Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reverting to Paper Patterns

Despite all my work on the various UFOs that had been languishing in my knitting basket, I was jonesing for casting on a sweater. I don't know when I turned into a sweater knitter, as the year before, I was all about knitting socks.

But now, if you look at my finished Ravelry projects, I've finished four sweaters this year, which isn't too bad, all things considering.

And I just started a new sweater, involving cables and double moss stitch. I was dutiful and made a cabled gauge swatch. Normally, I knit loosely and have to go down 2 needle sizes from the recommended needle, but as this involved cables, I tried the recommended US 7. However, I didn't like the resulting fabric too much as I felt it was too dense, so I went up to a US 8 and got gauge.
  Raspberry Cardigan Gauge Swatch 

The swatches were washed & blocked, and I started knitting on the sweater. But I had to frog the beginnings of it once over, because I couldn't get the cabling correctly, because the front starts with a partial cable and as you increase stitches, you work the cable pattern. And my poor brain couldn't wrap itself around the concept, nor could I visually see how this was going to work.

I had re-written the pattern to work the sweater as a single piece (instead of having to seam panels), and my Excel spreadsheet was ACCURATE. However, it didn't take into account the visual aspects of the chart (although my iPad displays the chart easily enough.)

I had redid the cabling on both sides...frogged just the cabling...redid the cabling...then eventually frogged back to before the cabling started. sigh.

Then I hit on a simple solution: PAPER

My pattern is digital on my iPad, and my PDF reader has a nifty feature that allows me to highlight notes and some charts, but sometimes you need to have something in front of you that is visceral.

I printed out the cable chart and went through the pattern line-by-line with highlighter and pencil in hand, and marked out where increases happened and where it was the cable pattern for the Left Side. Then I repeated this exercise for the Right Side. Now I can clearly see how the cabling is going to look on the sweater.

Colored Charts
Hopefully, this trick will help me get this patterning right.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Using my iPad for reading patterns is awesome. I love it. And I will continue using my iPad. But sometimes, it helps to mark up a paper pattern just for notes. (I'll still be using my excel spreadsheet to refer to as I knit, however.)