My knitting mojo has been on holiday the past few weeks, hopefully somewhere warm with pina coladas and a pool. Life has been somewhat hectic, and when I have had some down time I’ve spent it with my nose in a book. When I do pull my needles out, I’ve been working on Neon. As it is a summer cardigan, and summer is with any luck on its way, it makes sense to concentrate on this one.
I am making Neon in a really great red yarn, hand dyed by Sarah of the Plucky Knitter. The colour is hard to capture on camera, it is really red without orangy tones, and has a lot of depth to it. It is called Kissin’ Valentino, and especially in the simple lace of this pattern, looks crisp and elegant, with a bit of sexy siren thrown into the mix. I can’t wait to wear it with a linen blouse and navy heels. I have a feeling it will be the perfect summer cardigan.
After the coldest spring in over 50 years, we have had two fairly nice weekends in a row, which has led to some peaceful knitting in the back garden. The wisteria is blooming, and the field on the other side of our fence is planted in rapeseed just about to burst into full bloom.
Last weekend, I woke up early, pulled on my Killybegs cardigan, grabbed my coffee and sat out in the garden knitting. As the sun warmed up, I shrugged off the Killybegs, and draped it over the back of the chair. I went in to get another coffee, and when I came outside, Emma was standing with her camera, taking photos of the chair draped in the lovely green Donegal wool of Killybegs and the vibrant red of the Neon. Just looking at the photos makes me happy.
I have managed to finish knitting the body of the cardigan. It is hard to judge the fit, because even though it is knit in one piece and I can thus try it on, it also is lace and will need a really heavy block to open up the lace pattern. What this means is that it seems impossibly small right now and I find it hard to imagine that I will ever be able to button it. I have to trust in the miracle of blocking (and remember that I have two daughters who would not be overly upset if it ended up being too small for me.)
I followed the pattern almost exactly for the body, only adding one extra set of hip increases, but I am winging the sleeves. The lace used on Neon is a simple 2-row repeat, and even though the sweater is knit in one piece, because it is a cardigan it is knit back and forth in rows. This means that the pattern has a knit side and a purl side. Joji has written the pattern, however, so that the sleeves are knit in the round. There are obvious advantages to knitting this way, primarily that you don’t have to seam the sleeve, but for this pattern, because of the way the lace is formed, knitting in the round causes more problems than it solves.
Joji Locatelli is a new-ish designer, but a very professional and thorough one, and she is careful to address this problem. She gives detailed descriptions of how to knit the lace in the round, and even provides links to a video demonstration. There is no denying, however, that this lace pattern is much simpler and more straight forward to knit back and forth than in the round. In addition to to the technical aspects of knitting it without purl rows, which involves continually passing stitches back and forth between the needles, there is the very real problem that many knitters have encountered, which is that they end up with a different gauge for the lace when it’s knit in the round. If you look at Joji’s Ravelry group, you will find many long discussions involving ripping, and changing needle sizes, and trying alternative ways to get the lace to work in the round.
To me, the answer is not only simple, but obvious: knit the sleeves straight, and then seam them. I must point out that I am not the only one to do this; a number of other knitters have done so, and commented on the forums. A couple of them asked Joji outright about knitting the sleeves flat and I found her responses very enlightening. I took a screen shot for you:
I think this reinforces the fact that she is a thoughtful designer, and responsive to her customers, as well as being cheerful and supportive. The thing I found most interesting about this, however (and why I put them up here) is her comment that knitters today want patterns to be “seamless” and her struggle with the fact that in order to sell patterns you need to make them seamless, even in cases where a little seam would actually make things easier. I find this rather disturbing. It makes me want to say “Suck it up, knitters! Sure, some of us prefer knitting seamless, and some of us prefer to knit in pieces. But as a knitter, you should really know how to do both and suit the technique to the project!” It is like those knitters who refuse to do crochet, and are rather adamant about it, even though sometimes a bit of crochet edging is just exactly what your knitting needs. I think we should all try to be broadminded, and have fun mastering new techniques. We are still allowed to have our favorites, of course, but why should we restrict ourselves like this in our pursuit of a hobby? Aren’t we restricted enough in other things we have no choice in? (I promise, dear reader, this is the end of my rant.)
I included Joji’s second comment, by the way, because if you are going to knit the sleeves flat, please don’t forget to cast on the extra stitches under the arm. I could so easily have forgotten that; thanks Joji for steering me right!
The sun has peeked out again and I will run out and take advantage of it. Here’s hoping my knitting mojo gets tired of pina coladas and comes home to challenge my books to a showdown.