Thursday, September 21, 2006

Round the Cape of Equanimity: part 1

Sorry for the double publishing - couldn't resist adding a few pics, now that we're home from the photo shop.

One of my very favorite things to do as a knitter is to sit down with a whack of yarn and a great big stitch dictionary and Make Something, changing patterns as the mood strikes me. I hate swatching, (although I have - at last - reached the level of self-discipline wherein I do it for the sake of properly fitted results) so I much prefer to have a wearable (or at least functional) object at the end of all this impulsiveness, as opposed to a bunch of little squares. (I know, I could make a blanket, but I hate seaming even more than I hate swatching.) Sometimes it becomes what I had in mind, and sometimes it goes for a little ride in the washing machine. Virtually anything (wool things, anyway) can become a nifty felted bag.

This time it's an Aran cape, with Barbara Walker's first and second Treasuries to pick from as the mood strikes. The wool is Briggs and Little Regal in Horizon Blue
b and l blue
2700 yards (it was a really good sale) of worsted weight ought to at least get down to my waist, I think.

1) I decided (by draping the tape measure around my shoulders until it looked about right) that the starting neck measurement should be 30 inches around. I want to leave plenty of room to make up my mind about the actual neckline design later.

2) I chose Triple-Braided Diamonds
triple braided diamond
as the starting spokes of the wheel - a small swatch
small swatch
tells me that the panel works up nice and crisply at 4.5 inches wide on 4 mm needles.

3) A little math:
30/4.5 = 6.66
Six panels would be nicely symmetrical - two in front, two in back, one down each arm. The remaining .66 of a panel amounts to about 3 inches (actually a little less by the time I add in a single line of stockinette between the panels) - a quick trip back to the mirror with the tape measure reveals that 27 inches will still work, especially if I were to add a nice wide button band after the fact. (Michael Kors has a capelet with a delicious double breasted look.)

4)Six panels it is, then: 30 stitches each, plus 7 lines of stockinette to divide and border them: 30 x 6 + 7 = 187 stitches to cast on.

5)The increasing can't be left to chance, so a little more math:
I'm going to make a 3/4 circle, so as not to be swimming in fabric. Based on the principle that the circumference of a circle grows in direct proportion to the radius, I calculate that the number of stitches must increase by a factor of 1.5 every time the radius doubles. (I have chosen to ignore the difference between row and stitch gauge, as well as the pulling-in effect of the cables. This is, after all, supposed to be fun and spontaneous.) I want to work my increases in the columns of stockinette between the six panels: 5 points at which to increase. (187/.75)/(2x3.14)= 40 mythical rows in the starting radius of the circle. That means that by my actual row 40 I need to have 187 x 1.5 = 281 stitches. 281-187 = 94 stitches/40 = 2.35 stitches increased per row, or (how fortuitous!)approximately 5 stitches every other row. So: I will increase one stitch in each of the 5 dividing columns on every right side row. Which is what intuitively seemed about right (based mostly on the fact that it is tidy and convenient) - but it's always nice to know the numbers add up.

That'll keep me going until the columns get wide enough to insert another motif - stay tuned. (BTW, any mathematical folks out there who detect a gaping hole in my logic - feel free to comment sooner rather than later. Please.....)