Saturday, 14 February 2009

Accentuate the negative

There was actually quite a lot of knitting yesterday, and I have exactly nothing at all to show for it, because it has all been frogged.

The current project is Susie, in Rowan Classic Cashmere Tweed (yum)....

The pattern is written for Rowan Classic Natural Silk Aran. The recommended tensions are exactly the same, but the suggested needle sizes are very different. This makes sense, the two yarns are very different. The Natural Silk Aran is a multistrand yarn made from viscose, silk, and linen - I know that Ravelry says it's a plied yarn, but believe me it is a multistrand. And the Cashmere Tweed has a soft, quite stretchy, chained construction, 90% cashmere and 10% silk. Yes, 90%. I said it was gorgeous, and it really is. The Natural Silk Aran has 4.5mm needles suggested - the Cashmere Tweed, 6mm. Quite a difference.

So I swatched with 6mm, and before I even did any measuring, I knew that I didn't like the fabric - it was too loose and open. Checking the gauge confirmed that this needle size wasn't what I wanted. Going down a needle size did the trick, and Susie will be worked with 5.5mm needles.

So I frogged my swatch, which usually I don't do, but this is cashmere after all and I don't want to waste any of it. And I cast on for the size to fit 40" bust, because, after all, I do have a bust that measures 41". This would give me 2" of positive ease.

Knit, knit, knit. Or rather - knit, purl, knit, purl - because this is moss stitch. Lovely yarn, gorgeous texture, beautiful fabric. Really very good indeed.

I was past the first increase for the waist shaping, and I'd just discovered that the Russian join wasn't what was needed for this yarn and I'd have to place all the joins at the side seams - when I stopped and thought again about something that came to mind yesterday. The thought process went something like this -

  • I have never yet knitted myself a garment that has turned out too small.
  • I have knitted myself plenty of garments that have been just about right.
  • I have knitted myself rather more garments that have been a little on the big side.
  • I am losing weight, albeit slowly and intermittently, and I intend to carry on with this until I'm at a healthy weight for my height.
  • And that first point again - I have never yet knitted myself a garment that has turned out too small. Never.

So what happened to negative ease? Negative ease ought to be my friend, especially with my body shape. Curves - yes definitely, wide shoulders - no, not at all. Average to small shoulder width. If I knit to fit my bust measurement, the shoulders will invariably be too wide. Make sure the shoulders fit, then the whole thing hangs better and looks better. Use negative ease. I've said it so many times!

I've talked about it enough. I need to actually put it into practice.

I frogged what I'd done so far. And I cast on again - not for the next size down, the 38" - but for the size below that, to fit 36". That would give me 2" of negative ease.

I'm not quite sure whether this is madness or the revival of common sense, but it feels like I've stepped off a cliff.

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