Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cardi, Carding

So, I finished the pink cardigan, and I've carded more than a pound of the fleece.

... and I can suddenly see why people might think knit blogs are boring!

But really, the whole process was filled with excitement: I'd been half following a Garnstudio pattern for the cardi, but I knew I wanted to lengthen the sleeves (the original had cap sleeves). I'd planned to cast on enough stitches to fit around my lower arm, then increase to match up again with the pattern by the time I got to the shoulder, but when I read ahead, I discovered that I needed to cast on more stitches for the cuff than the pattern wanted for the shoulders. Naturally, I decided to wing it, following the Elizabeth Zimmermann yoke decreases, but making the yoke a little shallower and incorporating ruching.

I worked the sleeves, attached then, then worked even on those stitches (minus some stitches in each underarm which I set side to graft later) for about 3.5 inches. In Knitting without Tears, I believe EZ says to knit half of the desired yoke depth before the first decreases, but when I followed those directions my yoke seemed very deep. Instead, I decided to knit so half the width of the set-aside underarm stitches plus the height of the yoke I'd knit so far would be half the desired yoke depth (on the thinking that the underarm stitches would also contribute to the finished depth of the yoke). Thinking about it again, that may have been what she meant anyway, or maybe she sets aside fewer stitches at the underarm.

In any case, when I'd knit 3.5 inches of yoke, I decreased dramatically, knit a band of garter stitch, worked 2 bands of ruching, then realized I could combine my ruching decreases with my yoke shaping decreases to keep things simpler. The ruching called for K2tog across all sts, and the shaping called for K1, K2tog. After some math, I converted that to K3tog across, worked that, then the garter stitch band and ruching again. I also worked short rows in the ruched sections to build up the back of the sweater about an inch higher than the front--because of the gathers in the ruching, the turns were nearly invisible.

I worked on it while visiting my mom for the weekend (my dad was out of town), in connection with a conveniently located consulting job. (And I got to go to Wegmans!) It was the perfect lazy knitting--didn't require much attention, and the decrease rows gave me a nice sense of moving faster as I got closer to the end (even with the increases for the ruching).

I was briefly concerned about running out of yarn, but I had enough, and finished it when I got back home. Close calls with yarn supply--especially when I've changed a pattern and made a decision which really affect how much yardage I'll need--always make me wonder. It seems like I'm guessing about length based partly on other factors (flattering length, tolerance for the stitch pattern, etc.), but am I actually able to calculate how much yarn I'll need without being consciously aware of it? In this case, did I hear "Hey, these sleeves look like a good length!" when my brain was actually saying "STOP! STOP! You'll run out of yarn for the yoke and button bands if you keep going! Stop!" Wouldn't it be great if I could figure out how I'm doing that?

Carding, on the other hand, may actually be as uneventful as it seems. I don't think I skirted the fleece aggressively enough before I started washing it, so there are some patches with a lot of vegetable matter. I'd been picking it out, but it occurred to me that I could probably wait to see if I even need that fiber before I pick out a zillion snippets of grass. And for that, I'll have to spin it up and see what it wants to be. If I don't need the additional yardage, I can just use the grassy bits as stuffing. Liberation from picking out grass! What's next? The ability to buy yarn already spun? Machines that knit for you? Sweaters for sale in stores! Craziness!

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