September 24, 2012

Aran Report

My Irish Aran is coming along nicely.  It has, however, made me realize that I jump into knitting difficult projects with my brain in the "off" position.  There have been a few self-imposed bumps on this road to knitting glory, even though I am only 2.5 chart repeats into the project, so I thought it would be helpful to all if I offered a bit of hindsight advice before you cast on for your own Aran sweater.

First, although these types of sweaters are traditionally knit on straight needles, and I was initially all in for the traditional way of knitting this sweater, straight needles are for the birds!  Trying to cable 122 back panel stitches in worsted wool on 14-inch US 7 needles is just, well, dumb.  It's even more ridiculous if you have chosen straight bamboo needles with rounded tips that aren't all that savvy for picking up stitches off of a cable needle.  After several excruciating hours of dropping stitches every time I tried to spread out the panel to make sure my cables were twisting in the correct direction, I realized that both my knitting project and I would be far happier with a little more breathing room.  Definitely, a 24-inch circular needle is the better way to go!  Second, while it is supposedly "faster" to cable without a cable needle, if your knitting needles aren't honed to a sharp point (bamboo with rounded tips is more aggravation than anyone should have in her life in this case--trust me, as I knit 16 rows before getting a clue), then use a cable needle.  Otherwise, you will drop at least one stitch, and it will be the most difficult one to pick up and fix, from a cable-in-progress on every cable across the row.  I now have hours of experience with this particular issue.  Since I remedied the straight knitting needle problem with my Harmony circs, however, I have found that I no longer need a cable needle and can knit along through those cables with little to no difficulty whatsoever.  Third, that swatching thing ... you should probably not knit with reckless abandon to all common sense like I do.  You should probably swatch.  I was lucky this time in finding the exact gauge, weight, and yardage that I needed in my stash for this project, which I verified AFTER having knit an entire 16 rows of the back  panel of this sweater.  It's probably better, especially if you don't have your own duck-tape dummy on which the compare what you've knit with what you can actually fit into, for you to swatch.  That gauge thing, in this case, is REALLY important because cables always pull your knitting inward and cause a bit of a reduction in the width of your project.  Do as I say, not as I do. ;)

At present, I am pleased as punch about how this is knitting up!  I've even had thoughts about knitting all of the Irish Aran sweaters in this particular book as I've coasted across the wrong-side rows ... Just maybe not this year.



I hope your current project is moving along nicely.  And if you are between projects right now, well, don't you think it's about time that you cast on for something new? Can't you hear those Irish cables calling your name?

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