A few weeks ago, I began knitting another sweater. (Clicking on the first photo here will take you to the Ravelry project page that enumerates the details.) There is nothing earth-shatteringly new about me starting another sweater, I’ll admit. This one, however, has been a fairly quick knit and my progress on it can be measured by several inches after an hour or two of work which, until recently, has made me feel pretty good about my knitterly capabilities.
Last week, as I was beginning the sleeves after completing the two front panels and the back, I was feeling smug about my progress. Indeed, my smugness may have blinded me to the fact that, although I was nearly to the elbows of both sleeves, I had failed to stop knitting in rib and begin stockinette which I really should have done a good four inches earlier. By the time I did notice, I was just past the elbows. I kicked myself mildly over my own stupidity, had a little laugh at my own expense, and threaded a knitting needle through the stitches just below where the stockinette should have begun and ripped the knitting back to that point.
Before proceeding further, I pulled out the completed back to compare what I was about to do with what I had done on that panel as the cable up the center of the back (pictured here) is the same as the cable going up both sleeves, and so the ribbing of the cuffs should end on the same row that it did on the back waist.
Which is precisely when I noticed it. I hadn’t begun the cable on the back properly at all. The cables on each of the sleeves were fine despite my excessive ribbing. However, the base of the cable on the back panel was wrong, and the more I looked at it the more I knew I couldn’t live with it. Nor could I make myself repeat the mistake twice more on the sleeves. Uniformity is one thing. Being uniformly wrong, a whole other. And I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
So I determined to fix the cable on the back and I thought, in a moment of self-congratulatory pride, that I could just ravel out the center cable panel stitches, and work them back up correctly. No sweat!
That isn’t as insane as it sounds. I’ve done it before in other projects with great success when I needed to fix cable lines I’d crossed incorrectly on the first pass. However, this time I failed to take into account that the base of the cable should have started two rows earlier than it had, and that when it begins it involves an increase of six stitches in the first row of the cable panel and two more in the third. Somehow I convinced myself without really thinking about it that I could make 26 stitches with a US8 needle in a short length of yarn that previously had only held 20 which, furthermore, I had formed with a US6 needle, and still further, that I could knit 26 stitches into those newly-formed, if very tight, 26 stitches with another short length that had previously held only 20. And then increase two more stitches in the very next row.
My powers of self-persuasion are so strong I actually did it. I used a tapestry needle as a cable needle at one point, but I got my corrected base stitch line done, and the next and the next, and on up the back a good halfway still convincing myself that all would be well. Or in the words of one of the more irreverent knitting-related t-shirts I’ve seen: “that shit will block right out.” And maybe it was remembering those words that made me stop, take stock, and face the cold hard reality of no. Really, no, that shit won’t block right out. Because no matter how much I wish it would, it really, really won’t. There is no magic blocking procedure to make overly-tight, minuscule stitches stretch and look like their much larger neighbors.
After reaching that rather obvious conclusion and deciding to rip back the entire back to the ribbing to repair the error, another glaring mistake came to my attention. If I was ending the ribbing two rows earlier on the back than I had previously and switching to a larger needle size at the same point, I would have to fix the two front panels as their ribbing and stitch size would no longer match up to the back at the side seams. Reality. It’s a bitch.
So I ripped all three back and commenced re-knitting all I had undone. I have waited a good long while to tell you readers of this sad adventure. As of this writing, the back and front panels are re-knit and awaiting their blocking bath before seaming. The sleeves are nearly completed to the elbow again. Dare I hope all is well? Probably shouldn’t get too cocky.