Friday, September 17, 2010


Progress is being made on Elizabeth Zimmermann's 50th 52nd Anniversary cardigan.
With only six more rows of fair isle work to go, I took a knitting break during Survivor Wednesday evening to read ahead in the pattern a bit. I should do that more often. At the turn of the page, I found the info that spoke of Elizabeth's famous raising-of-the-back-neck short rows. Oops! In a myopic quest for the top, I had forgotten all about them.

A little aside here. Saturday, at the Knitters Fair, Glenna C, in her workshop on designing, spoke a bit about bloggers and blogging. She observed that blogs are more often about displaying finished objects than showing works in progress. She concluded that it must be because bloggers perceive finished knitting as being more interesting, but lamented the missing progress reports - the parts where a blogger could share their experiences and readers might learn. My dim light bulb went on and I thought "Ah yes. We blog about the product, but not the process."
So Glenna, what follows is for you.

Now, short rows are not new to me. I do them to slope shoulders on a set-in sleeve or a dropped shoulder sweater. Most peoples' shoulders are not square-topped. If no shaping is included in the shoulder knitting, the sweater is straight across, while the shoulder slopes. That extra fabric has to go somewhere, and often becomes an unwanted pleat of knitting at the armpit. Easily solved by short-row shaping.

As Elizabeth recommends, I do short rows to keep lower backs from rising up over my 'dowager's' hump and I do them to raise back necks. But as I started to knit the first short row on my fair isle yoke, I was caught off guard. I have never done short rows in fair isle before. I asked myself some questions.

1. Was I supposed to carry on working additional fair isle pattern rows in the partial rows across the back? If so, could I jump to that spot in the fair isle chart on the front of the sweater in the first complete round following the short rows and still have the front yoke pattern look right? It would be a 6 round jump as I intended to put in 3 short rows.

2. Or, after the short rows were finished, was I supposed to be working from two different places in the chart? One row for the front of the sweater and another row - six rows further along - for the back? That would be confusing knitting and require a close eye. Not something that I do well.

3. Or could I cheat in the short rows and work repeats of the last completed round for the three short rows and still have the back look acceptable? Studying the chart I did notice that at about this point in the chart, there are a few rounds that repeat one another. Is this Elizabeth's genius again? Her solution for short rows in fair isle? And could it be that I am so smart so lucky as to have decided to do my short rows exactly where Elizabeth did hers? Highly unlikely. But I think I caught a break.

Of course, there are still a couple more options. Forget the short rows entirely.

Or do them in the main colour above the fair isle pattern and before the trim is added. But the picture in the pattern clearly indicates short rows done in pattern. At the moment. that is my plan and I'm sticking to it. Until defeated.

Thinking through this short-row-in-fair-isle process, Glenna, I now know why we I post about finished knitting instead of progress knitting. Progress reports do nothing to promote the appearance of a high, knitting IQ.


LaurieM said...

This is the point at which I put my knits into "Time Out".


Anonymous said...

'fraid I can't help with the feed systems...never use them to access my favourite sites.

Back to the acrylic fun knit: let me backpedal a bit :) I think it might be an item a person would have to see over your coat in person to really get an idea of. And perhaps it's my monitor, but I can't get a real sense of the colour of the yarn...looks kind of greyish-green on my screen. Might also make a great wig come Halloween or preparing scarecrows for the Meaford Scarecrow contest.

...Thursdays are for Knit Group and Survivor Review would be a great title!

gina c

Joansie said...

Interesting post and food for thought! Is there any steeking involved with this project? Like you, I don't often post my projects in progress.

Anonymous said...

what a gorgeous sweater! I'll be interested to see how you fare with the short rows.

Stephanie said...

I also love in-progress posts, actually. I don't have much to say about my knitting in-progress or after finishing, oddly, but I truly enjoy reading other people's methods to get where they did. So - thumbs up for the progress post! I haven't done a lot of short rows (I really only understand the short row heel), so I don't have much to say to this, though.

Zieknits said...

Gorgeous sweater! Doncha just hate that sinking feeling you get when reading "...while at the same time..." after turning over the pattern instruction page?

I love all pics of knitting in blogs, and enjoy reading about in-progress projects.

Odds are even I'll see you (all) at the library on the 30th! Whoo-hoo!

freshisle said...

I'm afraid I'd pick the easier options - forget them entirely or do the short rows above the fair isle. I'm lazy. And no help at all!

Christy J said...

I am so often a cowardly "blind follower" and EZ can scare me with her confidence that the knitter can wing it and come up with something that looks right. I think I'd try option 3; making some of the leaves a little thicker on the back should still look acceptable. Good luck with the placement of your short rows.

Also, I've just bought the yarn to do the EZ green sweater (grape here) and will be looking back to your Olympic experience. Mine will probably take much longer to knit, languishing inbetween other projects. I don't always do in-progress blogs because I hate to admit how many projects I start and abandon. Most of my knits are straightforward enough that I'm not sure the knitting process is blogworthy - I should challenge myself more often.

Yarn and Ivories said...

Hmmm. Raising-of-the-back-neck short rows... I'm afraid I have no concept of what you're talking about. Do I have to read EZ?
I've gotten carried away at times documenting progress, and end up with 10 blogs for a project. I suppose there's a happy medium?
I'm enjoying your process on the 50th A Cardigan. Keep it up!