Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Flying

Note: I don't know what's up with PhotoBucket and/or Blogger - my edits of my photos aren't being incorporated over to Blogger, so they're coming out massive and uncropped. Hopefully it'll eventually go away and look nice, but I'm going to leave this bit of text for any persistent weirdness. I haven't gone bonkers and decided I love great big pictures that look odd with my blog template. Really.

Edit: I re-saved the photos in Photobucket as copies of the originals, then changed the code in the post to link to the copies. Everything looks the way it should now. No idea what was going wrong before.

My poor June SSP socks have not grown much since yesterday - I worked about four rounds on one last night, and another two rounds this morning.

The sweater, though? Remember how I had just split off the sleeves the night before last?



That there is a nearly completed body. Seriously. I only have another inch of length to go before hitting on the pattern schematic length for the body. Truthfully, if I were to obey the pattern instruction to knit 10" beyond the underarm, then I think I'd be done. This only gives me 17" from the collar at the back to the bottom hem, though, not the 18" called for. I know my gauge is all kinds of wrong, so this is a row gauge thing. I'll just knit till the back is 18", then bind off.

Some folks out there are reading this and plotzing - didn't I swatch? Do I not realize the importance of getting gauge?

Well, no, I didn't swatch, and yes, I know that gauge is important. My gauge really seems to be needle-driven, and I'm using 5 mm / US 8 needles, which reliably give me 5 stitches to the inch. The pattern (Amiga) calls for 17 stitches to 4 inches. If I go up a needle size, my gauge becomes 4 stitches to the inch. Looking at the pattern, I see that the finished chest measurement for the small size is given at 35.75"; extra small is given as 32". My chest measurements max out at 34". 33.75", to be fully truthful.

So. The extra small is right out, so I'll knit the small. At the written stitch gauge, this would give me a sweater with roughly two inches of positive ease. If I use the 5.5 mm / US 9 needle, I'd get something a bit bigger than that, since my gauge will be off a smidge in the fewer stitches per inch direction. If I use the 5 mm / US 8 needle, I'd get something smaller than that, and probably a larger difference in expected finished size since the difference in gauge is bigger - I'm now off by 3 stitches per 4".

The thing is, I like close-fitting sweaters. I'm a no-ease kind of girl. The first sweater I knit for myself I got nervous about and knit a size larger than I should have, so there's probably 2" or so of ease, and I promised myself I wouldn't do that again, because I really do wish it fit me more closely.

So instead of knitting something that I know will come out larger than I'd like, I'm knitting something that should come out just right. I've tried the sweater on, and the difference in stitch and row gauge hasn't resulted in armholes that don't accommodate my arms, so everything seems all good.

I know. Someone is just waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike me down for being so bold as to skip swatching, but I've knitted a few sweaters following my own gauge principles, and it's been okay so far. I'm too cheap budget conscious to buy an extra ball or skein of whatever yarn I want to use to swatch with, so I have to take these leaps of faith when I knit sweaters. I know what needle sizes give me what sorts of stitch gauges. Row gauge I ignore, since usually you're knitting to a length specification, but I also have found that generally if I'm getting stitch gauge, if I bother to check, my row gauge is pretty okay too - maybe not bang on, but not so far off that I end up with sleeves that go way past the mark.

Anyway. More blasphemous behaviour is evidenced in this sweater - I didn't alternate my skeins the whole way through. I did get burned once with skein-to-skein variation on a sweater knit with handpainted yarn, so I now try to alternate some when coming to the switching point, which is what I've done here. I have issues with tension if I just drop one yarn and pick up the next, though, so what I've done is knit a column of stitches with both yarns at the switching point. If you look closely, you can see it:



You can also feel it, since the fabric gets a bit thicker as the doubly knit column forms a bit of a ridge, but in my mind it's worth it. I don't get weird puckering from having pulled the yarn too tight at the switch, and the back is pretty tidy as well:



I alternated the skeins six times, then switched back to the new skein. I sort of wonder if I even needed to bother with this yarn - the skeins really do seem to be closely matched, I can't distinguish the alternating section from the non-alternating section. That being said, I have enough leftover from the first skein that I could do a few swaps of alternating at the beginning of each sleeve too, which will help disguise any skein-to-skein differences that may become apparent there.

I may have a new sweater sooner than I think! I haven't yet decided on sleeve lengths, though. I think I'm going to do the button bands first - I want to maximize my yarn usage, but I don't want to end up with a sweater with full length sleeves and weirdly truncated non-functional button bands!

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