Monday, April 28, 2008

The Sound of Inevitability.

Wasn't this inevitable? There I was, clicking along on my cardigan, knitting to the sedate sounds of Buffy, season four. I reached the end of a repeat and moved the marker on my chart down the page to a lower repeat. Easier to see, you know.

Four rows later, as I watched Oz leave Willow in a melty puddle of tears, I froze in horror. I try to not just read the chart, but also to have a feel for the pattern itself. What the chart was telling me and what my eyes told me should happen next were very much in conflict.

It turns out that my hand-made chart bore a user error; the numbers I had on the side didn't actually coincide with the repeats. Close, but no cigar. Thoughtfully, I tinked back the half-row I had done before the steek repeats, and had myself a think. Tinking four rows of Fair-Isle seemed needlessly tedious. There had to be a better way.

I am a fan of the Rainey sisters, they of the extravagantly elaborate projects that make me hold my breath with awe. They talk sometimes about life-lines. I thought often as I worked on my cardigan that I ought to put in a lifeline, in case I made a crucial error. Like this one.

However. I am the boss of my knitting. My lack of life-line isn't really a terrible thing... is it? I learned while making more mittens than a woman should have to over the winter how to pick up stitches for mitten thumbs. Pick up every right-hand-branch of a stitch, all the way around, at the last-known-good portion of the pattern, and I will have implemented my own life-line. Sounds easy enough. And a bit scary.

Life-line drawn in with a smaller circular needle.

Here we go!

Nerve wracking.

Et voila.

It went about as well as could be expected. Some rows I took stitches below or above the target row, and in-stream adjustments needed to occur. However, for the most part it was a matter of carefully zipping the yarn back stitch by stitch to my new life-line. The process to remove four rows of inaccurate knitting was about 40 minutes... I don't know how long tinking stitch-by-stitch would have taken but I suspect much more. A successful surgery, altogether. Now I need a couple of more episodes of Buffy to gain back those lost rows.

Speaking of the cardigan. I learned a new technique for Fair-Isle which results in no stranding along the back. This pattern at times required the running of strands for up to 11 stitches... way beyond the recommended 5 stitches. I was manually twirling the yarn as I did the longer runs, but I knew there was a better way. And there was.

Woven Fair-Isle. Thanks for the nifty video, Philosopher's Wool. You've made my wrong sides go from this...

stranded close-up

to this.

Woven close-up

How tidy is that?! It's a super-easy technique and I will never Fair-Isle without it again.

The bottom four inches or so of the cardigan are stranded before I learned the woven technique... it's not all nice and uniform, but this cardigan is a learning experience. I'm okay with the difference.


~V said...

I'm totally lost in what you're talking about but I'm glad you figured out what to do. I love the 'new' back, there's nothing worse than getting caught on and pulling those long strings inside a sweater.

Five Ferns Fibreholic said...

A few years back, I went to a needlework convention with a friend. I was insistent that we took at least one knitting class. I am so glad that I did as it was the two handed fair-isle method taught by Philosophers.

And yes, ripping back something like your cardi is always a heart wrenching experience.

kate said...

You totally blow me away - how do you learn these things so quickly?
Good job on the impromptu lifeline!

Now that you are amazingly fearless at Fair Isle and all, get ready to become a teacher this summer - I feel an urge to knit with two hands coming on! After all, I can't let you have all the fun!