Thursday, November 8, 2012

One Week Check-in

So, I thought I was doing really well on my NaKniSweMo sweater.

All weekend, I knitted like a fiend.

My goal was to have the yoke finished by the time I went to bed Sunday night. But, it just kept going and going and going.
Monday morning, I took a good look at what I had. It seemed really big. I tried to convince myself it was just my imagination. (That was my first mistake.) After all, I'd checked my gauge at the beginning, and it was right on! As long as I was getting gauge, it would be fine. (That was my second mistake.)

I knitted for a while after dinner Monday evening, and the nagging feeling that I was knitting a sweater for a sumo wrestler wouldn't go away. Around 9:15, I thought, "Fine! I'll check the gauge again, but I know it's right. I know it is. I just know it." Well, I was wrong. I was supposed to be getting 27 stitches per 4 inches, and I was getting 24 stitches per 4 inches. I know that doesn't sound like a huge difference, but it really really is. For the body of the sweater I was supposed to have 324 stitches for a 48" sweater circumference (actually, a little less because of the cables, but you get the idea).  At the gauge I was getting, I'd end up with a 54" sweater--waaaaaay bigger than I needed!


So, I did what any Knitter would do: I ripped back. I reworked the pattern for the gauge I was actually getting, because there was no way I was starting over completely. I spent about an hour and a half ripping back to a more reasonable number of stitches, and a better-fitting yoke depth. All in all, I ripped out about a day and a half worth of knitting. Then I went to bed.

Tuesday morning, I divided for the sleeves, and got back on track.

I got some knitting done while watching election results Tuesday night. And I tentatively worked on it some more yesterday. Last night, I knitted all the stitches onto a very very long cable (from an interchangeable needle set) so I could try it on.

Success! The yoke fits beautifully! Now I can knit like a fiend again because I *know* I'm on the right track now. And, in case you are wondering: Yes, I will check my gauge more frequently. Damn rookie mistake.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaKniSweMo, or I've lost my damn mind

Lots of people have heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. In November, writers challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Way back in 2006, Shannon Okey decided to try a similar thing with knitting and called it NaKniSweMo, or National Knit a Sweater Month. Similar premise: challenge yourself to knit a 50,000 stitch sweater in a month. It sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Well, the sweater I've chosen will get me there and then some.

When I first started looking at patterns....yesterday afternoon....I started with a selection of 16 sweaters.

(In rows, from top left to bottom right, Autumnal Cardigan, Aquitaine Pullover, Wisteria, Quercus, Gullveig, Alpaka Tunic, Equinox Yoke Pullover, Ink, Gnarled Oak Cardigan, Oblique, Belted Wrap Jacket, Effortless Cardigan, Water and Stone, Cassis, Wicked, and Leaving.)

Then I started whittling down my options. I immediately eliminated anything that wasn't worked seamlessly. Seaming takes a great deal of precious time, reducing the odds that I'd have a finished sweater by 11:59pm on November 30th. Plus, I hate doing it. So, that eliminated 6 sweaters right away.

Now I was down to 10.  Next Step: get rid of anything done in plain stockinette. Too boring. I need something easy but with some interest to keep me going. That only eliminated 2 options.

So now we're down to 8. The final general elimination was pullovers. I just don't wear pullovers as often as I wear cardigans.

That brought me down to a very reasonable 5 cardigans, all featuring cables or lace, from which to choose. So, I sat and stared at them for a while. I even thought about putting a poll here on the blog or on Facebook to get the opinions of others. But, there wasn't time! So, instead, I polled my 14-year-old daughter, who confirmed my own thoughts. I had tried to convince myself NOT to choose this sweater, but I couldn't resist or avoid it. It's begging me to cast on. I even have the perfect yarn for it in my stash! I present Ink:

This is a fingering-weight sweater, knit at 27 stitches per 4 inches on size 4 (3.5mm) needles. It's knit seamlessly, from the top down with raglan sleeve shaping. It features cables that are narrow at the neckline and grow wider as the body is knit. The long sleeves also feature cable detailing, but only from the elbow down. It's gorgeous.

Here's the thing: It's a fingering weight sweater, knit at 27 stitches per 4 inches on size 4 (3.5mm) needles!  The yoke alone has more than 31,000 stitches! I think I've lost my damn mind. What little I still had left. Still, it's a gorgeous sweater. The first time I saw it, I remember audibly gasping. And, I LOVE fingering weight sweaters. They are just right for in the office, work great as a jacket on warmer spring and fall days, and look a bit less casual than heavier weight sweaters. I'm in love.

This is definitely going to be a challenge. But, that's what NaKniSweMo is all about, right? Fortunately, November is an ideal month for this. Thanks to Thanksgiving, we have a short work week. And thanks to my mother-in-law, who is hosting our family Thanksgiving this year, the short work week means four days that I can dedicate almost exclusively to knitting. So, wish me luck! It's time to cast on!