The sweater curse

I used to think that I didn’t believe in the sweater curse — the idea that if you knitted a boyfriend a jumper before you were engaged the relationship would break up shortly after. I’m now realising that there are other forms of sweater curse and I’m suffering under one of them.

My curse seems to be something like this: if I offer to knit Steven a jumper and let him pick the pattern (so that I can be sure he’ll like it) he will inevitably pick a pattern that requires a technique that is completely new to me. In the past this has included cables and inserting zips and, for the jumper that sparked today’s post, intarsia.

Argyle jumper

The jumper is the Argyll Vest (Ravelry link) from Men’s Knits by Erika Knight. I’m knitting it in Rowan RYC Cashsoft 4-ply. It’s not the most exciting pattern to knit but it is going to be a great jumper when it’s finished.

Like the other techniques that I’ve had to learn to knit Steven’s jumpers, it turns out intarsia isn’t really hard at all. Pay attention to the chart, remember to twist your yarns where the colours meet and try not to let the yarns you’re not currently using get too tangled. If only that were the only thing I had to worry about.

The back of the jumper (where there’s no pattern) knitted up very quickly, even considering it’s 4-ply yarn on 3.25mm needles.

The front, however, is a different story. The front has gone from what you see in the photograph above to this:

Argyle jumper - undone

Yes, that’s right. The front has had to be ripped out all the way back to the ribbing. Why?  Before I cast off for the under-arm, I thought to check the size of the front against the size of the back. The cast-off for the under-arm was two inches lower on the front than on the back.

I re-measured … still two inches different. I re-calculated the number of pattern repeats that I was supposed to knit on the front to get the same number of rows as I had knitted for the back … those were right. I re-counted the number of diamonds that I had actually knitted … those were right. I then repeated those three checks many, many times but every time it came out the same. I had calculated my pattern repeats correctly, I had knitted the correct number of pattern repeats and the front was still two inches shorter than the back.

The jumper disappeared into the bottom of my knitting bag, not to be seen again until a miracle happened that would result in either the front magically matching the back next time I measured, my number of pattern repeats magically turning out to be wrong (either as calculated or as knitted) or some other explanation for the problem magically presented itself.

The jumper stayed in the bag for a couple of weeks. Nothing magically fixed itself.

Then I went looking for my 3.25mm needles to swatch for another pattern.

Remember those 3.25mm needles that I mentioned above? Well, when I went looking for them, it turned out that they weren’t in this jumper after all. I had knitted the front (including all the intarsia) all the way to the under-arm on the 2.75mm needles that are used for the ribbing.

I now had my magical explanation for the missing two inches and the front of a jumper to rip out. Do you know what is hard about intarsia? Ripping it out.

3 thoughts on “The sweater curse

  1. So annoying when that happens! I did the same thing on my Hemlock Ring throw, and not just once but three times – believe it or not, because I thought I’d miscounted the plain knitted rounds. I did the centre in 4 mm needles and for some very strange and unfathomable reason I switched to 5 mm needles for the rest – it came up way too frilly and just wouldn’t stay flat. It drove me crazy! It wasn’t until I really looked at what size the actual stitches looked like that I realised. Let’s hope I’ll remember next time!

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