Saturday, December 05, 2009

Adventures in Knitting

So I dyed yarn for a sweater, and found a pattern I really like at elann.com. It's a top down knitting pattern and I really like those because it nearly eliminates any finishing sewing, no side seams, and no sleeve seams if they can be knit in the round. This pattern is not real precise in its instructions and assumes that the knitter is fairly experienced. I thought I qualified for that until I got to this section:

Sleeves: Move sleeve-backs (underarm to back of shoulder) to one circular needle, and sleeve-fronts (underarm to front of shoulder) to a second circular need. Knit.....

Huh? I've used circular needles to knit in the round, but this use of two circular needles was new to me. I could not even visualize what this was talking about. Google to the rescue. I found lots of descriptions and videos of knitting with "2 circs". It actually seems easier than using double pointed needles, at least once you get the hang of it. But I couldn't find anything anywhere describing how to use this technique and knit two sleeves simultaneously. A little more searching revealed directions for knitting two socks on 2 circs at the same time. I thought I would try to adapt that to the sleeves.

This involves a lot of three dimensional thinking and my brain was clearly not up to the task. I threaded those stitches on the circs and they always came up in the wrong configuration - inside out or the beginning of the row was not at the needle ends or the whole thing was twisted. I struggled with this for a long time and it was not made any easier by the permanent loop in the one circular needle nor by the fact that Rosie the kitten thought all this yarn would be great to play with. Finally, I thought I had a workable configuration, and started knitting the sleeves. Disaster. Everything got tangled, I didn't put the right number of stitches on the separate needles so the pattern wasn't working out, and I finally surrendered. I'm knitting one sleeve on the 2 circs (notice how I've picked up the jargon), and it's going well. As long as I keep track of whether I'm doing a patterning row or a plain row. When knitting back and forth it was easy because the patterning row was the knit row and the plain row was the purl row. Now it's all knitting and I have to pay attention.

When I dyed this yarn I wasn't able to get even color throughout. I swooshed the yarn in the dye bath frequently and added the soda ash in batches and swooshed some more, but after I washed it I could see a definite variation in the color. I was concerned that it would look funny, like I had used different dye lots of yarn. But no, it doesn't because the variation is within the skein and it alternates lighter and darker. And it's really working out well - adds lots of depth to the patterning. I'm going to tell everybody it was intentional.

The last sweater I knitted I had to do a lot of reworking because I got the sizing wrong. Well, that and a lot of pattern errors and one sleeve knitted inside out. I certainly hope the sizing works out correctly on this one. I don't know if I have the heart to rip it all out and start over.

3 comments:

TALL GIRL said...

ah knitting! long ago, i gave up trying to follow a pattern. i have a basket of yarn leftovers which call to me every winter. i knit fiercely for a few months while watching the tube with some abstract idea of where i am going and then leave it to rest until the following winter!

Gerrie said...

You must be knitting the same sweater for which I have one sleeve left to knit. Lost the yarn and just found it. That double circular needle got me too.

Rachel said...

Would love to see pics of this in progress! My knitting skills are basic and I've never heard of this.