Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm Not Perfect?

Everybody's favorite, right? Blocking pictures!

I really do love this part. If you asked me while I was in the middle of pinning and measuring and stretching and adjusting, I'd tell you I hate it. But it's maybe my favorite phase of a project. It's where everything is made perfect and flat and ready for finishing. The end is near. The tedium is over. It's almost as exciting as starting the project.

Unless it goes as well as this project's blocking did.

It started just like any other blocking does. I assembled my blocking board and protective plastic tarp. I found the Altoids box of pins. I made sure the pattern included a good schematic. I wetted the pieces and rolled the excess water out in a towel. I laid the largest piece out on the grid and pinned the left edge down.

Then I counted out the specified width on the blocking board grid, and found it was at least two inches shy of the actual width of the piece.

Now, I'm certainly an experienced blocker, and I know that the whole point of blocking it to make the piece stretch and contract into its prescribed shape and size. But two inches (at least!) too wide was more than I felt I could smoosh into place. I fudged it and made a compromise between the schematic and the sweater, and did the best I could. It looked ok in the end. (See above) So the twins will not wear the sweater this fall, or next spring, but instead to their first day of kindergarten, so what?

I blamed myself.

I didn't wash my swatch. And I knew that superwash wool would stretch out. I just didn't bother to use that knowledge. If the sweater buckled and stretched when it was washed because the pieces didn't fit together right, it would be because I didn't take the time to do it right. Should I re-knit it?

When I got home from work today I unpinned the main piece and folded it into its future sweater shape.

See anything wrong?

How about if I do this?

The seed stitch button plackets should overlap and align. Everything else aligns -- the shoulders, the arm scyes. The stitch pattern doesn't seem to be stretched out there in the front. What's going on? How could only the fronts be too wide and not the back? This is not a gauge issue anymore.

So I went back to the schematic, and I checked it with a calculator against the prescribed gauge. I checked the back width against the front width, and indeed, if following the directions, which I did, you will get a two inch overlap in the front instead of the 3/4" overlap you need. The schematic doesn't actually correspond to the measurements you get when calculating with the gauge. Metric too. Both are wonky. Wonky galore. Interweave has no corrections to this pattern either.

So now what? I'm not sure how much it matters. When a child is actually wearing this sweater, will it matter that it overlaps too much when flat? I'm not convinced that it's worth cutting and sewing, and I'm definitely not convinced it's worth the time to re-design and re-knit.

I'm going to search the Internet for others who have made this pattern and see how it worked for them. In the meantime, I fully expect you to bestow on me the fullness of your wisdom. Please.

[Update: The finished Diamond Seed Baby Jackets I found around the Internets probably weren't blocked. That's all I have to say about that.

I'm re-blocking it to my calculated measurements, plus some adjustments to make the back wider. Stretch, smoosh, stretch, smoosh, pat, pat, pat.]


Ann said...

Wow - that is totally some wonky gauge math there! How frustrating. If it's any consolation, it looks beautiful, wonkiness and all.

Kim said...

I think it'll work out with the reblocking.

I had similar moments when I washed my two twin sweaters and one of them refused to shrink as much as the other. Even after a second washing it was about 1" wider. Grrr. But the twins they were intended for, one of them is bigger than the other too...

Another Beth said...

Might I make a suggestion on your blocking board?

I use the same board for both blocking knitting projects and cutting sewing projects. My solution for protecting it from water, glue (when gluing sequins on costumes), etc. was to purchase a roll of clear adhesive shelf paper (Con-Tact or whatever brand is available) and cover the gridded side of the board and over all four edges with it. No need for an extra tarp (that can slip around if not firmly anchored), less storage space used - meaning you have room for a couple more balls of yarn! - and eliminates the time spent putting the arrangement together. Also MUCH cheaper than a purchased blocking board!