Friday, March 21, 2008

Sweater in a week

About two weeks ago I read an appeal from afghans for Afghans. They had an unexpected opportunity to send a load of clothing for children to Afghanistan with Roots of Peace. The kicker was that the items had to be in California by March 18th. Could we help?

Really, the answer was no. I was busy, we had plans for the weekend, it was my birthday (which now involves a surprising amount of planning on my part, so that there's a cake for the kids to decorate and time for them to make me a present, and so forth), and we were leaving town on the 13th. I'd have to let this one pass me by.

But somehow I couldn't. What if Roots of Peace told these kids they could expect warm clothes, and then there weren't any? So I decided I could just whip up a sweater on the Bond, no problem.

Well, it isn't as simple as that. It has been a couple of years since I used the sweater machine, so I had to remind myself how certain operations work. And the calculations for sleeve decreasing were rendered extremely complex by the relationship of my expected gauge (ball band) compared to the actual gauge I was getting. Since I wasn't knitting for anyone in particular, I didn't do a gauge swatch, but I did want the finished sweater to have a good chance of fitting someone.

And actually, I wanted it to fit a big someone. The call was for clothes to fit kids up to 14 years old, and I figured that more people would make small sweaters than large ones, especially given the quick turnaround time. Knitting a bigger sweater on the machine takes very little more time than knitting a small one -- most of the time is in the setup, at least for a plain stockinette sweater. So I planned a largish sweater.

Because we had several hours in the car (on March 9th) I started by casting on for the bottom ribbing. I knit all of the back ribbing and half of the front, planning to hang the ribbing on the machine and continue on from there. (Usually I do the ribbing last, but I wanted to get started that day.) It was a great idea, but I cast on as many stitches as I wanted for the body, and also used the size needle I'd use for the body if I were knitting by hand. So then in order not to end up with flaring ribbing I had to make the body even bigger.

But that was okay. I had 5 skeins of Patons Classic Wool Merino in a very pretty pumpkin shade, and Ravelry shows several adult sweaters made with 3 1/2 skeins, so I didn't worry about running out. I just made a bigger sweater; some 14 year old boy will fit into it.

I knit the back Monday morning, finished the ribbing for the front Monday afternoon, and knit the front Monday night after the kids went to bed, and connected the shoulders with a three needle bindoff. Tuesday (my birthday) all I could manage was one sleeve. Wednesday I knit the second sleeve. I had picked up the sleeve stitches from the sides, so all four pieces were attached to each other. We would be traveling all day Thursday, so I could sew the side and sleeve seams and knit the neck & wrist ribbings on the plane, and mail it from Florida on Friday.

Hah! I always forget how long finishing can take. I did sew the seams on the plane, but that was all I managed to do. And knitting the wrist ribbings and the enormously long turtleneck that I really wanted to make took quite a bit of time, too. I wasn't willing to ignore the parents I'd traveled to see (or the pool in their backyard), so I didn't finish until after the post office closed on Saturday.

Oh, and those 3 1/2 skein adult sweaters? They must have been for some pretty small women. I might have had enough to finish the ribbings, but probably not enough for a turtleneck. I had noticed, though, that the wine-colored waste yarn I was using looked very nice with the pumpkin, so I striped the ribbings with that.

I mailed it out on Monday the 17th. I hope it got to California in time; if not, I'm sure it will get to Afghanistan sooner or later. And on the way back from the post office ..... I realized I had forgotten to take a picture. So imagine here that you see a pumpkin colored stockinette sweater, with square set-in sleeves, short-rowed shoulders & back neck, and a wine & pumpkin striped turtleneck.

Cozy, isn't it?


Caroline M said...

I think the contrast colour really adds something there, it was an inspired choice of colours.

Why yes, I do have an good imagination.

Shan said...

I LOVE that colour! I bought some of that exact shade to make Kate Gilbert's "Jack" trick-or-treat bag.