Thursday, April 10, 2008

In Which the KG Takes Her Revenge. Again.


Two hours. That's how long it took me to produce this swatch.

Two hours, and three needle sizes, and a flip chart for the lace pattern. It's not as easy as it looks. Not only is this a "true" lace, in that every row is a pattern row--no resting on the wrong side--but it also incorporates an "eight stitch cable" that requires not one but two cable needles to execute. You have to slip one stitch to the front on one needle, slip six stitches to the back on another needle, knit one, then work the six back stitches in a knit and purl pattern, then finally knit the first stitch from the first cable needle. If you didn't quite get that, imagine my struggles to figure out how to execute it without using any cable needles. I did, eventually. It requires some interesting acrobatics that leave my wrists a bit sore, but it beats trying to hang onto all those different cable needles.

Imagine, then, how long it took to produce this:

Now double that, because I knitted it twice. Not for fun, you understand. In all that swatching (and I even washed my swatches and measured them after blocking), I came to the conclusion that I liked the yarn best knitted at a somewhat smaller gauge than the pattern called for. After a bit of quality time with my calculator, I decided that I could use my gauge and just knit one size up and end up with the right size. So I cast on for the L/XL and worked about 25 rows. 25 140-stitch rows. Of lace.

Now I'll admit that it never really looked right. From the first row, I was questioning the sizing. It looked big. But I checked the numbers and everything worked out. So I kept knitting. It continued to look big. I checked the numbers again. I checked my gauge. I was a little off--maybe one stitch over four inches. But with a gauge of 26-28 stitches to four inches, this didn't seem terribly important. By the time I was nearing the end of the first lace repeat, though, there was no denying that this thing was going to be huge. I stopped and measured again. And now I was getting the original gauge specified in the pattern, and was in fact knitting a 42.5" chest for my 35" bust. There was nothing to do but rip it all out.

I bit the bullet and ripped. Then I turned on American Idol and cast on again, this time using the S/M pattern. By the time Simon was slinging his final insult, I was feeling pretty good about my progress. I did notice that some of my stitches were not as tight as they should be and made a conscious effort to tighten things up a bit.

Which may be why, when I pulled it out again today, it looked a little...small. Yes indeed. I am now knitting a size XS. Instead of a 37.5" chest, I am knitting a 34.5" chest. I am a little miffed. I'm not a slave to gauge. I see it as a suggestion rather than an absolute. I don't worry too much about my knits growing or stretching a bit, because that is the nature of knitting. It stretches. It grows. It changes when exposed to water or steam or normal wear. So it doesn't matter all that much to me if I'm off by half a stitch over four inches or a couple inches in the finished product, which is why I generally don't swatch as...rigorously...as some knitters do. But this time I did swatch rigorously. I swatched and I washed and I blocked and I calculated, and the end result is just as screwed up as it could possibly be had I thrown caution to the wind and just started knitting.

So the obvious dilemma is this: I have now knitted this sweater in both the S/M and L/XL sizes, and there was eight inches difference between the two with the two entirely different gauges I seem to have gotten with the same yarn and same needles. So what do I do? Keep working on the current version and trust in the magic of blocking? Rip and re-knit the larger size, even though I know it will probably end up being way too big? Rip the thing and pretend I never saw this pattern? Throw myself on the mercy of the Knitting Goddess, who is clearly not done with me yet, and beg her forgiveness for ever daring to cast on in the first place? After the endless labor of Death By Cables and the unfinished disaster of the Retro Ribby Shrug, I could really use a win here. What do you think?

22 comments:

Tracy said...

Dang she's really got it out for you!!! How much do you love that yarn and pattern? Perhaps a burnt offering is called for. :o)

Romi said...

Urg. I would knit a swatch and block it to see how much it blocks out. Probably a fair amount. Good luck!

TheBlackSheep said...

What happened to your washed swatch? Did it get bigger? I'd take a look at what happened to that and then decide. That's assuming you want to keep it and not go with the burnt offering :0)

toni in florida said...

The KG is pissed! Grovel and beg while ripping it out, then do a few rows of that abandoned project and perhaps she will be appeased. Then try doing the smaller size, but being more relaxed about it. Maybe that'll split the diff?

And you have proven what the Yarn Harlot has written: swatches lie.

sophanne said...

I think you better back off and knit some dishcloths missy.

melissaknits said...

HAH!

This is when I put everything in a Webs bag and shove it to the bottom of the pile. Then I knit something trustworthy, like a pair of socks or a baby surprise jacket. Then I move onto the next thing, and in about six months or so the offending object niggles at my brain, I yield and return to it.

But that's just me.

brunhilda said...

well it certainly looks pretty at least....

other than that i'm sorry that i have no useful advice for you.

trek said...

Rip out.
Cast on the S/M again.
Do not watch American Idol whilst knitting it.
Do not give in to the temptation to "tighten up".
Good luck.

trek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Umm. WOW. That project has already chewed you up and spit you out...I suggest some mindless stockinette, how about a Wicked?

Ok, seriously. I say go with the S/M again. Also, what pattern is that?

Olga said...

OK, why do you keep torturing yourself???! Wouldn't it just be easier to take a cat'o nine tail and whip yourself?? Less tears and gnashing of teeth with the lash....

Kristin said...

I'm with Sophanne, some dishcloths or a plain sock.
It's pretty though.

Lydee said...

Oh man, I think it's bad luck to even read your blog at this point. But then, I'm not helping you feel better now, am I?

janet said...

Your hands must be sore by now. Coupled with the agony of defeat and I'd say it's time to park this trouble. Unless of course you'd like to rewrite the pattern. You must have it memorized by now.

janet said...

Maybe you could write the author of the pattern? Good Luck

kmkat said...

Speaking of offerings, exactly how fond are you of your children/dog(s)? Because I bet the YG would back off if you gave her one of the them. Just sayin'...

Sharon said...

I sympathize re your gauge woes, but dang, that yarn looks good knit up! :) (ouch, just pulled a muscle patting myself on the back there.)

Tammy said...

Oh my! It's being very naughty and definitely needs a "time out" in a dark closet somewhere!

Meanwhile, I'm definitely taking that sweater off my list!

punkin said...

That is beautiful.

Steph B said...

Hmmm. It's difficult for me to be objective here, because my first instinct is to say "Knit up the L/XL and send it to ME!" :-) But that would be selfish and inappropriate, so I won't say it. Much. It is going to be beautiful when it's done, that's for sure. I think I'll be waiting a while before I try this pattern, though.

theresa said...

Worth your time, that strip so far looks gorgeous. I loved the latest issue of VK!

Viktoria said...

Yikes!

I would say that your best bet is to stick with the S/M. Maybe cast on again and knit without ''tightening up''? The L/XL sounds like it would be just way too big... you would never wear it!