Saturday, July 27, 2019

Everything is Pitch-y

I knew that it was a madness to participate in the #PitchKAL from the moment I made this decision, and I still did it. Why?
Because I had never done it before, and it seemed like a good idea:
1) having an opportunity to ask the designer all the questions about the pattern,
2) discussing with other knitters some finishing details, or yarn choices, or needle sizes, or whatever you want to discuss at the moment,
3) taking many pictures of your growing garment and posting them everywhere (Instagram, Ravelry, KAL thread) to show the progress.
In other words, lots of fun, right?
Wrong, at least in my case! I started making Pitch cardigan by Emily Greene one hour before leaving the house for the airport. I knew that I had only two weeks to finish it if I wanted to make a picture of a finished product and post it somewhere, because in two weeks we had another trip planned. And these two weeks were filled with traveling and theater going leaving very little time for knitting.
There was no time for discussion participation or questions to the designer. No time for the pictures and postings. No time for figuring out if there was a mistake in the pattern or it was just a malfunctioning of my tired eyes and brain.
I was certain of only one thing – I was going to make this cardigan anyway so why not now. Maybe I could finish it in two weeks, and then leave for another trip. And even if I couldn’t, I wasn’t losing anything since my major incentive was to have the cardigan. I could always finish it when I come back home.
Let me repeat myself – I love Emily Greene’s patterns. They are classy, modern, and minimalistic in a good way. I’ve made 4 of them already (Pitch is my 5th pattern by Emily Greene) and I love working with her designs.
Pitch has many qualities required by one of my daughters in a cardigan: it is warm, traditional, long, has pockets but no buttons. Yes, recently one of my lovely daughters shared this wisdom with me – apparently, a perfect cardigan has NO BUTTONS. Who would’ve thought? And I used to spend all this time looking for the perfect buttons and sewing them carefully on cardigans…

My yarn of choice – Garnstudio Drops Lima – came from my stash (because I refuse to buy new yarn till I use more of the one I already have) and my gauge was different from the one in the patter (24 rows in 10 cm instead of 32 as per pattern). That fact didn’t make my life easier. On the contrary, as soon as I discovered that the row gauge wasn’t the same I should’ve abandoned the very idea of this cardigan. Yet, it had happened to me before and I managed to survive and even end up with a fitting garment, so I plunged into this project, as I said, an hour before leaving for the airport. Little did I know at the time…
From the beginning I wanted to change some things in the pattern (I always do, nothing new here). My Pitch had to be shorter – my daughter is taller than me but still not that tall, plus her winter coats are on a short side and she doesn’t like a cardigan picking out from underneath a coat. I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn so shortening my version and making the pockets smaller would also help.
I did think about using the tubular cast on but was afraid it wouldn’t look good with cables (because in this pattern cables start with the ribbing) and eventually decided against it. Later, in the KAL thread I saw a Raveler’s version of Pitch with a tubular cast on and it looked nice. But I was too far gone by then and it was too late to change anything. By the way, I didn’t like the way the pockets were made – picked up after both fronts finished – and I thought that they didn’t need cables with ribbing.
One of the major attractions of this cardigan is the shifting cables on both fronts and back with gradually growing ribbing in between. The ribbing is growing from yarn overs that leave little holes at the beginning of each rib, grow after washing and blocking, and are one of the designs features. At least, this is how Emily herself explained it in the KAL thread. After some consideration, I decided to minimize the yarn overs, so the holes won’t be that big and noticeable after washing and blocking. Why? Because I didn’t want them to distract from the cables and ribbing which, I thought, created enough visual interest already.

Being a Brooklyn Tweed pattern, the layout and directions of the pattern are as confusing and esoteric as they come. Every time when I buy a pattern from them, I get really frustrated at how much space they leave between paragraphs, and pages, how big the margins are, and the fact that there are usually 20 or so pages between the abbreviation definitions and the place those abbreviations are used in the text. The wordiness of all Brooklyn Tweed patterns is annoying at best, but here, I think, they managed to outword themselves. They give you three (!!!!!!) kinds of 1x1 ribbing aptly named A, B, and C with detailed explanations of what they mean. At first, I tried to understand the difference, but I didn’t have time for such deep thoughts, plus how many combinations of 1 knit and 1 purl could there be? Many time, many pages later you’ll see in the directions “use ribbing A”. I decided to ignore it and you know what, I bet no one will ever notice the difference between my ribbing A and ribbing B (to say nothing of the ribbing C!).
From the KAL thread I figured that all this nonsense wasn’t actually the designer’s idea but it certainly didn’t help me figuring out the pattern.

Another very tiny thing that I changed was the selvedge stitch that Emily recommends to knit all the time and I knit in the knit row and purled in the purl row. You see, garter stitch selvedge has bumps and their size depends on the thickness of your yarn. In this kind of yarn the bumps would have been too big for my taste. And they don’t make the seaming process easier for me (I know that for some people it is easier to seam using garter stitch selvedge but I am not among them).

I didn’t have much time for knitting and studying the pattern in depth so I decided to use common sense. As soon as I finished one sleeve I didn’t have to think about the process of making sleeves anymore, I just had to go through the same steps one more time. Both times I didn’t get the final number of stitches before the BO. I had 29 instead of 27 in the pattern and I absolutely don’t know why. But at least both sleeves came out the same and no one will come close and count my stitches. So I just left them be.
It took me two takes to make the back. First time I started shifting cables too late and they didn’t shift far enough when I came to the shoulder BOs. I made some calculations, unraveled the back, started shifting cables 13 rows earlier, made the back 9 rows longer, and it helped me to finish the shifting almost right before the shoulders’ BOs which was good enough for me.
Since I wrote down all the numbers and rows, it wasn’t that difficult to copy them while knitting the left front, and the right front was just a breeze.

This pattern seems difficult and convoluted if you look at its directions but it is actually easy and straightforward if you ignore them.
The only thing is not to mix cables’ directions because some of them switch to the right and some – to the left (or, as per directions, there are cables A, B, C, and D – they do have some sort of obsession with the English alphabet!). Yet, if you pay attention from the beginning, and cable them into the right direction the first time, next time you’ll need only to look 6 rows down to know in which direction to cable. All cabling in the pattern can be done without a cable needle – big advantage if you are short of time. And there is the moss stitch and 1x1 ribbing between the cables. The ribbing is easy – duhh! And the moss stitch isn’t much harder. There are no special finishing techniques needed, no buttonholes (and no buttons, yay!).
What I am trying to tell you, is that this cardigan isn’t difficult to knit after you finish the back part. And since I knit my back twice I felt like I knew where I was going and was much more in control of the situation. You know, there are people who love directions and people who love maps. I am certainly in the second category. I get lost if someone gives me directions like: “Turn left at the next pub, go two blocks, and turn left at the light”. But I can easily find any place using a map and a common sense. This is what Brooklyn Tweed patterns remind me of – a person trying to give you directions and using as many words as possible while doing it. And I need a simple map instead.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to take many pictures of my work or post often on the KAL thread. But the most important thing was that I finished the cardigan and now can leave for a long trip without it in my suitcase (this is big for me because I have lots of stuff and not much space in the aforementioned suitcase).
The cardigan still turned out too big, long, and roomy. That is why I decided not to model it myself because I positively drown in it. It will fit my daughter, but when I am back from my trip, I’ll wash it in hot water to felt it a bit and make a little smaller.

I do like how the pockets turned out. They are not very practical being so low in the garment so there is no need for them to be that big. I used 1x1 ribbing without cables to finish the pockets, and all the ribbing (including on the sleeves and body) was done knitting and purling through the back loop. It makes some distinction between the borders and the main body of the cardigan.

It was my first time with Garnstudio Drops Lima and I liked working with it: soft, warm, easy to knit. What I didn’t like was the surprising stretchiness after washing. Hopefully, after a hot bath and some felting the cardigan will keep its shape longer.
I didn’t enjoy my first KAL but it wasn’t my last. I’ll try to find another one, when I am not busy, or traveling, or going to theater twice a day, and try to get a blast.
All this shouldn’t stop you from making this cardigan. It is easy, and really beautiful, and it has no buttons!
I am leaving tomorrow and probably won’t be able to write anything long and meaningful for a month and a half but I will be on Instagram. Check out my feed.
Until next time then,