Saturday, March 24, 2012

Na Craga Cardigan: Part I

This is the saga of a sweater that started off beautifully, but when finished was much too big. The sad part of the story is that the end result could easily have been prevented, with more accurate measurements and/or with more fittings as it was knit.

I hadn't planned to knit Na Craga this year; I intended to knit Ms. Starmore's Eriskay and Norfolk sweaters. But two of my Ravelry groups started Na Craga knit-alongs in January: one group knitting it bottom-up, as Ms. Starmore intended, the other knitting it top-down, using Janet Szabo's FLAK-style method. I chose to knit the sweater top-down for two reasons: 1) I've wanted to learn that method for a while, and 2) several people in the group were planning to knit cardigans, which was what I wanted to knit.

For any well-fitting garment, swatching is essential. While knitting my swatches---I ended up knitting four---I decided to modify some of patterns used in the sweater. Each time I did, I had to knit another swatch. The photo (above) shows my last two swatches. On the bottom, the four patterns on the right are the patterns Ms. Starmore used, while the two on the left are others I considered substituting. On the top half of the swatch are the patterns I ended up using, plus two others I considered but didn't use.

On the bottom, the pattern on the far right, the moss stitch and ladder combination, was Ms. Starmore's filler stitch; I used the seed stitch pattern on the far left instead. The second pattern from the right on the bottom was an eight-stitch braided cable with two purl stitches on either side; I used the eleven-stitch hoofprint pattern above it instead. I used the flying-geese pattern for the center panel of the sweater, just as Ms. Starmore intended. Instead of the honeycomb pattern (third from left on the bottom) I used a ten-stitch braided cable with two purl stitches on either side (third from left on top).

Another essential for a well-fitting garment is accurate measurements. This, I realized after the fact, was where my well-crafted plan began falling apart. My husband measured me. DLSH is a wonderful man, but not particularly obsessive about details. In this case, I discovered afterwards, his cross-shoulder measurement was two inches too big, and his neck opening measurement was one inch too big. But I didn't know that until the sweater was finished, so with the measurements he'd taken, I launched into knitting the saddles (shoulder section) of the sweater.

Once the saddles were knit, I picked up and knit the stitches along the back edge of one saddle, cast on stitches for the back neck edge, then picked up and knit the stitches along the back edge of the other saddle. Once I set up the pattern, I started knitting down the back, as shown below.

I tried the sweater on at this point. Although the neck opening seemed large, which, of course, it was without the neckband, the width of the saddles spanned my shoulders perfectly. Blissfully ignorant, I knit on.

The color of the yarn varies in these photographs, due to variations in ambient lighting conditions. The color of the yarn in the bottom photo is the most accurate.

The next installment of this saga will appear in a few days.


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