Saturday, December 12, 2009

Swatches lie

I know that I've done a lot of knitting over the past couple of weeks, but it feels like I have nothing to show for it. A big part of this is because, while I finished my Barbara Walker sweater (my little experiment in top down knitting with seamless, simultaneous set-in sleeves) a while ago, it doesn't fit. Here's the problem: my gauge swatch lied.

I was good on this project. I dutifully knit a swatch and even washed it before measuring my stitch and row gauge. Unfortunately, while the swatch shrank a bit width-wise, the sweater did not. This means that the "seam" lines on the shoulders hit an inch down my arm from where they should sit at the edge of the shoulder. The effect is so unflattering that I can't bring myself to take a modeled pic for you. In fact, I've shoved the poor thing at the bottom of a pile of sweaters until I can give it to a friend with broader shoulders than mine.

There, now you have proof that it is done (and that it's been sitting at the bottom of the pile for some time now).

Pattern: my own, based on guidelines set out in Barbara Walker's fantastic book Knitting From the Top
Yarn: Nature Spun Worsted, colors Plumberry (2 skeins), Cranberry Fog (1.5 skeins), Ash (0.5 skeins)
Needles: size 7 circulars for the body, size 6 circulars for the ribbing

Interesting Techniques: I didn't want to work the upper body section back and forth, so I decided to work a steek for the neckline. I used a 6-stitch steek and then sewed a reinforcing line with fingering weight yarn on either side of the center before cutting. Once I had picked up and worked the neck ribbing, I secured the steek to the inside of the sweater using blanket stitch. I'm actually pretty proud of how that turned out.

The seamless simultaneous set-in sleeve technique is pretty nifty. And if I had worked with the correct shoulder measurements, it would look great, too. However, I don't think I would use it again with stripes. While the technique looks nice from the inside, the effect on the outside is not nearly as neat and tidy.

I think working this technique in a single color (or perhaps with more practice on my part) would help hide some of the messiness along the "seam."

Gift knitting has been progressing, too. I've made it into the yoke decreases on the secret sweater project:

Unfortunately, Lismore has stalled until I can find some big blocks of time in which to work on it. Hopefully that will happen this week. That project is not conducive to 5-minute spurts of knitting. Instead, I've spent that time working up a couple of little cold-weather pieces for myself:

Pattern: Peaks Island Hood (Ravelry link)
Yarn: 2.25 skeins Malabrigo Worsted, colorway Vaa
Needles: size 10 circular
Mods: None

This was a quick, easy knit and the shell motifs were cleverly done. However, it's not wind-proof enough to serve as a hat substitute in a Chicago winter. Add in a hat and you'll be just fine.

My usual go-to hat is a little stranded color work number that I knit while I was in college. It's lovely, but gives me absolutely horrible hat hair now that I have a pixie cut. When a friend of mine started knitting up a Shedir hat out of some Silky Wool, it wasn't hard to jump on that bandwagon.

Pattern: Shedir (Ravelry link)
Yarn: 1 skein Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool in a mossy green color (I've lost the ball band)
Needles: 3.25mm (size 3) 16" circular, size 3 DPNs for the top of the crown
Mods: I used a tubular cast-on (these instructions were great), and only worked 4 pattern repeats before beginning the crown decreases. At the top of the crown, where the designer wrote two plain rounds between decrease rounds, I only worked one plain round.

There's been even more knitting here at chez Tinks and Frogs, so I'm just going to leave you with this little teaser for next time: