Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Adventures of Bob's Blue Gansey Part 4

This spring Cedar Falls sweater instructor Andrew Barden will be blogging about his sweater designing adventures as he creates a sweater for his father, Bob.  Read Part 1 here ,Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

Last time I promised that in Part 4 we would cast on and start knitting. First, however, I must tell you a true story. In part 3 you saw a photo of the cartoon I drew of the gansey. That 5x8 card had every dimension needed to knit this sweater – it was, except for the chart of the initials, ribbing and yoke, my whole pattern. One day, it was sitting on a side table in our living room when we left home. When we returned it was mostly missing. All that remained were little chewed bits scattered about the living room floor. Our dog, Marco, had eaten it! Marco is still alive because I had the photo, and was thereafter able to reproduce the cartoon. Here is a picture of the culprit:

Marco, looking cute and completely innocent, while trying to get comfortable.

So, after telling Marco how lucky he is to be alive, let us, finally, start knitting.

Knitters of traditional ganseys, when they used cables at all, used only very simple ones, such as 2x2 or 3x3. I once saw a photo of a fisherman whose gansey had cables flanked by columns of stockinette stitch, and really liked the appearance. Therefore, I decided to emulate that look. In my sweater, each cable occurs as part of a vertical band consisting of sixteen total stitches: a six stitch simple cable, two columns of three stockinette stitches (one on each side of the cable), a column of single purl stitches between the cable and each stockinette column, and purl stitch columns before the first and after the last stockinette stitch. Charted, each band looks like this:

Each dot is a purl stitch on the public (“right”) side; each open box is a knit stitch on the public side. The cable crosses happen every 6 rounds.

I also really like some designs I have seen, I believe by Alice Starmore, where the cables are included in the ribbing. Therefore, I decided to do that as well (remember, when you are the designer, you are in charge). The consequence of that decision is that my cable bands had to start at the cast on.

As discussed previously, I was surprised to find from the gauge swatch that I liked the German twisted long-tail cast on best (again…I am in charge!). I cast on 286 stitches using German twisted long-tail and US #0 needles (2 sizes smaller than I will use on the body). I counted very carefully and placed markers to locate the cable bands, which required me to chart the ribbing as well. On US#0 needles, the first round after the cast on was very tedious – each stitch was twisted (of course) and rather difficult to get in to. However, I persevered and was eventually done with that ugly round. Subsequent rounds were much easier. I started the cable crosses on the fourth round and continued, working toward a waistband three inches deep. Here are a couple of photos from before the waistband ribbing was completed:

The cable panels are incorporated into the ribbing and their 16 stitches will not change once the waistband is finished and I do the increases to start on the body. Rather, they will just continue on upward, undisturbed. Next time, we will talk about the “plain area” and the wearer’s initials. Until then, happy knitting!