Lemons, as far as the eye can see

Every so often, my knitting takes a wrong turn and I end up in the not-so-enviable position of having to figure out how to fix it. When this does happen, it is almost invariably due to knitter-error, rather then a mistake in the pattern. To whit, my current knitting dilemma:

There is nothing sadder than a too-big colorwork sweater body...

There is nothing sadder than a too-big colorwork sweater body...

This is the finished body of my Insight Pullover, designed by Kate Heppell. The pattern is fabulous, and I've been enjoying the colorwork pattern immensely. However, unlike Alli's Gauge Goggles, which we discussed on a recent podcast, clearly I have been investing in a stunning pair of Realistic Body Shape Googles, through which I am far more curvaceous and shapely then in reality. The problem is this: the pattern is written for someone whose bust and hip measurements are both larger then their waist measurements. Not too surprisingly, actually, as this is a pattern written for a women's sweater, and women, as a general group, tend to be shaped that way. 

Tend being the operative word in that previous sentence. And while I have a waist that is smaller then my bust and hips, it's not all that different then my bust. So a sweater with an outline like this:

does not work so well with a body shaped like this (i.e. mine):

There is way too much fabric around my bust on this sweater. Waaaaay to much. I knit the size that would fit my full bust measurement, but upon reflection, I should really have gone with one size down, which would be closer to my upper bust measurement.

This brings up a tricky point in garment sizing: when looking at a pattern and deciding what size to make, how do you know where is the right place to measure to get the proper fit from your finished sweater? Lots of things come in to play here - ease, fabric, shape of the armholes and sleeves. For this sweater, which is meant to be very close fitting, I decided to do the slightly larger size, thinking that the stranded colorwork would be a bit less stretchy then a fabric worked in a single color. It is less elastic, but as I am not exactly amply supplied in boobage, it turns out I don't really need that extra stretch. It also turns out that my gauge is very slightly larger then that given for the pattern: I'm getting 22.5 sts/10 cm instead of 23 sts. I haven't blocked the body yet, so my gauge might end up being spot on, but over the body of the sweater, that extra 0.5 stitch means I've got an extra 2.5 cm around the chest. 

In any event, my dilemma is thus: what do I do?

Choice A: rip out the entire thing and start over again one size smaller.

Choice B: rip out back to the waist increases and increase up the number of stitches for the smaller size, which should fit me better around the bust, but would still leave room in the areas where I am more amply supplied with heft (i.e. the back forty, as the Knitmore Girls like to call it).

What do you say? I was initially leaning towards B, if only because the thought of starting over makes me want to cry hot tears of woe and despair. Even though I am loving the colorwork. Although now that I've tried it on again, I am thinking that maybe it's a bit too loose through the hips too?

Aaaargh! And sadly, this is only the first of two sweaters I have to MacGyver into fitting. Woe, misery and woe.


Teachers the world over bemoan the seeming inability of some of their students to fail to follow or, in some cases, even read the directions. Heh. Read on for a prime knitting example of why directions are important.

Way back in June, I started working on a sweater that I am DYING to be done with - I can't begin to explain how much I want to have this one off the needles and on my back, particularly when the mornings have a bit of a bite, and I need something to throw on for the school run. 

Well, things were going pretty well for a while (after the first ripping festival when I decided to change needles and knit it inside out, because (shudders) reverse stockinette dontcha know). But then the move happened, and I put it down and it was forgotten for quite a while.

About a week and a half ago I picked it up again - I had managed to get through the short rows for one sleeve, and once I figured out where the heck I was in the pattern, the second sleeve cruised along and I managed to seam them up and finally, FINALLY start on the body.

Now, a sweater in fingering weight yarn is, as I'm sure we'll all agree, a commitment. It's a labor of love, because it certainly isn't any kind of instant gratification project. So I was working away on the body, a few rows here, a few rows there. Last weekend we went to take the dog for a walk in Richmond Park, and I attempted to mortify my children by knitting and walking at the same time. With other people around! Imagine their horror*.

Yesterday Allison and I had a meet up at a coffee shop, and while I was waiting for her, I pulled out my Juniper and started working, hoping to get a few more rows done before she arrived and we had to talk shop.

After a while, I thought "Self, you've got your Kindle here**, and it might be a good idea to see how long the body needs to be." Which was thoroughly unnecessary, as the body certainly needs to be longer then the approximately 3 inches I had done, but anyway: I pulled out the Kindle and opened up the pattern.

I looked at the pattern. I looked at my knitting. I looked at the pattern again. I looked at my knitting again. And do you know what I saw?

Pretty red...

Pretty red...

Actually, more important is what I didn't see.

Wait a minute...

Wait a minute...

What I didn't see were any decreases. Because in the pattern, you're supposed to work a set of decreases every few rows for waist shaping. And I, in my complete and utter daze of enthusiasm to get this thing done, had read through the sleeve directions and joining to work in the round for the body and NEGLECTED TO READ ANY FURTHER. 

Because I am an idiot. Knitters, don't be me. Learn from my bad example. Because otherwise,

You too may end up with a pile of red, fingering weight spaghetti, for the SECOND TIME*** in one project. Woe. Woe is me.


* Disappointingly, when I said to Devil "Is this weird that I'm walking and knitting?", she replied "Nope." Darn it!

** I am trying to both a) save paper and b) combat my tendency to print out a pattern, make lots of notes on it, and then promptly lose it by using electronic copies.

*** At least one time too many, if not two times. Bah!


The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of various life transitions. We've been in the UK as expats for the last five years, but at the beginning of May, Himself's company said "You're going back to Houston at the end of July." To which we replied with a resounding "Hell no!" (OK, maybe that was mostly me). In any event, the decision to stay in the UK was followed by deciding whether Himself was going to change jobs (he's not), and has now been followed by the necessity of finding a new place to live (which had the buy vs rent dilemma, followed by the Hoo boy, we will have to sell a kidney and/or a child to get a down payment right now realisation).

With all this madness going on, I have been seeking refuge in Other People's Designs, and enjoying it tremendously. A couple weeks ago I cast on for Veera Valimakki's Juniper on a long plane ride, in some lovely dark red merino I picked up in Florence with my sister-in-law.

All was going swimmingly, if quite slowly. The sweater is in reverse stockinette, and even though there were directions FROM THE DESIGNER HERSELF in the Unwind Brighton KAL Ravelry thread about how to do it inside out (so mostly knitting instead of mostly purling), I decided to be a freaking purist and do it as written. Purling. Lots and lots of purling. Add to that the fact that I had chosen a pair of blunt and unpleasant hard plastic circulars (the better to deal with airport security) and the result was an unhappy project.

I sat on my couch on Friday night, looking at this sweater yoke. And thinking to myself "Self, you could switch to those lovely zippy metal Addi Turbos you've got upstairs. And while you're at it, we could start over again and do this thing in stockinette."

Juniper is cruising along now.

Juniper is cruising along now.

The next thing I knew I was sitting in the midst of a pile of bumpy red spaghetti, casting on for the neckline again. However, two days later, I'm past where I was when I ripped it out, and am zooming ahead. It's not going to be done by the end of the KAL (that would be tomorrow...), but it should be done well ahead of the worst of the British "summer".

It's good that I've resigned myself to not finishing this for the KAL, because yesterday morning, my lovely friend Allison completely and totally blindsided me with another fabulous Veera pattern that made me drop everything, buy the pattern, print it out, wind up the yarn and start swatching, all before 10:00 am on a Sunday morning (there may have been vast quantities of coffee involved. Don't tell anyone...)

The pattern I'm so excited about is Whispers, a gorgeous ethereal little summer top, knit in fingering weight on large needles, with a loose drapey fit through the body, fantastic fluttery sleeves, and pleats above the bustline. Allison had called me with a sizing question, and when I pulled up the pattern on Raverly, I gasped out loud. Must Have It Now. So we're having an impromtu KAL of our very own. She's using sweetgeorgia Tough Love sock, and I'm going with my second yarn idea: Scrumptious Lace in Cherry, double stranded.

Is that not the most gorgeous red you've ever seen?

Is that not the most gorgeous red you've ever seen?

My swatch is dry, and the gauge is right on. I can't wait to get started. 

I guess we can call this my Red Period. Either that, or my Homage to Veera Period. Maybe both...

I guess we can call this my Red Period. Either that, or my Homage to Veera Period. Maybe both...

Other people's sweaters

I spent the weekend on a whirlwind trip to western Massachusetts for my 20th undergraduate reunion. When packing for the trip, I ran into that ever-present knitter's question:

How many projects do I need?

The answer to which is, of course: as many as you can pack and still have room for clean underwear. For my three day trip, I took four projects. Two unfinished and two to cast on in case I found myself shockingly without anything on the needles.

The first of my unfinished projects, a shawl for Boo's Year 2 teacher, I finished sometime during my viewing of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug". Since my other unfinished project was in my checked baggage, I was forced to cast on something new. Woe is me...I had packed a couple of balls of this lovely yarn,

Firenze fingering in a gorgeous blood red...

Firenze fingering in a gorgeous blood red...

so I cast on for Veera Valimaki's Juniper, which is running as an Unwind Brighton KAL. It is such a pleasure to knit someone else's pattern, I can't even...this is a good sign that maybe I've been doing a bit too much on the design side of things recently, although I suspect that most designers don't get to knit other people's stuff. In any event, I cast on in the plane, and have made some progress.

Juniper in progress with funky Instagram filter to make color nutty

Juniper in progress with funky Instagram filter to make color nutty

I'm enjoying it, although I keep screwing up the teeny tiny cable crosses along the shoulder line. You would think that I would be able to count to four. Apparently you would be wrong. Very, very wrong...

I'm dubious that this will actually be finished by the end of the month (see above mention of presents for teachers!), but I am having fun working on a project that doesn't require that I do any math. Or rather, any math beyond counting to four...