Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mathematix Shawl, story and notes

For my regular readers who probably haven't noticed yet, I have an announcement--I'm published! I'm very pleased that a pattern I wrote was accepted for publication in Knitty. It is a shawl pattern that I developed after my trip to Cambridge this past spring. Below is a photo I took of it last Memorial Day weekend.

I'm so grateful to Emily for being such an excellent model. I had to provide photos for my submission to Knitty and was lucky to find someone to model in the short time frame. I had been trying to knit a shawl from this yarn for a while. I knit a smaller shawl with it in December, but ripped it out. It didn't show off the yarn very well and was really too small to wear. The yarn deserved a better effort. After I came back from Cambridge, I started swatching.

Once I'd put those two patterns together, I was off and knitting. I thought if I finished knitting it before Memorial Day, I would be able to get some photos of it on a trip we had planned for the weekend. Since writing the pattern was taking up some of my knitting time, I was never sure that I would meet both deadlines--shawl finished and blocked by the holiday and pattern submitted by June 1. Now that it is all done and published, my concern is that anyone who has questions or problems has a place to look for answers. I am truly concerned. This is not a simple pattern.

That's why I'm posting this entry to my blog. I plan to add to it as needed to address any questions, make suggestions, or provide any other information about the pattern.

Unfortunately, there were errors in the original Knitty pattern. Corrections were posted November 12, 2011. As a matter of housekeeping, the errata was:

Under DIRECTIONS, Section 1, there should be a row 4 following row 3. It should read:

Row 4: [WS] Purl.

Under Section 2, omit the second sentence regarding starting the first repeat on row 3 of the chart. Start with row 1.

The Left Side charts are wrong. Until I can develop a correct set of charts, the shawl can be knit by working from the Right Side charts, simply reversing them for the second half. To do this, follow the Slip Stitch Pattern -- Right Side chart from right to left, work the center stitch in stockinette, then follow the same row of the chart from left to right.

The wrong side rows of the main color stripe in the border are purled. I mistakenly specified the fourth one, row 8 in the pattern, to be knit. Although this was simply a mistake I made in indicating the wrong row numbers in the "repeat row.." language, I am now a little curious as to how it would look if all the wrong side rows in the border were knit instead of purled. It would be something to try if you like garter stitch.

Also, when starting the border pattern, I began with row 3, letting the cast on stitches count as the first two rows. I'm less sure I like this now that I'm looking at it again. It works, making the colors in the border line up with the shawl colors. However, if you are inclined to finesse a pattern, you might look at handling it differently. My way, the first stripe of CC in the border is missing one row. It is possible to work the beginning and ending stripes of the border with 5 rows, although you would have to cast on an additional stitch.

Other questions have arisen that I consider design issues. For these questions , there is not necessarily one correct approach. In these areas the shawl can be knit according to the preferences of the knitter.

The first question has to do with the number of stitches on the needles at the start of the slip stitch pattern. There's not enough stitches to complete the two repeats on either side of the center stitch. As I knit it, the center two repeats are 1 stitch short. That didn't bother me because I knew I was adding a stitch on either side of the center stitch. The repeat would be complete on the next right side row. I was much more concerned that the blue decreases in the first section flow into the blue slipped stitches of the slip stitch portion.

Even though being 1 stitch short didn't stop me, I'm afraid that it might look strange to another knitter. The unusual stitch count might seem to be an error. It is not. The pattern does provide for the shorter repeats, since they are included in the charts. To further reinforce this, I'm providing below the language I used when I drafted the pattern, before the charts covered the center repeats:

With MC, begin slip st pattern [Chart B], aligning pattern so that MC sts slipped on previous rows are knit on the first row of Chart B. The repeat before the center st will be 1 st short. Following this repeat, the center pattern is: yo, k1, yo [k4 sl2], resuming row 1 of the slip stitch pattern. Worked properly, the slipped sts will all be CC. All wrong side rows in Charts B and C are purled, slipping the stitches slipped on the previous row purlwise with yarn in front [wyif].

I have made my remark about the center repeat bold. Actually, the chart is a much better explanation, but I have included this earlier version here just in case it offers a little more clarity. Often I find that what I write as I am knitting a pattern makes the most sense. At least, it does reflect my thinking when I was the closest to it.

All that being said, I think it should be possible to add another stitch to each side of the shawl in the transition row and start with complete repeats. I would like to make that change when I knit the shawl again to see if it can be done easily without changing the flow of the pattern.

Another question was raised about the edge stitches in Section 2, the Slip Stitch Pattern section. As I added a stitch, I worked it in stockinette on the following row. I didn't include it in the pattern of slipped stitches until I had added several stitches at the edge. As a result, there are stripes of stockinette on the edges that are 1 to 3 stitches wide. At the center, the new stitches in stockinette meet with the new ones on the other side of the center stitch to form a different pattern. It does not matter how the new stitches are worked into the pattern, as long as the pattern meets properly at each repeat. The edges and center can be worked to suit the knitter.

The one suggestion I have is to make the point that the new repeats at the right edge and to the left of the center stitch are worked in from the left edge. You have to count backwards from the left edge of the 24 stitch repeat to determine how to knit the new stitches.

Here's another suggestion regarding the slip stitch section. The pattern pulls in a great deal. Even though I added some stitches and blocked it hard, that section is still proportionally smaller than the other two. The shawl fits well as a kerchief. If I were to knit this as a larger shawl, I'd try increasing on both the right side and the wrong side rows, at least on the ends, in the slip stitch section. That would make the tails longer. Of course, it would add a lot more stitches and a few more repeats, as well as expanding the edging and requiring more yarn.

Please let me know if you have any other questions regarding this pattern. I'll be happy to address them here as well as on Ravelry. For those who haven't seen it yet, the pattern link is: Mathematix. If you like it, please click on this Ravelry link, Mathematix Shawl, and give it a fave!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cables recrossed, a third way

After thinking about the two ways to correct a mis-crossed cable that I covered in my last post, I realized I wasn't happy with either of them. There had to be another way. After turning it over in my mind, I decided that the problem with duplicate stitching over the cable is that the duplicate stitch, being sewed through all layers of the fabric, looks too compressed and lacks the dimension of a normal cable crossing. I wanted something that looked more like knitting. At first I thought of i-cord, but assumed that an i-cord sewed over the cable would be too thick.

Then I realized that I could simply pick up two stitches out of the cable, knit them and graft them to the other side of the crossing. In the photo above, I've picked up the stitches, knit one row and purled one row. They are ready to graft to the stitches above the cable crossing. I did this over all three mis-crossed cables. (I only made this mistake on the first piece I knit, the back. Thank goodness!) I found it easier to use dpns two sizes smaller than I used to knit the sweater, since that eliminated the need to tighten the stitches after I grafted them.

There! All done. I can't easily pick out the cables I fixed, even though I know where they are.

To make it easier to see the stitching, I left this photo a little lighter, and perhaps a little greener, than it should be. The color of this sweater is hard to pin down. Sometimes it is more green, sometimes it is more blue, depending on the light. It reminds me of the Morning Glory pool in Yellowstone.
However the color change in it is permanent. It used to be more blue, but early visitors threw so much trash in it that the color changed to the green you see here. I would say it is too bad, but really, I like green better than blue.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Re-crossing Cables

Quickly, calmly, like the tetons reflected in a lake

I'm going to show how I can reverse those cables I crossed the wrong way. As far as I know, there are two ways to do it. Luckily, my old swatch for the sweater has two repeats in it. They are knit with two different sizes of needles, of course, (that was the point at the time) but the difference in gauge doesn't matter. Here's the correct swatch, with both cables crossed to the left.

To change the direction, I duplicate stitched over the bottom cable, the one in the middle below the seed stitch portion. I thought it looked ok, but could see that it now has three layers of knitting rather than two. I can see that this cable crossing looks thicker than normal. On the plus side, I found it very difficult to remove the duplicate stitching when I decided I needed a do-over for practice. I'm hoping that means this method would result in a durable fix.

For the top cable, I cut the top stitches and moved them to underneath. This was very scary, since I had two tiny short ends to secure. The result is flawless from the right side. It really looks like a correctly crossed cable. However, from the wrong side, it doesn't look so nice. First, there's the two ends, which I knotted together, sticking out. Second, there's a bit of sewing to secure the loops of the stitches I cut and to close the hole. I'm worried the hole might reopen with wear.

I'm not aware of any other methods of correcting the problem, short of reknitting the sweater. Unless I find a better way, I'll probably use duplicate stitch.

To sunset this issue, here's a photo I took in Wyoming en route to Yellowstone.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cabled Cardigan all buttoned up

I've been shopping for buttons for my newly-finished cardigan. The yarn, Berroco Pure Merino Heather in the color Tyrolean Alps, has a subtle teal-ish glint that is hard to match. Early on, though, actually at my local yarn shop, I decided that this cardigan needed plain buttons. The pattern in the cardigan overwhelmed any patterned buttons. When I didn't find the right shade there, I bought a package of mixed blues. They looked fine in the shop, but once I got them home and looked at them with the sweater in daylight, I knew that blue wouldn't do.

With that, I added a stop at a conveniently-located JoAnn Fabrics to our upcoming trip to Yellowstone. I not only found iridescent teal buttons there, I also found sale buttons. These shell beauties were 75 percent off! Now I just need to find some yarn to match and a pattern to show them off. That cardigan project will have to wait, though. I already have a new cardigan for this year.

This is the cover sweater from last fall's Vogue Knitting. That means it has been a year since I first decided to knit this sweater. Since then, I've searched for and found extra balls of the yarn, in the same dyelot I had in my stash. I originally bought this yarn to knit Pilar. After knitting a long sleeved pullover that I rarely wear, I realized I needed to choose a cardigan pattern for this worsted-weight yarn.

My successful completion of another cabled cardigan last fall encouraged me to try this pattern. With all the cabling, it required more yarn than a plain pullover. In the end, I used around 20 balls. The sweater weighs over two pounds!

That's a lot of weight on my shoulders. Not that it's uncomfortable--it's just the carpet in my freshly-painted dining room that is weighing me down. Never mind, that carpet's days are numbered. We will be replacing it and the old vinyl tiles in the adjoining kitchen as part of our next update, once we work up the energy for it. We usually find home renovation projects to be expensive and worrisome. Reflooring and repainting all three bedrooms this summer provided enough expense and worry for now.

I can ignore the carpet. However, there's another issue I'm not sure I can ignore.

Can you count how many of the cables I mis-crossed in the back? Three! What makes it worse is that I ripped back and fixed several. I think every-other one would have been mis-crossed otherwise. At least that would have looked like a design statement. Now I have to decide if I want to duplicate stitch over these errors or cut into the sweater to fix them.

Or maybe just wear it like it is? After all, it is in the back. I won't see them when I'm wearing it! **grin** No, don't worry, I'll fix them. The sweater is too pretty to be less than perfect.
For more details and more photos, see its Ravelry project page.

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