It's been a slightly rough past few days. Have you heard about this thing that happened in New York on Wednesday? It happened at 41st and Lexington. Guess where my office is – 41st and Lexington. I wasn’t there when it happened fortunately. Why? Because I woke up that morning to the sound of water gushing, through my AC and into my apartment. The wonderful news is that all of my colleagues are totally fine (yet shaken up) and while the building is a mess, our office is okay. Our office is closed indefinitely.
When I learned on Wed night that the office would be closed on Thursday, I decided that the following day would be all about Dollar and A Half Cardigan from Interweave Spring. I have been staring at this pattern since it hit the stands, but searching for the called for yarn exhausted me so I shelved it. Until now.
What you see above is a swatch. A really big swatch, that is sectioned into groups of lace by the needle size I used while trying to get the right gauge.
The immediate roadblock of this pattern (and there appear to be many) is that you need to swatch in the lace pattern. This is a bit annoying. The other thing that happened to me, and sounds like has happened to almost everyone else, is that while it lists a size 5 needle, you really needed a larger one. I swatched on a 5, a 6, a 7 and finally an 8. Even with an 8 I’m not making 4” but the lace pattern is starting to look a little too loose for me. I am going to knit with an 8.
Under normal circumstances I am never afforded the time to spend so much time on swatching but the reality is that it took only 1 day. I will spend many days and perhaps months knitting this sweater and I would rather deal with this up front. I’ve seen a lot of frogging out there. Seeing that I ended up several needles up, it was clearly a good idea.
The yarn I’m using is Misti International Alpaca Worsted in 4388. When I was at Downtown Yarns last weekend to get help on my Shopping Tunic, we spent a lot of time finding some substitutes for the Reynolds Soft Linen, called for in the pattern, and I fell in love with the feel (soft) and color (super deep brown/purple).
This pattern has received a lot of bad press, yet there are so many wonderful examples of FOs that I know it’s going to be great. While there are a lot of problems, there are also some great solutions out there. For you and me, as a reference point and a time saver, here is what I have learned so far.
Doing the gauge. As you’ll see, the lace pattern has 7 rows. If you look in the directions for the body there are two call outs that you must include in your swatch: 1 selvege stitches, and 2) the order of doing the lace pattern. Make sure when you are swatching to knit the first and last stitch.. The swatch requires 21 stitches and this incorporates the selvege stitches. The pattern itself. When I first did the swatch I knitted 1-7, which is the pattern for lace. Row 7 is the tricky row and doing it after row 6 was confusing. When you actually do the pattern for real, you will do row 7 after row 3, not 6. Basically when you swatch, follow what you’ll do in the body. I did the pattern twice plus 2 rows of stockinette in between, and got 26 rows.
Michelin Arms. If you're starting this pattern, you MUST check out the Knit-Along. You will see very quickly that when you switch from the reverse stockinette stitch to the lace pattern, the stockinette buckles and looks, well, terrible. A solution that is getting a lot of converts, and which seems to be working, is knitting the lace in one size needle, and doing the stockinette in a needle 2 sizes smaller. I just went back to buy the rest of my yarn (I wanted to swatch first) and was advised to do everything but the lace pattern in the smaller needle (doesn’t include cable). So for me, I’m going to pretty much knit everything using an 6 except for the lace pattern, which I’ll do in an 8
Row 7 of the pattern. Not easy, but once you see this, it’ll all make sense.
Decreases. I haven’t really looked at this closely but have heard it’s a nightmare. Veronik Avery has a tutorial and the knitalong has plenty of posts
Size/length. At this point all I know is that the sleeves are long.
I am really still excited about Magic Shawl, yet I simply can’t handle bulky wool with huge needles. I’ve been itching all week to knit but I need something slightly more mindless than Clementine, which is literally all lace. So now I’m happy. Heading to a friend’s lake house this weekend and will hopefully get some knitting in while I wait in line for the new Harry Potter book. That’s the price I pay for staying at said friends house – must accompany him on line.