I have just finished up a few intense weeks of work and study in which there was no time for knitting. I mean that in the broadest sense of the word. It was for all intents and purposes a period of Knitting, Interrupted. No knitting, no reading about knitting, no writing about knitting, no daydreaming about knitting. Even in those moments when I was idle, I was too tired to move, much less knit. My thanks to all those who left lovely comments on my last post and on Ravelry about my Lightweight Pullover; I was happy to read them.
Despite these past few weeks, I do have some knitting progress to share with you from before my knitting blackout.
As with all projects, the first step was the swatch. For this sweater, I needed to match a stockinette stitch gauge and a 2×2 ribbing gauge. I started fooling around with some swatches very late (around midnight) on a Sunday evening. I remember this because it was Superbowl Sunday, and here in the UK the coverage started around that time. I also remember it because I had a question about the gauge and I wrote an email to pattern support at Brooklyn Tweed. When I woke up the next morning, I discovered that my email had been answered within two hours of sending it, ON A SUNDAY, and DURING THE SUPERBOWL. There is no denying that is exceptionally good service.
My question was: “How can you get the same gauge in rib with a smaller needle, than you get in stockinette with a larger needle? This seems to me to be physically impossible: ribbing always draws in the stitch count, even when blocked; knitting it with a smaller needle should make it even tighter.”
The answer was: “The ribbing is blocked more aggressively to achieve the same gauge as the stockinette stitch. The ribbing will be more flattened out than it normally is.” Message to self: Be more aggressive.
One of the more interesting features of this cardigan is the triangle at the back which is formed with short rows. Here is a progress shot as I was starting the triangle:
The short rows are interesting and the way they shape the fabric quite mesmerizing. It is also pretty fast knitting. A warning, however: it is very easy to do the first side of the triangle, but you have to pay attention on the second. I kept miscounting and had to rip back twice. Finally, I marked each wrap-and-turn with a removable stitch marker so that I could see where I was.
In the Notebook section of the Brooklyn Tweed website, Jared Flood has a series of interviews with BT designers. The interview with Alexis Winslow is really interesting and it has a lovely discussion of the design process behind Escher. Alexis says:
“Escher was definitely a challenge for me. My original design concept didn’t have that beautiful V-shape–it was straight up and down like a stripe. I knitted the sample, and realized that I could achieve a much better fit if the armholes angled downward a bit. I went back to my sketchpad to work out solutions. There were a lot of different ways I could do this, but I decided the central triangle would be the most elegant way to solve this problem.”
from: Designer Conversations: Alexis Winslow; Brooklyn Tweed notebook (link above)
Please check out the interview. I love that it shows some of Alexis’ sketches of the original design idea for Escher – before she added the triangle to the back. Alexis has recently written her own post about this design, which you can find here, which has even more info on the design and its development. She also has photos of it buttoned, which are missing from the Brooklyn Tweed shots. Anyone interested in the design process or in this lovely garment should read these posts.
Here is the most current progress shot, taken this morning:
I really love the way that the short rows change the direction of the knitting. It makes the piece very striking and fluid. I am nearly done with this portion of the cardigan and have come to the realization that two-thirds of this piece is ribbed. If you don’t like ribbing, this may not be the project for you. I am going to look at it philosophically: all of that aggressive blocking will help get rid of my frustrations. First I’ll knit myself into a Zen-state, and then I’ll pin the crap out of it. More proof of the health benefits of knitting!