Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Olympic Training

I'm a little behind.

A few weeks ago, when I first signed up for the Knitting Olympics, I picked a project for which I already had appropriate yarn, ordered the pattern, swatched in both stocking stitch and the pattern, test washed and blocked my swatches, and figured I was ready to go. So, I stopped training.

Today, I stroked and cuddled the swatches, then gave the pattern a thorough read through. WTF? The sexy, curvy, feminine shaped cardigan I had fallen in love with online is actually knitted completely without any shaping! The curvy lines shown on the photo were artificially arranged for the photo session! Apparently there is some sort of tie or clip on the back pulling the waist in and giving the illusion of tailoring.

Well, sh!t, I could have designed the thing (all one lace pattern, extremely simple, and only two pattern rows to remember). The whole reason I bought it was because it looked shaped! I was suckered by a sneaky photo stylist!

There is no way I'm wasting my Olympic Knitting time on a shapeless, simple, and extremely repetitive knit. Nope. This is supposed to be a challenge of Olympic proportions! I want to stretch my knitting muscles, and try something new.

With only two and a half days left to the starting pistol, I need to find something else, right now! So, every knitting book, magazine and pamphlet in the house is strewn around my work space. Piles of crumpled paper entertain the cats. Needles in assorted sized threaten to skewer me whenever I turn around.

I've swatched about nine different lace patterns, and a few cables as well. Over a dozen yarns have been pulled out, test knitted, then tossed across the room with despair. But, I've finally chosen my yarn, swatched a few stitch patterns, and selected needle size and type.

So now, I need to narrow down the item to be knitted, and design details thereof. I definitely want lace, but would like to see a number of different but coordinating lace patterns put together. But what lacey thing to knit? It's a neck and neck race between a cardigan and a rectangular stole, with occasional thoughts of a Faroese style shawl. But I need to decide, and decide now!

After re-reading the Design section of Sharon Miller's Heirloom knitting, and spending hours pouring through every stitch pattern book I own, I ended up with a page listing nearly two dozen stitch patterns I really want to try. Then I sorted them by row repeat count, stitch repeat count, and garter versus stocking stitch lace. Oy. I whittled the list down to about a dozen, then charted them all in Excel to make the actual knitting process more intuitive.

Then, I pulled out the sweater that fits me the best both length and ease-wise, and measured it laying flat. From that, I drew a scale model of a cardigan, with dimensions. I already knew what size of rectangular stole I would knit if I went that way, so decided my decision would be made based on the number of square inches of knitting (brilliant, eh?).

As the scan shows, um, ah, my cardigan design is EXACTLY THE SAME number of square inches of knitting as a 24" by 72" stole. How friggin' freaky is that?

So, I'm putting together a pros and cons list for each item, and hoping that will narrow down the decision. Until I've decided, though, I think I'll swatch a few more of the lace patterns I like, to ensure they are reasonably knittable (ie - already dropped Germaine Stitch from the roster due to cables, thus the need for a cable needle, which I only have one of right now, and regularly loose).

The training continues. My goal is to have the decision (cardigan versus stole) made by the end of the day tomorrow. Crossing my fingers.

Later Edited to Add:
For those as mathematically inclined as me, I ran the numbers: 6 stitches per inch times 8 rows per inch = 48 stitches per square inch. At 1728 square inches (both the stole and the cardigan - again, very very very freaky), that means 82,944 stitches. I just did a little mouth vomit when that number came up on the calculator. Oy.


Mrs. Mel said...

O Logan! Way too much thinking and planning goes into your knitting
(comparing myself to you here). Can it still be fun? And can you pay attention during the process?
This is from someone with six projects going, and still on the lookout for my travel knitting project to reveal itself.
I bow to your plan, and respect the fact that you will no doubt actually achieve a FO.
But to wash and block a swatch!?!
O my.

smarcoux said...
here are some free patterns and fanstastic .. hope you think so too.
Dangling by a thread