If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

Perfect Sweater: Scary Scary Scary!

Dear Kay, and All You Holiday Shoppers,
So what was in the Mystery Box?
Good guesses, y’all, but the box was not a Hogwarts trunk nor a Skynard box, nor did it contain Elton John and Dolly Parton, a generator, airline food, a spinning wheel, an upside-down Christmas tree, or our book.*
The Mystery Box held a Segway.
There has been endless curiosity about Segways in our household ever since seeing them at Disney World, so for Hubbo’s birthday we rented one for a week. Do not ask me how to rent a Segway; I have no idea. All I know is that last Monday, the Mystery Box showed up in our basement.
It’s really cool. The 17-minute Video of Terror instructs you how to operate it, but it mostly shows you every single way you can wipe out on a Segway. After viewing this orthopedist’s catalogue of opportunity, Hubbo and I looked at each other: This was a terrible idea. Kids will never be able to ride this thing. We have made a huge mistake. But as with anything involving balance, hand controls, and speed, kids are much better at Segwaying than grownups. All the visiting fambly took a spin. After watching a dozen kids whiz around, and a half dozen adults performing varying degrees of goofy behavior, I realized that the 16-year-old age limit is the maximum age, not minimum.
After a week of trying to figure out a practical use for this contraption, we realized that there’s probably a big market for, uh, renting them out to people for a week.
Perfect Sweater: Speaking of Hair-raising . . .
Your devoted yet disorganized test knitter has finally finished all the pieces to the first beta version pattern which we’re calling Perfect Sweater: Beta Version. It’s a damned good thing I’m testing this, because despite the fact that this ought to have been the Simplest Pattern Ever Written, I’ve made all sorts of mistakes. Feel free to fire me at any moment; it’s too embarrassing to tell you all the pfaff-ups I’ve made–OK here are a couple just to make you feel good.
1. Right Side Versus Wrong Side. I clearly have some kind of Side Dyslexia, because the pattern I wrote called for stuff to be done on the wrong side when in fact it was clearly a right-side event. R means “right.” Just keep repeating that.
2. Decreases. Decrease Dyslexia. I put the k2togs on the right side of the sleeve cap, and the slip slip knits on the left side. The resulting sleeve caps have what we call “Frankenstein scar” moments where stitches do the unthinkable and slant the wrong direction. It’s just too awful to show you. OK here it is just to make you feel good.
Gruesome! I figured out my mistake only by studying the Fern sweater which has polite little bands of two stitches marching along the sleeve seams.
3. Sleeve Insertion Problems. No, this has nothing to do with family planning. In a cavalier, carefree moment I decided to try Ann Budd’s suggestion for sewing in a set-in sleeve.
This meant throwing away all the hard-earned set-in-sleeve skills I had achieved after worshipfully following the Word of Rowan, even the “carefully ease cap of sleeve into top of armhole to create a slight curve”–an order that ranks up there with “slightly stretch the buttonhole band.” Slight. SO slight. I knew how to make a slight damn curve in my sleeve cap. But Ann Budd makes no mention of slight curve, in fact exhorts a person to just match up the stitches and have at it. Sort of like some drop-shoulder-style piece of cake. It sounded so much easier than carefully easing. Yes, it was too good to be true. The result is too awful too see–OK here it is just to make you feel good.
See the top of the sleeve? How flat that connection is? A set-in sleeve ought to be a little three-dimensional–you know, so it’ll fit a human shoulder, not the edge of a box. (AND QUIT LOOKING AT THAT FRANKENSTEIN SCAR. It can’t help it.)
Now. There is some good news amid the horrors.
Ms. Small took a spin on the catwalk, and it looks like the usual bugaboo of my existence, the sleeves, are actually an acceptable length for her. The length is good too. The neckhole is large enough for her head to fit through. The three-needle bind-off really did require only three needles. And the seam looked like a seam. The yarn didn’t fall apart.
Small mercies. I’m grateful for the small mercies.
I’m off to futz some more and fix stuff. At this point I welcome comments, suggestions, and tasty helpful tidbits. And I want to be sure that nobody’s freaked out by my rambling about set-in sleeves. (LIBBY. You are going to knit this sweater.) This is going be a very manageable pattern, I promise. Once it’s written in a knittable way.
All you patient test-knitters: I’ll be sending this off to you this week. The deadline is next Monday–OK I’m just kidding. We’re not going to get hung up on the deadline thing, are we?
*Book update: Kay’s still running the mimeograph machine, and I’ve got to buy some more staples before it’ll be done. Did we mention that it’s going to be a coloring book?




  1. Seaming already! Well, alrighty then, it is coming along nicely. I wouldn’t panic over the set-in sleeves. It looks okay to me, and if you think it’s too flat, then just add a few rows to the cap. “Ease” is a relative thing. I ordered my yarn and I’m itching to cast on.

  2. Frankenstein, exactly, that’s what the Segway, not your seaming reminds me of. But apropos of how you feel putting this monster together, I’d like to remind you of one of Gene Wilder’s best moments from possibly my very favorite movie:
    “Destiny, destiny, no escaping that for me!”
    I mean, it’s all about Trusting the Process, right?

  3. Great day in the mornin’, who rents a Segway for a week? Crazy Nashvilleans, that’s who!
    Hey, that’s Ann’s kitchen! I been there oncet.

  4. While the adults may look goofy, they do seem to be having an awful lot of fun. The kids too. You always have to give kids the opportunity to point and laugh at the elders. It’s what makes the world go round.

  5. Oh, there’s NOTHING like the smell and feel of a fresh mimeograph. Can’t wait!! ; )

  6. I’m already loaded on sniffing the mimeograph fumes. I’ll sniff and sniff unless its a quiz (no quizzes at MDK, right?) I am very excited to knit this….I may have to order yarn. I’d love to do a v-neck test knit–I need a sweater DESPERATELY.

  7. there’s a guy in my area that rides a Segway to and fro work, in his suit, tie flapping in the breeze…
    anxiously awaiting the pattern like everyone else! Looks fantastic!

  8. Looks great! No really, it does! My sleeve caps always look like that-but I’m no Rowanette…what does ‘gently ease’ mean?

  9. Oh, my-I am SO glad that someone else has the RS/WS problem. For heaven’s sake, I have a PhD in English, yet I find myself incapable of understanding that just because “wrong” starts with an “r” sound, it does not actually begin with the letter R. Side dyslexia indeed.

  10. I love the look of set-in sleeves but most of the time, mine look like crap. This whole easing thing is hard! I’d love to know how to make it look purdy.

  11. Has anyone else had any experince with the Cascade 220 Quattro knitting up to a different gauge from the regular Cascade 220? Or is this just me?

  12. omg. set in sleeves. yeeek! I’m up for my first ever set in sleeves tonight. i’ll call it practice for the Perfect Sweater 🙂

  13. Kristy, I once used Cascade 220 and 220 Quattro together in a felting project and seem to remember the Quattro seemed a bit thinner than the 220. That would definitely give you a slightly different gauge (that is, if you were actually knitting gauge swatches and not planning on throwing the whole shootin’ match in the washing machine for some fulling like I was). How off is your gauge? Should be easy enough to adjust the pattern once we get the specs. We are a loving group, willing to help, and not afraid of the maths.

  14. Nope. Not knitting it – especially if it involves sleeves. Have I introduced you to my oldest UFO? A sweater, with sleeves, waiting to be pieced together? It’s REALLY SAD.
    OK, I’ll make a stipulation. I will knit it, only if someone will come and show me how to not do the sleeve sewing-on, and how to NOT make my sweater look like a reject from some “hip” designer’s catwalk.

  15. Thank you for showing us the — um — challenges. It does make me feel better, especially after making a “pair” of gloves — both left handed.

  16. It’s all part of the design process – or at least it is at my house! The end result will be gorgeous, of that I am perfectly certain.

  17. So excited. SO EXCITED to knit this. I can’t wait to see what the testers are working on.

  18. Stoned on mimeograph fumes? A little extra something for those of us buying the book? We can wait for the pattern, as long as we’re sniffing.
    The sweater looks perfect from here.

  19. So pleased to know you are human-knitters, but still think it looks generally great, can’t wait for size med.

  20. As long as you used the same decreasing technique on both sleeve caps, it’s okay, Ann. It’s called full-fashioning, and many designers do it ON PURPOSE (gasp!). So see, what you have is a feature, not a flaw. xox,

  21. You were right. All those little pictures made me feel good. I’m sorry. It is just so nice to know I’m not the only one who does things like that.
    This will be a pretty sweater. In the end. You *are* going to do a cardigan version, complete with buttonband instructions for idiots like me, right? In Large, thank you very much.

  22. glory be….what happens if we knit up all the pieces, and you end up receiving the truckload to assemble? i believe i’ll have stage fright, otherwise. besides, you are setting trendy trends here…..and i’m so proud of you!

  23. I’m seeing a series of parties here: the wind-up party; the hem party; the waist shaping party; the three-needle castoff shoulder seam party; the sleeve party; the setting-in party; the blocking party; the sewing up party; the button band party.
    If we all do it together (and if there’s at least ONE person at each party who knows what he or she is doing) it will be fab.
    Then the people in the lounge can join us for the “I’m wearing the *%^&(# sweater” party!

  24. if it’s any consolation, each of the pictures posted so I’d “feel good” actually made my groan in solidarity. I’ve made those mistakes and I will make them again. I feel your pain and thank you for working out the kinks of this pattern so I won’t make them with this, the Perfect sweater.

  25. How about The Perfect Vest? Then you can eliminate all those pesky sleeve problems! Seriously, I admire your skills so much – whatever you might think of them. You dare to go where I never would. Courage! (to borrow the phrase from Dan Rather).

  26. Oh my gosh.. the sweater is great.. I mean really.. are ya gonna walk around with your arm held OUT like that? I think not.. and when you put your arm down, the sleeve is going to look fine…
    Relax.. and knit on!

  27. There was a time when I knew onlt one decrease – k2tog – and decided that it decresed the number of stitches just fine and why would I need those others. The resulting sweater has nicely sloping decreases on one side, and huge frankenstein scars on the other (bulky yarn). I learned my lesson and now can increase and decrease in many ways.
    I had a woman shopping in the store I work at who rode a Segway. We thought it might be for a disability, but she could walk fine. Once we realized that, we were a little annoyed because the store was really crowded after thanksgiving and she was not yielding the aisles and was taking up a lot of space. Please don’t take it shopping.

  28. Am I the only one thinking “Blimey, she knitted that FAST!” It’s looking good – I can’t wait for the larger patterns!

  29. So now I’ve revisited the mimeograph, and am now wondering what made those *purple* copied pages in school. Ack, this will drive me mad…

  30. Beautiful, beautiful. I have my yarn and I too am itching to cast on.
    Mary deB- The smelly purple pages were Dittos. Made by a Ditto Machine, of course.

  31. I loved the smell of the ditto machine . . .and that episode of Candid Camera where the papers spit out (I guess that makes me old).

  32. At least I’m not the only one constantly having to think about which side R is. I mean, both have an rrr sound to them. Sakes!

  33. Ah, thanks, KT. Dittos! The thrill in grade 6 or 7 when we got to make our own for some project or other!
    Old Mary deB

  34. Well the kids certainly looked like they were having fun watching the adults on the Segway.
    Coloring book? Really? My daughter will be enthralled.

  35. I am so glad that I learnt mattress stitching..use that even on the slevees so no pins…sorry I am that finicky.

  36. If you want fumes, you’ll be wanting the Spirit Duplicator, aka Ditto machine.

  37. Looking over the last post and this one I had a thought…I think you need to put your kids in the sweaters you need photographed before letting them ride the Segway– everyone seemed perfectly content to stand up straight and be photographed while riding it.


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