Sunday, February 1, 2009

Buck Up and Get On With It

When last heard from, the neckline of my Kid-Hollow-mock-neck-converted-to-a-crew -neck was looking sadly messy. I was searching for a clever cast-off technique that would tighten it up enough to look neat but still stretch out enough to fit over my head. (Well, my tall-elegant-mom's head, actually, since this is a gift.) I was piddling around, looking at books and web pages, desultorily knitting inadequately-sized samples, and just generally fussing about it.

Certainly there are lots of clever cast-off techniques out there (and thanks for the good suggestions!) But in truth, I was pretty sure I knew what was the real root of the problem. Sometimes I outsmart myself. I've noticed that the little knit-stitch columns in ribbing tend to sprawl open and look loose in comparison to the ones in the body of a stockinette piece. I had gone down to quite a small needle size to to keep the ribbing stitches from loosening. But I'd gone too far in trying to prevent that problem and created another. Those small needles had created a too-small neck opening. I'd re-done the cast-off to make the neck edge bigger and wound up with giant sloppy stitches. I'd been trying to fix that by finding a cast-off that could be knit more tightly and still stretch like a rubber band. Deep down, though I didn't really want to admit it, I had a feeling I knew the cure. It was to rip out the entire neckband and re-do it on not-so-small needles.

But every time I looked over at it, I saw a scary little monster with sharp knitting-needle teeth grinning back at me. I had only recently had the character-building experience of ripping out an entire sweater in the same fuzzy mohair after being off on my gauge. Even though the neckband was only a few rows, I wasn't eager to do any more fuzzy-mohair-unraveling. I worried about whether the solution would work. I worried about whether it would put noticeable wear and tear on the yarn's fuzzy surface. I worried about whether I ought to go all the way back to picking up stitches again. Mostly I just put it off.

Finally, I decided to take the excellent advice of Christina, who encouraged me to just buck up and get on with it (though she, of course, put it much more gently and diplomatically. :)

So this morning, fresh and determined, I sat down, teased open the fuzzy stitches, and off it came.

I got it all undone and re-knit, with a needle a couple of sizes larger than before -- and still one size smaller than I used for the main body.

It looks a lot more sensible this time, doesn't it? And the ribbing isn't sprawling too much. I didn't even have to bother with an especially elastic cast-off this time. I just used an ordinary cast-off, with a bit of a light touch to keep it loose. The finished neckline fit over my head without a struggle.

The fuzz didn't suffer unduly either (though it doesn't photograph well in a head-on shot.)

All's well, the impasse is broken, and I got most of the way done today on sewing the seams. It will just take a good session of darning in ends and tidying up to get it done.

So what on earth was all that fussing about? It wasn't so bad! :)


Bess said...

Yea! Good job - it's lovely.

Two Cables and a Frapp said...

Wow, I'm so happy it all worked out. The collar and sweater looks great !!!

Anonymous said...

It looks fantastic. Hope your mother loves it. (I really, really wanna make one for myself...)

Alison said...

I like the scary mohair sweater!