Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fears Fulfilled

Sometimes knitting worries come true. (Of course, knitting worries are small worries.)

Today, I finished the Pine Bark sweater, but then again, I didn't. Well, maybe I'd better clarify that.

I'd been worrying about whether the neckline was too loose and open. Thursday night, with a certain amount of trepidation, I picked up stitches around the neck and knit the neckband. While the neckline didn't look too bad, as it turned out, the neckband itself was another matter. I knew it would be questionable, as the edging is not ribbed and the stitch pattern doesn't offer easy places to decrease stitches. That makes it a challenge to get a neckband to draw in and lie against the neck instead of standing up and striking out on its own. I did switch to a smaller needle size a couple of rows from the edge to make it smaller, but that wasn't enough. After a day of pondering in the back of my mind as I went about my workday, I came up with some ideas for places where I could decrease some stitches without visible harm to the stitch pattern. So, last night, off the neckband came, and back I knit it again. (Off most of it came, that is. Picking up the stitches around the neck is careful and risky work that I don't like to repeat if I can help it!) My tinkering worked, and the redesigned neckband was much more docile.

So my problem was solved, and there could be nothing ahead but smooth sailing. (Right?) This morning, I got straight to work on seaming the sweater, not even pausing to eat breakfast first (though my stomach eventually notified me that this was unacceptable.) I sewed on one sleeve, then draped the partial sweater over me, open-sided as it was, and had a look in the mirror. I could baste it all together for a test run, I thought, but it looked okay to me. I had no patience for that folderol. Full speed ahead.

I spent most of the day hard at work sewing all the seams, meticulously matching the pattern, making sure it was nice. I did everything but weave in the ends. Finally, a sweater had appeared from the curly-edged pile of parts. With a great sense of satisfaction, I pulled it on over my head and headed for the mirror. Uh-oh. Yes, it was recognizably a sweater, and quite the boxy, casual, comfortable style I'd had in mind. The notched scoop neck looked the way I wanted it to. Rather nice, really.

But the model wearing it looked strangely short. My hands were lost in the sleeves, only fingertips peeking out. The sweater was long enough to fit my taller self-image, rather than my more average-sized self. Yes, my fears of the sleeves being too long had come true. And how. I'd known that gravity might make the body of the sweater stretch out a little more over the shoulders, making the sleeves hang longer. But in retrospect, I think I must also have made a mistake in juggling the measurements, perhaps adding the edging on top of the planned sleeve length rather than allowing for it within.

So the sleeves would have to be adjusted. And since they were knit cuff-up, all those carefully sewn seams would have to be unsewn, just as carefully. OK, well, that's certainly time-consuming, but no matter. When I got done with that, I could just unravel the top two inches of each sleeve and sew them right back in. Right?

No, not a chance. These are modified drop-shoulder sleeves. The body has a nice little right-angled notch on each side for the sleeves to fit into, and each sleeve has a straight section at the top to create the right-angled corner that mates into its notch before angling off in the direction of the wrist. So what's the problem? Taking off the top two inches of the sleeve knocks off the straight bit, leaving only the slanted bit, which won't fit neatly into the squared-off notch. Unraveling another two inches to knit it back up straight would leave you with too few stitches, since you've then traveled part of the way down the narrowing slant. To really fix this problem, you have to recalculate the angle and replot the increases from the wrist all the way up. The entire sleeve has to be ripped out and redone. Except for the edging. One small mercy, at least.

Well, I can be a bit of a purist. I like to fix things right. I'm not the type who can toss my head, say it doesn't matter, and go on. It does matter to me. But some things can be too much. This was too much. I might still have teetered on the brink, but there's a stitch pattern over the bottom six inches or so of the sleeve that I just didn't care to re-knit. Why that seemed so distasteful, I don't know. The stitch pattern takes a little attention but isn't all that laborious. Maybe it was just because after having put the whole sweater together, I had thought I was done.

After a few woe-is-mes, I negotiated with myself and managed to hammer out a compromise. I decided to leave the forearm, with its stitch pattern, just as it was. I would then slant off a little more steeply from the elbow to the armhole to compensate. So the whole sleeve won't be one smooth line all the way from wrist to elbow, but I don't think the change in the angle midway up will be all that noticeable. I recalculated the rows between increases, ripped out half the sleeve, and got back to knitting. And here I still am, almost finished with fixing the first sleeve.

Honestly, sometimes it seems as if I have a fairy godmother who knows how I like to knit and tries to find ways to give me the opportunity to keep it up.

Dear fairy godmother, it's very sweet of you, but we don't need to make it last. I have plenty of yarn. I won't run out.

1 comment:

Bess said...

Oh how I symathize. It's the knitter's curse, isn't it? That worry we have the closer we get to the end, that It Won't Fit! or It Won't Look Right.

I am sure you'll triumph. Knit on!