Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Celtic Critter Cardigan: Math Sucks

Celtic Critter Cardigan back swatch But I believe I've expressed my views on that point in the past?

During each of the three times I've sat down to design my own sweater I have at some point asked myself, "Why? There are so many lovely sweater patterns in the world already. Why not just make one of those?"

And I never have a good answer. ("Because I can," doesn't count.) Oh, sure, they might not be quite like what I had in mind, but they are perfectly fine.

This is the conversation I had with myself over the weekend when I tried to squeeze in some yarn time when I wasn't abusing our plant life.

Stitch Count Explosion
Part of the problem is the way these cables I've selected are constructed.

I don't know if you could really tell in those other pictures, but they aren't like normal cables. they don't start politely at the hem and march up the sweater.

No, they have cleverly placed increases so they spring out of nowhere, snake up the sweater, and then decrease to disappear again.

This means that your stitch count explodes from 216 to 416. wheeee!

Oh, have I mentioned I plan to work it in one piece to the armholes? That is why the number is so high.

Actually, it took me an effort to get to 216. Originally I had 220, just based on the st st gauge. Since I wasn't sure how many repeats that would be, or how they would fall out, I went ahead and cast on and worked the first two rows of the pattern. It may have taken awhile, but I think it was quicker than trying to draw out a chart would have been.

Turns out the cables didn't break nicely around the "side seams." However, seeing it like that allowed me to quickly see how many stitches to increase or decrease to adjust it. With the 216 each side seam lands plunk in the middle of a repeat, which will play in nicely into the side cables.

And it is those side cables, along with the cables along the front opening, that are causing my math issues.

Just Ignore It
Originally I thought, "Oh, sure my stitch count doubles for the cables, but it will go back down when they end."

I thought I would just ignore the extra stitches. Remove the 28 rows and 3 1/2 inches for the bottom hem from my calculations and move ahead.

Then I realized I can't ignore them because some of the cables, and their extra stitches, are continuing up the cardigan. argh! That's what I get for being so clever.

My sweater will increase by 32 stitches (if my quick math just now was correct). To complicate things, 8 of those stitches will disappear shortly before the underarm shaping occurs.

And then, because I'm terribly clever, they will reappear on the front after the armhole shaping starts so the side cables can join up with them and the whole mess can go up the shoulder.

(oh, it's going to be a work of magnificence and beauty, if I ever get it knit and I don't run out of yarn.)

So Ignoring Is Out?
Part of me still wants to ignore the extra stitches and do the math on the base st st gauge. How far off will it be, right? The cables draw in (a little), the fit should be close to the goal. I am making it over sized so I can wear it over things.

However, it occurs to me that if I have fake numbers like that and then have to count my stitches to correct a mistake I'll never know whether or not I'm right.


I'm going to do my best to come up with real numbers. I'm going to figure out where these little stitch explosions occur and plan accordingly. And I'm going to figure out the row counts so I can plan for the cables to disappear in pleasing places. Finally, I'm going to work the decreases two stitches in from the cables, since I'm going to have cables where the decreases would normally go (see? clever.), to try to keep the shaping correct.

But I tell you one thing I'm not going to do.

I'm not going to account for the extra stitches from the back motif.

Screw 'em. The motif is only 5 inches tall. Those extra stitches aren't hanging around long anyway.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not great at designing on paper--I like to see it on the needles. But what you're doing would make me crazy. It wouldn't take much though. This really will be a work of art.