Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gauge The Situation: The DK-Weight Sweater and Updates

The part of me that's sure you must be sick of hearing about me and how I'm feeling is at odds with the messages I continue to receive and requests for updates about "that wretched illness". Feel free to gloss over this and check out the next section, but here's the latest...

I've been back at work since Monday. I'm still very tired, certainly not "myself" but my energy has been increasing each day, not diminishing, despite returning to regular life. Most definitely, my mood is more stable for being back amongst friends, colleagues and some regular routine. Depression - not something I'm prone to, thankfully - is an incredibly difficult condition to navigate, even if it's circumstantial and short-lived. I have a lot of respect for people who struggle with chronic illness of any sort. To be with equanimity under those circumstances takes tremendous strength and grace.

I did go back to the doctor on Tuesday. She believes that the prednisone, prescribed to open my airways, is the cause of the ulcers I now have lining my throat and which, unsurprisingly, make it feel more constricted. Ah, the irony. It's also one of the reasons, she suspects, that sleep has been so elusive. On the topic of sleep, well, that's been a challenge peeps. A real challenge. As of Monday, I'm tapering the prednisone as quickly as possible (but safely) and now I'm also taking something to help me to sleep. For the past 2 nights I've actually slept for 6 hours in a row. That's insanely good. The regular me sleeps 9-10 hrs a night . I'm one of those people who burns energy while she's awake and then seriously needs to recharge. The whole, circadian rhythm mess-up, sleep no more than 2 hrs thing, has been rough. Having said this, I'm not going to take another pill tonight. I don't want to overuse this drug. But it's good to know I have something to work with to re-establish my natural ability to sleep. Here's to some REM!

Now, on the more creative topic: Which DK-weight sweater will I make??

Well, y'all have convinced me that they're all too good to pass up! I intend to make 3 of the 5. Maybe 4. The only one that's out is the Flutter Sleeve Cardi (the one I liked least to begin with), thanks to some helpful advice from some of you.

For the Gauge the Situation series, there can only be one though - or this series will never end. And that one is Bettie's Pullover.

Why?
  • It's not a cardigan. I think I have enough cardigans right now. And hand-knit cardies do come with some structural challenges at the button band. I'm not saying that they can't be averted with some careful construction, but I'm not necessarily interested to continue on that learning curve just now.
  • It's very retro-inspired but, if perfectly-fitted, will be a fashion-forward finished garment. Of the finished objects I've seen, some have fit very well, IMO. Alas, the sweaters that don't fit well (or which aren't knit very evenly) really do fall short. I hope I've called this one on sizing (see below) because I sense it will a key element in the success of this sweater.
I have swatched the fan and feather pattern and stockinette in a variety of needle sizes (the sweater uses 3 needle sizes throughout) and have discovered that determining gauge in anything other than stockinette is pretty freakin' subjective.

I also realize, having just made the Siivet Pullover (and it's a good 2 sizes too big in the bust in the smallest freakin' size, with slightly modified gauge, admittedly) - that I have to just start making things rather small and dealing with bust issues on the fly. What that will mean will likely depend on the complexity of the project and whether bust short rows are feasible. On the topic of the Siivet. I think I'm going to serge the crap out of the side seams and call it a day. Then, at least, I'll have something wearable. But to be honest, it's actually a pretty dull sweater on me. It doesn't play up anything. The knit is very simple, as is the shape. Boat necks (even very narrow ones) don't play up the best elements of my narrow frame. I'm not feeling it.

I'm totally sick and tired of following every math sequence, triply over thinking things and then making sweater-after-sweater that's just too big. This time, and it may be crazy, after swatching and thinking and wondering, I'm just going to make the size 32. Yeah, that speaks to 5 inches of negative ease, but most of my handknit sweaters with 3 inches of negative ease still seem too large. I have to take into account a) hand-spun yarn properties and b) my own uniquely narrow frame. My bust circumference may be 37" (most of the time), but my under bust, over bust and shoulder measurements are clearly an XS.

Make no mistake, sizing in hand-knits and sizing in hand-sewn knitted/jersey/stretch garments are not the same animal. I keep applying my sewing sense to sizing of hand knit sweaters and it's just not working. There's a woven, manufactured durability to most stretch fabrics that I do not find in fabric that I've knit for myself. The properties of hand knits (even at a known gauge), at least as they apply to me so far, lead to a very elastic finished product. So I'm going off-road.

Here are today's question, sweater knitters (especially those of you who also sew):
  • Do you find your hand-knitted sweaters to be much more loose and drapey (even with a good understanding of gauge and what size item you should be getting at the end)?
  • Is this in contrast to sewing commercial patterns using purchased stretch fabric?
  • How have you mitigated this? (Making smaller sizes? Targeted size reductions vs targeted size increases, for example?)
  • What do you think of my final DK sweater choice? (BTW, the blocked swatch seems to hold the fan pattern beautifully but without stiffness.)

16 comments:

  1. I'd go small, definitely -- feather and fan is going to have LOTS of negative ease, imo. Can't wait to see this one.
    And glad to hear you're getting back to health -- achieving normal sleep again will be a huge factor, so I hope that happens soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know - that's what I figure. I really hope I start to crack the code on hand knit sizing. It's so mysterious. Thanks F.

      Delete
  2. I usually knit with a significant amount of negative ease - 36 or 38 for my 43 inch full bust. I then add short row bust darts to prevent unattractive gaping.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK, that's really good info! I feel more confident knowing that others have tried this strategy to good outcome.

      Delete
  3. Re: the prednisone and mood. There is a significant chance that the depression you've been experiencing is being exaggerated by the pred. It does have a tendency to make any mood more dramatic - good or bad.

    Here's wishing you a quick and safe taper down!
    You may find that it is helpful to split your dose so that you take 1/2 in the morning and 1/2 later in the day (after work is good - too close to bedtime could be a problem).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Today's my first day off the prednisone. I REALLY hope it's going to mean I can a) start to sleep again and b) that these weird manic mornings - I'm like a nut case for 3 hrs - which blend into dull and sad afternoons will soon be a thing of the past.

      I have a lot of respect for this medication, as it helped me tremendously when I needed it, but it is hardcore. I really hope I never need it again.

      Delete
  4. I'm glad to hear that you're heading back to the land of good health. Sleep is under appreciated until you can't get enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't everything kind of like that :-)

      Delete
  5. I don't have much experience with sweater knitting & sizing, but 3"-4" of negative ease seems to do quite well on my frame (and I have the same small everything-else, so it keeps that sizing in check too). And that lace/fan stitch is going to stretch A LOT, so I think you'll be good.

    Good luck with your tapering off! And yay for sleep! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lauren: We're quite similar in shape, interestingly (at least from photos). I'm going to up the neg ease in my next few projects to see what happens. No doubt I'll keep you posted.

      Delete
  6. Just sending you an e-hug.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Awesome of you to bring this up. I was just thinking about a project I had started (naughty naughty- I haven't finished my other one yet), and was thinking about ripping it apart and sizing down. This pretty much confirms that I should be doing that.. lol.
    Especially since it's going to be cotton. It'll probably droop too!

    Really good point though- I'm sure the small amount of spandex many commercial knit fabrics contain really helps them keep their shape better than yarns!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you think I'm awesome to bring this up :-) Cotton - not my preferred fabric - stretches ridiculously.

      I wonder if the microfibre in some modern yarns helps them to keep shape - but also to grow more than untreated yarns. That's Frances' perspective - and she has years of experience.

      Delete
  8. Sending warm thoughts for your continuing recovery and wishes for a good night's sleep. Methinks it's a good sign that you're getting into your sweater project :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Susan! I've just used some of the beatiful ponte you sent to me. xoxo

      Delete