Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Slow Going

I've got one of those hovering-in-the-background projects going on. You know the kind I mean. The kind that gets picked up and put down on a whim, vaguely unenthusiastically. This sort of project, as is the case for me right now, is so often of the knitting variety. Since there's no way to finish a hand knit on a whim, they're all too easy to cast aside - even for me, the self-professed, product knitter-plus.

My project in question is the Blanche Too sweater by Susan Crawford:

I started it at the beginning of January, after the hideous, Xmas gift rush, and I have to say, it's not so fun. 

For starters, though I may have said that I wasn't going to worry about fit, that I'd knit the pattern as written, I am apparently incapable of doing so. Truth is, I'm all too aware that my high-hip to waist span is short, that between my torso and base of the underarm, I require more length to serve (in the finished product) as depth.* I also know I need a shorter-than-average length from underarm to top of shoulder, where I am quite short. If you add to this the fact that I rarely get gauge (and certainly didn't with this project) - vertical OR horizontal -there was a lot of mathy thinking to do, even if it didn't amount to crazy alterations in the long run.

Moreover, the project is largely worked in stockinette stitch, knit in the round, and man, it's been boring. (Oh, and it's a bottom up knit so there's been no easy way to try for fit as I've knit.)

Having said all this, that's not even what really kills my buzz for this project. 

What really kills my buzz is how mediocrely the pattern has been written. Frankly, and surprisingly, I feel the instructions are sub par, especially given the designer's reputation. Here's the thing: She provides directions for knitting this garment flat AND in the round, all in the same pattern, which does seem like a great idea.

Alas, the in-the-round instructions are an afterthought (perhaps unsurprising as author, Susan Crawford, is a vintage knitting specialist who values the art of seaming finished, flat pieces as in days of yore). Ironically, I can get with seaming. If I'd known how meh the in-the-round instructions were going to be, I'd have gone with the flat pattern instructions.

Furthermore, knitting this "in the round" amounts to knitting the tube of the body, to the armscye, and the tubes of the lower sleeves, to the sleeve head, in the round. (Note that, eventually, in both sets of directions, one picks up and knits the neckline detail.) 

However, you still end up knitting your sleeve heads flat. You still end up knitting the armscye to shoulder "straps" flat. You still have to seam in the freakin' sleeves. Um, I appear to have saved myself mattress stitching 2 side seams (easy work, btw) for the pain of spending two hours trying to figure out where the in-the-round instructions merge with the flat pattern instructions.

See, it hasn't actually been clearly delineated where one - considering the flat pattern instructions, and having theretofore worked in the circular version - is meant to begin. And it's not particularly intuitive, though the two sentences provided on the topic would lead you to believe that it must be. At very least, would it have killed her to actually restate the flat pattern language, in the appropriate places, within the circular instructions?
As it is, it's only because I've gotten cozy with the math - and I've made many sweaters - that I have any idea of what's going on. Here's hoping I can finish this garment this weekend, if only to be done with it (and, optimistically, to have a new, fitted sweater from which I will get a lot of use).

Has any of you attempted this sweater? Thoughts or feelings? Positive vibes? Let's talk!

*On the topic of adding this extra length versus short row bust darts, the fact is that I'm too narrow in the torso for the bust darts to be of much use. When I add them, invariably the whole sweater gets too big. I find, and here's hoping the theory holds, that an inch of extra length from waist to armsyce tends to do the trick.


  1. Wow! I feel your pain K.! I am starting my first sweater pattern class with no seaming (yeah) -- it's called funky grandpa on Ravelry. As far as your sweater -- I admire your tenacity to get the fit right -- it's something I'm concerned with as well. I've never been able to speed up the process either (and I've taken Judy Kessinger's class) so I like dawdling with my details and all my alternations, normally. I bet this will look great on you!

    1. Ha! I have to check that out. And thanks for the good vibes!

  2. I don't understand your starred comment. Extra length at CF, keeping the side seams even, that's pretty much the description of a short-row bust dart. How else are you adding the length, especially in the round? I'm confused. Maybe I'll figure it out after I hit submit.

    1. OK, let me explain: It's bad practice (that's why you didn't get it :-)) Technically, I'm lengthening the back as much as the front (as I'm knitting in the round), but I find that, for extra length of .5-1" it doesn't cause any pooling at the upper back because there's something about my shape that allows the overall extra length to be taken up, over the bust, without any extra fabric on the back.

      Having said this, I think my issue with short row darts is that I've made them too extreme. Depending on the sort of sweater, i would def consider making them again. I'd just be more restrained.

      And finally, my issues with the darts could be related to my previous issues with loose knitting (which has been "corrected" by flicking method I've taken up) that happens as a project progresses.

    2. Ah ok, I get it now, extra length all around. Thank you for the explanation! As one with a very short erect back that requires bust darts even for my barely B's, I envy you. Can't wait to see your FO.

    3. Isn't that crazy, that I'm the one with the boobs and I just get to trick it up :-) Well, I think so, anyway.

  3. From experience I've found 1" of short rows does the trick for me even though the measurements would say 4.

  4. Fascinating! I think I have to consider this further... THanks for letting me know.