Two Steps Forward -

- one step back. But at least… a smaller step back than I feared it would be.

Yesterday I’m knitting merrily along on the tsweater, nearing the point where I can bind off the neckline steek, then cast on the front steek and then start the colorwork panels, when suddenly a couple of creeping doubts assail me, both having to do with shoulder shaping.

As I mentioned the other day, the last big epiphany on this subject came when I decided to put in the short-rowed section at the top, then shift into increase mode after that. Kinda like this:

Shoulder Shaping

So this pause yesterday hits me when I’m about an inch and a half beyond that transition point.

First off, I’m looking at the relationship between shoulder ridge and sleeve and I’m seeing way too much of a straight line. The plan calls for a sleeve that lies at a slight angle in relation to the body, not one that stretches straight out to form a ‘T’ -

Sleeve Angle

- and what I’m looking at seems way too ‘T’-like for my comfort.

Next, I’m none too happy about the increases themselves. I started out working them in pattern, which in this case pretty much meant raised bar increases worked purlwise. That would work fine in some contexts, but in this context and at this gauge it’s giving me all these nasty little holes where no holes oughta be.

Purled Increases

Taking it all in all, I’m starting to think maybe Somebody Is Trying To Tell Me that I need to frog back to the transition point, re-calculate the rate of increases, and start afresh.

Frogging an inch and a half of sock, even complex sock? Hey, no big deal. Frogging an inch and a half of deadline-driven tsweater tsupertsructure, including the establishment of all six twisty change-ringing panels? Eeek. Aaaack. Not a comfortable proposition.

I slip in a couple of extra needles and some waste yarn so I can lay the thing out properly and compare it to the muslin mock-up.

Shoulder Angle Is OK After All

Whew. That’s one part of the bullet dodged. And by the way? DUH. Of course it looked like an almost straight line from shoulder ridge to sleeve. It is an almost straight line, because the shoulder is sloped, and the sleeve pretty much continues the slope. Which is exactly what I intended.

‘Scuse me while I hit myself over the head with a large mallet and say “DUH!” again.

That still leaves the other bit of the bullet - the nastiness at the actual increase line. Times four. Not happy with the way it looks. Equally, not happy at the idea of frogging all that work just to fix those four picayune little bits.

Solution: a controlled gamble.

As you may recall, I’ve never been one to flinch at the idea of dropping back and re-knitting small sections. I figure, the corrections to be made here are small potatoes compared to some of the wacko things I’ve done in this vein.

Besides - what have I got to lose? If the small isolated fix doesn’t work the way I want it to I always have the option of falling back on Plan A and (groan) frogging back to the transition point after all. Right? Right.

I start by testing a small sample; drop back one of the nasty spots part way…

Sample Frog

… and delicately rebuild it:

Increse Test

That’s both before and after - nasty purled increases above, nice tight knitted ones below - and there’s nothing wrong with the frog/reknit results that can’t be fixed by normal blocking.

Second part of the bullet dodged. So I re-do each of the four corners in turn.

Frogged Shoulder

It takes some time, of course, but nowhere near as much as the full frog, not to mention that it doesn’t take anywhere near as much out of ME.

I’m safely past that danger point now. Finished the neckline steek last night, then moved on to build the front opening steek and start the two colorwork panels for the front opening. So here’s today’s overall progress picture:

Tsweater In Progress

You’ll notice that it isn’t being displayed on the mannequin. Reason good:

Neckline Steek, Uncut

Neckline Steek. Neckline Steek, still uncut, making the front scrunch and bunch so there’s no way the piece will drape accurately.

It’s time, of course, to cut it. And it’s time to admit that, for all my bravado about cutting steeks in swatches, there is still something a bit daunting about cutting this one in real life.


Partly, of course, because it’s irrevocable. Once I do it I will no longer have the option I faced yesterday, of frogging back a big chunk of shoulder shaping and re-working it from scratch. Which wouldn’t worry me much if I hadn’t just been so very close to doing exactly that. Which does not in fact worry me much, except for the other factor: it’s a pig in a poke. By the time I’m ready to cut the main front opening steek I will be pretty confident about the whole piece hanging right, because by then either I or Madame M. will have tried it on seven gazillion ways from Sunday, checking and quadruple-checking every possible detail of drape and fit. But the steek at this stage is a different animal, because I can’t do any of that kind of checking until after I cut it, and after I cut it there will be only so much I can do to adjust it if I find it isn’t right. Hence the pig-in-poke aspect; hence the touch of jitters.

I don’t really have any doubt that it is right now; my gut tells me it is, and all the evidence backs it up. But there’s still the structural risk, as it were. And structural risk is just reason enough to deliberate just a little longer… and to save the ceremonial cutting, and the documentation thereof, for another blog post.

Neckline steek, here I come.

See you on the other side.

11 Responses to “Two Steps Forward -”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Good luck on cutting the steek. Just jump in with your eyes closed (or maybe open, you don’t want to cut something your not supposed to). I’m glad you were able to rip back a tiny little section and not the whole thing.

  2. Angie Says:

    I always find steeks go a bit better with a wee nip beforehand. it’s a delicate balance, of course — more than a wee nip, and the results may be disasterous, but if you can keep it to a quick shot of courage, it seems to help. Or perhaps I’ll have a shot or two for you…. it makes me almost as nervous to watch someone else cut a steek!

  3. Presbytera Says:

    At least it’s not tiny leaves you’re dealing with…

    I’ll have a drink tonight for you.

  4. Ryan Says:

    Do we still get to witness the big steek? I can hear the crowd now…. *Gasp* Oooo…. ahhh….

  5. Marina Stern Says:

    I have faith in you.

  6. Sally Says:

    Oh my! I think this one is going to be just…..well, I cannot find an adjective good enough! I’m going back to my very simple baby blanket and try to find the ball of copper pennies that my cats have hidden from me - I need it to finish a sock heel. I made the somewhat risky mistake of leaving my ball of yarn on the dining room table. This morning - gone. I’m starting out on a search under all of the beds (most likely place). I can’t wait to see the BIG steek :o

  7. Sarah Says:

    I want that sweater when you are done with it, or at least the pattern/kit! Please put me on the list to buy patter/kit when it is available. I love the way you play with technique.


  8. Cathy-Cate Says:

    Bated breath here.

    I still am a steek virgin.
    I have that Delft sweater in my head, with yarn waiting for it, to design and knit, but it seems like hubris to design a steeked sweater without ever having knit one. Recipe for smackdown.
    So I need a baby steek project to try first, from a pattern, to give me confidence!

    Or maybe sometime I’ll have time to watch Meg Swansen’s video which demoes it in the process of knitting a cardigan. Virtual steek swatching. Hmm.

  9. onafixedincome Says:

    Cut and be damned!

    Cut and let God sort them out!

    Um….okay, maybe not. But still, I have faith. You CAN do this, and succeed. Even if you screw up a little. :)

  10. alwen Says:

    This is fascinating.

    It’s even more fun than watching construction machinery. Or that bobbin lace machine over at Wilhelm Rehage. ( - click on the UK flag for English and the .wmv video link towards the bottom.)

  11. Karen Says:

    This is elegant work, very well done. Thank you for letting us share in the creation and execution while sparing us the tyranny of perfection.

    Cheers, Karen

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