Sunday, May 03, 2009

To Infinity and Beyond

Okay, I'm exaggerating -- but only a little. Let me explain...

To the right, you see the beginning of the Herz & Baum Vest. The pattern was originally printed in Knitters magazine in the winter of 1993, and reprinted in the book Guy Knits released last year. No one in Ravelry has tackled this (or at least no one has fessed up to it), and I can only find one archived mention of someone's stab at it back in 1998. A saner knitter would have taken note of the lack of traffic.

Don't get me wrong. The pattern is quite striking. I even began to see the little hearts and trees that are the pattern's namesakes while poring over the charts this afternoon. But as I looked at the charts, I started getting nervous when I realized that the patterns never seemed to line up and end on a common row. I went to a little calculator on the internet to try and figure out the least common multiple of 4 (chart A), 8 (chart D), 18 (chart C) and 26 (chart E). Do you know what that is?

Nine hundred and thirty-six. This vest is only about 150 rows long, if that. I'd have to knit this for the Jolly Green Giant for all these charts to realign at a common starting point! This is going to be a row-counting exercise like no other. So, I need to figure out a way to follow my progress..

This is what I came up with. I used Excel to make a chart that groups all the ranges of rows for each chart pattern surrounded by bold borders. So now, in theory, I can start at the bottom, and each time I've finished a row, I can cross it off the list. As I work my way up, I should be able to tell at any given time which row I'm on. That's what I'm hoping, anyway. As you can see, I've completed the first 4 rows. Woo-hoo! Of course, row 5 is where things start getting interesting...

And just to keep things even more interesting, I'm knitting this on the recommended needles without doing a gauge swatch. The gauge is figured "over Chart Patterns." It doesn't say which one. But this pattern has cabling on every single row, unlike some patterns where you have a row where you coast. I didn't want to try to knit a swatch flat and have to figure out how to translate the cables, and I didn't want to do the thing where you drag the yarn across the back of a flat swatch -- I just didn't think it would be that accurate. So the only think I could think to do was get started.

Which I have done. I got some laughs at my knitting group yesterday while my fellow knitters watched me cast 304 stitches of worsted yarn onto a 24" size 3 circular needles (yes, the pattern calls for this), but I managed. Now that I'm past the ribbing I'm on the larger needles and things fit a bit better. I'm going to knit the first 26 rounds (end of Chart E for those of you who have been paying attention so far), slip it on a cable and pray real hard that it fits around my tummy.

I hope I don't sound too cynical about this pattern. It's really quite beautiful and I love the yarn. I'm just trying to relax myself by making light of what promises to be a very challenging project.


  1. OMG. The Excel business you did was very smart...but you still have to look at that, then refer to the pattern charts, right? And where's Chart B?

    I'm crossing my fingers for you, hoping that your gauge is going to be right on. You deserve it.

  2. I think it's a sound plan. May the yarny powers that be smile on you and your many cables.

  3. This reminds me of the spreadsheet that Janelle made for the Must Have.

  4. I'm impressed - and exhausted from looking at it! I can't wait to see how it turns out...what size needle do you use for the body if the ribbing was a 3?

  5. I was stunned to see your progress on Saturday - it's beautiful, Steven. Also? I'm not smart enough to understand your spreadsheet. I am intrigued, though. You know - if that's worth anything.