Monday, January 12, 2009

Ah...Now I Remember...

Why I haven't done a cabled sweater in a while, that is.

I love cables. I love the little magic that happens when you rearrange a few stitches on a knitting needle. I love they way they create shadows and hollows and depth in even the most boring yarn. I love the way they dance across the fabric, making something static look like it's in motion.

What I don't love is how. long. they. take.

This is my progress on the Aran Cardigan:


I think (with no modesty whatsoever) that it's just beautiful. The wool is as woolly as you could possibly get, still full of lanolin and springy and scratchy (in a good way), and it shows the cables perfectly. There is no way this stuff will ever stretch or pill or, for that matter, wear out. I am going to love wearing it.

But I think I've spent as long on the left front as I usually spend on a whole sweater. Part of the issue is that I don't have very good spatial orientation, so I have a hard time memorizing charts. Part of it is that I added seven inches to the length of this sweater (seven!), because the original is only 20 inches long, which would put the hem somewhere above my belly button. Part of it is that, for reasons known only to the designer, who undoubtedly does not suffer from the same degree of asymmetry-aversion as I do, the armhole shaping cuts into the main cable--but only by three frickin' stitches, which is just enough that it throws off the balance of the cable, but not enough that it looks intentional. [This could not be allowed to stand, so after working halfway up the armhole, I ripped back and reworked it to keep the cable intact. This will require a slight shortening of the sleeve cap, when I get there, but it's not a big deal. And it's important that I be able to look at the finished product without hyperventilating, so it's worth the trouble.] But most of it is simply that it takes a lot longer to stop and rearrange the stitches as you work them. (I can't even imagine how long this would take if I were using a cable needle. Please, if you like knitting cables--or are planning to do so anyway--take a few minutes and learn to cable without a cable needle! It's not hard at all, and it simplifies the whole process immensely. There's a link over in my sidebar to Grumperina's truly excellent tutorial.)

I'm not complaining. Actually, I'm patting myself on the back for having the cleverness and foresight to realize that I don't have the patience to knit an entire sweater covered in cables, and so choosing one that only has cables on the front. (It's all a lie, of course. It was completely accidental. Although I have made several all-over cabled sweaters--Death By Cables, anyone?-- including one in a 50 inch chest that I designed myself and had to have done in only three weeks--god save me from ever making that sort of choice again--I have a selective memory where cables are concerned. It's like childbirth. No matter how much it hurts while it's happening, no matter how clearly I remember the pain, it seems to have no bearing on my decision to go through it again.)

Fortunately, we finally got season four of Lost from Netflix, and we're trying to catch up before season five starts in a few days, so there is a lot of knitting time built into the next few days.

19 comments:

Walden said...

I agree with you, it is beautiful and I am sure it looks even better in person.

sophanne said...

regarding spatial issues... Having them myself, I wonder if I would do any better by reading the chart vertically rather than horizontally. That seemed to help when I wrote the directiosns out to the baby fern scarf. They were words though. I haven't flipped a chart on it's side yet. Hmmm she says.

Lydee said...

beautiful cables though, beautiful.

Karen said...

Wow, that looks gorgeous. You have a lot of patience!

Knitman said...

Now that gets my juices flowing. I can't wait to finish the present aran and start another.

Steph B said...

You could almost frame that bit of knitting and hang it as art. Simply beautiful.

At Home Mommy Knits said...

It might be taking quite a bit of time but it sure is gorgeous!

trek said...

It is looking good. I'm still trying to pick a yarn over here... Something that won't break the bank - esp since as written we're talking, what? 1600 yards??

ali said...

Looking at the finished product without hyperventilating is, indeed, an important issue to consider...
It's looking mighty impressive to far, I'm sure you'll love wearing it when it finally gets done.

Happy knitting!

Angelika said...

Those cables are insane. I only had to do them half way up my lastest test knit and that already wore out my hands.

Kim said...

OMG, that is gorgeous! But I think you're knititng along at wuite a clip there. I actually thought the cabling without a cable needle technique was slower than with a cable needle. Maybe I wasn't doing it correctly.

stitchin' girl said...

Those cables are beautiful!! I love to knit cables - I am scared to death to do them without a cable needle though.

I can't wait to see the finished sweater. It looks like it is going to be gorgeous.

knitwych said...

That is perfectly gorgeous! I have not done cables yet, because they intimidate the snot out of me, but I certainly love how they look.

Life's a Stitch said...

You are braver than I.

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Oh yes, the cabling w/o a cable need is such a gem of a technique. This sweater is going to be amazing.

toni in florida said...

Bee-yoo-tee-full!

As for not using a cable needle, I rarely use wool yarns, so that's not something I can do. The soy/bamboo/microfiber/acrylic yarns I use (oh and the cotton) just won't hold the loops while you manipulate the stitches, if they're not on another needle. Guess that's a small price to pay for living in a climate where I don't NEED wool yarns.

Of course, if I had some friends and/or family who lived in the vast frozen expanses (you know, north of the Mason-Dixon line), I might have to learn that technique for gift-knitting purposes. Hmmm.

Fibra Artysta said...

That is absolutely stunning!!!

Gisela Towner said...

Wow! Can't wait to see that finished. The pattern is really lovely.

trek said...

BTW, I just did the armhole decreases on the left front yesterday and I did the same thing: leave that cable alone and so what if the sleeve isn't so set in.

This is definitely a sweater on which the designer did a half-a$$ed job on the details. The lower ribbing asymmetry, cutting into the cables. I can buy a sweater with fewer design flaws.

Very glad that as knitters, we can see beyond the flaws in the implementation and see the goodness of the initial idea.