December 13, 2007

Thursday Frog Blog (Oblique Update)

Still chugging along on Oblique, despite some setbacks.

Setback the first happened at the raglan shaping on the back. The pattern tells you where to put the decreases at the edges but simply tells you to "work in pattern" to the next edge. It pretty much figures you're smart enough to handle working raglan decreases across the slanting lace stitches. Evidently, I'm not. Or at least I wasn't thinking it through on my first attempt.

As my raglan decreases began gobbling up my slanting lace stitches, there were several times when I made the YO for the lace pattern but didn't have enough stitches to make the corresponding K2TOG or SSK. I just slapped those lacy holes wherever they would normally appear without realizing YO - Lace Decrease + Raglan Decrease = 0 Stitches Decreased. Duh.

So there I was, having worked almost as many decrease rows as instructed but finding my stitch count to be distinctly higher than it should have been. Sleuth that I am, I deduced some error was being made. Bonehead that I am, it took me, like, half the day to figure out exactly what that error was.

Eventually, I realized what I must have done and knew the only solution was to rip. Enter Bruce.

I was back on track after that and have now finished the back piece and started on the fronts. (I like to knit both cardigan fronts at the same time, right next to each other, on the same needle.)

I was merrily knitting along, had finished the waist decreases and started the waist increases. I left off one night after measuring and deciding when I picked up the knitting the next day, I was ready to start the neckline decreases on the first row I'd be working.

I did not measure again the next morning. I just started those neckline decreases. Thus began setback the second.

I had a great day. I scored lots of knitting time and was having a blast working the neckline decreases and waist increases. I was in that beautiful knitting zone where you lose yourself in the process. The yarn is soft and supple. The needles are warm and smooth. Each row is more exciting than the last. You and the knitting are one and you can't put it down. Not even to measure the darn thing.

I knit like that for about three solid hours. I don't think I so much as went to the bathroom in that time. (Maybe this is more than you wanted to know, but when you've got a fetus kicking you in the bladder, not going to the bathroom can be a big deal.)

So anyway, when I had finished the waist increases and was thisclose to finishing the neckline decreases, I finally measured to see when to start the raglan decreases.

Oh, the horror when I measured and saw that I had started my neckline decreases too soon. About an inch too soon. The neckline for this sweater is already pretty low. An inch even lower and it would look very, very weird. I must have misread my tape measure the night before.

In a fit of frustration, I threw the pile of misbehaving knitting on the coffee table. The irony of how happy the model is in that picture is not lost on me.

I steeled myself for another massive frogging session. I was feeling especially bitter because I had had so much fun with the knitting that day and now I had to rip it all out, right back to where I was the night before. Grrr...

I got Bruce out again because taking pictures of a stuffed frog with errant knitting helps me keep perspective and a sense of humor.

Don't you think Bruce looks just a tad too satisfied sitting amongst the carnage? Well, he is. Because it turns out all that ripping was completely, totally, un-freakin-neccessary!

I measured again after ripping and was stymied to find the knitting measured exactly the right length to start the neckline decreases. I had not, as I previously thought, measured wrong the night before. I had, instead, measured wrong mere moments before.

I sat there, with my head in my hands for a good, long time. It was all so overwhelming. I had been so sure. It seemed so much more likely that I'd gotten it wrong the night before. How could this be happening? I considered knitter's black hole and tried to grapple with the possibility that I had found another example of the laws of physics bending to the will of the knitting goddesses. Could it be that both measurements were right? That I had started the neckline decreases at exactly the right length but that length somehow warped to the wrong length after nearly completing the decreases? Since everything I'd knit that day was already ripped out, there was no way I'd ever be able to know for sure. I'd simply have to chalk it up to a mystery and figure out what to do next.

I decided that I couldn't bear to re-knit it exactly the way I had before. What if this really was some strange force of knitting nature? I'd be an idiot to repeat the same mistake. So I decided to start the neckline a little higher this time. Even if that meant doing it "wrong." I figured I'd do it that way anyway because (I hope) a little too high would look better than a little too low on the finished sweater.

Yesterday, I got caught up to the row I had been on when I ripped. Last night, I didn't have the alertness or emotional fortitude to inspect and measure and see if things were better this time. While I was tired and bleary, if I had measured and decided that it was still all wrong there would have been tears, hysterics and possibly a lapse into a catatonic state.

I checked the knitting this morning and am happy to report that I fully intend to continue knitting onward. The new neckline starts about .75" higher than the pattern calls for, but I'm just going to consider that a personal and somewhat-intentional modification and move on.

I now know, that everything was exactly as the pattern suggests when I ripped out a whole day's work, but I'm trying not to dwell too much on that. I keep reminding myself that I had a lot of fun knitting that section of the sweater the first time, so theoretically I should enjoy knitting it again.

The reality is the textured lace pattern combined with the neckline decreases as well as the waist increases happening at the other edge makes the knitting pucker a bit. I'm sure blocking, seaming and button bands will resolve the pucker, but while the knitting is still on the needles, I'll have to carefully smooth it out when measuring. So there was warping going on after all. However, it was simply warping of some knitted fabric as opposed to a warping of the laws of physics. How mundane.