Friday, January 04, 2008

finished - officially but ...... and then there is the nice surprise

Today - I've got good news which resulted in a bit of a disappointment, then a nice surprise. So lets start with the surprise. In December I signed up for the post Christmas gift exchange on Knitters Review. My exchange partner was the lovely Rena, aka Highdesertrose, who sent me this amazing stash enhancement with two sorts of sock yarn, and accessories. Tea, biscuits, Libris stickers, and needle huggers in the shape of cute little sweaters.

Rena also sent me new sock needles by Lanternmoon, which are just exquisite. It was so nice to get the package today, a prefect day for it as by mid afternoon I needed a bit of a lift. I only hope that the package I sent was as delightful for Rena as this was for me.

.... and yes the project monotony ... ops monogamy (little Freudian slip there) worked and the garter ribbed sweater is finished - sort of. I had a day or two of mild panic when I asked Bear to try it on after knit night on Thursday and it was tight, firm and far to small. I checked the maths and it was all correct, but the sweater was small and tight. Remembering that the swatch bloomed magnificently when washed, I pinned my hopes on that same bloom to solve the fit problem with this sweater.

Fast forward to today, I finished up the saddle neck shaping, and cast off. Even though I was planning to pick up and knit a collar, I cast off the neck edge to give stability and stop it stretching later when in use.

I'm always impressed by the simple yet effective shaping EZ came up with for this sweater, I do like the way the back neck is raised by reversing the saddle decrease lines. Here is a peek before the collar was added.

Today was wash and block day, and yes - Bears sweater grew sideways as it relaxed by a full 10 cm(4")! The sweater now fits sideways - what a relief - but it is much to short. No - it didn't forsake length for width - it is the same length I knitted it to, but more about that later.

First lets just enjoy the saddle shaped shoulders which do fit well, and the steek, my first in 'sticky yarn', but my forth steek or thereabouts. All my previous steeks have been in merino or superwash. This sticky yarn made the steek even more secure, but just in case, I worked two rows of machine stitching before cutting.

After cutting the steek edge was very stable. That is one bonus of using sticky yarn.

I picked up 3 in 4 stitches around the steek, on needles one size smaller (so 4mm not 5mm), and one stitch for every cast off stitch around the neck, and garter knit four rows. Then I cast off along the steeked edges and continued the garter around to make a small collar. I cast off the top edge of the collar with a 3 stitch i-cord cast off. Finally I catch stitched/ herringbone stitched the cut steek edge down. This probably wasn't needed, as the steek seemed stable, but should tame any little fluffy cut ends that emerge after the next wash.

So after all that, I have a finished sweater that is 6-10 cm (3-4" to short). How did that happen you ask? Well I asked also. Turns out EZ sweater shaping has quite a high arm hole, with a short distance from shoulder to under arm. I based the measurements for this knit on a commercial sweater that Bear wears a lot, and measured from arm hole to hem. We have all read or heard that advice - measure a sweater that fits well and use those measurements to shape your hand knit sweaters so they will fit properly.

Bad move, bad bad move. The measured sweater has a much longer yoke, from arm hole to shoulder - a full 6cm (3") longer. Bother! It never occurred to me to check the overall length of the sweater, and without knowing how much shorter EZ yoke was I couldn't have allowed for this earlier. I hang my head in shame - I should know better. I do now.

I have a few history of fisherman's sweater books around the house, and did try to convince Bear that it was traditional to wear sweaters short - but Bear wasn't buying that argument in any way, shape or form. He was very polite about it, pointed out it wasn't pre 1900 Europe but 2008 NZ. He did retreat to the lounge with one of my library books for a closer look, but didn't change his mind, so the sweater needs to be longer to be worn by Bear. Besides -he has ordered pewter clasps for it and they will be here soon.

So I think it best to split the sweater just below the under arm and knit an extension bit and graft it back together. 3-4 days knitting max. My other solution is to cut, pick up and knit down a stocking stitch lower section that is longer - boring and probably more knitting. I can't knit down in the the garter rib, the sweater was knit bottom up and and the rib wouldn't match if I added a section knit top down, so it would have to be plain stst. All I can say is it must be love (of Bear or knitting or both?) to contemplate this kind of fix. My third solution is to gift this to a similar girthed but shorter Bear (don't know any - do you?), and knit a new one for my Bear - but I want to knit pretty things - so that option is a very last resort.

If any of you have any other suggestions - please do say, although I plan on cutting and picking up tonight - just to get it out of the way. Do return soon for the predictable horrific pictures of this newly knit sweater cut apart at its very middle.

Stella (the apparently ditsy blond knitter)


Vintage Purls said...

Oh bother - how frustrating (though I am secretly glad to have this info so I can double check Mr K's model T and rectify if necessary). A nice deep hem in an interesting stitch might be just what Bear's sweater needs though. :)

Hilary said...

What a shame! It's such a beautiful sweater. Could you add a long hem in plain garter, to match the collar (or are my eyes deceiving me?)

It makes me nervous just to READ about steeking! but you did a beautiful job. And you sound amazingly serene about the whole thing, though perhaps you are not in real life. :)

It's good your husband is being honest about it, and not just saying "it's fine" and stuffing it away in his drawer.

KathyR said...

Bother, indeed! A number of years ago I made my DH a jersey based on EZ's percentage system. I did notice that it was fairly tight-fitting in the arms and noted that to myself to remember for next time. Haven't needed the info, yet, but it is great to learn from other's experiences, too. So, thank you!

I think I agree with you about the solution to cut, knit and graft. Horrid job but should produce the best results, with care. You can do it!!