The problem with designing in your head is that sometimes real, knitted objects don’t have the properties that your mind would like to give them. Gauge, for instance, is sometimes an entirely different thing in my imagination than it is in real life.

I mentioned the other night that I was going to make an effort to rally some brain cells and just start the silly sweater already. So I did. Friday night I swatched. And realized that my gauge is completely wrong for the stitch pattern I want to use.

I designed the flowers and vines pattern specifically for this sweater project, to work with the colors I have and to break up the horizontal stripes of a fairisle pattern. The only problem is that I neglected to account for the fact that I’m using Cascade 220, which knits up at about 5 st/in. I knew that Cascade knit at 5 st/in. I don’t know why this never occurred to my brain as something to consider when designing a colorwork pattern for the front of a sweater. I think it might have occurred once, but the thought was promptly quelled with a “cross that bridge when you get to it” sort of reflex. Well, we got to the bridge.

There is no way that I can fit 2.5 pattern repeats on the front of a sweater at 45 stitches per repeat. At least, not on a sweater that will come anywhere close to fitting me.

I can put about 5 repeats in the stitches for the entire sweater body, but that would mean having some of the pattern work under the arms, where I had planned to use a smaller peerie pattern. (I love the term “peerie” pattern for little fairisle designs…it’s such a cute word.)

(Pardon the small and messy sketches…my new tablet and I are still working on getting acquainted, and we’re not quite there yet.)

Using the peerie patterns would make the side shaping easier, and would ease the mismatch caused by short row shaping in the bust and shoulders (something I played with in the alpaca sweater and really liked). I’m not sure that I could make short rows work with an allover colorwork design, but I want to try it.

I also wanted 3 repeats of the flower pattern across the chest, which requires 120 stitches for the 2.5 pattern repeat, where my gauge dictates 111 stitches for the front of the sweater. Add another 30 stitches/side for the peeries and side shaping, and you suddenly have a sweater that’s a total of 80 stitches too big. At 5 st/in, that’s an extra 16 inches around the circumference. I’m all for positive ease, but 16 inches is a bit much…

Humph. Best laid plans, eh?

So, I’m not sure what to do with this. I’ve already narrowed the color bands as much as I can without distorting the pattern. I really like this design, but I need a smaller gauge to get that many stitches on a sweater front. (It would take about 300 st/round, which is the same as the gauge for the alpaca sweater.)

I don’t really like 1 and 2 repeat versions, so I think I may have to repurpose this yarn and save the sweater pattern for some fingering. Of course, this means that I’m back to horizontal color stripes, unless I design another pattern to break them up. I could skip the peeries and side shaping, and just have the color repeats wrap under the arms, but I’m not sure that’s really what I want for this pattern. In any case, more thinking needs to be done.

But I think better when I’m knitting something. And I like knitting sweaters. So I wanted to get a sweater on the needles. I also have some raspberry sherbet colored Cascade hanging around waiting for it’s turn, and so I cast on a sleeve today. (Actually, I’ve cast on 4 sleeves, but only one was worth keeping; you can just barely see it in this after-dark-with-a-flash picture. Artemis isn’t sure what she thinks of it, but she definitely didn’t like it asking for a spot on my lap).

I haven’t decided yet what to do about the body. I’m thinking set-in sleeves, and possibly a moss stitch section near the top; either a wide neck band or a quasi-yoke.

I haven’t decided yet if it will be an open or closed-front. I tend to prefer closed-front sweaters, but it’s also nice to have a few cardigans, and moss stitch makes a good button band. It would just take a simple steek to convert from the first picture to the second, so I could always decide when it’s done. As long as I make a narrow steek it shouldn’t be that hard to convert from one to the other, and the button band will make up for any width lost during steeking.

At least I have a project going now. I’m not exactly sure where it’s going, but I have a sleeve and a half and most of the body to knit before I really have to decide. And, it’s a lot of stockinette, which will keep my mind free to think up new patterns with no basis in reality. They’re the most fun, anyway…