Well, faced with all the knitting I HAVE to do, plus an upcoming holiday week with some time to (potentially) do some but with a limited noodling window, I have done the only impractical thing. I’ve opted to knit none of the above. I decided to do a commercial pattern with little or no alterations (for maximum mindlessness) and produce a sweater I can wear to work.
I’ve opted to knit Sarah James Ribbed Leaf mock turtleneck. I am using Jaeger Matchmaker, in a medium charcoal gray. I don’t see any on-line write-ups of anyone else who has tried this one, so I can’t compare/contrast experiences with other knitters.
I’ve gotten about one skein into the thing. Past the twist stitch ribbing (using my favorite tubular cast-on) and about two inches into the body. I did end up graphing out the texture pattern from the prose directions in the leaflet.
I have some cautions on this pattern. This is knit in DK or sport weight, at a gauge of 6.6spi. Two main body motifs (33 stitches) should equal 5 inches across. Gauge is taken over the pattern and if you knit up a gauge square according to the directions in the pattern, room exists for considerable error (more on this below). The entire pattern is produced using copious twist stitches, and they carpet every right-side row. Wrong-side rows are purled. The preponderance of twist stitches does make for slow knitting, and allows ample scope (for me at least) for stitches to be inadvertently dropped. I’ve had to go back several times now and rescue a loose stitch several rows back. Because of the heavy twisting, if I don’t catch a dropped stitch within one or two rows, I can’t easily ladder down and re-knit. All the entire intervening rows have to be ripped back and reworked.
Taken together these things mean that this pattern isn’t for those who like quick knits at big gauges and who are less than comfortable with precise patterning. It is good however for those who are looking for a very attractive project that will be wearable indoors and out; that will allow purchase of smaller gauge yarns that can often be found on special due to reduced demand; and that will take a while to complete (more knitting time per dollar invested).
Now on the problem with the gauge square instructions, the pattern directs the knitter to cast on 33 stitches and work Pattern 2 (the leaf motif body) for 28 rows. Then cast off, block or wash, dry, and measure the swatch – which should measure 5 inches square. The problem here is that for many knitters, the first several and last several stitches are not knit at the same gauge as the interior of the swatch.
Casting on only 33, then measuring edge to edge, taking these sometimes distorted stitches into account can introduce an error, making the gauge appear to be fewer stitches per inch than it actually is. Someone with this problem will find that their work ends up being smaller than expected based on their swatch. I’d advocate casting on for three repeats (49 stitches) and knitting more than the one full pattern repeat. The texture pattern however would make counting gauge very difficult. This can be addressed by taking two contrasting color lengths of sewing thread or other fine string and laying one between the 8th and 9th stitch and one between the 41st and 42nd stitch (there should be 33 between them). Every other row or so I’d flip the thread or string up the column, laying it through the the spot between those same stitches. Over time, the thread will look like it’s been basted through the work vertically, leaving clear lines between which gauge can be accurately measured. The same thing can be done with row count, threading a colored thread horizontally through a row life-line style a couple of rows up from the bottom, and a couple of rows before ending off, having counted out 28 rows from the first one marked. A larger than directed square of this type can now be washed, blocked and measured, and the gauge confidently extrapolated from the “prime” area so delineated in the center.
You wanted pix? Tomorrow. My camera is out of batteries.