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Monday, February 13, 2006

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A Tale of Two Rogue Hems

How are you all progressing with your Olympic challenges? Me? Eh, not so hot.

Here is the story of how I spent my weekend, deep in hem-analysis. [Beware, super-anal post ahead...]

click for bigger pictureTo review, I'm making Rogue (with the cardigan modifications) in the small size, using Bartlett yarns 2ply on a US 7. I decided to start with a sleeve, since if I mucked it up there would less to rip (and therefore less bad language involved). Good thing, cuz muck it up I did.

I decided follow the modifications for the smaller hem, and so this is what I did:

  • used a provisional cast-on, knit 5 rows in stockinette with US5, then did the purl turning row,
  • switched to US7 and knit 5 rows of the body (with the increases and the cables),
  • then knit up the cast-on stitches with the next row of the body. Since there were more body stitches than cast-on stitches (cuz of the increases), I had to knit some body stitches solo (I got the idea for this at String or Nothing). This was a royal pain when combined with having to follow the cable chart at the same time.

I'm sure this would have looked good in a lighter-weight yarn. But it just didn't cut it with this aran-weight yarn. The hem was big and bulky.

Witness Exhibit A, the thick ugly hem:
Exhibit A: bulky hem

I wish I had noticed this sooner, but I was madly knitting away, oblivious to the lumpiness. At the beginning of the sleeve cap, I temporarily seamed it up to check the fit and discovered not only that I didn't like this hem, but also that it was a little snugger at the wrist than I wanted (probably cuz of the thick hem), and that I had accidentally made an extra increase 3" back. Sigh. Three reasons to rip the whole thing.

You know, upon beginning this project, I really was going to try rein in the persnicketiness and just GET IT DONE. But. . . three problems? I just had to rip.

And I'm glad I did because after spending much time perusing my trusty Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt and messing with different hem options, I found a much nicer option.

First of all, I decided to split my 2-ply yarn and use only one ply of it for the hem facing to help eliminate the bulk. This was kind of a pain, but the facing really didn't really use that much yarn so I didn't have to split very much. I tried doing the recommended hem with the purl turning row with the split yarn as facing but then the edge flared too much.

So, I kept using split yarn, but switched the method of hem construction, so I was picking up the facing from the cast-on row (instead of knitting the facing first and folding in half). This finally resulted in A HEM THAT I LOVE.

Here's what I did, step-by-step:

BEGIN SLEEVE:
  • Cast on sleeve stitches PLUS 4 (so 43 sts) with US8 using long-tail method.
  • Sleeve Row 0 (WS) - [This is an extra row WS row.] I just followed the directions for row 2 of the sleeve as given by the pattern, but with an extra K1 on each end (which accounts for 2 of the extra cast-on stitches). The other 2 extra cast-on stitches replace the two make-1-purls on the chart (which would have happened if I had followed row 1 as given).
  • Sleeve Row 1 (RS) - Followed the directions for the real row 1, but again with the extra K1 on each end and purling existing sts instead of doing the m-1-purl.
BEGIN HEM FACING:
  • Facing Row 1 - Now, using a US7 and my SPLIT YARN (half the thickness of my main yarn), I picked up and knit 41 sts (2 LESS than I did above) from the purl bumps on the WS of the cast-on row of the sleeve. I did not pick up stitches from the 1st and last purl bumps of the cast-on row since those stitches would just be part of the seam anyway and I didn't want to add unnecesary bulk.
  • Facing Row 2 - I purled all of the facing stitches.
  • Facing Row 3 - I knit all of the facing stitches, then cut the SPLIT YARN.
RESUME SLEEVE:
  • Sleeve Row 2 (WS) - [Here I joined the sleeve with the hem facing.] I picked up the sleeve yarn again and held both the sleeve needle and the facing needle together like I was going to do a 3-needle bind-off. I purled 1 sleeve stitch all by itself. Then I followed the instructions for row 2 of the sleeve, but by purling (or knitting) BOTH the sleeve and facing stitches together. I ended by purling the extra sleeve stitch by itself.
  • I then followed the rest of the sleeve directions as given (except for my extra 1 st at each end), however, I did my increases on RS rows instead of WS rows, and I eliminated the final set of interior increases to get back on track with the given nbr of stitches.

OK, that was long, and probably very boring, but I really love the resulting hem. It seems to lie flat, it's not bulky, and it's still kind of stretchy. Big difference from my first attempt.

Witness Exhibit B, the hem comparison:

click for bigger picture

click for bigger pictureAfter all that hem business, I finally got down to some serious knitting and managed to finish the new sleeve yesterday (the snowstorm helped). Here it is.

Now on to the next one...

Leave a Comment 2 comments:

Melissa said...

What really mattern in all of this is that Persnickety got the hem Persnickety wanted and if Persnickety has to be an anal-compulsive yarn-splitting project-tinking little knitter who's - (and this may be the vital componant) willing to share all of this vital and helpful info with the rest of us, then GOOD, as long as Persnickety gets the final result she's after.
I think there's a time and a place to 'just do it', knit on and think not...but for you this may not be (ok, it is not) that time. Save the reckless abandon for an afghan from your stash or something. All that matters is that you get the product you want. I've spent a lot of time with a lot of knitters, some of whom make you look like a slacker, and others who would give you apoplectic fits of terror with their off-handed, 'who cares' method of knitting their way through life. Ultimately it all comes down to personality, differences, and thinking styles. I'd give my eye teeth and half a leg (but NOT my arms!!) for once ounce of your anal-ness. Is that a word?

Auntie Amanda said...

Hey, all that anal behavior will be worth it when you are wearing that beautiful sweater and your gaze falls upon that tidy hem...