Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Work in Progress: KNUS Sweater

As anticipated (but sooner than I imagined), the weather has gone supernova winter. Fuck. (That's what my irises are saying right now.) Last night we had a few cm of snow which morphed into frozen rain for a few more cms and then culminated in a bunch of rain (ongoing). You cannot imagine the dangerous slush/ice fest that's right outside my door.

Needless to say, I'm sitting on my couch and knitting.

Here's the thing: I appear to be incapable of following a pattern, as written. I'm making the KNUS and I've been compelled to give it waist shaping. Why? Well, the Ravelry projects page is an invaluable resource. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you see a bunch of finished projects and most of them reveal a particular flaw (my perspective, natch), don't imagine you can make the same garment, in the same way, without encountering the same flawed outcome.

In this instance, the body of the sweater is an unshaped box and most of the wearers look boxy. Not my scene - especially since I have to delineate adequately between my stomach (the place I store most of my body fat) and my boobs. Don't kid yourself - an intelligent pattern-maker will model the finished object on someone who can pull off whatever the finished object shape happens to be. In this instance, that model is a waif with no boobs. Of course KNUS looks proportioned on her. Most of the peeps making this garment will not fit that description because most knitters are not 20-something waifs who are 6 feet tall. You've got to make the garment to fit you. The drafting and pattern, as written, are no indicator of that possibility.

But here's the dilemma. The stitch pattern is a complex version of K1P1 (or 1x1 rib) called square rib. Good luck finding any evidence of what that is online. Alas, 1x1 rib does not lend itself easily to stitch decreases and increases (the mechanism by which shaping is achieved) because you have to retain the pattern and, the minute you get rid of one K or one P, you're left with 2 Ps or 2 Ks stuck together. It's a bitch.

I spent a good hour figuring a way to do this without obstructing the rib and eventually landed upon something that could work on the decrease (and complementarily on the increases I'll work thereafter to return to the width required before knitting the bust and arms). It's not as pretty as it usually would be - where one is able to leave a stitch on either side of the waist marker to give a bit of additional definition of the "seam". Instead, my decreases and increases have to abut the marker. Note: I "invented" this because I couldn't find any instructions about how to accomplish this online. There may be a more elegant way to do it but my brain didn't think it up.

Here's a look at the sweater so far:

It's knit bottom up in the round until the armholes. There's a temporary lifeline about an inch from the top which is why the pattern looks warped at that latitude. No way I was going to try this without a way of ripping back that didn't include redoing tubular cast on! Note: The fabric doesn't take on its square knit shape until it's blocked. I should have taken a pic of the blocked swatch to show that.
This represents 4.5 inches of length and I used 200 yards of yarn (exactly 1 ball) to achieve it. It produces a very firm fabric that weighs a ton. I have to hope that I've applied the waist shaping adequately i.e. in the right spot vertically or it's going to be rather observably contoured in all the wrong ways. You think I'd have done a lot of vertical measuring before I hatched my plan but, no. I used my intuition. Yeah, that's always a huge risk or, as I like to call it, lazy adventure. Truth is, I've been waist shaping on my own body for a long time. I do think I've got it right in a way that also respects the pattern instructions once I get to the section where the the front and back are separated to allow for the arm shawl and yoke.

I'm managing numerous engineering considerations concurrently with fit ones. I've got to take some chances. Which is why I inserted a lifeline (piece of contrast yarn to hold the stitches, should I need to rip back) right before I went off-road. Note: That's what's making the fabric look tight along one row. It'll even out when I remove the lifeline.

You can see how the waist is starting to take shape at the right of the pic. I'm actually going for a decrease of 16 stitches (almost 4 inches of circumference) over a vertical span of 3 inches. I'll add it back in over the next 3 inches (the 3 inches just below the bust which will well position me to create the arm/yoke unit over the bust without messing with the pattern overly. That's not negligible shaping.

As I mentioned in the caption of the photo, you can't get a sense of how the fabric will become waffley because it doesn't take that pattern until it's blocked. Also, that lifeline is messing with the apparent tension about 1 inch from the top.

And while I'm in the mood to disclose - I actually messed up the 5th row of the sweater (the one visible just above the tubular cast on hem). I thought the pattern was supposed to be nubby on the right side of the fabric (that's actually the wrong side) so I did a major wrap and turn in the round on the 6th row (to "correct" things) but, natch, that just made it wrong. Yeah, I created my own error with much forethought so I'm calling it a design feature.

Finally, here's a pic of the waist decreasing on either side of the orange marker:

The reason it looks terrible is because you can see the lifeline indent (that's not going to be there in the end) and there's no vertical channel between the decreases, as would normally be there, given that the K1P1 had to be preserved (see above). I'm also having to purl 2 rows down on every 3rd row which, in this instance, means I'm sometimes purling into a knit stitch 2 rows down. It's complicated to explain but I'm confident that, when blocked, this will look fine.


  1. We didn't leave the house yesterday. Over 20cm of snow and the side streets have not been cleared yet. Had to fire up the diesel 4X4 to get around on Sunday. The poor Prius doesn't have the clearance for that kind of snowfall....I cut out two more sleepers from minky for the twins. Something to wear in the car, in winter. I have been working on a pair of socks on two circular needles. Viking Sportsragg- It is developing a wonderful spiral stripe that I did not anticipate. After the 19 year sweater debacle of 1996, I have sworn off sweaters for awhile. I may not live long enough to finish the next one. I did do an alpaca blend shawl for my daughter in law last year- that was a fun project. Take care on the ice, and I hope you sweater works out. Barb

  2. Oh, I'm confident you'll live to see your next sweater. I may kill myself before I finish this one! :-)