Monday, 17 November 2008

Tension Hell

I should have known there was no easy knitting! I gave up on the 'Simple' (the very word makes me want to scream) jacket. I should have ignored the word simple in the title and paid more attention to the two star rating. I'm beginning to realise that I'm a one star kind of knitter.

So, I rummaged in my stash, fetched out some Aran and waded in to the cabled Aran shrug. You can buy the Crystal Palace yarns here, if the test is a success. Which it already isn't. I didn't rush in! I don't deserve to suffer - I was a good knitter and checked Ravelry first. About a dozen people had knit the cabled shrug. Nobody reported any horrors, although one person hated the finished garment and one said she'd made one for her mum, who loved it. Which made me wonder about the fashion element inherent in that statement. Which then made me wonder about my attitude to mothers. Hopefully it was a mother of the fashionable variety who loved that shrug.

So, after checking I waded in. I knit a half swatch and got the stocking stitch tension of 14 stitches and 19 rows. I cast on, and bar a few of the inevitable snarls caused by me mixing with cables, I did 5 happy inches. And then I stopped to measure. Oh my paws and whiskers. What is going on here? It was far too big - and open and sloppy. I went back to the pattern. Oh, yes, they give a second tension for the Aran panels. I did notice that, but I remember deciding to knit on and check the tension once I'd done a few inches. The tension for the Aran panel is 21 stitches and 21 rows. Wait a minute, here! Isn't that rather a long way away from 14 stitches and 19 rows? In the same piece of fabric? No needle change or anything.

I've spend several hours wrestling with this and coming to no useful conclusion. I started again on needles that got 21 stitches in the Aran, but it looks too small and the row tension is off. Calculating the pattern repeat I can see that it would be 35" long instead of 54" long. This is progress. Once over I'd have knit the whole thing and then found that out!

Baffled! I wish I'd stuck to baffling short rows now. Now I have two garments in pieces that I can't do. To make matters worse, we called in at a yarn store. Oh, the glory of real wool! I wish I could knit.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I don't do gauge/swatch. However, I am one typically have good sense in sizing--from playing aplenty in needles and fibers. Don't worry about the gauge too much--most importantly part is that you can get the length of the aran cable part. If you look at the schematic of the shrug, you must be able to get it long enough to your liking and desired length. Before picking up ribbing, you can block the piece to desired size. Another option: Have you thought about knitting with two different sizes of needles--one for the aran cable and the other for stockinette if gauge is of your comfort?

I have knitted many shrugs and this one is my favorite--both design and fit. You may personalize length of the shrug when you do the ribbing. Hope this helps.