Aw look! One pattern, 364 versions of the MDK New Ancestral Christmas Stocking.

The Ditch: A Cautionary Tale, with Free Advice

donegalends.jpg
Dear Kay,
This one is going to be REAL QUICK, because it was not the most joyous knitting ever, but it was necessary.
Back when I started this Donegal pullover, back in 2008, back in the Bush Administration, I was so carefree. I would get to the end of a round, figure out what yarns needed to end and begin, and by golly just drop one and add in another. It’s definitely the fastest way to go, but in the long term, you pay a bitter, sour price:
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The Ditch of Poor Planning: a raggedy line, with holes and warbly bits and whatnot on the front, a wilderness of ends on the back. Ends don’t really bother me (everything ends, right?), but the bad look of the front has been a sore point for lo these many years.
By the time I got to the sleeves, I’d decided that spit-splicing was the ticket–it’s a fiddly minute every time you swap out a yarn, but it gives such a smooth transition and lack of ends that it is clearly the better way to go. As I limped my way through the sleeves, at least I had the satisfaction that done meant Done. And they looked OK. (The dark line is the stitch that marks the end of a round. There are splices all around that line, but the pattern is so nutty that you can’t see where the various colors swap out.)
donegalsleeveseam.jpg
Back to The Ditch. I wove in the ends, paying attention to where the holes and warbly bits were, crossing an end over a hole before weaving it in on the far side of the hole to mimic what happens when you strand a yarn. I did a fair amount of futzing and generally faking it up as best I could.
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I left a quarter-inch tail on each woven end just because I absolutely did not want any of this to unravel. I don’t think this is necessary, but it’s like sticking one foot out of the covers to keep claustrophobia at bay. Does it help? Probably not. But I’m still going to do it.
The finished seam came out fine.
donegalfixedseam.jpg
I, on the other hand, am still shuddering.
For those of you thinking, Oh, I’m never doing any of THAT, I a) don’t really blame you and b) encourage you to try spit-splicing when you’re doing any sort of knitting involving a wooly yarn. It absolutely does not work with non-wool yarns, or wools blended with too much of another non-wooly fiber. But it makes for an elegant lack of ends, and it will save a little yarn if you’re working a blanket or have a worry that you don’t have enough yarn.
And with this, I’m gonna lay down my heavy load, down by the riverside.
Love,
Ann
PS Speaking of which, Hubbo provides the joy of the day: Sister Rosetta Tharpe rockin’ it with “Down By the Riverside.” This will turn your frown upside down, I promise.

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41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Wow. One end at a time, right? Wow. Magnifique!

  2. Love me some Sister Rosetta Tharpe. All in favour of laying down heavy loads… Your “seam” there looks wonderful!

  3. Extremely impressive transformation!!!

  4. Don’t think I wasn’t terribly impressed by your hard work.
    I just can’t believe I’ve had the lyrics to “Down by the Riverside” so very wrong for all these years. And it’s a song I sing with some frequency. What must my cats think?

  5. You got a great result. Well done! I’m afraid I just tie knots, which seems to work OK with shetland yarn.

  6. You are a wonder, Ann. The sweater is AMAZING! And we are going to see you modeling this work of art soon, I hope?

  7. Beautiful transformation. I love the spit splice. Works great, even in a savagely blocked shawk it does not fail.

  8. Beautiful finish, sorry for your troubles. As a side note, I first heard the tune of “Down By The Riverside” as sung by Allan Sherman” Don’t Buy The Liverwurst”… in this clip at 5:25, although the whole thing is pretty fabulous in a borscht belt kind of way.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vR9cT6Jyg4

  9. Heh! Like Jen, I too knew “Don’t Buy the Liverwurst” before I heard the original words to the tune. What can I say? My parents were big on comedy albums.
    Remember, knitters, if you’re making a cardigan (or a blanket, for that matter) in stranded knitting you switch out the colors at the main steek, so the yarn ends will be tidied up in the course of trimming the steek. If you’re as klutzy at spit-splicing as I am, but want a stranded pullover, put the change-yarns point under one arm where the side seam would be in a knit-flat garment. Then any sloppiness in spit-splicing or weaving-in of ends will be hidden most of the time anyway.

  10. Well, that was a lot of ends. I hope you took a picture of all the yarn clippings.
    And that was a wonderful video clip. My boys, ages 5 and 2, know the words to that song, because we regularly listen to Peter Paul and Mary in the car. I get flak from my husband for turning them into little hippies, but I feel like I am Doing right by them.

  11. Gretchen–Yes yes exactly exactly! The ultimate is when you can just chop off the ends when cutting a steek. That’s where I put the ends on the armholes. Snip snip gone!

  12. The finished product is beautiful. Thanks for the Sister Rosetta Tharpe video — I’ve had great dose of her over the past few days. Our local PBS station ran a documentary on her last week that was a real treat.

  13. Another excellent way to avoid that ditch is to make ‘seams’ down the side. Cast on an extra stitch between the front and the back, p it on all rounds. You can leave all the colors attached and catch them up the side until you’re ready to work them, or you can hide your join there. It also hides the color change really well.

  14. The only phrase in this post that I truly understand is “spit splicing.” The rest of the project is above my skill level, but I do appreciate this sweater as a work of art and a demonstration of sheer tenacity. Also, many thanks to Jen for posting the YouTube link that gave me those first laughs of the day.

  15. The only phrase in this post that I truly understand is “spit splicing.” The rest of the project is above my skill level, but I do appreciate this sweater as a work of art and a demonstration of sheer tenacity. Also, many thanks to Jen for posting the YouTube link that gave me those first laughs of the day.

  16. Congrats Ann, on finishing a multi-presidential- administration sweater, with nearly as many ends as we have had political changes in these last few years. Women running for president? Spit-splicing? It’s a brave new world. You are an inspiration to all unfinished knitwear hoarders, with your truthful, seam-revealing documentation. Thanks for all the tutorials on How Not To Do What I Did.

  17. Hey, it looks great, and it took less time than the Iraq War, plus WAY less prevaricating! Thank you for the spit lesson, I’m taking it to heart.

  18. Hey, it looks great, and it took less time than the Iraq War, plus WAY less prevaricating! Thank you for the spit lesson, I’m taking it to heart.

  19. If you are laying down your sword and shield, does this mean the next post be a picture of you IN the sweater? Looking forward to it with great anticipation!
    (And I want to know what Kathy has been singing!)

  20. …”down by the riverside” ~ I heard the music before I got to the link.
    Your Donegal ‘ditch’ is no more! Lovely job of end-weaving. Quick, wear it before the cold weather ends (and send us a photo).

  21. I shall never use the words “wimp” and “steek” together, ever. Especially not after the heroine’s journey of your sweater. Congratulations!
    (Btw, my hubbo is a big fan of Sister Rosetta Tharpe as well. I love that :)

  22. So beautiful! When can we see you model it?
    And I do soooooo love the spit splice. Don’t tell my gift recipients that I spit on their presents…

  23. Amen, sister, you’re done!
    And hallelujah, it’s glorius!

  24. I, for one, ain’t gonna study war no more.
    And by study war, I mean, knit Alice Starmore sweaters.

  25. Congradulations! You did it! El Fin! Run credits! It’s beautiful!

  26. Congradulations! You did it! El Fin! Run credits! It’s beautiful!

  27. Congradulations! You did it! El Fin! Run credits! It’s beautiful!

  28. I’ve had to do that careful weaving ends to make it look less wonky, and while it works I definitely prefer to at least not have to be that careful when doing the weaving. That is my laziness talking for certain. Hey, at least it worked. I don’t want to imagine the angst and sadness that would have resulted if the ditch had still been obvious.

  29. Oh boy, I grew up on Allen Sherman’s my son the nut!
    Love the result. No ditch in sight. Still not sure I’m up for it, but it is lovely.
    Oops. Just got hit on the head by a falling lacrosse stick on the train. Time to go.

  30. Beautiful! Congratulations!

  31. Thanks to Jen for the link to Alan Sherman! When an eel bites your arm and does bodily harm that’s a moray…

  32. Amen!

  33. The finished sweater is so wonderful! You must be so happy to have it all done!
    i just finished the sheep heid and was dismayed to see a similar ditch (only not so long – it was a hat after all). Next time I’m spit-splicing!

  34. Really finished? Kria Elayson! Listen, Ann–er–that heavy load is not fully set down by the riverside; you’re still holding onto a piece of it. Like we haven’t seen a picture of the completed project. modeled on–someone… :)
    Looking forward to it!
    LoveDiane

  35. Sooo beautiful, Ann! I can’t believe you had the patience to get it finished…
    margiinmaryland

  36. Wow! I’ve read and read about it and never tried it, but… I may now be a convert.

  37. We knitters are a well-rounded bunch, aren’t we? In one post we discuss spit-splicing, Fair Isle, presidential administrations, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and my new favorite song “Don’t Buy The Liverwurst”. Thanks, Jen, for that link! Love it!

  38. thanks for the joy of the day – it was indeed. i remember when i was a young girl, my mother and her sister my aunt, sitting side by side at the piano, playing and harmonizing this song together…lovely memories – and man, can that sister rosetta tharpe rip!

  39. Lordy Lordy!

  40. Modeled shot! We want our modeled shot!

  41. I actually like weaving in ends – just call me crazy. Congratulations on going back to this long lost UFO and finishing it. I have the body sans sleeves…..send me your address and I’ll send it your way!