Tuesday, 7 July 2009

How's your Knitting Getting on?

Clench teeth together and force smile: 'Well, it's not, actually. I've just undone a whole cabled jacket.'

Oh well. The next one will be good.

I have also thrown away the brown shrug. I was going to redo it, but I got out the knitting basket and uncovered chaos. There were bits of about 6 different versions in there, all tangled up with tiny balls left over from the frogging and it looked so depressing that I suddenly thought: it's charity shop yarn. You had your thirty bobs'worth of fun out of it. Put it in the bin!!

I hadn't kept good enough notes, either. What a mess! I'd scribbled over the old calculations and I hadn't kept a row count. How could I possibly say that the pattern was wrong when I had no idea what I had done? Debbie Bliss is the Queen Mother of British knitting, after all. It's almost certainly my mistake!

So, I started again. And fell prey to wishful thinking. I weighed some brown bits of back and front and definitely two whole sleeves, and what I estimated might be the equivalent of a whole shrug came to 300g. That's 6 balls, I mused, and I've got 5 balls of a pretty brown-pink wool. I'll use that, maybe do shorter sleeves or something. Of course, half way up the back I realised that it simply wasn't going to stretch. And what about the rib edging? Knitting is so character building. You cannot hide from sloppy thinking!

So I started again. This time I'm using some dark green Jaeger Extra-fine Merino that I bought in a sale at Cucumber Patch. It's already been frogged - a failed attempt at Cloud, but I'm sure I can make a shrug with it.

I am keeping track of EVERY ROW! I have got to the point where I'm pretty much on top of stitch control now. I am usually spot on. My use of technique is better overall - invisible increases and such like. Good. I knit on the tips of the needles and am beginning to control the overall tension, also good. What's left? Well, rows, that's what, and very interesting they are too.

This is a metric pattern, and I know there are 3 rows to a centimetre. (The yarn states on the ball band that it should be 22 stitches and 30 rows, just as the pattern calls for.). That means that if I write out the instructions row by row, the back shaping, for example, takes up 30 rows, which I know will be 10 cm. Then the pattern tells you to knit until work measures 13 cm, finishing on a purl row. That means that I should have knit 9 more rows. But for some reason I said 3 rows to the cm and I need 3 more cm so 3 times 3 is 6. (I have been studying maths for 6 months now but nothing seems to stop my dyslexic brain from doing stuff like this!) Anyway, I knit 6 more rows and measured it. At the time, it seemed to be making the expected 13 cm. Later that evening, it seemed a bit too short - which it will be if I only knit 37 rows (one extra to end on a purl row and also to knit in a red marker thread). Each time I measure the work, that's how it turns out. Sometimes it seems shorter and sometimes it seems longer.

Instead of getting frustrated, I started to ponder on the stretchy quality of knitting. I have read before, and am now truly understanding, that a row count has got to be more accurate than a tape measure because the knitting can be any shape at any time. Maybe the trick is to get as close to the correct tension as you can (a minefield! but let's pretend I got that bit cracked) and then count the rows. The inaccuracy in this back of this shrug is the same shape as a stitch, by the way. It is taller and narrower than it should be. If I smooth it gently wider, then it becomes less tall as it adjusts. I don't know what this means at this point, but I'm working on understanding it.

I am also going to alter the order I knit in - back first and check for size. Then a front and check again. Then the other front and check again. Then ONE sleeve and check again. If that sleeve sews in nicely and seems to fit, then and only then will I knit the other sleeve and check again. Then, and only then, if all seems well, knit the edging.

And the sleeves, will I have problems with the sleeves? I don't know. Some people on Ravelry managed to knit them OK, so maybe the problem is not with the pattern but with the knitter. I'll do one and check, and if there are problems then I'll have the row count so I can try to figure out the armscye calculations again. But maybe it will all turn out just fine. (Thinks, but maybe it won't!)

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