Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wednesday's Workbox - Knitting Update

I thought I would give you an update today on how I am getting on with the knitted sweater I am making - for myself for once!  I prefer to knit for other people as you have the double pleasure of the knitting and then the giving of your home-made gift to your loved one, but Papa Bear said that I should use the wool I had left over from another project to make myself something this time, so I started work on a sweater pattern that I picked up in a charity shop (thrift store) quite some time ago.

I am almost done - I have about half the first sleeve to finish, and then the second, then I have to piece it together and graft on the picot neckline, which I am looking forward to as that bit is very rewarding and will look very pretty when it is done!  But oh, this sweater has tried my patience sometimes!  It's not the hardest pattern I've ever knitted, but the sleeves are proving to be quite a challenge becuase of the shaping required (there is very little in the main body of the sweater).  I have to concentrate very hard to keep the pattern right, and I would say that for every 10 rows I knit, I have to take 1 back, because I find a fault with the next row, and I see that several rows before, there is mistake.  Normally where I have missed a yarn forward (YFW) or a knit two together (K2TOG).  But in doing this I am finding that I am remembering a few tricks I've learned along the way - so I thought I would share them with you!

With a pattern like this, where the design is repeated over blocks of several stitches, doing increases or reductions, as you have to with sleeves, means having to incorproate the new or lost stitches into the pattern.  To do this without having to draw out the whole pattern for yourself before you start, the easiest way that I have found, is to start each row of increase or decrease by looking at the row before, and working out where the pattern repeat begins.  I find the first block of pattern repeat, and then the first stitch of that repeat, and then I count backwards to the first stitch on the needle.  That way I know which stitch number in the pattern's repeat to start with.

When you are shaping a pattern that has a lace design, it also helps if you watch how many times in block of the pattern repeat there are individual sitches that are reduced (by knitting 2 together, or slipping one stitch over another, depending on which way you want the reduced stitches to lie) or that are increased (by knitting twice into one stitch, or bringing the yarn forward over the needle between two stitches).  If you don't keep the number of reductions and increases in each repeat equal, you will end up with the wrong number of stitches on the needle at the end of the row.  In some very complex lace patterns the number of stitches will vary over the rows of the pattern, but in most the number stays the same, except when you are deliberately reducing or increasing to form shaping (as with these sleeves).  To avoid this do a stitch count at the end of the row to make sure it matches up with what you expect it to be!  Whilse doing increases, I tend to keep a tally somewhere, though it is possible to see where I last did them on this pattern, so I am not doing this with this particular piece of work.

Finally, do make sure that you have a "mirror image" with your pattern repeat when you finish each row of a sleeve - the increases or decreases should be at both ends of the same row.  In a pattern like this one, that means that you will end with two halves of a repeat on each edge, as the pattern is designed so that it is symmetrical from the centre of the piece of work to the sides.  It helps to keep an eye on this, so that you know you are doing the right number of increases or decreases (and not forgetting, as I often do, the increase or decrease that happens on the last stitch of the row!).

I will share again how I am getting on with this sweater another time - but I am really looking forwards to getting it finished now, so that I can actually wear it!