Monday, March 19, 2007

Noro, Interrupted

What's wrong with this picture?

Yeah, I know it's missing a sleeve. I wasn't sure if I liked the sleeve I made, so I sewed it in to see how it looked. The jury is still out on that. But that's not what I mean. There is a far bigger problem here.

See it now?

This is clearly not my fault. There are clearly several more rows of light blue on the right than on the left. Since the front (on the left) is exactly the same number of stitches as the back (on the right), and the stitch pattern is identical, and the gauge is the same, this could not have happened unless the two balls of yarn WERE DIFFERENT!

Now, if we ignore, for the moment, my role in this travesty, this is entirely Noro's fault. I have never knitted with Noro before, because I am all about soft, smooth texture, and--let's just say it out loud--Noro is scratchy. Yes, I know everyone loves Noro. Yes, I know the colors are gorgeous. Yes, I know I am speaking knitting blasphemy. None of that changes the fact that you could scrub the inside of your oven with a sweater made from Kureyon.

But I made an exception. I was seduced by the lovely colors, by the misleadingly tempting name "Silk Garden," by the 50% off sale. I gave in. Surely all those knitters cannot be mistaken. Surely Noro must have significant redeming values. Surely I am missing something. I placed the order. I waited impatiently for the UPS guy. I ripped open the package with enthusiasm. I tore open the plastic bag. I fingered the yarn eagerly. And...I was not impressed. Silk Garden--name notwithstanding--is decidedly...scratchy. But, I thought, the colors are beautiful. And maybe the yarn will soften up after washing. (Surely all those knitters cannot be mistaken...)

I chose needles. I knitted up a swatch. I gave considerable thought to the type of sweater I would make, and particularly to how I would construct it to take advantage of those seemingly random color changes. If I knit a cardigan in one piece (my first thought), my colors not might match up in the front. If I knit a pullover in the round, how would I deal with it when I had to divide for the front and back? If I knit a funnel neck to keep the colors together, I would never wear it, because the scratchiness would drive me crazy. I finally settled on a simple pullover with a split neck, knitted in pieces and seamed together. It seemed like the perfect solution. As long as I started each piece with the same color, they would all match up. Right?

I cast on for the back and started knitting. I watched with pleasure as the colors gradually shifted and created soft, irregular stripes. This isn't so bad, I thought. And maybe the yarn will soften up after washing. (Surely all those knitters can't be mistaken...)

I finished the back and carefully located the exact color to cast on for the front. All went well, until I reached the split collar. At that point, I decided to compare the back to the front. Something seemed wrong. The color changes did not seem to be identical. But it was a small difference. The basic color changes were the same. I could, no doubt, make it match up in the finishing. Denial reared its ugly head.

I kept going. I divided for the front collar. I carefully cut and pieced to make the colors match on the left and right sides. I did a three-needle bind off for the shoulders. I picked up and knit the collar. I reinforced the split neck with a row of crochet. I compared the sides again. That little mismatch was still there. No doubt about it. And I have kind of a thing for symmetry. But it was a small difference. Surely it wouldn't be noticeable. Denial chuckled and patted me reassuringly.

I made the first sleeve. Not thrilled, I decided to sew it into the armhole to see how it looked. Unable to get a good impression from the hanging sleeve, I seamed the sleeve and thought, what the heck, I'll sew the side seam, too.

And that's where the house of cards came crashing to the ground. If you look closely at the picture, you will see horizontal stripes of reverse stockinette that repeat every three inches. These must match up. But if you match these up, there is no way to disguise the fact that there is a significant difference in the color change between the front and the back. Denial laughed and melted away. I am screwed.

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