The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part Five
For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
For the first part of this adventure, click here.
We now resume the knitting of a new sweater for Rosamund–this is Rosamund–
which has been by far the longest-running “Fridays with Franklin” adventure to date.
We’re nearing the end, though. Take a look at what finally popped offa my needles.
Is it a dog sweater? Or did some demented worm from outer space shed a cocoon on my work table?
I know. It’s a lousy photo. But it was so late, y’all. So late. You should see what I looked like at that hour. No, you shouldn’t.
You may remember I was so dubious about this stitch pattern that I didn’t bother to measure my first swatch before ripping it out. Just my luck that most of you voted to make it the basis of the sweater.
I had to grit my teeth to get past the ugly duckling stage. Most knitting projects have one, have you noticed? It’s a point at which you are well begun, with a several inches complete, and you suddenly feel with sick certainty that the finished project won’t be worth the bother.
I mean, look at this. Bleah.
Now, I teach motif design to knitters. I stand in front of every class and say the same thing: don’t judge your fabric until there’s enough there to judge it fairly. A repeating motif will almost never show itself to advantage until you let it repeat, and repeat, and repeat. That’s where you find the power, the beauty, and the interest. Maybe I should listen to myself.
That simple square, multiplied
becomes something greater. I need to put the sweater on Rosamund to make the final call, but I can say with certainty that I’m happy to have worked with the more unusual motif. It doesn’t look like something I’ve seen a million times before. It sure doesn’t look like something I’ve made a million times before–and that alone is worth the time spent.
Rosamund’s last sweater had only a tiny bit of short-rowing to make the top longer than the bottom. This time, I wanted to be sure to give her back more coverage with a much extended tail, as in the sketch.
I could have done that by working in the round to the back flap, then working the flap itself (including the shaping) flat. Many patterns for the “shirt-tail” sweaters that become popular now and again do just that.
The potential problem is that most knitters (myself included) will find that even with the same needles and yarn, their flat gauge differs significantly from their circular gauge. More than likely, the fabric of the tail wouldn’t have matched the body unless I took the time to mess around with different needle sizes, and that’s annoying.
Also annoying? Purling wrong side rows in stranded color work. Can I do it? Yes I can. Do I enjoy it? No I do not. Is life too short to spend it knitting stuff you don’t want to knit? Yes it is.
So, seeing as I already had two steeks in this thing–one for each leg hole–why not add a third? When I reached the beginning of the tail, I put the live stitches for the lower (tummy) half of the sweater on a piece of scrap yarn,
and then used a simple backward loop to cast on a bridge of seven stitches
to form the basis of the steek that, when cut open, would allow the tail to lie flat.
(For more on steeks and how they’re constructed, click back to The Adventure of the Warm Puppy, Part Three.)
With the bridge in place, I could keep knitting in the round, decreasing as desired on either side of the bridge to shape the flap.
Of course, the knitting itself starts to look bizarre. This, however, is temporary. It’s also an asset if you’re the sort of show-off knitter who likes confused strangers to come over and ask what the hell you’re making.
What’s left now is the cutting, the fitting, and the finishing.
The fitting, of course, can’t happen until after the cutting–and there, I must admit, lies the rub in working with steeks. Because you can measure and measure and measure again–and I did–but you can’t really try the thing on before you cut. And while cutting isn’t difficult, un-cutting rather is.
So I’m off to get the scissors. I invite you please to stop by again in two weeks. And then, oh then, I do hope we will have sewn this puppy up. So to speak.
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Simpliworsted by Hikoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 033, Red Hat Purple; and 013, Violette.
addi® Turbo 16-inch circular needle
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has was brought out by Soho Publishing in May, 2016 and is in its second printing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters
at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has
been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue
Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and
the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News,Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.
He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon,
one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average
day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays,
cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.
Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with
15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of
yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.