Ariel's craft journal (dragoncrafter) wrote,
Ariel's craft journal

Finished sweater

Well, I finally finished Ed's sweater:
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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Pattern: My own. It's a fairly basic raglan with 2/2 ribbing around the edges. The cables are taken from Eris. I made Eris as a wedding present for his fiancée, so they will sort of match.
Yarn: KnitPicks Andean Silk in Leaf; about 14 balls.
Needles: Denise #7s

I still have a bit over eighteen balls of Andean Silk left, from the box of 42 I bought months ago. The plan is, and always has been, to make three sweaters out of this: Mandy's, Ed's, and a sweater for my mom. Deciding on a pattern for the third one, though, took some thinking.

Ed's sweater, like Faramir, was knitted with a moderately inelastic yarn. Alpaca/silk/wool is stretchier than cotton/modal, it's true, but not as stretchy as wool.

I've noticed the following problem with inelastic yarns, and also (oddly) with multi-strand merino wool yarns like Zara: that when I knit something with plain knit panels and plain purl panels, the last knit stitch and the first purl stitch are unusually loose. This bothers me. With multi-strand yarns, I can fix this by knitting Combined.

The thing is, I don't particularly like purling through the back loop, so I don't really care to knit Combined in the round. On the other hand, I don't like seaming.

So then I thought of Eris.

Eris is constructed very cleverly: every single purl stitch is knit back and forth, and yet she still manages to set it up so the only seams are the grafted ones in the underarms. (There is a fair amount of picking up stitches, but I don't mind that so much.) This means that I can work the cabled parts flat and Combined, my favorite-but I still don't have huge side seams to deal with.

And my mom doesn't know Mandy, so it shouldn't be too weird to give them both the same sweater in the same yarn and color. (They both have said, at some point, that green is their favorite color.) So I've decided that that is what I shall make. (I was considering adapting Frode, from Elsebeth Lavold's "Viking Patterns for Knitting", but I decided to go with Eris instead.)

I'm pretty far into the collar now:
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I'm reminded of the other way in which Combined knit is different from Continental: tight purls leading to rowing out.

Rowing out is a technical term referring to the fact that, for some people, their gauge with knits is tighter or looser than their gauge with purls, so if they knit a piece back in forth, the rows worked on the right side look different from the rows worked on the wrong side. (This is hard to see in cable patterns, thankfully-there's too much else going on.)

Now, some people claim that Combined is supposed to minimize rowing-out. This works as follows: in Continental knitting, or in Combined stockinette knitting, the yarn winds around the needle in a helix, trapping loops from the previous row along the way. This is the source of the loose purls I mentioned before: loops from the previous row are trapped farther along the helix in purls than in knits, so there's an unusually long strand of yarn between the last knit and the first purl (as opposed to, say, the strand of yarn between the first and second purl), which gets stretched into two loose surrounding stitches.

This is not a perfect helix; the yarn is sometimes more diagonal, and sometimes less so. In Continental knitting, the imperfect helicalness is more pronounced in purls than in knits. Thus, especially if you're a loose knitter, purls end up looser than knits, and you get rowing out.

In combined knitting, this isn't supposed to happen. If not for silly knitters always turning their work around so that they can work with their dominant hand all the time, the hand movements involved in purling a row Combined would be a perfect mirror image of the hand movements involved in knitting a row combined. This wraps the yarn in a distorted helix that is theoretically the perfect mirror image of the distorted helix made by knitting, and hence should be the same length, and hence the same gauge.

Unfortunately, things are more complicated than that.

When working Continental right-handed, or knitting Combined and right-handed, the yarn is wrapped around the needle as a right-handed helix.¹ When purling Combined, it's wrapped around the needle in a left-handed helix. Now, most knitting yarns are plied with an S-twist. When you wrap them around the needle right-handed, they get a little more twisted. This makes them solider and rounder. On the other hand, if you wrap them around the needle left-handed, they get a little less twisted. This makes the plies separate a little. They're more willing to flatten out and cling to the needle. This means that the left-handed helix that the yarn traces out is closer to the actual surface of the knitting needle than the corresponding right-handed helix would be. Hence, it's tighter.

So: in Continental knitting, purls are often looser than knits. In Combined, they're tighter. Which effect is more noticeable depends on whether you're a tight knitter or a loose one.

There's another effect, which is independent of the fact that yarns are plied. In Continental knitting, I'm always making a right-handed helix, so there's always at least one full wrap around the needle per stitch. In Combined, if I'm working ribbing or seed stitch or cables, or anything with knits and purls in the same row, I switch between the two kinds of helices, so sometimes there's not quite a full wrap around the needle per stitch. This makes the whole thing tighter in Combined than in Continental.

Ah well. The cabled bits of Eris are supposed to be tighter than the rest of it.

¹ It's a coincidence that right-handed knitting produces right-handed helices. Right-handed knitting is knitting done mostly with the right hand. Right-handed helices are called that because there are two kinds of helices, and they had to call them something.
Tags: cables, pictures
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