Saturday, April 15, 2006

frogging and mistakes

What have I been doing lately, instead of working on the Ingeborg sleeve? This:

frogged yarn, ready to wash

I finished frogging Leo, and am mostly done with the transition to hanks, so I can wash the yarn. (I frogged it onto the ball winder first.) The really crinkly hanks are from the last piece of the sweater, which I just frogged yesterday. The rest was (un)done months ago.

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with the yarn. It's a merino/silk (70/30) worsted weight, and I have 1900-2000 yards, not counting the bits and pieces that are shorter than 1/2 or 1/3 of a ball, which I'll use for seaming or landfill. What I do know is that it will be another sweater for A. Probably about 40" around, probably about 24-25" in length. I had this brilliant idea of doing a top-down raglan, but I want to incorporate some texture and/or light cablework into the sweater, and am a bit iffy on how I'd make that look right with raglan shaping. The easy answer would be to have a center texture/cable motif down the front (and maybe back and/or sleeves), which wouldn't interfere with the raglan lines, and stockinette and/or some other filler stitch for the rest of the sweater.

On the other hand, I do think I have enough yardage to do something slightly fancier, and might go with a drop or set in sleeve shape, to make it easier on myself to have texture over more of the body. (I know some sweaters, like Am Kamin, incorporate all-over patterning very nicely with raglan shaping. But it doesn't seem easy to do well, and I'm not quite sure that's what I want for this sweater.)

I've been looking at stitch pattern treasuries, and checked out Fishermen's Sweaters (Starmore) from the library. I actually like the look of the center diamond motifs on Inishmore. They add very interesting texture without being overwhelming or bulky, which is what I want for this sweater, and what I think would work best with this yarn. One possibility is to take just those motifs, and incorporate them into the sweater shape of my choice. (I don't think it's likely I'll opt to do drop sleeves.)

Blah blah blah. I'm sure I'll change my mind an annoyingly large number of times before I settle on a sweater shape and texture pattern. It will probably be a while before I knit it, anyway. Mostly, I'm trying to get some inspiration, so I have a varied but non-overwhelming number of choices to present to A. He should really make the final decision, as he's the one who will eventually be wearing the thing.

Finishing my destruction of Leo reminded me of mistakes I've made in sweaters past. The two big mistakes with Leo were not washing my swatch (boy did that yarn GROW), and going with the suggested size in the pattern instead of going with the size of sweater A tends to wear. (The pattern helpfully suggests what size to make depending on your actual chest measurement. But A. likes less ease than average, I guess.) This resulted in a baggy gorilla-arms sweater.

Leo was the third sweater I made. The first sweater I made was Flashy Lace. I made a bunch of great mistakes on that one! First, I decided to use the suggested yarn, which is 100% cotton. Now, it wasn't terrible yarn, but I know now that I really would have preferred working with wool. That might have helped my second big mistake be slightly less painful. I didn't realize that when I was picking stitches up for the sleeve, I was supposed to pull loops of yarn through, not try to put half of each armhole stitch onto my DPNs. Threading my DPNs (yes, plastic through cotton - do you feel my pain?) was hell, though it would have been slightly less hellish if I were working with wool, I think. My third big mistake was that the sleeve decreases were at the top of the sleeve instead of the bottom. I realized that this was probably wrong when I finished the first sleeve, but as it didn't look dreadful, I decided symmetry was best, and made the second sleeve to match. The sweater actually looked pretty nice when it was done, but as I gave it to my mom, I have no photos.

So, what are your favorite first (or subsequent) sweater mistakes? If enough people feel like leaving comments with stories, or comments with links to their own blog entries with stories, maybe I'll compile a list. :-)


Blogger Becki said...

First lesson learned: Sweaters are supposed to have ease, not be the exact measurement of your body. How carefully I measured my gauge! How carefully I did my math! It was amazing I was even able to get it on - it looked like somebody had spray-painted me with wool. The yarn is still languishing, although I've used part of it in my Crichton cardigan. I think the rest might become mittens.

4/15/2006 1:53 PM  
Blogger EvaLux said...

I've been ripping the 3 sweaters I knit this winter. I didn't do swatches or anything and they're knit too loose. One of the sweaters is good in length, but I just found out last week (when I did a swatch for another sweater using the same yarn) that it will shrink considerably lengthwise... I might end up with a bare midrif... which will not be a pretty sight.

Have you seen this sweater?
I think it would look gorgeous in the yarn you got there. It is manly, but not mind numbing boring or so. I'm thinking about making it for my dad...

Cheers Eva
sweetpea at sweet-p dot net

4/15/2006 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mistakes usually involve not adding enough length to the body and sleeves, or letting the neck be too high. The sweater I'm currently sewing a zipper into is a bit shorter in the body than I would prefer, but I think it will be ok.

4/15/2006 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mistake is a classic: the gauge. I knit a sweater for my skinny 19-year old boyfriend with yarn that was just slightly thicker than the pattern specified. I thought it wouldn't matter, it was such a slight difference (2 stitches to four inches). It didn't really matter that it was an awful squeaky acrylic, the main problem was that he could have fitted his whole family in it. Yes we broke up (I refuse to blame the sweater though).
The other major mistake that I made a couple of months ago was ease. I read somewhere that in a thick yarn, especially in a very cabled sweater, you may want as much as four inches of ease for a classic fit. To me, 5.5 stitches/inch is pretty thick, and it had a cabled tree on the back, so I added four inches of ease. I like the sweater, it just doesn't look like it was supposed to. Four inches of ease is a lot in that gauge, on a size 12 (UK) body!
Also: top-down raglan without back neck shaping. Choky choke.

4/16/2006 4:19 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

My first sweater (also: first knit project, since I'd crocheted lots of things, I didn't need to knit rectangles before feeling "ready" so I just jumped right into a sweater). I swatched and everything, and actually, it fits around my bust and waist really well. However, I didn't take into account length, and the fact that the pattern says the back should be (around) 22" and my back is closer to 25" and therefore I should in fact make it longer, regardless of the pattern (shocking, my spine doesn't shrink to fit my knitting!)

It's just so ... bad. For so many reasons.

4/16/2006 5:03 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Dye lot. There's a big stripe running across the back, which I noticed while knitting and thought "Oh, no one will ever notice this." Not true.

4/16/2006 8:27 PM  
Blogger AnneB said...

A major error was not believing hubby (fiance at the time) when he said he didn't wear sweaters and didn't want me to make him one. His chest is 52" and he's 6'3" and of course I had to make an Aran in a lightweight worsted wool. Tried it on when it was done after a LOT of knitting, grunted once, took it off and it is still on the closet shelf after 24 years. Worse of all - it fit!

4/20/2006 10:13 PM  

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