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Lazy Summer Days

As of 10am this morning I was still the only one in my office. For a while I wondered if I had missed the take-Friday-off-it's-summer memo.

My knitting, however, is most definitely not taking the summer off. It keeps me hopping. Fair warning: I'm about to delve into a technical discussion that involves knitting math. If this is too much for you (and, hey, I don't blame you if it is) then just click on over to another knitting blog. You have every excuse not to keep reading.


So, one of the things that I like about the Child's Placket Neck Sweater from LMKG is that it's an easy pattern to modify. And you know if there's one thing that Subway Knitter likes doing, it's modifying patterns.

Or I should say that I'm not afraid of doing it. I sometimes don't enjoy the process, but I enjoy bossing around a pattern so that I does what I need it to do.

In this case I needed the pattern to accommodate a different yarn. The yarn that I'm using has a very similar stitch gauge (4.75 sts/in instead of the called-for 4.25 sts/in) to, but a hugely different row gauge (5.25 rows/in instead of the pattern's 8 rows/in) than the Lorna's for which the pattern was designed. Normally, if the stitch gauge is just a wee off, I'll mostly fudge the adjustments. I'll double check the number of cast-on stitches or change the overall amount of decreased or increased stitches. But if the instructions say to bind off three stitches, I'm not going to bother to worry about the fact that, at my gauge, I should be binding off 3.35 stitches. That's not enough of a difference to make a difference (and it goes without saying that one cannot bind off .35ths of a stitch).

But, the significant difference in row gauge and a slight difference in stitch gauge meant that not only would I need to adjust the number of decreased stitches in the shoulder shaping (125 stitches decreased instead of 112) but also that the larger number of decreased stitches would need to be spaced within fewer rows (15 decrease rows in 17 overall rows instead of 14 decrease rows within 26 overall rows).

Is your head spinning yet? Mine certainly was at this point. Furthermore, because these are raglan decreases they need to happen in quantities of 4, 8, 12, or 16 (email me privately if you don't understand why--but to briefly explain: what happens at one raglan needs to happen at all four). Let's think. The pattern decreases eight stitches at a time. 15 x 8 = 120. That's not quite enough stitches for me. How could I add four more decreases to get it to 124? Let's just forget about that extra stitch, 124 or 125, it won't make a huge difference at this gauge.

What if I did a double decrease on one side of each of the the raglan lines in one of the decrease rows? Ha! That'll work. I decided to do it on the first row. So, because four of the decreases are double decreases (and decrease two stitches instead of one), I decreased 12 stitches in that one row instead of only 8. 14 x 8 = 112, 112 + 12 = 124.

Still with me? Good, now follow these instructions: go mix yourself a nice mojito, sit on a beach chair, and relax. It's summer.

All Nighter

No, not really. A more accurate description would be all of 15 minutes.


I had reached the point where the armhole shaping begins. Call it the late summer doldrums, but it took a while to motivate myself to do the calculations. First, I printed off this excellent Knitty article on sleeve shaping. The article's main focus is on shaping the sleeve cap, and it gives little advice about creating the armscye of the sweater body. Still, I was able to fudge some instructions from that.

I find that most armscye shaping on tanks is too wide. I want that armhole to hug my shoulder better, come up higher under my arm and generally provide better coverage. Therefore, I took the general instructions in the Knitty article (alternatively, I could have used the instructions from a favorite pattern as a basis) adjusted them to my gauge, and then shortened the initial bindoff and the total number of stitches decreased. I also measured a favorite tank to get a good neck width. We'll see if this works.

Math Break

So, I know that the Tiger Tank needs some short-row bust shaping.

Maggie Righetti's Sweater Design in Plain English has a great section about how to plan for and create short-row bust shaping. I always pull out my copy and read through this section before I sit down to do the math.


It's not difficult at all, if you follow Maggie's formula. She spells out what to do step-by-step.

A Little More Math

Who knew that knitting required so much math?  It doesn't, if you knit every pattern exactly as it's written.  But, we all know that it's no fun to do that all of the time.

In this case, I really don't have a pattern.  I have a finished sweater in mind.  This means that there's math, and lots of it.

I was feeling pretty good about myself after I decided to knit this cardigan completely in the zig zag rib. "Easy peasy," I thought (with more than a slight hint of smugness).  As I asked a couple of knitters what they thought of my idea, the warm glow of knitting joy left me to be replaced by the cold reality of knitting math.

As Grumperina so correctly pointed out, not only will I need to balance the rib stitches in the raglan decreases, but also the raglan decreases must happen at the same point in the ribbing series of both the sleeves and the sweater body.

Say what?  Go here for a visual explaination.

Now, here's my problem with math, and it's always been my problem with math.  I know how to do the actual math; but what math do I do?  Then again, if that were never a problem, then everyone could be a mathemetician.

This is a challenge, and I'm feeling up to it.  I've started a running log on paper to jot down my thinking and questions.  My hunch tells me that because the ribbing of both the sleeves and the sweater body must be at the same point when the decreases begin, I will need to work backwards when planning the sleeves.  That means that I need to know how many stitches the sleeves will contain at the point when they are joined to the body and the raglan decreases begin.


So, maybe it's less about the math and more about the counting.


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