Abalone: Part Two
After determining the number of stitches to cast on for my Abalone, things were smooth sailing for awhile. I worked the increases as specified in the pattern until I had 126 stitches and then began to work flat stockinette. After several inches, however, I realized that the yarn was pooling in a way that I did not like. The colors were stacking – blue and green together, pink and white together. It was very unpleasant looking and made me sad.
I set it aside to think about it for a bit before deciding I would rather have the sweater be a little bit smaller (not come as far around in front) than pool, so I ripped back past the last couple of sets of increase rows to 122 stitches, and tried again. After another 8 rows of plain knitting, it was still pooling, so I ripped back to 118 and worked some more stockinette. Still pooling. Finally, I ripped back to 114 stitches, and tried one last time – this time alternating skeins as well. One skein was wound backward so the color repeat changed directions too. This worked pretty well, and I was finally able to get something I like. With 12 fewer stitches, the sweater’s likely to be about 2″ smaller, but that’s okay with me. I can do an extra inch of the edging on the sides if I feel like it needs it later on.
Once I got settled into the stockinette, I discovered that even without alternating every two rows the yarn wasn’t pooling much – the repeat changed ever so slightly partway through the skeins – so I ended up being able to work quite a few rows without switching skeins. Success! Once I sorted that out, it didn’t take long to reach the 40cm length called for by the pattern. I held the sweater up to me and it looks good – so now I’m ready to split for the armholes. I laid it out to measure and make sure I was on the right track before moving on.
(pardon the rough edge on the bottom – it’s not quite as curved as it was meant to be since I fudged the final stitch count, and I blocked it fairly severely to mimic the weight of the fabric pulling down on itself.) The dimensions at this point are 26″ across and 40cm down – sounds good to me! I should gain about an inch through washing and blocking, too.
The next step is to do some more math. The pattern calls for 21% of the stitches to be reserved for the right front, 21% for the left front, and 58% for the back. With my 114 stitches, this ends up being 23.94, 66.12, 23.94. Because of the change I made to the finished stitch count, I’m also going to take into account the division if I had used 126 stitches: 26.46, 73.08, 26.46. It’s the middle measurement i am most concerned with – this will dictate how much fabric there is across the back. Using the lower number, 66, may cause the back to stretch too much, while using the larger number, 73, will make the fronts even narrower. What happens if I go with 70 sts for the back? At my gauge of 18 sts/4″, this will give a back width of 15.5″, which is just about spot-on according to my measurements. This leaves 114 – 70 = 44 stitches for the fronts, or 22 stitches per side – giving sides of about 5″ each. I think this will work nicely, so I’m off to work on the sweater some more!