Back to reality

After a lovely two week holiday in which I could knit all I wanted (and sleep in as late as I wanted), on Tuesday it was back to reality.  And in this instance, reality was accompanied by wet, stormy weather, and generally dark and dreary days.  The girls and I were coping with virtual jetlag after having slept till noon and stayed up till the wee hours for a few weeks.  Doug was also coping with very real jetlag, since he left well before the crack of dawn on Wednesday to fly to Japan (hi, Doug!).  Needless to say, it has not been a great week for knitting.

I have been steadily making progress on the Brick pullover for Doug.  The pullover has an interesting construction; the body is knit in mosaic stitch from side to side.  You cast on the sweater at the left side seam (the stitches are held here on the blue yarn, which will be removed later).  Then the underarms are shaped by increasing for a few inches before casting on the additional stitches for the body; this cast-on edge will form the seam between sleeve and chest.  You knit across the back, until you get to the center back where the mosaic pattern is reversed. When you get to the sleeve edge, you cast off stitches, and again decrease along the edge for the underarm slope, until you get to the right side seam, at which point the mosaic pattern is again reversed.  The front will basically mirror the back until we come to the left side seam, at which point the blue yarn will be removed, the stitches put back on the needle, and a two needle bind off will join the piece into a single round pullover body with no seams.

Later, the neckline will be picked up and knit, as well as the bottom ribbing.  (The lack of ribbing on the bottom is why this piece is looking a bit out of proportion; try to imagine it with three inches of ribbing on the bottom.)  The sleeves are also picked up and knit down, in rib.

I think that the pattern is brilliant.  This is the second Hanne Falkenberg sweater that I have knit, and I greatly admire the way in which she constructs her designs.  They are very architectural and the details are fabulous.  I love the transition at the center back:

I find the details of the side shaping and armhole shaping, along with the mosaic transition, so pleasing to the eye:

I really think Hanne is a design genius.  (You can find her website here; her sweaters are not as fitted as I usually like, but I love her sense of colour and the architecture of her designs.)  That said, her patterns are not all that easy to follow, and I would not recommend them to beginners.  I think part of this is her way of contructing and writing the pattern, which I find to be a bit opaque; this is quite likely a result of the patterns being translated into English.  Her patterns are well worth the effort.

On the subject of genius; knitting genius, I am not.  I made the stupidest mistake with this pullover, partly because I misunderstood Hanne’s instructions.  The pattern says to use a continental cast-on when adding additional stitches at the sleeve edge, and to cut an extra length of the grey yarn to use in conjunction with the working yarn to this purpose.  I didn’t know that a continental cast-on is a long-tail cast-on; since I always use a cable cast-on to add additional stitches at the end of a row, I assumed that “continental cast-on” was another term for cable cast-on.  I thus, in a prime example of generalized stupidity, interpreted the pattern to mean that I should hold two strands of yarn together and do a cable cast-on.   What does this actually mean for the sweater?  See the wobbly, ugly cast-on edge at the back left sleeve edge?  See the neat, pretty cast-on edge at the back right sleeve edge?

Of course, I knew it was wrong when I knit it.  My instincts shouted at me to rip it out and redo it my way, but I thought I was following Hanne’s instructions, and felt that she must be right.  The moral of this story: always trust your instincts.  The second moral of this story: a good wet block and steam will make even bad knitting look good (or so one hopes).

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