Saturday, December 6, 2008

Test knitting

6-point knot
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Some days you can't see where your ideas are going to take you, or how long it's going to take to get there. When I originally decided to make a sweater for myself, I figured I'd have it done in time to wear for Christmas.

Over two weeks ago, I cast on and knit swatches to make "A Cardigan for Arwen" by Kate Gilbert (Interweave Knits, Winter 2006). I started to work the back and very quickly came to the conclusion that a big, plain, square back was going to be very boring to knit. It really needed something to match the beautiful cabling that graces the front. As I purled a row for turning the hem under, I centered the same cabling that goes up the front so that it would run right up my spine. Unfortunately, after a few repeats I could see my gauge wasn't quite what I'd planned it to be--probably because that cable was pulling things in quite a bit.

I began tossing different ideas around. I considered mitering that lovely cable and doing a square of it. But as long as I was going that far, why not find something even more striking, or design a knot and center it in the back of the sweater? I could short-row something much like the washcloths I do regularly, but that would create a cable that is longer on the outer edge than the inner one. Maybe someone had something out there already that I could just incorporate. Ravelry to the rescue!

My online search yielded the "Hilton of Cadbol" Flower Pillow by Janet Sazbo ("Twists and Turns", Winter 2003). The challenge here was how to adapt a circular motif to fit a square panel. I could knit the panel with a circular hole, or make the motif square. That shouldn't be too hard, right? Subtract two repeats.. maybe add in a few stitches. It'll square right up! Right.

4-point knot
To get it straight in my head, I borrowed a project picture and edited it so that I only had four repeats of the motif. It still seemed work-able. But when I started knitting the pattern, I just couldn't figure out how to add or subtract stitches to give myself the shape I wanted.
First try
I cast on a number more than my needed stitches and decreased at the four corners for a few rows to start off the shape and was off and running. By the time I ran out of yarn, I knew I was in trouble.. the project was already buckling into a volcanic shape. Even stretched hard, it didn't look like it was going to lay out flat even after blocking.

Second try
I took a few pictures to remind myself where I'd gone wrong, and started over again. This time I worked the pattern from the center out, revising things as I went along. That sure sounds easy, doesn't it? I spent almost an entire week trying to chart, rechart, reverse, sketch out, and generally re-work the pattern to knit from the center out. I hoped that this would give me more freedom to add stitches as I went along. My husband started to look concerned with the amount of effort I was putting into it. My friends weren't so delicate. (I distinctly heard "crazy", and "OCD" tossed around!)

I wish I could say what exactly clicked in the end, but I don't have a clue. Suddenly I had about ten lines of workable pattern and I started knitting. I also dug out a yarn I liked quite a bit more than the acrylic/wool blend of my first go-around and at least was able to enjoy the knitting a bit more. It's really hard to linger over a difficult problem when you don't particularly want to touch the yarn.

I still couldn't puzzle out where to increase stitch counts. As a stop-gap I went up two needle sizes about half-way through with the hope that shifting my gauge larger would deal with the buckling.

Finished 4-point
No such luck! I have a lumpy, bumpy knot. It is quite pretty and I'm pleased with it so far, but it sure isn't going to work as the back of a sweater.

At least I can finally see where to insert stitches! It's a relief to feel like you're headed in the right direction. I was going to save this and make it into a little pillow for my daughter's dolls, but now I'm considering taking scissors to it along the lines where I want to add stitches and see if that will let it lay flat. It makes me think of cutting slices of bologna so it won't curl up when fried (for pretty much exactly the same reasons).

Only.. now I'm hungry.

1 comment:

Geek Knitter said...

What? You mean words like "crazy" and "OCD" aren't used in polite company? Phht! What do they know?