21 August 2014

Knitting Adventures: Blue Miette

I learnt so much from making this cardigan.

First and foremost, if you consider yourself a beginner in knitting, don't deviate from the pattern. It will only cause you heartache.

I learnt this the hard way, naturally. I chose the Miette design for my first ever cardigan (and second knitting project since finishing high school - you can see my first one here), thinking that it would prove a bit of a challenge with learning new stitches and techniques, but that it would be a good first major project. Then I came across a Miette knit-along, thanks to fellow blogger Sue, and after reading through a few of the changes that Gail had made in the knit-along, felt confident to make a few of my own.

Things I learnt from making this cardigan
  • how to read a pattern, mostly (with a bit of help from my friend Google), and the meanings of
  • yo
  • kfbl
  • sm
  • m1
  • ssk
  • ktbl
  • ptbl
  • picking up stitches
  • using Double Pointed Needles (or DPN's as we call them in the biz)
  • not to do rib whilst at kids after school activities, seriously, I lose concentration so easily whilst doing ribbing
  • how to undo stuff. A lot, like, I now consider myself a bit of an expert at unknitting

Let's back up a bit though. I had planned to start this cardigan whilst on holidays for the last school holidays. One problem though - I didn't have any yarn yet. On our first day in Hobart, I thought I'd have a quick trip to Spotlight and pick something up so I could start knitting. I wanted something cream, with no acrylic content. Easy, yes? Well, no actually. The only cream that I could find in the right weight yarn didn't have enough balls of wool. Not just in the same dye lot, not at all. I'll save you all the drama, but I walked out of there about an hour later (with a flighty five year old who was shall we say, just a little bored?) with 13 balls of blue yarn (Patons "Jet"), in a wool / alpaca blend. (Ten of one dye lot, and three of another) It's really soft, and well, really blue. Not at all like the cream that I was after.

Later that afternoon: I should have taken as an omen the fact that on my third row I had already lost a stitch. I think I dropped a yarn over from the previous row. Rather than work out where, and how to fix it, I frogged it and started again, even though I hate casting on (but, as it turns out, not nearly so much as I hate binding off!) Actually, I should have wised up earlier than that when my swatch came out too tight! (More on that later though).

Here's the many ways that I came up with to have the wrong number of stitches. 
  1. Dropping a yarn over in the subsequent row
  2. Forgetting to knit into the front and back of a stitch
  3. Actually dropping a stitch (bit of a repair job needed there!)
  4. Dropping a yarn over (I know I've already listed that, but I did it more than once)
  5. The stitch just plain disappearing! Honestly, I don't know what happened to it.
I clearly still don't know all the ins and outs of reading a pattern though. On the button and neck bands, I knit a row after picking my stitches up (well, it does say to pick up and knit), but I'm thinking since my painstakingly knitting and purling into the back of stitches on my button bands is hidden on the inside of the bands, that I wasn't supposed to do this. At least I was consistent and did both button bands the same! I only noticed when I went to knit the neck band and following the instructions would have put the buttonhole on the wrong side. D'oh!

Can you see how the ribbing is different on
the button bands compared to the lower rib?
Back to my comment about tension though. I don't like tight cardigans / jumpers. I chose the size to knit based on it having zero ease. If my tension was the same as the pattern, I should have come out with 2 inches of ease. Once finished, it was really tight. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have just knit the next size up, but I was obviously thinking more about getting into the knitting than what would happen if I didn't manage to knit any looser. We live and learn.

I found it a tad difficult to try on as I was knitting, as the pattern suggests, as the 12 inch cables aren't exactly long enough to stretch around the body, so I didn't realise how tight it actually was until I went to start the sleeves. At least I was able to make the sleeves looser by adding an extra six stitches under the armpit instead of two. One of my pet hates is clothing that is too restrictive around the armpits.

As you can see from the photos however, once I blocked it, I managed to stretch it widthways, so it now has pretty much zero ease. Yay! I still think I would knit the next size up if I were to do this again though.

Alterations to pattern
  • Added 3 extra repeats in the body, on the last repeat, added four extra stitches every second row until 16 stitches were added (or in my case, 2 extra on the first to make up for losing 2, then an extra 4 , giving a total of 18!)
  • Added 30 extra rows to the sleeve length
  • Increased the number of stitches around the waist so it could flare over my hips (I actually added enough extra stitches to increase from the medium size to the large)
  • Picked up extra stitches under the armhole (6 instead of 2)
  • Knitted paired decreases down the underarm
  • Added two extra rows on the button bands, necessitating a recalculation for the buttonholes
  • Increasing the number of rows for the neck band, with the buttonhole in the centre row. 
I would have gotten away with only using the dye lot that I had 10 balls of, having approx 3 balls left over, but as I didn't know how much extra I would need to increase the length, I thought I would err on the side of caution. The staff at Spotlight suggested that I use the second dye lot to do the ribbing. You can just make out the different colour on the ribbing of the body, and button / neck bands. I did forget to change it for the sleeves though, not that it matters.

As much as it caused me constant grief whenever I found a mistake to fix, I really enjoyed making this cardigan, and I will get a lot of use out of it. I'm still on the lookout for an appropriate cream yarn, maybe to make this again, or maybe not. Anyway, my next knitting projects will be easier, I have two scarves to knit, the first of which will be the same as my first Honey Cowl, but in a beautiful black llama / silk blend, also bought on my recent Tasmanian trip.

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