Week Forty-Four: Knitting a drunken octopus

A few months ago, a little knitting magazine came out. Now, I buy only one knitting magazine, and I try to always get the current issue (though I think I’m an issue behind right now), look through it carefully, and then file it on the appropriate shelf with its kin. And when I think about it, I don’t believe I have ever actually knitted up a single pattern from the pages of this title, even though I must have four or five years’ worth of issues. Someday I shall, and on that fine day all the patterns will be ready for me.

This magazine was a different title — one I don’t usually look at. But someone in our knitting group had gotten it, and they passed it around (as knitters are wont to do), and… there was this sweater.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed it. At one point, about four of us were talking about ordering special yarn and casting on together. But in the end, just Bonnie and I took the plunge. I got a quick head start, but (as I had anticipated) she soon caught up and passed me. What can I say? She’s a much more experienced knitter, and she’s quick. And it ended up being much to my benefit, as she discovered several errors and confusions in the pattern and was able to straighten each one out for me by the time I got to the next checkpoint.

The sweater is mostly plain knitting, separated by occasional rows of almost incomprehensible instructions. But the most interesting thing about it? It’s knitted sideways, from the cuff of one sleeve to the cuff of the other. This was something new for both of us.

So, you start with the cuff of the left sleeve.

HPIM7106

Then you work the increases for the arm. And you work and you work and you work….

Then, one day, you add dozens of stitches to each side, and BAM! You’re knitting the front, shoulder, and back sections of a cardigan. For seven inches. Across 207 stitches. I wouldn’t personally describe this section as tedious… it’s more like cleaning a cliff face with an old toothbrush as you ascend.

HPIM7108

Then you put the “back” stitches on a holder (or another needle, or a piece of scrap yarn) and you knit up the front panel of the cardigan. Oooh, eyelets again!

Then you put the “front” stitches on a holder (or another needle, or a piece of scrap yarn) and you knit and knit and knit across the back. No eyelets here. Just 104 stitches across, all stockinette. Not tedious at all.

It’s somewhere in this section that absolutely nobody can tell what you’re knitting by looking at it, even (especially!) if you lay it out on the floor in the way that you’ve made it. Even a generous cable needle isn’t long enough to stretch out the work in progress, so the ends tend to curl up. The big flat sections are hard to keep flat without pinning them down, and at this point we’re nowhere close to the pinning-down stage. So what you have is a lopsided wooly mass with possibly two working needles in it at different sections.

It might look...something like this.

It might look…something like this.

So THEN you do something crazy…. you pick up a crochet hook and a totally different yarn, and you chain up at least 87 stitches so you can create a provisional cast-on. Basically that means that you are creating an edge you can knit from later in the opposite direction, after you pull the new yarn out of your stitches as if you’re pulling the magic string from the top of a big bag of dog food. But for now, you’re knitting the right-hand front panel of the cardigan, so you get to your thrilling eyelet rows rather quickly.

HPIM7135

HPIM7136

And THEN you do something even crazier. One fine day, after you’ve done your careful increases and gotten up to 103 stitches on the little front panel, you purl across them and then pick up the back of the sweater and start purling across those stitches too! You’re back up to 207 stitches, so guess what? You have just seven inches of plain knitting to go before you cast off dozens of stitches on each side and descend slowly to the right cuff.

HPIM7140

Easy peasy.

Oh yeah, I do have to pick up those front stitches and knit the button bands and create the buttonholes and sew on the buttons and knit ribbing on the bottom and sew up the side seams. Pshaw. In my mind, I almost have a sweater.

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Published in: on October 31, 2013 at 9:00 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That is very interesting! What is the pattern? I’d like to check this out.

    • If you’re on Ravelry, you can find it via my project page easily enough. I didn’t want to call it out by name here.

  2. Drunken octopus. ::snort::


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