Off my form

Have you ever had one of those days when you seemed incapable of knitting anything right?  When following directions, no matter how clear, seems beyond you? When your brain explodes as you rip the same inch of knitting out for the third time?  Have you, perchance, done this while knitting with mohair? Today has been one of those days.  Since I know I have some degree of knitting skill (despite today’s evidence to the contrary), and I am following a pattern by a skilled designer, I have to chalk it up to being “off my form”.

Which is interesting, as I am knitting a sweater called “form“.  Herein lies today’s story: a story in four parts.  Part 1 is the pattern:

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© Chrissie Knight for VERSACIKNITS 2018

It is a new design by Lori Versaci.  It is one of those garments which looks both rather plain and impeccably shaped; the kind that you give a parting glance to and then find you keep coming back to.  At the moment, it is ticking a lot of my buttons: can be worn at work, can be dressed up or down, can be knitted quickly, has great drape and shaping.  The pattern page shows two samples: one knitted with 4 inches of ease, short sleeves and cropped length, and the second knitted with no ease, three-quarter sleeves and hip length.  (Please see the pattern page; I like the “no ease” garment better, but the photos are mostly of the details.)

Now to Part 2: At the same time that the sweater was calling to me, I had stumbled upon a yarn combination (rather by accident) which was also calling my name.  Some time ago I had purchase 1200 meters of Isager Spinni in Red – a wonderful laceweight 100% wool yarn in a rich, true red.  I keep it in a basket next to the couch where it can mock me.  Last week, I realised that it was almost exactly the same shade of red as my Madita Cowl, which I knit with a single skein of Shibui Silk Cloud in Tango.   I rooted around in the basket, found a small amount of leftover Silk Cloud, and knit a swatch with the two strands held together.  It was lovely:

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Here you can see how delicate it is:

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Knit together, I was getting a gauge of 20-21 stitches (to 4 inches) which puts it in the right range for a worsted weight garment.  With only 1200 meters of the Spinni, I would have to be careful which garment I chose; I needed something that would not be eating up yarn.  Furthermore, this yarn combo is screaming out for stockinette – something very simple to show off the gorgeous colour and fabric.  (Do you see where this is heading?)  I put in an order for four skeins of the Silk Cloud in Tango, from my favorite shop Loop, and it arrived looking so beautiful it was positively swoon-worthy:

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Which leads to Part 3.  Obviously, my brain put the pattern and yarn together, and last night I cast on while watching The Good Place on Netflix with Doug.  I knit the two collar pieces and put them aside for this morning, a lazy Sunday.  And this is the point where my brain exploded, as described above.  I read the pattern over and over again, and tried numerous times to get those collar pieces in the right orientation and cast on the shoulder stitches, but really, truly could not get it.  Part of the problem, I believe, stems from my being left-handed and always trying to do a mirror image of any picking up stitches instructions.  I struggle to pick up stitches from right to left, and thus am always getting things backwards: I have learned to pick up in the other direction, which then leads to having the wrong side facing me instead of the right.  I am an old hand at this.  (Generally speaking.)

But this “left-hand” issue combined with the fact that the collar would overlap and fold out nicely to frame the neck, just defeated me.  Here you can see a photo of the neckline, a very beautiful feature:

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© Chrissie Knight for VERSACIKNITS 2018

I tried, and failed, and picked up stitches and pulled out stitches, and pulled my hair and made alarming noises (which made Doug run and get me more coffee, thereby likely perpetuating the problem).  I finally wrote a letter, via Ravelry, to VersaciKnits, explaining my difficulties, and took a break for breakfast.

However, I could not let this be.  I went back to it almost immediately and after some more struggles which we shall let go without comment, I managed to get the pieces put together and was able to proceed to the short rows.  Now, as we all know, the short rows are intended to build up the back neckline so that the garment will sit properly over the shoulders and neck.  After I had managed to get a rhythm going with the short rows, I discovered that I was building up the front of the sweater, not the back!  I considered just switching front for back, but as you can see in the photo above, the back neck piece “crosses over” the front.  I debated for a few minutes whether I could bear to have it backwards, and proceeded to rip (for about the fourth time).  Ripping out mohair is no fun.  Ripping out short rows from a knit-in-the-round garment is no fun.  Nevertheless, I persisted.  (Smile!!!)

Determined not to let this project get the better of me, I started knitting again, dutifully putting in all of the short rows.  Perhaps I was knitting a bit on auto-pilot by this time, because it took some time before it dawned on me that I had too many stitches on the needles.  Quite a few too many.  Which is when I realised that I had been doing raglan increases in every row – back and forth – rather than on every fourth row (as was made pretty clear by the pattern – I take full responsibility for this bit of stupidity).  I think I may have growled – Doug left the room in some alarm and has not been seen since.

I ripped again, and painstakingly got all of the stitches back on the needle in the right orientation (there are some tight corners there for the first few rows).  I then grit my teeth and knit the short rows again, this time paying attention to the increases, and “voilà!” :

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This time I got it right!  After a disaster of a morning, in which I was totally off form, I am now back on track.  It took me 6 hours (SIX!) to knit 14 not-very-long rows!

And this leads me, dear readers, to Part 4 of my story.  Just after having finished the last short row so that now I can move on to some fairly standard knitting in the round, I logged into Ravelry and discovered a lovely response from VersaciKnits.  Remember that I am in the UK, thus many hours ahead, and furthermore it is Sunday!  Not only did I get a fast response, but she included a photo tutorial, in which she knit the two collar pieces, and gave a set of clear, detailed photos for me so that I could properly assemble the collar and pick up the shoulder stitches.  This is customer service of the highest quality!  (Did you think that I would end this story with a moral? Perhaps “wait until the designer writes back before tearing your hair out and scaring your husband”?  Or perhaps “when having a bad knit day, go for a walk instead!” Did you really?  You should know me better by now!)

With fingers crossed that I am now “on form” again, I think I may grab a cup of tea and get back to “form”!