Thursday, October 18, 2012

Updated: Gauge the Situation: Getting Started on the Siivet

Hey all: I posted this a couple of days ago (before the PSA posts), and I wonder if was eclipsed by the drama I've been experiencing. I'm reposting it now in case you didn't notice it before... No new progress on the Siivet to date, but I will provide more info when I get back to knitting, one hopes very soon.

This is the sport-weight project I've landed on for the Gauge the Situation series, thanks to your feedback a while ago:

Siivet Pullover by Vladimira Cmorej
I've only just started by making a fulsome gauge swatch (both twisted rib and stockinette) which is blocking.

The suggested gauge for this project, using a US4 needle, is:

In Stockinette, 24 sts and 30 rows = 4"
In twisted Rib, 32 sts and 34 rows = 4"

Prior to blocking I got 22 stitches and 30 rows in stockinette. I got 30 stitches and 30 rows in twisted rib on the size 4 needle.

Now, once again, I'm reviewing all the stats to determine how best to proceed. These are:
  • I have 1100 yards of yarn. The small requires just under this amount. The medium requires more.
  • The tension of the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (a yarn I continue to love, happily, unlike the Aran version), is nice and dense on the US4. If I were to go down a needle size, to try to get gauge, I sense the fabric might be too tense.
  • The measurements on the small are 25" waist and 39.5" bust. It's meant to fit loosely over the bust. The twisted rib, at the gauge I've got, will stretch by 50% without looking pulled on the size 4 needle.
  • With my gauge (again, the pre-blocked version, I'll have to check if things have changed once the swatch dries), were I to use the stitch instructions to make the small, I'd get a waist circumference of 29.5" and a bust circumference of 43" (a little bigger than those of the medium).  I'm ok with the waist measurement - I think it will do, if slightly larger than it needs to be. I believe the bust, at this gauge, is going to be too large. I'm looking for 40", maybe 41" max.
  • Knitters say the sweater fits short. My unblocked gauge would give me some extra length without having to add rows.
  • The sweater is a simple, and elegant design of 2 pieces - a front and a back. It's a flat knit that seams from the wrist seam to side seam at the hip in one go. The dolman (really more kimono-style since the armscye sits pretty high) shoulder/arm seam is worked separately. This sweater is knit bottom-up (not my preferred method, since you can't try as you go): rib at the high hip melds into the stockinette waist, then increases provide room in the bust at which point the front or back arms are worked (depending on which piece you're knitting).
  • When you knit a sleeve that's part of the body of your sweater, you have to think of the portion above the bust (basically, from the armscye up) in terms of length, not circumference. So, the instruction dimensions speak to circumference until you get to armscye, at which point all of your flat knitting is affecting the two dimensional span from elbow, up to the neck, and back down to the other elbow. Understanding how this impacts stitch numbers that you may want to modify is the trickiest part of this project.
  • In fact, its relative simplicity is what may facilitate my knitting this sweater in a size small on the US 4 needle, with modifications of the bust volume and length of sleeves (which are attached to the neck and shoulders). Should I proceed at this gauge, in this size, I'll have to knock 5 inches off the arm/neck/arm length to get it to 38 inches. And another 2-3 inches off of the bust circumference.
  • Mind you, if my swatch shows softening after blocking, that is, if it opens or grows at all, I am going to have to make another swatch on a size 3 needle to see if I can find a way to more closely approximate the actual size small.
So there you go. Planning is a holistic part of the knitting process, which may be gentle when you decide to work with a very simple shape. I haven't started this yet, obviously, but I sense that it would be a very good beginner (first or second) knitting project. Its impact will be in achieving the right fabric tension (oh so even), hand, and fit. And, if it ends up looking like the pictures, it will be a timeless, beautiful garment.

More to come...

Update on swatches:

The size 4 needle swatch did open quite a bit, although my gauge didn't change dramatically. Nonetheless, it's too loose, IMO. So I swatched on size 3 needles.

The weird thing is that the horizontal tension on my stockinette, on the size 3, isn't notably different than the size 4, though the twisted rib is quite different. I do get about 1 stitch per 2 inches smaller in the stockinette, after blocking. Since I thought the original twisted rib was going to be too loose, I think I'm going to have to opt for knitting this on the size 3 needles. The good news is that, depending on how things shape up, I may not need to do any size altering (by removing stitches at various pivot points). The, potentially, less good news is that knitting sport weight on size 3 needles may take a while.

I guess it's not like I've got lots to do at this point, so maybe it's a blessing? 


  1. We are so very different when it comes to the planning. Your approach is inspiring, and I admire the results, but suspect I'll continue to be more haphazard in my approach. . .

    1. My approach is somewhat based on my obsessive compulsive nature, and somewhat based on my inexperience. I wonder if I will do less of this leg work the more experienced I get. And I have to say, I love mitts and shawls/scarves precisely because one doesn't need to overthink the fitting.

  2. I love the fact that you plan everything out. I am just not that careful! I can certainly learn from your methods. I guess that is why I do better with socks! I love this sweater and could actually see myself knitting it, since it seems to use pretty fine yarn. What color are you using?

    1. You know, I planned all of this out and then I changed my mind again. But I haven't put much into action this week, as you can imagine. Let's say I'm still thinking.

      The yarn is a navy blue by Debbie Bliss (cashmerino baby). It's more on the blue than black side of navy.