Knitting Like A Sailor

Monday, November 22, 2004

I am a Knit Twit.

Let me clarify. I'm not a knitdweeb, or at least I don't think I am. I know how to knit, I know how to purl. Decreases, increases, I've done my share. I actually know several ways of doing all of them, if you want to get technical. I don't like the new fashion yarns, I feel that they distract from a well knit project. Which, for all I know, may be their purpose. I don't usually want instant gratification. I enjoy watching a pattern build up row by row, and I appreciate fancy stitch patterns and colorwork. I have mentioned that I aspire to someday knit Starmore patterns, but in truth the main thing that holds me away from trying them is finances. My cables are proudly erect on their background stitches, my floats don't peek through to the surface, my fair isles aren't ruched (mainly because I rip those sections out but hey) and my knitting even, to gauge, and quite consistent for a not new yet not really experienced knitter.
However, I have today come to the conclusion that I am a stupid knitter.
Please, allow me to present the evidence accumulated over the past few weeks.
Last year my eldest son chose a sweater pattern that he really liked, a raglan aran, and requested I knit it for him. This year, when I asked him if he'd like a pair of socks or a scarf for Christmas, he said no mom, I really want you to make that sweater for me please. I sighed and said sure, let me dig it out. I found the pattern and the yarn and the needles and off I went. Stupid mistake number one, I didn't actually look inside the page protector that I had the working copy in to make sure it was all there. It isn't. I have the directions for the front and the back and about half of the first sentence for the sleeves and that's it. Okay, I'll just retrieve the book and make a new set of copies.
Stupid mistake number two. When I got the working copy set up, I did not make note of what pattern book it came out of. A pain in the arse but none-the-less , I'll go to the storage shed and dig through my patterns, it's not like i have that many, maybe one large size box full, if that even.
Stupid mistake number three, I actually attempted to enter the storage facility after Loverboy had been the only person to visit it for weeks. within 5 minutes I had been smashed on the shoulder by a falling toolbox, and conked in the head by a different, yet almost as heavy, box from the other side of the rickety stacks of boxes. I went back to the van, put the kids back in their car seats, fired up the mother ship and blasted on home, all the while thanking the high heavens that I hadn't actually gotten far enough into the storage shed that the children were in the door yet.
Okay, I didn't want to do this but I'll have to see if i can figure out what book it is and buy a new copy. The only clues I have are that the pattern name is By The Sea, and it was designed for Patons Astra. No designer name, nothing but page numbers, 32 and 33 , and the pattern number, 8.
I go to the Patons' website, and see a bunch of books. Unfortunately, they don't list the names of all of the patterns in the books, much less show pictures of them. I thought I might contact them and see if they could tell me where the pattern is from, however as far as I can tell, there is no email for them listed on the site. I do a google, nada. I ask around. Zip. I post a cry for help to a well visited knitters forum. 30 views, but Zero replies. I guess that'd all fall under mistake number four.
Stupid mistake number five. I decide to say friggemall and do the pattern up myself. Upon closer inspection of the picture, I decide I don't like the raglan sleeves and want to do set in sleeves. Not a huge deal, really. I'll use the same motif that is in the center of the body of the sweater, run it up the sleeves, put a cable on each side, fill in the extra room i need with the same twisted rib used in the sides for sizing, it'll be fine. It might look a little weird where the shoulder seams join because I'll be joining cables to twisted rib, but I really don't think it'll look that weird.
Stupid mistake number six was thinking I could read, count, and do simple math.
I have a book that is supposed to help people figure out how to make their own sweater patterns. it's The Knitters Guide To Sweater Design, which is highly recommended by some people. It seems very well written, but I don't know how to get the information I need from the book, and I'm realizing just what poor skills I have. I can't tell what my gauge is. Oh, I know how to measure gauge, but on the aran there is no real flat surface to read it from other than the reverse stockinette, which I can't read it from. I flipped it over, and read it on the stiockinette part of the back. 5 sts per inch. Cool. Then I happened to set the ruler on the twisted rib, looked at the book for a minute, went and counted gauge again quick and came up with 4 sts per inch. which is it? Oh wait, this is ribbing, it's probably different. Yep, every section of stockinette on the back was 5 sts, every section of ribbing 4 sts. Okay, I'll count the total sts and divide that by the width in inches, that should give me gauge. 7.05 sts per inch. .05 sts? What the Fuck? oh wait, I added two sts for the seams, okay, refigure it, and it's 7 sts. so I'm knitting a sweater at either 4, 5, 7 or 7.05 sts per inch, or some other number that has yet to rear it's sorry ass, and I need to figure out where to decrease for the set in sleeves I want to put on it, plus figure out the pattern for the tops of the sleeves. And I haven't even given thought to neck shaping yet.
Then, thinking I might be able to fudge some things without having exact gauge, I went on to look at figuring out what to put where. They tell me to tie a measuring string around the boy and measure him in 14 spots. He wriggled around and the toddlers did their best to get in the way but I held all of them down and managed to get it done. Who needs a baby sitter when my own broad beam serves so well, eh?Then I started plugging numbers in and realized that the books sizing is slightly off with ease measurements (no big-e) and then it dawns on me that there is a potential problem in the fact that I've already started the pattern in size ten (big on the boy but he prefers clothes with about 8 inches of ease and he added something like 6 inches to his rib cage measurement just this year alone, so it won't be big for long) and I will be figuring out the rest of the sweater based on his current measurements. Now I have the additional confusion running around that says since I know the size the piece measures, and i know his size, do i call that "ease" and go from there, aren't I still going to wind up with a size ten body and a size 8 armhole? I've had daymares about cone shaped arans ever since.
The whole evolution has taken about two weeks. I probably should have ripped it out and knit up a different pattern. My son really has his heart set on this one, but he's a good boy and I know he would understand and easily accept a substitute. However, I want to set a good example for him and not shy away from a little adversity, and he's well aware I'm having troubles with the pattern. Hell, the neighbors across the street are aware what with all the Loud discussions I've been having with that pile of knitted yarn lately.
So, if anyone out there could help me figure out what's going on and point me in the right direction (and maybe check my figures once i get there) I'd really appreciate it.
If the comments aren't working please feel free to email me. (enjayk AT lycos DOT co DOT uk)