Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snatching a Sweater from the Jaws of Hell

OK, now I remember why I don't knit sweaters...

[bolts of lighting from Hades]
True to my predictions, this it becoming an epic battle. Just finished the body of the top-down raglan for my son. It doesn't fit - it is way too tight, even after blocking. Grrrr. Battle number one: gauge and fit.

I guess the lesson here is that a 5-inch swatch just ain't good enough. Even if I blocked it. Should've listened to EZ, who recommends knitting a full-sized hat as a swatch...

But I refuse to start over. I am going to try to rescue this sucker.

Luckily I have not yet started the sleeves. So here is my plan...

1.Take out the bottom ribbing. Check.
2. make 2 machine steeks, one up either side of the sweater, and cut it open. Scary, but check.
3. determine how much extra I need to add at the sides,
4. knit 2 panels the right size. I'll do a provisional cast on, so I can just start the ribbing on the bottom again once the panels are in place. I'll leave live sts at the top so they can be knit into the sleeves.
4. sew the panels (gussets) in using matress stitch.
5. reknit the bottom ribbing.
6. continue with the sleeves.

Right. So it turns out I was off by a good six (!!!) inches in the circumference. Unbelievable. How can I be so far off ? Sigh. I measured my son, and added some inches of ease...but turns out this isn't enough! And yes, I did fit it as I was knitting! But still it didn't work....

So I need 2 panels, each several inches wide, that I will sew into the sides. After carefully counting the rows in the sweater body, I've determined that they need to be 107 rows tall.

In fact in a fit of brilliance (or would that be foolish laziness?) I've decided to knit a  double-wide tube that I will steek and cut into the two panels. Why? Because:
1. I knit far faster in the round
2. the sweater has been knit in the round to this point, and I need to match the gauge - my back-and-forth gauge is different because of the purling involved.
3. I'm hoping that the side seams will be less bulky (machine-steeked and cut edges seem to me less bulky than a knit edge).

So here we go...

[after machine-sewing to secure, I've cut the body of the sweater open at the sides]

[here are the two edges, ready for gusset insertion...]

OK, so I've "matressed" the gussets in place - lookin' good so far. I've not used this stitch before, but I like how it really blends in to be almost invisible.

[matress stitch blends very well]

It's more work than a running stitch, for sure, but well worth the effort.

Now that the side panels are in place, I can remove the (green) crochet provisional cast on, and knit on the bottom band, all 'round.

Then, because the top of the side panels also have live stitches, I can continue with the sleeves. I will have to go back and forth (instead of in the round) for a while, SSK/P2Tog'ing a stitch from the side panel every time I come to it, until all the side panel sts are "eaten". I do this to avoid an excess of stitches under the arm. I don't want a wider arm; just a wider body...so I have to get rid of the side panels stitches and not include them in the arm.

Stay tuned for more battles!

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