Sunday, 19 July 2009

Mrs Hill's Jacket

Mrs Hill is coming for tea in a week's time, so I thought I'd restart her jacket and maybe get enough done to try it against her for size. I cast on the whole thing, thinking the best way to get the rows lined up was to have it one one needle. It took two attempts, and a load of markers, but I finally it all on correctly.

I misread the pattern on attempt one. The first set of moss stitch you repeat 3 times, the last set 3 times, but the centre set is repeat 6 times, and I misread that. I guess I was thinking, yes, yes, repeat 3 times I know this bit. I need to train my brain to read patterns slowly and fresh each time, not charge ahead thinking, yes, yes, I know that bit.

Anyway, I'm glad I redid it because I added two refinements. I cast on two fewer stitches, so that the moss stitch would line up perfectly into one panel under the arms, and I decided to use the old-fashioned purl because last time I had problems with consistency. The blackberry stitch is far too hard to work using the combination purl stitch. By old-fashioned purl I mean the yarn goes over the top of the needle. It has much further to travel if it does this. The knit stitch faces the correct way on the next row, but the stitch is slack. By combination purl, I mean the yarn goes under the needle as the purl is worked. The yarn has far less distance to travel, so the stitch is tight. The knit stitch faces the wrong way on the next row, so you have to knit into the back of it. Perfect for stocking stitch. Too tight for blackberry stitch, and disastrous if you change between the methods while doing moss stitch!

So, to keep things consistent, I used old-fashioned purl the entire way, and I'm so glad I did. I wasn't happy with the last jacket for many reasons. On top of technical errors, I also felt it had a kind of defeated look. I can't describe it, but it wasn't a pretty fabric. This time it is. The combination purl stitch was too tight for textured knitting. Making a looser purl stitch has made it all look yummy and textured. Also consistent. Wonderful.

BUT my tension is way off! Last time it was pretty near perfect, this time, despite using a size smaller needles, it is 3 rows and a couple of stitches too big. Sat brooding over it, tapping a pencil and thinking. I stopped to check on row 30, just after the first decrease and to give me enough length to measure the 28 rows to 10 cm desired tension. What, knit a new tension square because I'd changed needle size and washed the yarn? Do I look like a sensible knitter? Oh, no, not me. I knit on for several hours and completed 125 stitches x 30 rows of time-consuming textured knitting and THEN decided I'd measure it.

Anyway, enough beating up. Decided to try to solve it with a change of needle size. I have to bear in mind that I'm knitting the size 32 to 34" and Mrs Hill requested a size 42. (The first attempt was a good 10 to 12" too big, hence the drastic down scaling.) I measured the work and it is very, very, big. In fact I nearly screamed and pulled it all back until I realised I was measuring the hips which are then decreased to give the chest measurement. And this gave me an idea. At the point where I've done the first increase, I've changed from 4mm needles to 3.5 mm needles. I now knit 35 rows, and at the next decrease I can check my tension again and either scream and pull it all out, or change down another size, or leave it all as it is.

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