Notes From the Cutting Room Floor

In case you missed it… (oh look, see my tongue in my cheek there?)… I’m in the new Knitty - twice!

There’s the pattern for Darrowby, the handspun sweater I’ve been living in and with for the past couple of years now, and there’s Sheep to Sweater, a companion article on the process that produced it.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I have to admit it’s a big relief to have this baby out of the closet and free to appear in photos and blogs at last.

Overall I’m really REALLY happy with the way both pieces came out, but there’s always some bittersweet in the publishing process. Some things should be cut, and I’m glad they were and that there are grown-ups in the building to make those decisions. But there are others that are harder to let go of - especially when you know that even the grown-ups found it painful to forego them for the greater good. Luckily, the power of the secondary press belongs to whoever owns a blog, so I get to indulge.

Case in point - these pictures:

If you’ve been around the blog for a while you may recognize the model who appears in the published pattern pictures. Yes, that is none other than my dear friend Barbara, who wears the sweater brilliantly - indeed, as someone rightly remarked yesterday, she could make a paper bag look elegant. And if you aren’t deeply familiar with the photographer who took those pictures - well, I predict that is only a matter of time.

But though I love those pictures very much, they were not the only ones taken, and not the only ones I was hoping to use. Remember the Stupid Wheel Tricks 18-Ply Challenge video?

Well, Fran and her dawgs spent Thanksgiving with me, and the next day she and they and Luke and I went for a long walk on the beach.

Fun was had; camera was wielded; sweater was put through its real-life paces… and I wanted you to see.

That’s Fran’s big beautiful goofball Rainey hogging the limelight and the lap, while my Luke pretends not to care.

(Of course Luke DOES care; he cares very much.)

But Rainey is a ham; he and the camera love each other.

Rainey’s aunt, Indy, is a little more laid-back about the whole thing - but she’s just as scenic.

And speaking of scenic… well, that’s Gilgo for you.

(Oh dear, I just realized how totally I am channeling my mother in that picture. Cookie, vade retro.)

Luke got his moment in the fading afternoon sun a couple of days later:

And there was some artsy playing around with the sculptural qualities of the cables:

On another front - I wanted to show you a couple of close-ups of the clasp that was designed to go with the sweater. Leslie Wind made (and named) these gorgeous things specially for Darrowby, shaping them to echo the diamond figure in the cable.

See how clever? I love the way there’s no pin to lose, and the way the hooks are designed to grip the fabric without snagging it or getting lost in it.


On a more practical note… the original draft of the pattern included a couple of other items that really HAD to be cut for length but that I think may be useful to some people. So again I am glad I can invoke the power of the secondary press.

First, some ruminations on steeking - pros and cons, whys and wherefores, etc. You’ve probably heard me rant about this before, in the context of Fronkenshteek, but I’ve never been one to let that stop me. The really important point is that the sweater does not HAVE to be steeked; I did it as a matter of convenience, but my test knitter did not. For what it’s worth, here’s the Spiel on that subject:

Look, I know I can’t actually MAKE you steek this sweater if you prefer not to - I have to admit there’s no reason you couldn’t work the whole body flat. That said, I did choose to steek it because the back is all stockinette, and so is most of the body. And I’m glad I did. I don’t at all mind purling, within reason, but vast expanses of purling are not my idea of a good time, even in relatively mindless knitting. So I started a four-stitch steek at the base of the neckline, so that I could work in the round from that point forward; that being how I made it, that is how I have written it. (You could, of course, run a steek ALL the way down the neckline, but you’d have to be VERY confident about the fit of the shoulders. Even I am not quite that foolhardy.)

If you fear the cutting of the steek - particularly if you fear the cutting of your precious handspun - consider this. Yes, it is important to be very sure that the fit is correct before you put scissors to fabric. The cut is after all irrevocable, and in that regard it is wise to treat the steek with a certain amount of respect. BUT… if your concern is about cut edges raveling… I’m here to tell you, they won’t. They just won’t. Knitting obeys the laws of physics and gravity. It does not WANT to unravel sideways. If you’ve ever used a row of waste yarn to create an opening for a thumb or a peasant heel, you know how difficult and fiddly it is to remove that waste yarn. The principle is the same. Knitted fabric is vulnerable in the vertical plane, and it will happily run away downward if you drop the stitches that hold it up; but its strands have no incentive at all to run sideways if you cut them. I know a lot of people advocate securing the edges before cutting, with a line of crochet or backstitch or even machine stitching. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that if it bolsters your confidence, but I have to say that I have never reinforced a steek in my life - and I’ve never had a raveled-steek disaster of any kind. Here endeth the lesson.

The other item is an aerial schematic of the superstructure. I have done my level best (said best immeasurably enhanced with the sane yet merry assistance of SuperTechEditor Kate Atherley) to make the sequence clear, but if you’re trying to visualize it there is only so much that words can do, and a picture is worth well over a thousand of them. So I made this roadmap:

… and you can download a bigger version in PDF here.

I was going to go on here to pontificate philosophically about another subject dear to my heart, that of one-piece top-down construction, but… nah, this is enough blather for now. Maybe some other time. Right now I’m cold; gonna go put on a sweater.

Edit: Sorry about the bad PDF link earlier - wrong filename. Derp. Is fixed now.

9 Responses to “Notes From the Cutting Room Floor”

  1. ProgrammerAtArms Says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post (and the associated articles) to appear. I’m not disappointed. And while those are good pictures of you on the beach, my favorite picture is the one in knitty of you surrounded by mounds of fleece.

  2. Lynne in Florida Says:

    Teh linkie to teh roadmap haz an ooops.

    I shall be working Darrowby soonish - like after the holidays. That is one gorgeous sweater! I like these pictures, too. They show off the sweater in real life settings, so one can truly appreciate the livability of it. It looks like it can only improve with age.

    And glad to see Luke recovered from his broken elbow!

  3. Meg Caulmare Says:

    Beautiful work, Lisa, but that’s par for you. I loved reading Sheep to Sweater! Made my spinner-ly heart yearn for a pile of locks, and here I am, stuck at the office, wtih no chance for a wallow in wool. Every so often I blush over my collection of fleeces, then an idea pops up, or a design like yours grabs my attention, and I’m thrilled all over again that there’s a beautifully long-stapled variegated grey Romney fleece in a bag in my front bedroom (or the long-stapled, silky soft black Romney next to it; or the next one down, the cushy, springy Jacob; or the copper-brown Bond from Colorado…). :) I will never understand the supposed thrills of jewels, rare cars, or yachts, but a once-in-a-lifetime fleece? I get that.

    Another good point about cycling through fleece prep jobs and spinning: helps to prevent repetitive motion injuries in the hands, wrists, elbows, even shoulders - wherever one might be vulnerable.

    I’m really impressed with your consistency in spinning!

    Please do keep writing and designing.

  4. Tina M. Says:

    Woman, I want you to know that your sweater is the ONLY pattern that made my heart go pitter pat this issue! I am so very proud of you!

    And the fact that you included sizing for someone like me? Words cannot express my thanks adequately.

  5. Lolly Says:

    This sweater is beautiful! I love seeing it in action.

  6. veriton Says:

    That’s a wonderful sweater!! If I manage to knit it one day I know I’ll wear the heck out of it, seems so comfy and yet very very stylish, I love it!
    Also I fell in love with the picture of you, the sky and your shadow, the colours are AMAZING

  7. NancyW Says:

    This sweater is stunning! It’s my next sweater - casting on after the first of the year. Thanks so much.

  8. Barbara Wood Says:

    I have been looking for this type of sweater for years. I usually design my own, but this looks perfectly cuddlely as is. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Carol Nichols Says:

    The sweater is beautiful and so is the love the Fran weaves into the fibers of her precious Rainey & Indy. Thanks for posting, sharing and being my friend Fran.

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