Monday, January 16, 2006

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  • A Tale of Two Sweaters

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .
    -Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

    I finished the back of Winter Folly and did something I never do: I blocked the piece.
    It's a combination of cables and lace, and the pattern warns you to stretch width-wise while measuring length to assure proper measurements. I thought I was there, but wanted to double check before I plowed forward. The wet piece grew 2 1/2 inches in length and I went to bed dreaming of the one less repeat of the center cable which it needed (and we wonder why my dad thinks I need a life . . .). Annoying, but I could do it. In fact, it could have been the moment for me to cut it off at the bottom and knit the ribbing down, as the center cable pattern is exactly 2 1/2 inches. But then, it dried. And now it is (I think), the right size. So that's good, right? But I still have my doubts, fostered, no doubt, by my inability to ever get the same measurement twice in a row. Unfortunately, I think I won't be entirely comfortable with the measurements until it's done and I can try it on. For the time being, I'm comparing it to a sweater I already own, and it seems to be on track.

    The Two Sweaters
    Let's take this moment to reflect upon the two sweaters I am currently knitting: Cardi Rogue and Winter Folly (Vogue Knitting, Fall 2004).
    • Both are beautiful sweaters.
    • Both are using lovely yarns.
    • Both require attention while knitting.
    • Both are billed for experienced knitter.
    • Both are being knit by the same experienced and skilled (and modest) knitter.
    So why is one a relaxing joy and pleasure to knit, and the other an exercise is obsessive chart reading?

    One is written by a knitter, for a knitter. (Rogue, as if you had to ask.) The other is designed by Michael Kors, written by one of his lackeys. Nothing wrong with that, in theory. In practice, however:

    The center cable has a 16 row repeat; the 2 side patterns have 10 and 18 row repeats. It would be an incredibly simple thing (in this particular pattern) to at least make the 18 row repeat match up with the 16 row repeat. Instead, I am glued to my chart and my annotations of where I left off.

    Other things that may or may not be their fault (but I'll blame them since I'm making it in the suggested yarn): Ever try to P2tog through the back loop in a yarn as slippery or multi-plied as Inca Alpaca? Don't. Plus, double-yos after that same P2tog tbl? Who are these people? Also, (and, in fairness, this is probably not their fault), this is slippery stuff for my usual cabling without a cable needle.

    Rogue is clever knitting that is fun, a little bit challenging, and oh-so-clearly written by a knitter. You get the idea that she was playing with cables and thought, "Hey! I could make these into a sweater." A delightful marriage of process and product. Winter Folly was designed the other way - starting from the concept of the finished product and working backwards to come up with the knitting. Process is completely ignored in the name of the finished product.

    It shows.
    Do other Vogue patterns have the same issues? I've subscribed ever since the delightful flitgirl gave it to me as a gift during a run of fabulous issues (2002 and 2004 were great years; see Saturday's post for more recent comments), but this is the first sweater I've made from it. While I'm loving how Winter Folly is looking, Rogue is way more fun.


    Blogger Chris said...

    Very thoughtful and useful comparison. Hmm, I don't think I've ever knit anything from Vogue Knitting... I don't subscribe, but I do have a summer issue from a few years ago - it has several lovely tank tops in it that are on my mythical "someday..." list.

    Rogue was on that list, but it has been replaced by the Eris pullover.

    1/16/2006 8:06 AM  
    Blogger Marina said...

    Oh, no, not another one lost to the "dark side" ;-)

    Obviously, I'm not a believer in swatching or blocking.

    1/16/2006 1:35 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I love your synopsis of the difference between the market piece and the knitter piece! Thank you. Well stated.

    The sweater is beautiful. Lovely work!

    1/16/2006 4:13 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yup, every single project I tried knitting from VK has given me trouble. Sigh...

    1/17/2006 5:27 PM  
    Blogger Kristen said...

    Winter Folly is beautiful! those cables might have been a pain to do, but they look great - very nontraditional cable'esque.

    how is Rogue coming? are you making a cardigan or a pullover (if you've told me, I've forgotten.)?

    It's hard for me to look at the picture of your well-worn and loved sock. I know that'll happen to mine, and I knew it'd happen when I knit them, but still. A hole is humbling.

    (I was still on a scarf for gifts kick in school lectures but do wish I'd figured out socks then...)

    1/17/2006 6:11 PM  

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