My elderly neighbour asked that I knit her a cardigan. I affably agreed. A cardigan? No problem – I could do it in chunky yarn on large needles and have it over and done with in a flash. However when she handed me the money for yarn, my neighbour clarified that what she was actually after was a twinset.
For those of you blissfully unaware of what a twinset is, allow me to enlighten you.
Twinsets are knitting relics of the 1950s (well, she is elderly) which consist of a long sleeved cardigan and a short sleeved vest. Usually, they are knitted in 3 ply on 3 mm needles by people who have way more time and patience than I do.
My first challenge was to find a pattern. I wasn’t looking for any old pattern – I wanted one that wasn’t too complicated and that would cope with me substituting a thicker yarn and bigger needles and not have the thing come out looking like spaghetti. My first stop was the internet and Ravelry. It was only at that point that the awfulness of the task ahead of me started to sink in. There were not a lot of patterns, and most of them had camisoles rather than vests as the second garment. They were also all in tiny stitches and (in my humble opinion) really ugly. The rest of the internet, while good for porn and cute kittens, was no help.
I went to Yarn Over to purchase appropriate yarn and told Gabby of my troubles. Bless her soul, she started pulling out all her vintage knitting books and helped me go through and find one that didn’t make me want to poke my eyes out. We agreed that it would take a heavier yarn and that I would be able to knit the smaller size on larger needles and it should come at the size I needed. (I am a very lazy knitter. I don’t know what more people don’t explore this option – I always use it with great success when knitting garments.)
It took some time for the yarn to arrive, which allowed me to behave like an untroubled yarny and make lovely blankets and baby jumpers and completely ignore the task ahead of me.
However the fateful day finally arrived – the yarn was delivered in it’s many metres of brownness (my neighbour likes plain colours) and I picked up my needles to begin.
34 rows of rib. Horrifically boring stuff.
Then came the lace pattern. The first five rows were a joy. I was enjoying the pattern (I always forget that I quite enjoy knitting lace), it was working out beautifully, the pattern was emerging and I was feeling pretty confident. So confident I didn’t check my stitches for a few rows. Then at row 16 I counted – I had mysteriously found an extra 8 stitches. I carefully ripped back 2 rows, but I was still in excess. Mortified, I decided the only thing to do was to rip back to the point I know I had enough stitches and start from there. What I then ended up with was a tangled mess, so I ripped back to the start of the lace and began again.
I have knitted row 9 4 times now with the same result. The pattern, it is definitely adding stitches – I haven’t stuffed up. The pattern itself doesn’t indicate that you should be increasing, hence my confusion. I initially tried to amend the pattern so I was keeping my magic number of 109 stitches per row, and quickly figure out that doing that would mean I would have to amend every row after it as well. I’m now hoping that it corrects itself somewhere along the way, otherwise the shoulders are going to be three times the size of the waist.
I spent last night searching the internet for errata to no avail – no surprise really – the pattern I’m using was published in the 60s at the absolute latest.
So today I have already picked back two rows of work I completed last night, and will start on them again, hoping that the people who wrote the pattern had more of a clue than I currently do.
At least I now have plastic needles to use rather than the anodised ones that set my teeth on edge.Continue Reading...