Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In Which Jen the Cardigan Is Too Long, Just Right, and One Button Short

I fell in love with the Jen Cardigan (Kim Hargreaves) when I saw it in Precious (a Rowan pattern collection--not the movie).

This was after I bought the yarn for another sweater in that collection, but that is beside the point.

Now, I must confess a little something that plagues me. I have a pouch. Like a marsupial. Except the pouch does not so much open as sit there and make me look fat. However it is located above the waistband of every pair of pants I own, because I am, quite freakishly, skinny beneath this point. I call it Chronic Muffin-Top, and I hate it. I go to great lengths to conceal it. It is annoyingly difficult to lose (see previous post regarding fainting).

So, when I saw the Jen Cardigan, I decided I would not make it as cropped as it appeared in the sample, as the crop would cause the bottom of the sweater to be right above my, well, fat.

Fat must be hidden.

I bought extra yarn with the intention of making the sweater longer. I did my math. I cast on.

Here is where I went wrong.

Now, when you knit, everyone always tells you to check gauge, which is the number of stitches the designer of your pattern got per inch and per row. Then you change needle sizes in order to make sure you get the same gauge as the designer, so that your sweater will not be a large tent for refugees or a tiny doll sweater to cover Barbie's nudity issues. That girl should really join a commune. I mean, clearly she has identity issues. If she met a charismatic personality, she would totally join that person's (usually male, but you never know), cult and drink his Kool-Aid-Mind-Poison.

I got gauge. The pattern asked for a 2.5 (or 3) needle for the ribbing and a size 5 needle for the stockinette. I could manage gauge with a 4 and a 6, since I knit so tightly you'd think I was under all kinds of insane stress. I'm not. Anymore.

I mean, except for the fainting, the Biscuit costume, and what you're about to read.

Here was where I screwed up. The pattern clearly told me that the sweater would grow, since the yarn tended to relax by a certain number of stitches to the inch and rows to the inch.

I did not do this: I did not bind off my gauge swatch, steam it, and measure it. Nope. Totally skipped it.

Why? Because I hate that. I want to just start the sweater already. So I did.

I knit and knit and knit, endless-endless ribbing. Knit 1, Purl 1, K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1K1P1, until I thought my brain would explode.

And I measured, measured, measured. Finally I got to the place where I thought I could switch over, and did. I knit, shaped, reached the neck, put stitches on holders, bound off.

From armhole to the bottom of my sweater, the sweater measured, as it ought, 15 inches. This was good.

I knit the rest of the sweater, the two front panels, and put the whole thing on my ironing board, steamed, and watched with wonder as the whole thing grew to people-sized.

Then, I got busy with the knitting Olympics. I knit that other sweater down there, back in February, the one that turned out perfect. Remember? See--Laura is a good knitter!

I got sick. I felt like death. I had nothing to knit, so I started seaming my sweater, finished, then put it on.

Now, I was in yoga pants at the time, and I was wearing a gross t-shirt from ages past (Luer's Tree Farm--it's seen a lot of years--but it's my uncle's farm, so I love to wear it), but no matter how you slice it, that sweater looked more like a cape than a cardigan.

A cape?

Then, through my Nyquil-addled brain, it hit me. When I was mathing my sweater, I hadn't factored in the stretch with regard to ROW GAUGE. Because when my sweater became people-sized, it became pencil-thin-giant-sized (because if you are a giant and still my width, you are pencil thin).

And when I examined the pattern, it said this, "Tension note: The Bamboo Soft yarn relaxes after steaming. This opens the knitting and changes the tension by approximately one stitch in the width but does not affect the rows (23 sts and 30 rows). Therefore your knitting, before steaming, should have a tension of 24 sts and 30 rows to 10 cm. Allowances have been made within the pattern for this change (see size diagram for after relaxing measurements)." Which is like a total lie, at least in regards to the row gauge thing, because it was LOOOOOONG.

"Crap," I said out loud. Then I took more Nyquil (to take the edge off) and sat back in my pillow-nest with my Kleenexes and my Sweet Tea.

How to solve?

Instantly, I thought of the method I undertook back in college when I had decided, randomly, to add color to the end of a scarf (ribbed). Now, it totally failed then because I didn't understand that ribbing is a one-way street, but I only had to cast off, so I could pull off the miracle I had with my mother's fancy cabled-on-both-sides vest. I'd taken off her ribbing completely, then let her knit it down and cast off (using a much, much smaller needle).

When I felt better and didn't have Stupid Nyquil-Haze Syndrome, I snipped a single stitch, then untangled it from a row. I already had my needle in place as a safety line. Then I cast off.

Of course, it took ages.

A whole evening. And when I finished, another age to weave in all the ends in the pretty way that Rachael taught me.

Last night I picked up an abundance of stitches, knitted back and forth, and now I have ribbing at the neckline.

It's done now. Finished.


Except for that button thing.


You see, when I knitted my sweater, I noted that the pattern told me a range of numbers for buttons. Of course, my making the sweater longer made this even more trying. I decided that the only way I could manage to pull this cardigan thing off was if I had 16 buttons.

This meant an hour scouring the button website used by my LYS, where I found the eleven buttons I had on hand--too few, I thought. I found them, Natalie ordered them, then she e-mailed me and told me that mine were backordered.

But my "tailoring" job caused me to not need 16 buttons. I needed the 11 I had plus one additional button. Only one. And I had Natalie order buttons, causing her to have to order a ton, since you have to order a full thing of buttons not one at a time. Poor Natalie.

Poor me--because now I'm waiting and waiting for one backordered button, which seems a little more annoying than waiting for five. Five, you know you need to wait. One, you think, "I'm cursed!"

Regardless of button status, I am wearing my Jen Cardigan now. I just left one off the very end, because I figured no one would notice it there. And then I put it on and wore it to work, taking poorly-white-balanced pictures of it without realizing, as I had set my white balance for Tungsten and not for our crappy, florescent lighting.

The book I'm looking at? No, David by David Shannon.

I figured it was time to have a library photo shoot.

First Light by Rebecca Stead, winner of the Newbery Award for When You Reach Me. I loved that book.

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