Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Stupidity or Conspiracy?

Bit by bit, I've continued making progress on the zipper-front jacket that I'm working on from the Winter 2004/05 issue of Vogue Knitting. I've come to an odd point in the pattern that has me wondering whether I am stupid or whether there is a conspiracy afoot.

The sweater is knit beginning with one wide piece that will then separate into right side, back, and left side to be worked separately when it comes time to begin shaping the armholes. I'm just a few rows away from this point right now.

Before I began the project, I skimmed through the pattern to be sure there was nothing lurking there that might cause me problems. You know the type of thing I mean: Over the next 4.7 rows decrease by 3.2 stitches. Decreases are accomplished by twirling in circles while standing near the equator and knitting stitches together. Okay. Maybe nothing that extreme, but I do search for certain things I dread, such as the mere whisper of the word steek. (Yes, I know it's silly, but I can't help it. I suffer from FOSD - Fear of Steeks Disease.)

Thankfully, I found no such oddities in my quick skim of the pattern and dove right in. Perhaps the fact that I only skimmed the pattern quickly is the first bit of evidence leaning toward stupidity as the answer to my question rather than conspiracy. I should have read closer.

Now that I'm right there on the verge of beginning to split the stitches onto holders and work the portions separately as I shape the armholes, I read the pattern more closely. The first thing that jumped out at me is that it instructs me - the trusting and dutiful knitter - to place 64 stitches on a holder for the left front, 119 for the back, and 59 for the right front, with four stitches of bind off before and after the back stitches. The numbers add up correctly to account for the 280 stitches on the needles at the start, but why oh why would I hold 59 for one side and 64 for the other?

The sweater is a zipper-front with no odd panel or strange assymetrical detail, so why would I have five more stitches on one side than the other? The stitch pattern is a 3-stitch repeat so it's clearly not a bit of fudging to maintain a full pattern repeat, since the difference in the two sides is 5 stitches. Perhaps the designer assumes that many women have one breast larger than the other and she is kindly accounting for this in her design? (Yes, I'm joking here, but I suppose the mere fact that I would type anything so ludicrous adds further weight on the side of stupidity over conspiracy?)

At this point, I decided it was about time that I checked the Vogue Knitting site for errata. (Again, perhaps stupidity that I didn't do that before beginning!) But alas, no. No errata listed for this pattern. I then began a Google search to see if any other knitters out there have worked this pattern and noticed this oddity. I Googled and clicked and clicked and Googled until my mouse hand was numb. Apparently, I am the only knitter in the cyber world who has knit this pattern.

Back to the pattern again. I continued reading to see if this mystery would resolve itself further into the pattern. First, I jumped ahead to see if the left and right front would land in the same place, with the same number of stitches remaining to be joined for the top of the shoulder on each side. Oddly, the answer was Yes. This can mean only one thing. That is, that the armhole decreases on each side also don't match. A quick glance at the details of armhole shaping and indeed that is the case. The pattern has each armhole being shaped differently. The two sleeves, of course, are to be mirror images of one another, so why the two armholes would be shaped differently is quite beyond me.

At this point, I am leaning again toward conspiracy. I must stop myself from believing this though. What would be the point of such a conspiracy? And don't tell me that it's probably just an error and not a conspiracy! The designer wrote the pattern. A test knitter must have also been involved. In fact, with a pattern for Vogue Knitting, one would hope that there were a couple of test knitters. Then there's the editor or editors. Did nobody in this line-up of knitting experts notice that there are issues? Or am I just stupid and completely overlooking a perfectly rational explanation for this odd construct?

At this point, I'm leaning toward a plan to rebalance the number of stitches for right and left front and to adjust the armhole shaping a bit (and - imagine this - use the same shaping on both sides!). I'm just a bit hesitant about all of this. It seems so much more likely that I'm missing something and that what I'm reading as an error is in fact intentional and has some grand purpose in the design that I cannot see. So which is it: My Stupidity or Their Conspiracy?

In the short-run, I'm following a different plan. I'm coldly ignoring the zipper-front sweater. I cast on a new sock a couple of days ago. And it's so damn cute I can hardly breathe when I look at it.

This is a special sock pattern with a purpose. More to come on that in an upcoming post! Everyone have a wonderful day!


Peggy said...

Love the new sock! Which colors are you using?

The sweater dilemma is a doozy. I guess I would blindly go ahead and follow the pattern. Simply because someone has obviously worked out the difference for some reason. If the shaping was the same for both sides and the stitch number alone was different, I would rework it to match.

Good luck!

sulafaye said...

I hope your sweater dilemma works out for you! I'm sure no matter what you decide to do you can make it look great.

katrog said...

I say--use your common sense--and adjust. I just about went nuts last year with a simple baby blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting that is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong in the stitch count. It's not on the errata page either. I have heard that Vogue Knitting is not very responsive with errors and that people have had better luck in contacting the designers directly. The real kicker is that in the current issue of Vogue in one of their round tables someone makes a very condescending remark about all the free patterns on the web, implying that they are all crap and riddled with errors. Sorry for the mini-rant:)

Sock is gorgeous--what beautiful colors.


Lynne E. said...

ROTFL! The one really good thing that I took away from a brief fling with machine knitting, was a willingness to rip. Thus patterns like this don't bother me a lot. My guess is that the different armhole shaping fixes an earlier mistake made in the knitting of the model. The one thing I'd check, though--before dividing the stitches evenly for the fronts--is whether there is anything about the zipper installation that might require more fabric on one side of the center front.

Your socks look like they're using Citrus, Gentle Peach, and Lime Kiwi. I'm doing some socks of my own design with this color combination, but they're going rather slowly because I decided to use Fair Isle stranding. You used better sense, it appears, by going with stripes.

~Tonia~ said...

So sorry that the sweater is giving you fits.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the sock!!!! I can't wait to hear more about it. I NEED to know what that pattern is.

Chrispy said...

I looked up the pattern on ravelry and there are 2 zippered jackets from that issue. 2 people had knit jacket 12 and one jacket 22. If you email me, I can send you their blog links.

Judith said...

go with your instincts about the pattern numbers on the sweater being off and readjust to your heart's content. Having been both a pattern proofreader and a testknitter, it's amazing to me that no matter how many conscientious hands a pattern goes through, some errors will still slip by. Some more than others! Cute socks!!