Journal: The lesson is learned

blocking

Harlequin shirt blocking

So, I’ve finished the big knitting project I’ve been talking about recently. I am pretty unhappy with the result, unfortunately. On the other hand, I learned a *lot* from this project, and have positioned myself to make a much better attempt when I can muster the resolve to frog this thing and start over.

Ugh, curl. The back is actually worse, but harder to get photos of.

Ugh, curl. The back is actually worse, but harder to get photos of.

Lesson 1, which I should’ve known by now: knitting tends to curl, particularly at the edges. The part I learned new was that my oh-so-clever vertical-shaping technique, sections of (k1, slip 1)/(p1, slip 1) curls like nobody’s business. I was planning not to block this piece, thus I used a non-blocked swatch to get my measurements, but the relentless curling forced my hand.

Lesson 2, which I knew but didn’t think would be an issue, see above; blocking changes the size of knitted items, even if it’s not lace, even if you don’t stretch and pin it while it dries. In this particular case, it didn’t change the width (I measured while it was drying), but did change the length significantly—meaning that the arm holes gaped open to half again their desired length, and suddenly the careful waist shaping I had done was coming in around my hips, leaving the waist loose and flapping. Terribly, terribly unbecoming photos, before (curl) and after (bad fit):

Lesson 3: blocking helps with curl, but doesn’t entirely fix it, especially on drapey bits. Post-blocking, the curling up of the back neck, arm hole, and bottom edges was basically fixed, but I couldn’t get the front neck to drape nicely without curling all up (see photos above). Lesson I wouldn’t have learned without making this project, so I consider it a gain.

Lesson 4: horizontal stripes are really that bad. This comes back to the color of yarn I picked, which I was waffling about how much I liked all throughout this project. If I try a project like this again—knitting a shirt starting from the back armpit, over the shoulders, reconnecting at the front armpit, and in the round down—I will definitely use a non-variegated yarn, or one with a short enough repeat length that the effect is blotches rather than stripes. With this yarn, I think I will go back to the idea I started with, now that I have more confidence in my drafting abilities: working it diagonally.

Lesson 5, actually a positive one: drafting from sewing patterns works. I need to be a bit more careful in choosing the pattern to start from—some of the unflattering fit is because I started from a pattern eased to pull over one’s head when made from non-stretch fabric. Plus due to curl a drape-neck pattern is probably infeasible. However, on the whole the project came out exactly as I (should have) expected: the shaping scheme worked, and once I got the hang of it the translation from paper sewing pattern to written knitting pattern is not that hard to do.

Another way I came out ahead is I now have a very, very large swatch made up, in a yarn and needle size combination that I like working in, that’s blocked. The large swatch will help me get better measurements for future projects, including accounting for the effect of gravity on the length. I am lazy and impetuous enough that I never would’ve bothered making such a large swatch in advance of an actual project, so this is a fairly big win for me.

I’d love to hear any tips y’all have for better drafting/pattern design for knitting—I feel like I am groping in the dark a bit, and coming at this from a funny angle, and could benefit from others’ wisdom.

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