Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sew Its Seams

That was one of the instructions (but not the exact wording) on the British Checks Sweater. Sewing seams is the part of projects I dread. It usually involves sitting at the kitchen table for a day or more, hunched over the pieces of my sweater and looking like Motl the Tailor before he got his newfangled sewing machine. The whole process makes my back hurt and makes me cranky -- and I never quite feel like I'm doing it right. But not this time.

This time, since this is all knit in the round, the sewing only involved 47 stitches on each shoulder. That was it. Straightforward horizontal seaming -- go under the first stitch on the bottom half, go under the corresponding stitch above. Still somewhat easy to lose one's place, but no grueling task either. I was pretty happy with how they turned out.

But life is all about the trade-offs right? I may have dodged the nemesis called Seaming, but I came face-to-face with her evil twin, Picking up Stitches. Groan. This is one of those skills that I've gotten better at over time, but I'm still not eager to do it. I'm waiting for the day that I just do it effortlessly without gritting my teeth and steeling my nerve before jumping in.

The sleeves called for picking up 136(!) stitches. So I divided that in two and figure out each side of the sleeve (front and back) would require 68 stitches. The pattern said that the armhole should be 10.25 inches long -- which mine was (woo-hoo!). Then I divided that in half and placed a safety pin ( note to self -- get real big-boy stitch markers some day) -- 34 stitches on either side of that. Then I divided again to get four 17-stitch sections on each side. That made things more manageable.

However, not all selvedge edges are created equal. In the ginger-colored sections, I had about as many edge stitches as I needed to get 17. Usually, instructions for picking up stitches along the edge will say something like, "pick up three stitches for every four selvedge edge stitches." So picking up one for each edge stitch seemed a bit crowded -- and I think the picture shows that. Probably has something to do with not getting row gauge in this section.

On the stranded part, the instructions had me slip the edge stitches, so I had to find 17 stitches in a place where I only had a dozen slipped edge stitches. I ended up going in a row for the picking up. I think I did mostly okay. I continue to put my faith in the miracle of blocking.

When it came to the decreases for the sleeves, the instructions were a little ambiguous. Without giving too much design information away, It said to "decrease every 5th rounds x(0,0,0) times; every 4th round 0(x,x,x)times; every 2nd round x(x,x,x) times. It seemed like the 5th and 4th round decreases were concurrent (if you did the small size you did every 5th and all other sizes every 4th), but I couldn't figure out the last part. I remembered that I'd seen the designer's site on Ravelry, so I sent her a message and she very graciously (and quickly) responded. Turns out the editors had left out the word "then" before the every-2nd-round instructions. Small word, big difference. But all is clear now. Thank you, Ms. Spurkland!

So for now, it's round and round. On two circular needles because I didn't have needles small enough to do it on one and I'm too lazy to go buy new dpns.


  1. Smart of you to email her -- that little word does make a difference!

    And that whole "picking up more stitches than you've got" thing -- I had to do that on those booties, and it makes no sense at all....

  2. First, I love the titles you come with on your posts.

    Second, I LOVE the way this sweater has turned out, very cool.