I’ve learned a few things knitting this sweater. One, I can knit pretty quickly when I have a mind to do so. (See the finished sweater back here.) I also did the entire right front of the cardigan in one day.
Two, Zonta Wires are the bomb. See all of that stuff holding the knitting in place in the picture above? I could – but didn’t – pin a couple of strategic T-pins to get it to hold to the piece to its correct dimensions. More on that in a minute. Ordering information for the wires (NAYY) and related chat can be found here.
(Ooh, Matt just came downstairs modeling his wedding tux to make sure it still fit after dry cleaning and to have me adjust the tie. Lookin’ good, hubba hubba!)
Three, after knitting for seven years, I have rediscovered the Fundamental Law of Ribbing. Now we all know ribbing pulls in, that’s what it is supposed to do. Given the same yarn and needle size, thirty stitches of ribbing will be less wide than thirty stitches of stockinette, right? However, I had always held this inexplicable belief that if you wanted to, you could block ribbing into the same width as stockinette. That’s why some people use the same size needles (instead of one or two smaller) for bottom sweater edges and don’t start with 90% of the total stitches, that way, a sweater won’t hug around the posterior unattractively. Or so they said.
It’s not true.
Or, let me rephrase, at least in my hands and needles, this is not true. I added a slight rib detail (3×2 ribbing on the outer 2 inches that you totally can’t see in any of the photos) to the sides of this cardigan, originally thinking it would add a slight waist definition w/o my having to actually do decreases and increases. As I mentioned before, when I got to where the armscye bind off occurs, I decided to make the ribs a design detail and take it all the way to the top. (Yeah, racing stripes!) I thought it would be trivial to wet-block it to the correct width.
I had my first indication of a problem when I knit the shoulder section of the cardigan back. If you clicked on the picture of the finished piece, you might have noticed that there were only wires on the shoulder tabs. This is because I had to rip and reknit them after the rest of the piece was blocked. The same number of stitches in a 3×2 rib do not generate the same amount of width as the stockinette no matter what you do during a wet block. Ribbing on both sides made the sweater shrink from 18.5″ wide to 16″ wide. There’s no way on God’s green earth that I am going to fit (attractively, anyway) into a 32″ sweater. I checked the stockinette gauge a million times, and I was spot on.
So once I had realized there was all of this time and effort on a 32″ sweater, I had a most painful episode of IBS (I’ve been afflicted with a mild case of this since I was a teenager). Matt’s comment went something like, “It’s a sweater, for God’s sake. Can’t you be stressed about something important?” Uh, sorry. But then I had an inspiration! A moment of pure light.
I pulled out my iron and pressed the bejeezus out of that piece. Last night, it yielded to me (my “iron will”? ha ha) and assumed the proper dimensions. I actually like how pressed knitting looks. A lot of people feel pressing sucks the life out of knitting, but I think it adds a bit of polish to it. Anyway, I don’t know if it shrank back to its blocked dimensions overnight (gulp!), and I know it will definitely shrink the next time I wash it, so this is a strong lesson learned.
Just to make sure I wasn’t completely insane, I looked up a Rowan pattern where the front is ribbed, and the back is stockinette. Hm, cast on 86 stitches for the back, cast on 49 stitches for each front half of the cardigan. Design maven Kim Hargreaves is apparently quite aware of the fundamental law of ribbing. Damn. Well, better luck next time.