Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rogue begins!

I knit way too much yesterday. What I did:

1. I finished the Lorna's Laces socks. Actually, I just realized that I may have left the holes formed when I finished the short row heels and started knitting the leg. I should close those up today.

2. worked on the swap socks (For the LJ "advanced_knit" sock swap) a little bit

2. knit a swatch for Rogue

3. started Rogue.

I really lucked out with the swatch. I needed to actually do 2 swatches, because part of Rogue is knit in the round, and part is knit back and forth. I know that my purl rows are usually looser than my knit rows in stockinette, which meant that I would probably have to use different needle sizes for those sections. I swatched for the back-and-forth parts first, since that is easier to do. I pulled a needle size out of thin air (have never knit with the yarn I'm using - Clasgens), and cast on. It was poifect! Both stitch and row gauge were exactly what they were supposed to be, which is something I don't achieve very often. I cast off. The swatch ended up not being anywhere near a full 4" tall, but it was enough for me to see that my row gauge was on. And if it turns out to be a tiny bit off, that's something easy to futz with. At least, I have experience with it.

I washed the swatch (and the new socks, while I was at the sink with my wool wash), to see if the yarn would bloom and make the swatch grow at all. It didn't! Well, the yarn did bloom a bit, and fill out the spaces in the swatch. But my gauge did not change one iota. Even better, the fabric relaxed a lot. Before washing, it was very stiff and rough. Now, this is a fairly rough yarn, so it was still rough after washing, but not nearly as much as before. Even better, the drape of the fabric was much nicer post-washing. It's amazing how much it relaxed. When I finish the sweater, I'm definitely going to try washing it with some hair conditioner. That might soften up the feel of the fabric even more. It's never going to be suitable for anything but outerwear, but that's what Rogue is, and was planned to be.

Seeing that the pre-work swatch (yeah, I sometimes get up and knit early in the morning...) was drying without wrecking my gauge, I decided to try out a faux-circular swatch for the body section. I did the i-cord swatch trick, where you keep on sliding the knitting back to the right needle, and strand the excess behind it. Not a problem with this, as I had 5 stitches of garter stitch as buffer on either side of the actual stockinette. No looseness problems whatsoever. While the back and forth swatch hit gauge on size 6 needles, I tried these on size 7, as I wouldn't have purl rows to loosen up my gauge. I didn't do a full swatch, but enough to see that I was going to hit gauge with size 7 needles. I didn't bother to wash it, since I already knew it wouldn't change the size of things.

And so I cast on. I had already printed the 19 page (!) pattern and highlighted the appropriate numbers weeks ago. (39" size, by the way. If it's outerwear, I need ease. Plus, there's no way for a 34" woman to get the recommended 2"-4" of ease in this pattern without playing around with gauge and/or rewriting the pattern. I'm in a straightforward mood lately, and I was to have none of that nonsense! 5" of ease, or bust! Pun intended!) I went with a Twisted German (or German Twisted?) cast on, and the twisted stockinette hem facing.

I was at about row 5 (of 12) of the wretched hem facing when I decided to Google it, to see if others had found it as wretched as I. I mean, it was pure torture. It didn't help that I went down to a size 5 needle, which is just plain too small for this yarn, which was only exacerbated by my combination of sticky yarn on Clover bamboo needles. (I went down 2 sizes and not 1 because it was an option given, and I heard that others have had problems with flaring hems. In fact, I've seen pictures. I think it looks bad, and I'm not risking it on my Rogue.) It turns out that a bunch of other people hated knitting the hem. I don't know how any knitter who accidentally ends up knitting twisted can ever possibly continue with the craft, assuming they aren't corrected right away. It's so hard! I'm not saying that because I'm used to knitting into the front loop (because I'm sure combined knitting isn't nearly this hard), but because the stitches pull so tight that it must be torture for a new knitter to make this mistake, on top of the tight knitting that I've seen most new knitters do, even when they are knitting in the traditional way. Also, I don't know about what happens to others, but the bias in the fabric was a ton more pronounced than I expected. It's super obvious in my hem (which is just fine), but I don't know how someone could look at that fabric and not see that something might not be off. It's totally diagonal.

Despite the torturous nature of the twisted stockinette hem, I pushed through. I read parts of through Jenna's (the designer's) site again, and she said that she preferred this hem over the ribbing option. I figured that I want the best result possible, and that trust in the designer was a good thing. I was so eager to get the stupid hem done, and to get on to the good parts, that I just pushed myself through as fast as possible. It was product knitting at its most torturesome, but I set a goal of 10:30, and made it with 5 minutes to spare. Then I gleefully pulled out my magnet board and chart A, and got on with the actual fun part (i.e. the rest of!) the pattern. For reference, I decided not to do a "turning row". Jenna mentioned that she doesn't do one because she doesn't like the look of the purl bumps on the bottom. I recently saw a picture of a Rogue where you could see those bumps from the turning row, and I agree. I much prefer the look of a smooth hem, so I left out the optional turning row. I suspect it will make properly tacking down the hem a bit more difficult later on, but I prefer that to the risk of bumps on my hem.

I have finished 4 rows of the actual non-hem body, and it feels so nice. 4.5 stitches per inch is huge for me, so even though each round is really long, it's so much shorter than I know it could be. The yarn is much nicer to work with now that I'm on proper sized needles and regular, untwisted stitches. And on row 5, I get to work my first cables. Whee! I've decided to not make the kangaroo pocket, so it will be fairly straightforward but fun knitting for a long while. I thought the kangaroo pocket would look unflattering and perhaps stretch out if I ever used it (which would be the only point of having it), so no pocket for me. If I want a droopy belly, I'd prefer to do it via ice cream, not knitting needles.


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