the Fretwork frustration

It could be the title of a Big Band Theory episode, and I sure felt like a knitting nerd while working on this project, there was so much math and spatial visualization involved. This pattern is classified as an expert pattern in the Vogue Knitting classification, and I thought: if I nail this, I can truly call myself a knitting expert. And get a magnificent sweater in the process. While ignoring the fact that the designer probably had a sadistic episode when she worked on that particular pattern (sorry Shiri Mor, it is a brilliant design, but that is how it felt while knitting).
Ce pourrait être le titre d’un épisode de la série The Big Bang Theory, et j’avais l’impression d’être une geek du tricot en faisant ce projet, tellement il y avait de calculs et de projections géométriques à faire. Ce patron rentre dans la catégorie Expert de Vogue Knitting, et je me suis dit: si je le réussis, je peux vraiment me considérer comme une tricoteuse experte. Et me retrouver avec un pull magnifique. En ne tenant pas compte du fait que la créatrice a certainement eu une petite attaque de sadisme en travaillant sur ce modèle en particulier (pardon, Shiri Mor, c’est génial comme patron, mais c’est l’impression que j’avais en le tricotant).

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Pattern/patron: Fretwork Pullover – Shiri Mor – Vogue Knitting Fall 2014
Yarn/Laine: Cascade Yarns – Cash Vero DK – colorway/coloris Citrus

It went on for six months (I did go on strike for three weeks, I could not face it anymore), and it is the first knit that gave me insomnia. I lied awake one night, agonizing over the fact that I might have totally misread the cord placement chart on the central panel and trying to figure out how on earth I could fix this without having to redo everything. I had to get up in the middle of the night to check, and discover, to my relief, that it was not wrong.
J’y ai travaillé pendant six mois (en incluant trois semaines de grève, il me sortait par les yeux), et c’est vraiment le premier pull qui m’ait empêché de dormir. Une nuit, après avoir terminé un panneau central, impossible de fermer l’œil en croyant que je m’étais trompée et me demandant comment j’allais bien pouvoir recommencer le placement de ces douze cordelettes. N’y tenant plus j’ai fini par me relever pour tout vérifier, tout recompter et me rendre compte avec soulagement que tout allait bien.

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But so many things could go wrong, and a few did actually.  I did mess up the cord placement on two of the side panels, which means the shoulder placement is a bit screwy. Ends kept creeping out, even after numerous attempt at blocking. I did tie a knot for nearly every single one of them, something you are never supposed to do, but am I glad I did it. I had to take the scissors to them after the final blocking (the third one) to trim all the tiny loose ends that would not stay put inside. You can glimpse some on the pictures if you look closely.
Mais tellement de choses aurait pu mal tourner, et j’ai loupé quelques trucs quand même. En particulier le placement des cordelettes sur deux des panneaux latéraux, ce qui fait que les épaules ne sont pas vraiment alignées correctement. Il y a encore des petits bouts qui surgissent ici et là, même après plusieurs blocages. J’ai fait un petit nœud à chaque, ce que l’on n’est jamais supposé faire, mais je me sens plus rassurée comme cela. J’ai dû prendre les ciseaux et élaguer les petits bouts qui dépassaient après le dernier blocage (le troisième). On en voit encore un peu qui dépassent si vous regardez les photos de près.

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The major, major flaw of this knit is that, well, ahem, it is too small. I mean, really small. I did have a nagging suspicion as I knitted it, but did I listen to it? No, I kept knitting along the smallest side. After the back, I could have erred on the side of caution and try a size up for the front. Anyway, after months of effort, one sleepless night, plenty of note taking and figuring out the maths of these cords here and there, I end up with a fantastically beautiful sweater I cannot wear.
I mean I can fit into it, but it instantly makes me look like I badly need a breast reduction operation. Not exactly the expected result. Oh yes, I blocked this to death, the yarn was pretty flexible but there are limits to what your yarn can do.

Le vrai gros, gros problème de ce tricot est que, hu-hum, il est trop petit. Mais vraiment, vraiment petit. Je m’en doutais un peu tout en le tricotant, mais ai-je écouté mes doutes? Non, j’ai continué à avancer allègrement sur la petite taille. Après avoir constaté que le dos semblait minuscule, j’aurais pu, je ne sais pas moi, essayer la taille au-dessus pour le devant.  Toujours est-il qu’après tous ces mois d’efforts, une nuit sans sommeil et un temps fou passé à compter et recompter pour comprendre comment toutes ces cordelettes s’agençaient, je me retrouve avec un pull magnifique que je ne peux pas porter. 
Je rentre dedans, oui, mais j’ai soudain l’air de quelqu’un qui a un besoin urgent d’une opération de réduction mammaire, ce qui n’est pas vraiment l’effet recherché. Et oui, j’ai bloqué ce pull à mort mais même si la laine est très souple, il y a des limites.

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So sad too, because I think this sweater is perfection. A nightmarish perfection, maybe. Look at these details, all these different cables and twists, all this abundance of intricacy. There are so many things to see from so many different angles. I took an abundance of notes on my project page, and a big caution to anyone who wants to try it: be warned, there is no turning back. You cannot ever unknit this, because you will end with dozens and dozens of little pieces of yarn that you can never hope to re-use again.
C’est dommage, vraiment, parce que ce pull est parfait. D’une perfection cauchemardesque, sans doute. Regardez tous ces détails, ces différentes torsades, détours, ouvertures, cette abondance de complexité. Il y a tellement de choses à voir selon l’angle que vous choisissez. J’ai pris quantité de notes sur ma page projet, ainsi qu’un message d’avertissement en gras pour toutes celles qui voudraient essayer: attention, une fois ce projet entamé, vous ne pouvez plus revenir en arrière. N’espérez pas pouvoir le détricoter un jour, parce que vous vous retrouveriez avec un monceau de petits morceaux de laine impossibles à réutiliser.

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It does fit my daughter though. I think it fits her wonderfully, the shape, the colour, everything. But as a true teenager, the minute I say she looks wonderful in it, she starts moaning and says ‘I don’t know if I will wear it’, and ‘the sleeves are tight’ (yes, compared to your shapeless school uniform I’m sure it feels tight, honey). So this wonder of a sweater is lying quietly in my cupboard, but I do not despair. One day or another, she will wear it. She must.
Mais il va à ma fille. Je trouve qu’il lui va parfaitement bien en fait, la forme, la couleur, tout. Mais évidemment, en bonne ado, il suffit que je lui dise que ce pull lui va à ravir pour qu’elle fasse la moue en disant: ‘je ne sais pas si je vais le porter’ et ‘les manches sont serrées’ (ah oui, sûr que comparé à ton uniforme scolaire informe les manches doivent sembler serrées, ma chérie). Alors cette merveille de pull est tranquillement couchée dans mon placard mais je ne perds pas espoir. Un jour elle le portera. Il le faut.

If you love the look, but don’t feel like spending months (and getting headaches) over this pattern, I found a few others that do look a bit like it, without the complex weaving involved (and the gazillion ends to weave in). I might even try one of these next winter, because I do want to wear a beautifully cabled sweater.
Si vous aimez le style, mais que vous n’ayez pas envie de passer des mois (et d’attraper la migraine) sur ce patron, j’ai trouvé quelques autres modèles qui lui ressemblent un peu, la complexité du tressage en moins (ainsi que les milliards de bouts à rentrer). Je crois bien que je vais en essayer un l’hiver prochain, parce que je veux vraiment porter un pull à belles torsades.

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Honeycomb Aran © Yarnspirations – Grit © Kim Hargreaves – Beekman Tavern © Ysolda
Ghyll © The Knitter – Chloe © Amy Miller – Cabled Panelled Sweater @ Debbie Bliss

About calling myself a knitting expert, well… I clearly still have work to do on the sizing side, including listening to my instincts when I feel something is not quite right. That’s the beauty of knitting: there is always room for progress. Do I regret knitting this: no, absolutely not. I learned so much.  Would I do it again ? Probably not, but one should never say never.
Pour ce qui est de me considérer comme une experte, bon…j’ai encore du boulot pour ce qui est de trouver la bonne taille et de faire un peu plus confiance à mon instinct quand je sens que quelque chose ne va pas. C’est la beauté du tricot: on peut toujours progresser. Est-ce que je regrette de l’avoir tricoté: non, pas du tout. J’ai vraiment appris beaucoup. Est-ce que je le referais? Probablement pas, mais il ne faut jamais dire jamais.

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16 thoughts on “the Fretwork frustration

    • Did you know that you were a very humorous, very good writer? You are! And, a good knitter. Albeit you need to be more careful about sizing…such is life. We’ve all done it. So, don’t be frustrated….the sweater IS stunning and I’m sure your daughter will come to love it. OR, when you get to be 90 you’ll probably fit into it just fine. P.S. If you had made a larger front the outcome would have been abysmal….that never works.

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      • Thank you ! Making people laugh is something I love to do, so I’m glad it transpires in my writing and your lovely comment encourages me to continue. I guess you’re right on the larger front: it might have been a disaster, and I most certainly would not have had enough yarn.

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  1. Quel travail! Bravo, il est superbe, même si malheureusement, il est trop petit! Si, là je crous qu’on peut dire très honnêtement que tu es une experte!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WIN either way, my dear. Win win win and yes, keep it in the cupboard until that magical time she re-notices it. She does look perfect in it, but I get it. Of note, the shoulder armhole thing was really wonky if you did it *right* (at least I think I did it as specified), I almost think whatever you did avoided the problem. You’ll see (eventually) that I actually got shoulder points I had to cut away!! My sweater fits me, but I have very skinny arms. Also, I used bigger needles than called for, but I’m not sure if that made a huge difference. I’m going to go measure the dimensions RIGHT NAO.

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  3. it’s so beautiful, what a shame it doesn’t fit you!! It looks wonderful on your daughter, though. Is it the colour she isn’t sure about? I’m just thinking, given the amount of work that went into it you could always overdye it, if she would prefer it in a darker colour and then wear it. Something as beautiful as that deserves to be worn.

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    • No, I think it is just the typical teenage reaction to anything mum likes. She thinks hand knits are not cool. She has time to change her mind. I hope she does eventually , fortunately this sweater should fit for a while.

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  5. Oh Agnes! This sweater has left me speechless! I am not surprised you had some sleepless nights over this one. I don’t care if you did have an issue with the size – you definitely are an expert knitter in my books after seeing this! The fact that you knew the size might be an issue, even if you didn’t choose to do anything about it, negates that error: You knew about it. That’s what counts.

    I am so in admiration of you and your expertise!!!!!

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    • You are too kind! It certainly has given me the confidence to tackle any project now, even if I am not planning to do anything that complicated soon. This winter, I hope to knit something that truly fits.

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