I've been consumed by work for the last few weeks, so I'm always a bit surprised when I've delivered the laster proofs (7 pounds of them!) to the FedEx guy and I take a look around at the shambles of my life.
But I'm ready, now, to face what needs to be done.
Time for a major operation on the Celtic Knot Cardigan. If you get squeemish during Nip/Tuck, you might want to look away. Because this is not simple cosmetic procedure, here--we are talking lung/heart transplant emergency surgery.
And yes, the tough-love intervention involved scissors.
So, to start with: what was the problem?
The Celtic Knot Cardigan is a bottom-up yoke sweater knit in the round following Elizabeth Zimmermann's percentage system as revised by Meg Swansen in The Opinionated Knitter. I've made several of these before, and the shaping has worked well for me. So I was quite unprepared for the ugliness that the mirror exposed when I tried the sweater on after steeking. It was quite lumpy at the shoulders, and it quite simply did not fit.
Not that I allowed reality to intrude. No, sir--I maintain a strong belief that blocking will solve a multitude of sins (in the recovery community, this is known as "denial"). But as I was grafting the underarm stitches, I got to thinking: I'm grafting the 15 underarm stitches. Hmm, 15 stitches. The underarms usually have about 8%-10% of the body stitches. This is a large sweater in Shetland jumperweight wool at around 7 stitches per inch. I'm pretty sure there are more than 150 stitches in the body. Hmm. Hmmmm. Hmmmmdddaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmm! There are 299 stitches around on this sweater. 10% would be in the 29 stitch region. Aughhghhh. I had set aside 10% TOTAL--5% under each arm rather than 10% at each point.
Here's how one little error multiplies itself through the yoke decreases:
So, here's how I approached the fix. First, I located the row of stitches that united the sleeves and body.I then marked on the back where the underarm stitches should have been (I had 15 stitches, centered, therefore I had 7 stitches to either side of the center point when I should have had 13, so I counted out 6 more stitches from the existing underarm stitches). Here are the original 15 stitches--I removed the grafting stitches and am about to locate the appropriate place to mark on the back:
I snipped a stitch near the existing underarm and began pulling out that row in both directions--up to the marked stitch on the back and across the front to the cut steek. This is actually kind of fun, when you get over the fact that you are ripping up your very own knitting. When the ravelled yarn got cumbersome, I snipped it and started again. No need to try to save the yarn--that would be straying into martyr territory.
Note that the sleeves are once again separate from the body. I then treated the sweater the same way I would if I had been assembling it for the first time. I set aside the underarm stitches on green yarn (27, this time, because I CAN learn from experience! Plus, I've checked the math many, many times....):
Then I began grafting together (or Kitchenering, if you prefer that term) the sleeve stitches to the yoke stitches until all the sleeve stitches were gone--and then I merrily grafted the body stitches to the yoke stitches--In other words, I re-created the row of stitches that originally connected the body and the sleeves. I did the grafting in two steps: first, the Frankenstein step, in which I use a blunt-tipped grafting needle to make big, sloppy stitches, only grafting about 30 stitches or so.
The second step is to go back over this mess with a double-pointed needle, working outward from the center of the graft, artistically tugging the yarn to make each stitch as like the ones above and below it that eagle-eyed, critical knitters can't see where the graft is.
When this was done, I had some extra yoke stitches:
I will now cut off the excess fabric and get on with the button band.
Whew, I need a massage. I can't kid you, my shoulders did get rather tense through this entire process! But it didn't take all that long, expecially when I think about how long it took to knit the yoke....