Sunday, August 16, 2015

Stretching

Remember my big realization that my blue Bartlettyarns CustomFit sweater didn’t fit perfectly because my measurements were off? One of my goals was to fix the problem this summer, before beginning another big sweater project. All I wanted to do was add 2” to the sleeve length. Here is the original sweater:blue2 I was prepared to rip the entire thing apart, reknit the sleeves, and reseam it… but I was also interested in avoiding that if possible. The thought of undoing all my seams was daunting.

The sleeves were cast on at the cuff and knit up, so I knew it would not be simple to cut off the CO edge, pick up stitches, and knit down. If you knit in the opposite direction, your stitches are half a stitch off. Plus, the entire sleeve is knit in 2x2 rib, which makes the situation trickier than if it were stockinette.

Still, I tried. I cast on and knit some 2x2 rib. Then I cut my knitting, picked up the stitches, and knit down in 2x2 rib. Here you can see the CO part that I cut off at the bottom. The top is bound off at both edges. Look carefully in the middle – do you see the half stitch “jog”?IMG_8338 I thought it was too noticeable. Also, the fabric was much less stretchy right there. I didn’t like it.

So I went to Plan B: grafting. I thought that if I kitchenered two live edges together, it might look seamless… just like the toe of a sock looks seamless. But with the toe of a sock, all the live stitches were knit from the same direction. In my scenario, we were still dealing with stitches coming from different directions – PLUS the rib issue. I know it’s possible to graft in rib, but it’s weird and hard. I found some instructions and tried it, but I think it is self-evident why I rejected this solution: IMG_8344 At this point, I did some googling to gather more ideas. One writer recommended picking up stitches just above the CO edge (rather than cutting a thread and unraveling to get live stitches), then knitting down. Rather than making a whole new swatch, I just tried that technique with the Plan B swatch (which had a CO edge at the bottom). You can see that the 2x2 rib columns line up better, but there is still a really obvious line and it is a very inflexible line of stitching. Rejected!

IMG_8345

I googled some more. Somewhere I read that to disguise the half-stitch offset, you switch from stockinette to rib on a cuff. This wouldn’t work for me since my sleeve wasn’t stockinette. But it also suggested that if your main fabric was rib, try transitioning to another rib. And that, Plan D, was what I did.

First, I unseamed the cuff of the sleeve for 6” or so. The sleeve was knit flat, and the fix was also knit flat. It was a little tight to work with but doable:IMG_8348

Then I cut my knitting, picked up live stitches, and started knitting in 1x1 rib instead of 2x2. I auditioned many “stretchy” bindoffs, since I didn’t want the cuff to feel tight. (Leslie Ann Bestor’s Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods is a great resource – there is a whole chapter on “stretchy”).The one that worked best in this case was the Lace Bind Off. Here is how the cuffs look now:

IMG_8366

If anything, the sleeves are now just a smidge too long… but I can live with that. I do still need to find an appropriate collared shirt to wear under the sweater. This Bartlett wool is NOT soft!

Whew! Now I can entertain thoughts of my next sweater project. I’ve been swatching…

4 comments:

Kristen Eyssell said...

That looks just GREAT!

Sharon said...

Knitting genius. I would have just set the whole thing on fire in the backyard.

Steven said...

I love how you thought through this. Perfect solution!

Vicki said...

I'm with Sharon.