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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Designer Designed It That Way For a Reason

Before I really get into today's post, I just want to make sure that I point out something about the Chinese Lace Pullover fiasco from yesterday's post - it's not the designer's fault! This is a beautifully designed pullover, a well written pattern, and probably involved a lot of work with a calculator, graph paper and chocolate (I use chocolate when I'm designing something complex, also Ramius helps). If I had just knit it as it was written, I wouldn't have any trouble at all. So please, don't think that you want to avoid the Knititude patterns just because of my Sleeve Incident. Any difficulties I'm having with this sweater are entirely of my own making. I'm not sure what that says about me, to tell the truth. Angela (the designer) even left a comment yesterday volunteering to help me work out the problem without frogging the sleeves, and while I deeply appreciate the offer, I want to see if I can get myself out of my own mess first - don't worry, I have a calculator, graph paper, and chocolate, and I'm not afraid to wake up the cat if I need to.

After writing yesterday's post and having the lightbulb realization that I had effectively messed up the way the sleeve and body come together, I spent the rest of the day mentally kicking myself, shopping (did you know Philosophy has a wonderful Pink Lemonade collection right now?), and trying to weasel my way out of my problem without frogging anything.

I actually spent a bit of time thinking that just turning the body 1/2 repeat would solve my problem and make the ribbing lines come together. That would have put a column of purl stitches right up the center of the sweater and that's just not good design. I also realized that if I just frogged the sleeves and knit them the way the pattern was written, the ribbing lines wouldn't line up that way either, because by eliminating the decreases in the lace pattern, even though I had the same stitch count I was supposed to have on the body, the ribbing would be different for my sweater's body than it would be if I had just followed the pattern like a good knitter.* Basically, what happens is that you work the decreases in the lace design as the pattern is written, and then work your increases on the sides of the front and back pieces, where a side seam would be. The lace design sets up the ribbing pattern, so by placing the decreases into the lace design, you are changing your ribbing pattern before you even start ribbing.

In other words (and this is totally not the pattern, I'm just using this to illustrate the depth of the hole I knitted myself into on this), the lace pattern kinda looks like P2, do lace pattern over the next 11 stitches, P2, do lace pattern over the next 11 stitches, and so on. When you work the decreases, you are taking stitches out of the 11 stitch lace section (again, not at all the actual numbers used in the real pattern) and you end up on your last round of lace with P2, do lace pattern over 7 stitches, P2, and so on. Then when you start the ribbing, you just work as established, purling the purl stitches and knitting the stitches you were working lace over: P2, K7, repeat. By eliminating the decreases (and thereby making a huge, honking mess of the beautiful design), my ribbing looks like P2, K11, repeat. So even though my stitch count is the same, the ribbing is different, and I probably messed up the ribbing situation when I was working on the body, when I decided to just use the ribbing and natural bounciness of wool for my waist shaping. I should probably be thankful that I figured it out now and not when I was seaming the sleeves into the body of the sweater.

Here, as I see it, are my options:
1. Continue as started and instead of the delicate, diagonal raglan line where the sleeve meets the body as the pattern is written, make the line much more prominent and wider, thereby completely distracting the viewer from the fact that my ribbing doesn't line up. Unfortunately, the only thing I can think of that's distracting enough to hide my ribbing fiasco involves copious amounts of bobbles and pom poms. I think this option might make carrying a purse and wearing a seatbelt difficult. On the other hand, it would make a great travel sweater - I'd have a built in pillow!

2. I could frog the whole thing, sleeves and body (remember, I haven't knit the entire body yet) and re-knit it as the pattern is actually written. Since I bought the pattern because I really liked the design, I could always knit the actual design that I really liked. I know, SHOCKING!

3. I could give myself one more smack upside the head for not doing what I was supposed to and redesign the whole thing with set in sleeves and thereby completely go around the actual problem of getting the rib to line up on the raglan.

Personally, I'm kind of leaning towards choice 3. This option would also avoid frogging and reknitting, which at this point in the year, is a really good thing - it's tough to get a wool sweater finished when it really starts warming up.

*One of the reasons many of us knit is to be able to personalize and change things around so that our sweaters are flattering to our own body's shape and size. Most of the time you can change some things around and you won't have any trouble. Clearly, changing a raglan design with a bold ribbing pattern is an exception. And if you were wondering if this means I will now knit all patterns as they are written by the designer from here on? You're totally kidding yourself!



Blogger Knittripps said...

Well, I would probably pick option #2 it if was me. But I am not the adventurous type. Good luck!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Rudee said...

I like trail blazers. You're certainly one of them. I'd have been disappointed if you chose an easy way out. If the chocolate doesn't help, you might consider wine. Just don't knit while drinking or hungover.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...


Does designing lace come naturally to some, or is there a way of learning? You talk about graph paper and calculators. I would really love to learn.

Janet from MN

7:07 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I am glad you are sorting this through & have a few options. I also like to adjust patterns to my likes & also create my own problems - I guess that's the challenge of knitting.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous ginny said...

I would pick option #3 (minus the smack upside the head) and agree that a teensy bit of wine might be added to the eqation.

I thought it was very good of you to make it clear that it wasn't the designer's or the pattern's fault. I know that I myself have gotten into plenty of trouble futzing around with a perfectly well written pattern in order to "improve" the design or the fit.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous KKay said...

Thanks again for the heads up! I love this pattern, and I think I will make it as designed. Thanks so much for "taking one for the team" and giving us the play-by-play!

2:03 AM  

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