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Brewer Burns

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Things that No One Tells You...

January 27, 2006
Fair Isle 101 Pullover: The Series
Installment One: Proof of an LYS Conspiracy Against Me or The Top Ten Reasons Why I Bastardized a Perfectly Good Pattern

My current WIP is the Fair Isle 101 Pullover from the Fall IK. I picked this pattern for several reasons. Since this will be my first knitted sweater project, I was intrigued by the fact that it has fairly minimal shaping, which is good on two fronts. First, I will only be required to execute fairly minimal shaping techniques (no short rows, weird cable thingies, etc.) and I won’t have to worry too much about picking the wrong size. In addition, the pattern is basic but not boring in that it has the fair isle, and I have successfully completed a fair isle project (or three) in the past. Lastly, the yarn called for in the pattern is reasonably priced and I thought that it would be practical in that I could totally wear it over a pin-striped dressy shirt with black slacks and look pretty cute. Unfortunately my well-laid plan started to unravel as soon as I committed to a pattern and committed to knitting the pattern exactly as written, using all of the prescribed materials.

To Wit: (and yes I am allowed to use that phrase; I am a lawyer after all) I could not find enough balls of one color of the yarn called for in the pattern to make up the body of the sweater (Dale of Norway, Helios.) Now, I admit that it was close. There were as many as seven of the Helios in black. But not the eight I needed. Admittedly, I did not ask if they had more of one color in the back. In hindsight, I should have. But I was feeling too shy and out of place to do it, so I didn’t. Anyway, I decided that the only way to deal with this problem was to change yarns entirely. After looking at all of the "practical" and classic yarns in the store I finally found what I thought would be a pretty good substitute in three hanks of Mountain Colors Weaver’s Quarters, 100% wool, 350 yards per hank, colorway: Juniper. That’s right, a variegated yarn (make a mental note, it will be important later.) A lovely mix of blue, black, green, brown and gray. In fact, it totally reminds me of the fir trees in my front yard. I did compare the weight and appearance of the Mountain Colors with the Helios in the store, and they seemed to about equal in weight and scritchiness (you know, the roughness of the wooliness of the yarn.)
So, I bring the yarn home. After knitting up a very small test swatch, which I immediately rip out once I’ve calculated gauge, my first problem comes to light. The gauge is just slightly different. ½ stitch more per inch and one row more per inch. I figure that’s fine. I can work with that. Recalculate. Whatever. I’d just rewrite the pattern for the new gauge. So I did. At least up to the end of the front of the sweater. But anyway.

After realizing that the gauge "issue" may effect the "yardage" required (really, we don’t need to talk in real words here, do we?) I decided to banish all worries about whether I have enough yarn to the back of my mind and then way down deep in my belly, past the heart, past the stomach, to the depths of my intestines where it can fester and burn like an ulcer. Which is why, for the duration of the project I will continue to have a niggling worry about a possible yarn shortage until I have either a) seamed the last seam and declared it "done" or b) actually run out of yarn and substituted cap or three-quarter sleeves (depending on the degree of yarn shortage.) But I’m ignoring that right now. That, and the fact that I have never in my life constructed a sleeve, let alone a substituted sleeve (see how it works? Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.)

Next, as you may have guessed from the variegated yarn choice and the lack of a contrasting yarn purchase, I decided not to do the fair isle. I didn’t want to buy more yarn (I’m a dumbass, see immediately preceding paragraph) after already spending my grocery money on the Mountain Colors and I didn’t think fair isle was the way to go with a variegated yarn anyway. Instead I subbed in the Embossed Leaf pattern from the Embossed Leaf Sock, also in the Fall IK, and worked three repeats of it above the ribbing, where the fair isle would have been. All of this went fairly :) smoothly, unless you count the four (or five?) times I ripped out the entire thing because: I had twice twisted the stitches when I joined together to work in the round, once cast on the wrong number of stitches, once fucked up the ribbing so that I purled some of the knits and knit some of the purls (seriously, it’s K1, P1 ribbing, how pathetic is it that I had such a hard time getting that right?), and once forgot to put in the "increase row" before starting the embossed leaf pattern so that I was halfway through the first repeat before I remembered. Then in true Libra with Gemini rising fashion I didn’t rip back to put that row in where it goes, but instead decided that I would rather half-ass it and put the increases in the middle of the embossed leaf pattern. Gee, I wonder why that didn’t work?

Now, I’m not only worried that the gauge problem might result in a huge problem of NOT ENOUGH FUCKING EXPENSIVE ASS YARN* but taking out the fair isle and subbing in a pattern which uses the main color instead of contrasting color for three inches will also result in REALLY NOT ENOUGH FUCKING EXPENSIVE ASS YARN WHICH THE LYS HAS NO MORE OF (last time I looked anyway.) This may end up being less productive and more learning experience. Stay tuned.

*I would just like to say that I love the Mountain Colors.

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