Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Last week, when I posted about working the raising-of-the-back-neck short rows on my Elizabeth Zimmermann 50th Anniversary Sweater, I worried about how to do them in fair isle. But determined to "do my best, to do my duty..." said it was my intention to do them in fair isle unless defeated. Defeat came swiftly.

Not defeated by the knitting or the chart or the pattern. But by this.

I ran out of yarn -the colour required to work the fair isle pattern. Hmmm. No learning opportunity for Brenda. Short rows would have to be done the good old fashioned way - just simply back and forth in one colour.

For Yarn and Ivories who was brave enough to comment on the short row post to say she had no idea what 'raising-of-the-back-neck short rows' were and for all the others too shy to admit to it, here are a couple of shots of "raising-of-the-back-neck short rows.

Below you see the back neck of the sweater. Note how many rows of knitting there are above the dark dot of stitching.

Now take a look at the front of the sweater.

See how many fewer rows of knitting there are above the dark dots? This happens because I didn't knit all the way around to the front of the sweater when doing those short rows across the back. (Hence the name 'short rows' - they stop short of going all the way across the row or round.)

I did 3 sets of short rows, knitting a little bit closer to the front with each set, so as to have a gradual decline towards the less-knitted front. If the knitting stopped at the same place in each short row, of course there would be a great 'step' in the knitting.

30 years ago, when I sensed that those chunky fair isle ski sweaters we all knit needed a better fitting neck than the pattern suggested, I knit my version of short rows with that great step. Intrinsically knowing that the back needed to be higher than the front, but not being an experienced enough knitter to know how to do that, I used to simply knit back and forth across the back a few times. Then, of course, I had to camouflage the step-down that led to the front of the sweater. Since then, I've learned the art of gradual inclines.

That's explains how they are done but Yarn and Ivories question to me also suggested that she wondered 'why' one would do them.

One does them to have the sweater neck be more anatomically correct. Because we have chins, we need our sweater fronts to be lower than our sweater backs. The knitter can either make the centre front of the sweater shorter than the centre back or the reverse - make the centre back higher than the centre front. The latter is what Elizabeth Zimmermann suggests. Since this is her year - that is what I did.

Now I'm off to cut that steek. I'm thinking of crocheting it. That's my plan, and I'm sticking to it. Until defeated.


Joansie said...

Great job! I think EZ's book should be required reading for all knitters. I love her approach to knitting!

Stephanie said...

Well, at least it wasn't too hard to come to a decision and have to go through wrong-side colorwork? There's good sides to being 'defeated'!

Anonymous said...

"Because we have chins, we need our sweater fronts to be lower than our sweater backs." ...so true, except for those of us with multiple chins who need the help of extended turtle-neck sweaters to help camouflage the situation! :)

Though I suspect even the construction of a turtle neck will begin lower at the front than the back. Thanks so much for your tech help, Brenda!

Gina C.