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PROGRESS - my crochet project log

Gray Fair Isles long-sleeved V-neck Pull-over

Dec 2005knitacrylic/wool< $10mediumyes

Another big time learning experience! You don't have to look too closely to find imperfections, but overall, I'd call myself pleased with the progress. And the comfiness. In no particular order, here's what I learned:

  • Stockinette in the round is *fast*. But the speed is a double-edge sword, as I soon discovered that if I didn't pay attention to my tension, I could very easily let my guage wander rather looser than the back-and-forth stockinette portions. With the accompanyting over-large-ness. argh.
  • Still don't have a good handle on how much knit fabric stretches! I'm always afraid I'll make something too small, but not even close so far. Need to err on the other side!
  • mmm, wool-ease.
  • stepping up the needle-size for fair isle bands attached to seas of stockinette is a good idea.
  • Two-circ-magic-circle-method-sleeves do eventually get easier. Still clunky. Next time, use a circ needle size you can find matching dpns for locally! Dpns will be easier, maybe? I'm hoping that with practice, anyway...

So yes, I actually knitted the better portion of this sweater twice. The first time, I realized about 6-9 inches in that it was really going to be too large, since the part that was supposed to be the waist looked quite fetching when scootched up to chest level. But instead of ripping it out like a reasonable person, I just stopped increasing so that I got a sort of A-line shape. Which, when tugged just so didn't look terrible, but still, not quite what I wanted. Also, I wasn't very pleased with how my little secondary fair isle borders looked, and with the way the more dense fair isle band pulled the sweater in for that charming tire-around-the-waist look. Also the neck was a bit small and high for my taste, and I was on the fence about doing the neck edging in the contrast color. Here's what it looked like:

Of course, having just spent a week on the project, I was in no mood to turn around and rip it out, so I decided to just start on the sleeves and think on it. I had bought 5 skeins of the dark gray wool-ease, and when I finished with the sleeves, I found I still had 2 untouched. So I decided to just redo the body completely, and only rip out the first one if I needed more yarn to finish (which I didn't). I will use it later to practice my steeking with limited psychological trauma, I think. Anyway, here's a comparison of the first version (without the sleeves, on the left) verses the second version (finished, on right)

It's still a little big around the hips/waist in comparison to how it fits around the chest/shoulders/arms. Next time I will decrease them even more, though I'm reasonably satisfied with the fit as is. I am however curious as to how much time/yarn I can squeeze this down too and still have a not-over-stretched body. On my first try, a skein got me 10 inches up from the bottom hem. On the second try, 12". Can I do the entire body with one skein? My frugal heart is dying to find out.

The fair isle chart comes from Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting (which btw, I did *not* pay zee big bucks for. $135? $150 *$195*? Geez! Try $2.50. I should really check the going value on all my ancient bought-'em cheap crafting books! Except that I don't want to part with any of them. ) though I'm sure it's nothing that doesn't show up everywhere fair isle patterns are mentioned.

As far as the sweater pattern goes, I had in mind a generic V-neck sweater out of wool-ease and my new size 9 circs, and then set off to find a pattern for something that matched my idea of what an essential V-neck sweater should be shaped like. The closest I could find was Magknit's Alice. I was getting a guage of 4st/inch, so I just used that pattern as a very loose guideline to tell me basically in what order I should proceed and what sort of things I should be doing (decreasing on either side of the side "seams" for example). By the second time around, I was pretty much flying on my own.

To try to determine what to cast on and what decreases/increases to do the second time, I measured myself every 3 inches over the course of the 15 inches between bottom of arm-sycthe to hip level, and then tried to guess what size the fabric should be so that it would like nicely (ie, looser than my actual measurement around the waist, a little tighter on the hip, etc). Must do a better job guessing next time. But here's what I went with:

Based on the differences in inches at the measured points, I figured out how many decreases/increased I need to do to make that happen, and then spaced that over the available height (bolder lines indicate the change row).

A quick pinching of the existing sweater tells me at this guage I can drop 24 stitches from the initial cast on and still have a good fit at the bottom. I doubt I can stand to lose that many from the bust line, however, so I guess I'll be figuring out the middle decreases all over again. Ah well, I guess I'll take whatever excuse I can get to buy more yarn and try again!

Below are my notes to self from the second time through. I doubt they'll make much sense to anyone else, even if you just happen to be my size, but they're definitely going to be helpful to me sooner or later, so here they are archived for posterity.

Body (2nd try)

15"30 inches knit/ 34 meFair isle band120 stitches
12"30 inches knit/ 31 me
9"27 inches knit/ 27 meribs108 stitches
6"26 inches knit/ 26 mewaist104 stitches
3"29 inches knit/ 32 meRibbing band116 stitches
0"29 inches knit/ 35 me

cast on 116; do 3x1 ribbing for 16 rows. Make a couple of rows somewhere in there light gray.

[every 5th row, decrease by 4 stitches ] X 3

work 20 rows even, then increase 4 stitches on the following row

[every 5th row, increase by 4 stitches ] X 3

Work fair isle pattern over 16 rows

16 6 5 4 3 2 1
15 6 5 4 3 2 1
14 6 5 4 3 2 1
13 6 5 4 3 2 1
12 6 5 4 3 2 1
11 6 5 4 3 2 1
10 6 5 4 3 2 1
9 6 5 4 3 2 1
8 6 5 4 3 2 1
7 6 5 4 3 2 1
6 6 5 4 3 2 1
5 6 5 4 3 2 1
4 6 5 4 3 2 1
3 6 5 4 3 2 1
2 6 5 4 3 2 1
1 6 5 4 3 2 1

Shoulders (2nd try)

Cast off 4, knit across chest to other armpit, turn, cast off 4, purl back

put back stitches on stitch holder.

Cast off 2, knit across, turn, cast off 2, purl back

knit half way across. put next stitch on paperclip, turn and purl back add remaining stitches to a stitch holder.

[k1, ssk, k to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1; purl back] X 2

[k across, purl back] X 1

[k to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1; purl back] X 5

[k across, purl back] X 2

cast off 4 at the beginning of each of the next 3 RS rows; cast off remaining


cast on 24; do 3x1 ribbing for 17 rows

[every 7th row, increase by 2 stithces] x 9

work 25 rows even

cast off 4, knit to the end, turn, cast off 4, purl to the end, turn

cast off 2, knit to the end, turn, cast off 2, purl to the end, turn

[every other row, decrease by 2 stitches] x 4

[every 4th, decrease by 2 stitches] x 1

[every other row, decrease by 2 stitches] x 4

cast off 1, knit to the end, turn, cast off 1, purl to the end, turn

cast off 2, knit to the end, turn, cast off 2, purl to the end, turn

cast off remaining stitches

usage notes

1 skein woolease: approx 6888 stitches. Body took about 1.5 skeins. Sleeves took about 0.75 skein each. Body + 2 sleeves = 3 skeins. Light gray, less than half a skein. Size 9 circs for body/sleeves, size 10.5 circs for fair isle band. guage: approx 4 st/in, 5-5.5 rows/inch.