Life isn’t all peaches

Warning: picture-less post. Lots of rambling. I attempt to crack jokes, but it’s bad, real bad. Lots of opportunities for all of you who seem so invested in the project to give me advice, though :).

Contrary to what you might imagine based on my typical jovial predisposition (ahem), Grumperinia is NOT the land of milk and honey. We have issues here, serious doubts on a regular basis, and I don’t have to tell you that the MO is grumpiness. We make wrong choices, and sometimes we stick with them for far too long – Adrienne Vittadini sweater, anyone? Curlicue? latest pair of socks for grandma? I’m notorious for picking really difficult projects, giving them a run for their money, but eventually deciding that they aren’t going to work out.

And so with my latest obsession, the Kimono-inspired sweater. I’m really excited and inspired by all your enthusiasm, flattered by your claims that this will come out “just perfect,” and surprised by premature pattern requests (Uhm, maybe I should knit a swatch first?). But I can tell you right now – I’m getting myself into a pickle, a really big pickle, and although I have the absolute best intentions and will give it my all, as I always do, I do not exclude that this will be a short-lived dream.

And it all has to do with gauge.

As all of you know, and as I painfully learned when knitting the orange Filati sweater, lace stretches during the blocking process, and in fact should be gently encouraged to stretch in order to open up and look pretty. Now, combine that with my desire for a well-fitted sweater and you get what I call obstacle #1: this project needs serious, diligent swatching in order to account for the stretching the lace will do when blocked. And this is NO easy task. If not done properly, I will knit something that grows to potato-sack size upon first contact with water (like those little foam animals that I used to get from the 25Β’ toy vending machine).

Preliminary results indicate an 18% stretch in both directions, but I need a bit more time to have a firm number. In any case, yes, the lace will stretch significantly. I’m very worried about bound edges – the stitches at the edges of the sleeve cap and along the neckline, for instance. How will all that expanding lace be accommodated within these physical boundaries? (I learned to worry about this from the Curlicue, of course).

Moving on to obstacle #2: a lacey pattern knit with fingering/sportweight yarn looks remarkably dissimilar to the original sweater, which is knit in something closer to laceweight yarn, and much more tightly. As June pointed out, “yarnovers in thicker yarn are huge – big enough to get fingers stuck in the holes when you put the sleeves on, etc. It’s fine for wraps and stuff, but I personally would not knit lace for clothing using anything bigger than a US 3 needle.” I know, June, I realized it as soon as I swatched with a US 4 needle.

I have since moved down to a US 3, but I’m still only approximating what the original looks like because the yarnovers are much more noticeable in my version. I’m not sure if they are big enough for fingers to get stuck, but they are big enough that I’ll have to wear a camisole beneath this sweater. I’m willing to entertain that idea for now, but there’s also

obstacle #3: this stitch pattern bores me to tears. Oh my God, does a more boring pattern exist? It’s complicated enough that I can’t knit without looking as I do for stockinette and ribbing, but boring enough to put me to sleep. And, hello, did you notice that I’m swatching this on US 3s, assuring me that this won’t be a quick knit? Mama mia!

So, we’ll see. I’m swatching diligently and deciding if this lacey fabric will work for an entire garment. If not, I may keep the beautiful sweater shape but knit it up in simple stockinette. I just don’t want another Adrienne Vittadini disaster – not being able to finish that thing upset me for like months (did I tell you I cried over it? I cried. So much work, a ton of pressure, such high hope, and at the end, bubkes) (didn’t cry over the Curlicue – that just caused pure and unadulterated rage).

Oh, and I’ve decided to use the light blue Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000, absolutely contrary to all your votes. Like Claudia, I’m typically in the minority. This yarn is like little angel baby kitty bunny goodness foofoo, if that makes any sense :).


35 thoughts on “Life isn’t all peaches

  1. Karma

    I, too, voted for the light blue. I hope you’ll decide what works best for you and I hope that this project will not be Adrienne Vittadini – Curlicue frustrating. πŸ™‚

  2. Angela

    I liked the light blue, too! I hope you figure something out. But if the YO’s would bore you to death, wouldn’t stockinette do the same?

  3. Sarah

    Maybe you could do a cable or slipped-stitch lattice pattern instead of the lace? I won’t say it wouldn’t be just as boring, but it might help a little with the gauge issues, and raised patterns such as embroidery are common on kimono.

  4. Christie

    You’re a champ. The blue will be lovely. Your intended sweater is kinda like the cashmere yellow sweater in loop d loop, but with a different lace and it’s knitted on size 2’s. Ouch.

  5. Renata

    Best of luck to you! I recently chanced upon your blog after starting your Jaywalker socks pattern, and I think you’ll do brilliantly with your sweater. And if all else fails, you can just go to Anthropologie and buy yourself a nice top. And give me the Crabapple Merino.

  6. jody

    A couple thoughts (you knew I have a few, right?)

    If you want to get the feel for what a handknitted garment will look like in a similar stitch pattern you can try arisaig from Fall 05 knitty:

    I do think those eyelets will get larger than you’d like and you’ll need the camisole. Have you thought about making at least some of the pattern with travelling stitches? You could eliminate the YOs completely or only keep a few of them in the repeat. It might solve the big eyelet problem and the bored-to-tears problem?

    Retaining stretch on the edges with lace…I’d suggest a knitted on cast on (the British call it the lace cast on!). I used it on River and Hanging Vines and it had tons of stretch.

    Casting off is harder imo and I don’t have THE method yet. I like the stretch you get from EZ’s sewn bind off. There’s also a cast off in Lucy Neatby’s Cool Socks Warm Feet that’s supposed to be very stretchy (she uses it for toe-up socks).

    Most importantly, if the lace is causing too much anxiety, ditch it! The beauty of that sweater is in its lines and you can retain that with a variety of stitch patterns.

  7. betty

    oh! i’m sorry to give you unsolicited advice, but i just can’t help it: don’t cry over knitting, grumperina! it’s just not worth it! πŸ˜‰

  8. Sarah

    I agree with Jody…. I think you should consider a different lace or cable pattern altogether. Another option would be to pick a stitch or pattern that is fast, so you can barrel through and when you think you will want to destroy it, abandon the project or kill yourself, you can stop and reflect on how much progress you have made!! Right now I am working on a sweater that is using a slip stitch mock honeycomb pattern… it isn’t challenging but it is fast… all knit stitches… that is another option. Scroll down and take a look…

  9. Judy

    I agree with Jody — what you like about the sweater is the lines, not the stitch pattern. You can find another pattern you like, and that would resolve pretty much all the obstacles, even the un-numbered camisole one. Like you, I get overheated easily, and wearing one layer under another is a sure way to do that, especially indoors.

  10. Eva (EvaLux)

    Hello there,

    If you think the lace will be too boring/give you gauge trouble, why don’t you just do 2 or 3 repeats of the lace motive at waist level or on a part of the sleeve (horizontally). You could also just have a vertical row of diamonds going up the sleeve or somewhere over the sweater. If you have just a row of diamonds going up the side of your sleeve, you can make the body of the sweater as tightfitting as you want…

    Looking forward to reading the rest of development of this sweater πŸ™‚

    Cheers Eva

  11. claudia

    It is important to know which sweaters you should just buy, and which make a good handknitting project. Remember, you are not a sweatshop and this hobby is supposed to be fun.

    The sweater, it is pretty. If it was me, I would just buy it. My general rule is not to attempt to reproduce a fine-gauge, machine-knit product. Yet, you are Grumperina and are willing to go big, or go home. I am hardened and cynical and will take the easy road.


  12. Martha

    It is really the structure of the sweater that is the eyecatcher, not so much the pattern. You could definitely scrap the pattern; the sweater might even be better for it.

  13. Colleen

    The YOs that I now have with Cascade 220 on US7s are not super gigantic, but I wonder about getting the same square look that the machine-knit sweater has. That, and the boldness of the grid created by handknit lace might be distracting. I dunno. Maybe with a fuzzy yarn?

    Alternatively, have you thought about twisted stockinette? You could get that sweater’s shape with a slightly interesting all over stitch pattern. I find that doing twisted stockinette with AM’s knitting method (i.e. you’re twisting the purl stitches instead of the knits) lends the fabric a slightly crisper horizontal line.

  14. Carolyn

    Ok, I am so into this, really. I did that damn “Lucky” that is not wearable…if I knew then what I know now. #3’s fingering weight/4 ply…I could do it. Make the pattern. I am in. Test knit…after christmas…I could do it.

  15. Linda

    I know you like to develop your own patterns. I do too. However, have you seen the cute kimono top at Knit Picks?

  16. Kim

    Yay! That’s the one I voted for too.. I didn’t know something that looked that complicated could be so boring.. but I believe you!

    Your idea about keeping the shape if the lace doesn’t work out is good.. you could also just use the lace on the cuffs and edges if you wanted to. or maybe just keep the lace as the sleeves or something… That would also save the camisole problem..

    …..Wait… I thought you couldn’t wear wool against your skin.. Miss cotton socks : P

  17. Purly Whites

    Dude, people already asked for a pattern? WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?

    Um, my vote is to drop it. Drop it like a cat in heat. I just made that saying up.

    I think I took too much decongestant.

  18. Chelle

    I like the one you’re designing quite well! I don’t like the Knitpicks pattern. Yours will be very nice. Can’t wait until you work it all out for us. Chelle

  19. juno

    a woman in my knitting group is knitting with the cool wool right now and it is delicious – excellent choice.

    Maybe substitute a textue in the diamond shape, rather than the lace – it shows texture really well, the stretching would be less of a concern, and it would be much less annoying to put in purl bumps in a diamond pattern than fuss with the increase/decrease thing – but the effect might be similar?

    Good luck.

  20. Jena

    I don’t know if you listen to podcasts, but the most recent episode (episode 2) of Cast-On (you can get it through iTunes) talks about a jacket that sounds JUST LIKE the one you are trying to pattern…

  21. B.

    You seem to have chosen a yarn that doesn’t really suit lace. Which do you want more, to use that yarn or to knit lace? If you’re committed to your yarn choice, why not make a similar pattern but maybe with purl bumps instead of YO’s? If you really want the lacy look, find a finer yarn.

  22. Tracy

    Here’s my quick take on the original sweater’s eyelets.

    1) The yarn looks slightly fuzzy.

    2) It probably wasn’t blocked.

    3) you’re seeing two layers at once, making the eyelets look less defined

    4) There are different effects created depending on what type of dec you do before/after the eyelet.

    But if you want a ‘relaxing’ non-stress inducing project, I would have to agree, you’re ‘over-knitting’. Sometimes choosing a pattern, and the ‘required’ yarn can result in some great knitting without headaches. Once in awhile, it’s actually fun to NOT do all the pre-work, LOL!

  23. Ellen

    I have made a lace sweater out of “Knitter’s Stash”. It is loose fitting with fairly big yarn over holes (4mm needles). While it was an easy lace pattern, it took me forever!!!

  24. Tipper

    I have no idea if this would work or not, but could you do “yarnovers” by lifting up the bar below – as for an increase – but NOT knitting through the back loop? It might make a yarnover of a smaller size, and you could use the same decreases to get the same result.

    The idea probably sucks because of placement of the “yarnovers,” but this is the thought that popped into my head.

    There’s gotta be some way to make a yarnover that’s smaller.

  25. Chelle

    I know what you mean though about being in a Japanese frame of mind. Me too!! Those previews of Geisha looked wonderful. And as a matter of fact, a few days ago, I had my eye on Kyoto – the old pattern from the 2003 Winter Knitty. I might make it and just put another band of the main color on bottom, because it’s too short for my liking. Chelle

  26. Bookish Wendy

    Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest, scooping up the ??? and bopping them on the head!

    What the hell does little Bunny Foo Foo scoop up? I can’t remember!

Comments are closed.