This post could also be called When Swatches Save Lives.
Since I’ve just finished a sweater in which I did several things wrong and had to fix them, I decided what better blog fodder than to review my mistakes and what I did (or didn’t do) to fix them! So the next few posts will be known as the Sideways Striped Sweater Postmortem, or SSSP, as I go over various areas of the sweater and what I did wrong. At the end of the SSSP, I’ll post full photos of the sweater. This delay is partially out of coyness but mostly because it’s getting dark earlier and earlier, and I won’t be home during daylight to get good photos until this weekend.
Some general info about the Sideways Striped Sweater. The sweater body is knit sideways to create vertical stripes, with shaping worked through the use of short-rows. It was knitted from the yarn in this familiar swatch, Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK, a 100% merino wool yarn that I recommend without reservation. I now know it stands up well to multiple washings, multiple froggings and even cutting. I used about 9 balls, four of the green and five of the beige/gold. I used size 5 needles for the edging and size 6 needles for the body of the sweater.
So, on to Fixing Shaping Mistakes!
In designing this sweater, I wanted a garment that would cling comfortably to my hips and bust without pulling or riding up. Ever since I finished growing, my measurements have been 37-33-42 and I have not been able to find a single top that fit my bust and waist and didn’t bunch and ride up at the hips. Possibly as a result of this, I… overcompensated somewhat. Instead of the gentle shaping I wanted, I had a huge flare of extra fabric on the hips. Very unflattering. The bust was also a bit big.
Unfortunately, since I had used short-rows for the shaping, I didn’t feel comfortable just pulling out the shaping on the end or unpicking the cast-on. I would have had to entirely pull out either all the bust shaping or all the hip shaping, and then a little more, to adjust both. And I just didn’t want to do that. I also didn’t want to frog the whole thing and do it again; it turns out knitting a stockinette sweater horizontally is really, really boring, since (especially on the back) there’s over two feet of straight, rectangular stockinette knitting with no shaping to make it exciting.
I next considered cutting the extra fabric off the edges. This seemed promising. I was concerned, however, because while I had steeked before, I had never done a steek in this yarn, nor had I ever done a steek where I cut between rows instead of between stitches. I’d essentially be creating a line of live stitches on each seam. Maybe it would all unravel.
Then I remembered, I had saved my swatch! I seamed it together using mattress stitch, just as I planned to do for the sides of the sweater. Then I cut it, close in to minimize the amount of extra fabric that would lie on the inside of the sweater.
Then, I tugged on it really hard. Really hard, a lot harder than I’d ever tug on the sweater in the course of normal wear. If there was even the smallest risk the sweater would fall apart, I wanted to know now.
Yikes! One dropped stitch. I looked at the seam in more detail and found that the stitch had dropped in the one place where I had cut most closely. Everywhere else, the seam held. I decided that as long as I cut so that there would be one whole stitch and one live stitch left on each side after I cut, I’d be fine.
I seamed the sweater together, following the new shape I wanted instead of the old, too-big shape it naturally formed. I tried it on and made sure it fit. I pulled out the seaming and re-did it. I tried it on again.
Then I cut it.
This is where the hip shaping used to be. I think it worked out:
The garter at the bottom border was added afterward.
Next time: Adventures in neckbands.