Sunday, November 30, 2008

Improving on Perfection; And Lessons Learned

At Lisa's request, I've been playing with some Noro Kureyon, and the Mitered Mittens pattern in EZ's Knitter's Almanac.

Love love love how the stripes work in the miters -- this is, after all, what makes the Jaywalker sock so great.

Two things have become obvious during this process.

The first is that you really should read the pattern. Really. I seemed to have missed the "Knit one round" instruction. During first and second attempts, I thought to myself that it seemed odd that there wasn't an even round between pattern rounds... but by the time I got to the fourth attempt, I'd thrown caution to the wind and was proceeding on blind faith that our Great Mistress of all thing Knit, EZ herself, must have had her reasons.

Nope. Turned out I had simply missed that line in the book.

(Thing the First and a Half is that, as a pattern writer and technical editor, spacing can make a huge difference in the readability of the pattern. The "K 1 rnd." is immediately after the instruction for the second half of the first round, with no line breaks. And I missed it. I know why. The round is worked in two halves, with the patterning exactly the same on the second half as on the first. And as I read the instruction for the first half of the round in detail, noticed the litte note that said that the second half is the same as the first, and then ignored the rest of the line.

(Which I suppose means that Thing the First and Three Quarters is that Experience breeds Arrogance. I figured I knew what to do so I didn't bother reading any more.))

Anyway, Thing the Second is that you shouldn't -- and really can't -- mess with the genius that is an EZ pattern.

It turns out that it's impossible to improve on perfection. I've been working on them for a week, and all I've got are two bits -- both of which are going to be ripped out.

I don't like the cuffless nature of the basic Mitered Mitt, so I've been playing with a ribbed cuff, in the same mitered style, and it's just plain awful.

As is my usual strategy with mitts, I worked the cuff on fewer sts than the body. So on its own, the mitered cuff looks cool, but there are two big issues... the first is that mitering the ribs significantly reduces the stretchiness. And the second is that I really couldn't figure out how to make the increase flow smoothly into the hand. If I simply worked a couple of rounds of miters with only the increases and not the decreases, the pattern is retained, but it bunches oddly where the decreases should havebeen.

My original, middle-of-the-night idea was to offset the miters, so that I'd get a flat bottom to the cuff, rather than the angle that the pattern normally produces. But that didn't do what I needed it to do, for reasons I have not yet figured out.

Eventually, I gave up on the cuff and went back to the original design. 5 rounds of k1 p1 rib and then launch straight into the miters. Still riding on my high horse, I only worked 2 rounds of k1 p1 rib -- this seems to actually be ok. But because I've got tiny girly hands, I decided that the 48 sts that the pattern calls for, and that I'd been playing with on attempts numbers 1 through 4 was too damn big, so I cast on 40 sts. And of course, it's just too damn small.

Still cruising down that river in Egypt, I forged ahead for a while last night, and got far enough that I thought it might be time for the thumb. So I went back to the book to figure out what she says about thumb placement, and there it was... "K 1 rnd."

So. Back to the beginning. Again.

The eagle-eyed will also notice that I changed around the decreases... that might or might not stay.


And so all of this leads to Thing the Second and a Quarter... if you're going to significantly alter a pattern, it's probably helpful to have worked it according to the instructions at least once before...

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