Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Not a Mistake, It's a Design Feature

All the way back in Post #2, I mentioned the notion of opposing stripes. The illustration I used was just one of my photos duplicated, flipped, and merged with the original. Alas, it is not that simple with yarn and needles.

If you've ever tried to use a provisional (invisible) cast-on on a ribbed project, you're anticipating what I'm about to say: vertical patterns do not line up.

A provisional cast-on is really just a squiggle. The loops in one direction are half a stitch off from the loops in the other direction.

In Stockinette Stitch, this is not really a problem. The only time there will be an issue is when you're picking up stitches or seaming along an edge. To avoid a jog, you would go in a full stitch in one part and a stitch and a half in the other.

You can see the problem, though, in the ribbing diagram. Those knits (in green) and  purls (in orange) are just not going to line up with each other. This problem will hold for just about any stitch pattern you use.

The easiest way to fix this is by using a permanent cast-on such as a long-tail cast-on. When you're ready to go in the second direction, pick up a stitch in each cast-on space, which is directly opposite to the original stitch. It is not "invisible", but is very tidy, and is especially good for shoulder seams which can use the extra stability.

Another way to go is to work a four stitch I-cord to the length you need and pick up stitches underneath both strands of a column of stitches according to your stitch gauge for the pattern you are about to start. To work the other side of the project, pick up stitches under the two strands of the column of stitches directly opposite the first one. You'll want to take a little bit of care that the new set of stitches is opposite the old one, but in any case, it will line up better than using a provisional cast-on. The result is a column of stitches on one side (I prefer this for the right side) and a prominent welt on the other.

And here is the photo!

Now, back to the title of this post. The pattern in this swatch is clearly not the same as in the concept picture above. What happened?  The yarn and needles were the same and I double-checked the pattern. I was baffled. Then in one of those insights that comes too late, I realized that in the swatch up top, I changed to the contrast color on Row 2; in the one to the right, I changed on Row 1. The moral of the story is "Write everything down!" (I owe you all a swatch.)

Until next time.

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