The good news is that I have finished knitting my Carbeth. The disconcerting news is that I had to knit a third of it twice. Today I share some solutions to problems you may encounter as you make your Carbeth.
Problem No. 1: Armpit Issues
Nothing so humbling as to be almost done with a sweater, only to discover a dreadful error and have to rip back a third of the thing.
My armpits! I placed them incorrectly!
It meant I had too many stitches on the back.
Too few in the front.
The stitch counts are supposed to be equal for front and back. No amount of magical thinking can make it OK for the front and back to have different stitch counts.
The single design element that matters in this pullover—the divine meeting of the decreases in the center—was never going to happen.
I went through all five stages of grief on this one: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
My fatal error required a redo so as to make the decreases hit the way they’re supposed to.
Solution: Count. Whenever the pattern gives you a stitch count, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.
Related: Make sure your armpits are where you need them to be.
Problem No. 2: Misshapen Decreases
Maybe you’re finding that your Carbeth decreases aren’t looking as great as you’d like. Been there.
For years, I had a problem that plagued me—in cables and in sweaters generally: my slip-slip-knit decreases never looked good. Anytime I made a slip-slip-knit decrease, it looked wobbly, with the stitch on top too big. Not nearly as tidy as my knit-2-together decreases, which always looked trim ’n’ sassy.
It was Patty Lyons’s quick how-to on Facebook that gave me a whole new maneuver for my SSKs, one that is based on an understanding of why a stitch is loose or tight. I love this maneuver, what she calls a one-move SSK, so much.
The decreases on the right are the Patty Lyons One-Move SSKs. To be clear: no stitches were slipped in the creation of those SSKs. It’s just a maneuver—a wiggle of the needle—and all of a sudden, you’ve decreased. Awesome.
Solution: Do what Patty says.
Problem No. 3: Yarn Shortage
I’ve had questions about running short on yarn. Do I ever reuse swatch yarn in a project?
The answer with this Carbeth: yes. I ran out of my beloved Shibui Drift about twenty rows shy of the end of the collar. I had made a big swatch with my Drift doubled, to see if that was going to be the right weight and gauge—I used more than half a skein, back when the horizon was wide open.
When I frogged the swatch, the resulting yarn looked like what would happen, back in the day, when my sister Buffy and I would braid our hair wet, then sleep on it.
Which is exactly what June Hemmons Hiatt says about yarn, and blocking, and the relative lack of permanence in blocking: it’s like styling your hair. It will hold up until the next time you wash it.
I took this little wrinkly skein to my Yarn Treatment Department and gave it a 30-minute soak with some wool wash. I didn’t touch it at all—no yanking, pulling, or otherwise fooling with it. I let it dry completely, and voila:
Smooth! Fluffy! Ready to go.
I have been known to frog something and immediately reknit the thing I’d just undone. But in the case of this swatch yarn, which had been knitted and washed weeks ago, I felt that the kinks might look weird when reknitted, even if the kinks might be eliminated when I finished the whole sweater and blocked it. After my counting tragedy, I didn’t want to take any chances.
Here’s my unblocked Carbeth. (Apologies for all the shades of eggplant in this post—none of these photos capture the truly glory of this deep shade, but this one is very close. I’m firing my photo editor!)
Looking forward to blocking this with a dinner plate, as Kate Davies suggests.
Has anyone out there had trouble with reknitting a superkinked yarn?
Also: It’s so fantastic to see all the Carbeths coming along at the Instagram #bangoutacarbeth. Keep banging away!