

I went to bed, slept fitfully and woke up determined to fix it. Which I did. And it looked much better than the first attempt the night before. Much better. So, onward I went. Keep in mind that by this point I’m nearly 3/4 of the way through the border when this happened the first time. I mean, like the first 200 rows went perfectly, so why all-of-a-sudden am I facing these dropped stitches?

Determined to get some knitting done on Tuesday morning, I fixed the mistake, placed it out of my mind and then carried on…paying close attention to my knitting, determined to NOT.DROP.ANOTHER.STITCH.

Well, that didn’t happen. I mean, I did. Drop another one. Yes, yes I did.

This morning I picked up my knitting and had a successful morning of it. I have, quite literally, 8 repeats left to do. I CAN DO THIS. No more dropped stitches!

(I keep repeating the mantra “there’s no crying in knitting…there’s no crying in knitting…”)

normalcy?

I keep waiting (and waiting…and waiting….) for life to return to normal, but it hasn’t happened yet. This has been one crazy year for me – first with the knee injury and then with work overload and church-work overload -and- school. I have been knitting during all this time, but every so slowly.

First off, I completed my Sunset Shawl. Finally. It has been a wonderful little shawl so far – I wear it nearly every day at work, so it was definitely worth the wait. I had knit this pattern before for my mom, but I decided to make mine larger, and by larger, I mean that it took for. ever. to knit. That and I had to purchase extra yarn twice, should tell you how much larger this thing is than my moms. I think I will take it home with me at Christmas and take a comparison photo.

Right now, though, I’m working on a beaded shawlette for my friend Rebekah’s wedding. Just a little something to keep the tops of her shoulders warm. The beads are driving me crazy. I knit some last night and dropped a stitch and had to perform surgery and then this morning I did the exact same thing. Ugh! Can you tell I’m ready for this to be finished? I’m hoping that I can get it to blocking by Thursday night so that I can give it to her on Friday night for the rehearsal (I’m reading at her wedding, so I get to go to the rehearsal and dinner). Come to think of it – this is the third wedding I’ve read for. Kristin’s (my sister), Julie’s (my former roommate) and now Rebekah’s. Does the same theory about wedding “readers” hold true as for bridesmaids? You know, always a bridesmaid but never the bride? Hm…

So, I’m still here. And still knitting. And still waiting for my life to return to something resembling normalcy. Unless this is the new normal and no one ever told me. Is it?