Saturday, January 30, 2016

BO or Be careful what you wish for

I wanted to make this pattern the first time I saw it. Because of the ribbing. I love, love, love sweaters with ribbing so much that I even buy them in stores sometimes. Normally, since I make sweaters myself, I don’t buy them – it seems silly and would devaluate all the time and effort (not to mention money) I invest into my knitting. Yet, if I see ribs – it is an obsession, I can’t help it… I like the look of knitted ribs  – slick, simple, and classy.
The pictures of Michelle Wang’s patterns most of the time are very impressive (in my opinion). Not this one. It seems rather heavy and too oversized for a slender model who doesn’t look particularly happy drowning in this huge dark sweater and big shapeless pants.  Yet, this pattern has an unusual and interesting construction, nice delicious ribbing with decreases, bat-wing shape. If made out of lighter (in weight and color) yarn it could be rather flattering to any body type.

(If you are wandering what is this red thing on my project – it is a kitchen timer. Why did I put it there? Because I like it very much – its shape and color! And I think it looks good with grey!)
I found in my stash about 14 balls of Fanion, 100 % cotton, with 149 yds in a ball. Bo requires 11 or 12 balls, 142 yds each, for two smallest size. I bought this yarn from Phildar Internet shop years ago, when I WAS buying yarn and magazine from Phildar. I used to love their patterns. I stopped doing it. Why? Terrible customer service. Like really TERRIBLE. And I can speak and write in French. Anyway, the yarn was dirt cheap at the time, so I bought quite a lot. Now I could finally use it.

The construction of this sweater is rather unusual. You make a central panel, then – pick up 129 sts and rib at nauseam. First you rib the right batwing, then – the left one. Then you make another central panel and keep ribbing. The fact that I used needles size 2.00 and 3.25 mm (0 and 3 in US size) and I knit purls and knits alike through the back loop (because it looks better – neater and more even – this way) didn’t make my life easier. I don’t remember when I was so bored with a knitting project for the last time. It is not like you can zone out, watch TV, or listen to a book. I tried. You’ve got to pay attention. There are decreases every 10th row on one side, and other decreases every 4th row on another side and, if you forget about them, you’ve got to unravel the whole row. I cannot tell you how many times I had to reknit a row or two because I’d forget to make a decrease. I got really frustrated with this one. Some days I even didn’t knit at all, just couldn’t pick up my needles – which doesn’t happen to me often.

I made the second smallest size. The directions say that on the side you have to rib for 6.25” from pick-up row. I made only 5,5”.  I also made the sleeve shorter (I have short hands and always make sleeves shorter). I was using 2.0 mm (0 US size) needles for the last 20 rows of the sleeves.
When you are done with two main parts, you have to seam front and back together along sleeve tops, pick up stitches for the collar and start ribbing again. Instead of 2.5” of ribbing I did only 2”. It seemed plenty to me, and I was afraid that my big head wouldn’t get through the opening.  At the end of ribbing we are supposed to “BO loosely but neatly in pattern” (this is a quote from the pattern directions). To me it seems like oxymoron – since it’s either neatly or loosely (at least, for my style of knitting). I tried my best in binding off loosely. Still it was difficult to get my noggin though the opening.  So I unraveled the last row and bound the stitches using Tubular Bind-Off. You have to separate the knit and purl stitches from each other onto 2 different needles, with the knit stitches all on the front needle and the purl stitches all on the back needle. Then you bind off the stitches by grafting them together using Kitchener Stitch (this is my favorite explanation of how to do it). There is another way of binding off to create an elastic, stretchable edge. It is described in Meg Swansen’s classic Knitting. And I’ve been using it rather often. Yet, in this case, since I had 1x1 ribs anyway it made sense to use Kitchener.
Now, you are done with the main part – yappy!!!! However, to finish this sweater you need to pick up stitches at the bottom and do more ribbing – ughhh!!!
I really like the end result though. It took me an unusual amount of time, quite a bit of effort, and a lot of frustration, but it is versatile and fits me surprisingly well.  The only thing that I regret is the variegated color of the yarn. I think it would look better in monochrome. Made from a silky, shiny yarn to emphasize the ribbing with all the decreases…  By the way, this yarn was not easy to work with – splitty and hard on my hands.
 Oh, and in my next project – no ribbing!!!!

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