Monday, May 14, 2007

Do Phildar designers write their patterns on acid?

Crikey, the last couple of weeks have been very slow on the knitting front. Regular readers will have guessed that work has taken over. I now know what it's like to work 14- and 15-hour days on a regular basis, and I can no longer remember what it's like to have a weekend at home. So, taking this into account, it is a small miracle that we now have a second sleeve for the Phildar Nautical Button Sweater. Behold.

Eventually, this will be a really nice sweater. However, I'm glad it's not the first I've ever knitted as the Phildar pattern is very strange. Maybe the fact that the pattern was written in French and then translated by Phildar into English is part of the problem. However, the language barrier should not affect their ability to count, should it?!

Just for the record, then, here are some of my doubts about this pattern.

1. Shaping at the top of the sleeves

As you see from the photo above, this sweater has raglan sleeves. If you look closely, you might be able to see that the slope of the raglan sleeve kind of 'squares off' for a few centimetres right at the top. The slope turns into a piece with straight edges, 16sts wide and about 6 rows deep. The way Phildar writes the instructions, it sounds like once you have decreased down to 16sts, you're done. And the graph of the sleeve shown in the pattern gives the same impression, as though there's a perfectly smooth slope produced by the decreasing, and then cast off. Having had a lot of gauge issues with this project, I went to the trouble of writing down every line of the decrease instructions, and comparing that against the required vertical gauge (28rows to 10cm). What I found is, when you get to 16sts, you still need to knit *at least* 6 more rows and possibly up to 8 (that is, about 2.5cm more) to reach the required length of 16cm from the start of the raglan shaping to the cast-off. I am suspicious. I think that when I come to sew up, I'll find the straight-edge bit shouldn't be there, and that the sleeve is about 2.5cm too long. I am prepared to frog the top when the time comes.

2. "On each edge cast off 1 st"

Can they be serious? Now, I am not the world's most experienced sweater-knitter so I have been taking Phildar's word for it so far, but I suspect that yet more frogging of the raglan bit may ensue. Someone tell me if I'm wrong, but *surely*, if you want a nice, smooth line on your raglan sleeve, you need to reduce the number of stitches by *decreasing* (eg, k2tog) at each end of the row, preferably one stitch in from the edge. Not by *casting off* a stitch at the outer edge of the row. Look at the lumpy, jagged edge this is producing:

It's like the Rocky Mountains. The sides of these raglan bits need to be stitched to some beige-coloured strips and the whole thing is going to be very visible when the garment is on. Here's a close-up of the pattern model, if you've forgotten what we're aiming for:

Look how smooth and tidy those raglan edges are. Am I really going to be able to convert my Rocky Mountain cast-offs into that? I have serious doubts. I might end up frogging the whole of the raglan bit of the sleeve and doing it again, using k2tog decreases instead of cast-offs. Cast-off just can't be right, can it? I am about to start knitting the back of this sweater and I am so bothered by this that I might just override Phildar's instructions and start doing decreases instead of cast-offs, except where it's blindingly obvious that a cast-off is needed. I am normally cautious about thinking that 'I know better' (many a knitting disaster lies down that road) but on this occasion I just can't believe I'm going to get anything tidy out of the current mess.

3. Converting inches into centimetres shouldn't be hard!

I had a go at starting the back of this sweater last night and it is already frogged. Stupid Phildar. OK, they might not be the best at translating between English and French words but they should be able to use a tape measure. Check this out: my sleeves are Size 1 in the pattern (that is, 34-36" bust). I'm 36" and I don't want this sweater baggy, hence choosing Size 1. The sleeves seem like they're going to be fine for width (there's a bit of Rocky Mountain shaping in the sleeve seams too, thanks Phildar, but I'm not going to worry too much about that now, I'll see if I can disguise it when I sew up). So the sleeves are basically OK for size if you ignore the above problems. So, when I came to start making the back of the sweater, I naturally chose Size 1. After knitting for a while, completing the ribbing and a couple of blue stripes, I realised this back was going to come out tiny. Size of a small child. I wondered if I had put on a ton of weight without noticing, so out came the tape measure and - I still have a 36" bust. Back to the pattern to check. The pattern graph informs me that a Size 1 sweater back should measure 41cm across, which is at least consistent with the number of stitches they tell you cast on, if you don't mind a bit of stretching. But 41cm can't be right! Who are they kidding? If anyone from Phildar is reading this, and I might insist they do, here is the Maths for Dummies.

A 36" circumference is roughly equivalent to 92cm. So the back of the sweater, being half the circumference, should equal 46cm, not 41.

And, for the record, if you were to make a front and back measuring 41cm across, that would be 82cm in total, which is equivalent to a 32" bust.

I am not pleased. If Phildar can get their measurements wrong by a whopping four inches around the bust, then I no longer have any faith in them, or this pattern. I feel like I'm going to have to make it up as I go along, and I sense more trouble ahead. Grr.


Aberdonian said...

Oh Rachel! To be honest, I don't think it's a problem of translating from French to English. It's a problem of the designer being stupid and not being able to convey what she wants to say.

As for the raglan. I must admit, either I didn't read the pattern correctly or I decided to know better. I cast off the first three stitches and then decreased normally at one stitch from the edge.

If I were you, I'f frog the raglan of the sleeves and try to see if you can spread the decreases all along the raglan so that you don't have the square bit at the top.

I agree that their sizing is very wrong. Very very very wrong. That's partly why I decided to disregard their gauge and recalculate everything.

Susan @ Damn, Knit & Blast It said...

Oh my Gosh! Are crappy pattern experiences contagious??? What's happening to knitting patterns lately?

I'd definitely frog the decreases on the sleeve and get shot of the "cast offs". I get good results on raglands with "K1, Slip 1, PSSO" at the start of the row and "K2tog, K1" at the end.
Take heart - you DO know better!

Kay said...

*headdesk* I don't even know if that's a language barrier--that's just stupid. You'd think if you're going to translate a pattern you'd at least know the very basics of the terminology. Ew.