Thursday, September 17, 2009

A funny picture, and me rambling on and on about it

Here is a picture of my version of Roam while it is being blocked:

It is almost dry and ready for seaming, but not quite, so I don't have any actual progress to report. The process of finishing, and what I am learning from it, is still on my mind while I wait.

I knew I wanted to knit this pattern by Laura Chau the minute I saw it in Knitty. And I fell in love with the yarn right away when I saw it at the Brooks Farm booth at Stitches West. So, why is it that, while I still think Roam is a great pattern, and I still love the yarn, I am at that stage where I am not so sure I am going to like my finished item in said yarn.

It currently looks like a deformed starfish, because in this pattern you have to complete the raglan seams while you still have live stitches at the top of the sleeves and the body of the sweater. Only then do you pick up and knit the hood stitches. Because of this, it made sense to me at the time to keep knitting instead of washing and blocking. However, I still wanted to block it before sewing the sleeve and side seams. The result was a large, heavy, and amorphous piece of fabric that was difficult to towel dry and lay out into the correct shape.

Lesson #1: Block pieces before seaming. Okay, this isn't anything new. But it's taken me awhile to learn it and, like a rebellious teenager, sometimes learning from my own mistakes is the only way I will follow these types of instructions. It would have been much easier to measure and pin separate pieces of the sweater and I probably would have been happier with the outcome.
I may even start blocking pieces as I knit them, which leads to my second issue.

Lesson #2: Swatching. Not only is this not anything new, I feel like I'm beating a dead horse. But I'm going to say it anyway so feel free to stop reading here. At that same Stitches convention, a friend and I took a great class from Leslye Solomon, who showed us many swatches before and after washing. It was a very effective demonstration, as there were large differences between the before and after swatches. So before beginning Roam, I dutifully knit a swatch and I even washed and blocked the swatch. But I was impatient and I only knit a couple of inches. (I was excited. I knit the swatch in the hotel room at Stitches West immediately after buying yarn from the very nice people from Brooks Farm.) Therefore as I was knitting Roam, I was expecting, and trying to account for, some stretching of the fabric after washing.
But clearly, the couple of inches I impatiently knitted for my swatch wasn't enough to inform me just how much the fabric would stretch once the weight of the full sweater affected the drape of the fabric. I think it could end up being much too long.

Will I still finish it? Yes. Will I still wear it? Probably. Will I do it differently next time?
Hopefully, but the truth is it probably depends on just how excited or impatient I am feeling that day...

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