Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Fashionable owls (are what they seem)
I loved that owl cable and wanted to do it again. So I did, this time for my the smallest nephew who has just turned one. The yarn is Cleckheaton Country Tartan, because my sister and I both loved the light teal-blue, both because it suits this boy and also as an alternative to more conventional 'boy' blues. (Don't get me started on boys' clothes and colour limitations!) There are actually two close but different colours spun together. The other Tartan colourways are much less subtle. The colour may be great but I can't say I'm thrilled with the quality, although I kind of knew what to expect.... other 8plys I've used for kids jumpers (Bendigo, Patons Totem) have been smoother, more pleasant, and probably more hard-wearing. In fact this boy also wear the Sherwood jumper I made years ago and which has been worn by at least two other siblings.
The pattern was improvised from a couple of different sources. It might have been better if one of those sources was in fact a v-neck, because I didn't quite nail it, it really should have been a little bit deeper or wider. Because of this, the neckband took four tries. The first time, using needles a little smaller than those for the main body (down to 3.75mm from 4mm) and picking up stitches at what felt like a 'normal' ratio, resulted in an opening would be a real struggle to pull over his head. (And I did as few rows as I could to avoid narrowing it more than necessary). This was pretty annoying and unexpected, given that I chose a v-neck partly because other necklines for babies & toddlers tend to need an opening and button(s) somewhere on the neckline. The second time, I decided to try 3.25mm needles, and picked up a lot more stitches. The smaller needles didn't make the stitches as much smaller as I anticipated, and the neckband ended up flaring out badly.
I was pretty sure I would need to pick up less stitches, probably a number halfway between the first and second tries, but as an interim attempt I just ripped back to the picked-up stitches and tried 2*2 rib instead of 1*1. I thought there was a good chance this wouldn't solve it, but by this stage it was quite an interesting learning experience and I wanted to see how much less it would flare this way. My assumption was that the stitches would be a little tighter overall - generally the more switches between knit and purl stitches, the more loose the knitting is. This is why smaller needles are often suggested for ribbing. And I was right, it did flare less, mainly only looking bad across the back. So for the fourth and final attempt, I went back and picked up less stitches, reducing the number across the back more, and not reducing the number in the v part too much. I still tried to have as many stitches overall as I could without getting a flared effect, because I was still concerned about it getting over his head.
Unfortunately, the neckline still does flare out at the back. Actually it's happening in the above photo as well. At least it does go over his head without complaints. You may also be able to see that I've added length to the body and sleeves. He grew significantly while I was knitting! This is a great advantage of top-down, in-the-round construction, it was pretty easy to undo the cast off and continue knitting.