Oh, Math

Last Friday there was a math incident with my Top Down Sweater. I’m pleased to report that I’m now back to the place where I was when I found the error – separating the stitches for the body and the sleeves – but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that this was an unwelcome setback. I won’t be as far along on the sweater by the last class as I’d like to be. But at least I know what I’ll be knitting at knit camp this year!

Here is the story:

The Top Down Sweater Workshop is the hardest class I teach. I have revised the worksheets each time I have taught it. I always have a student (or several) who ask questions I didn’t anticipate. And, as I knit along with my students, even I have issues with the work. I do my best to share what I learn so that my students can learn from my mistakes so that they don’t have to make them!

I am challenging my recipe this time by using an almost 2” wide cable pattern at the raglan lines of the sweater. I am really happy with the cables and how they are adding an interesting element to an otherwise all over stockinette sweater. But my recipe doesn’t really take into account a raglan pattern that is ten stitches wide. Usually the raglan lines just add 1-2 stitches to the overall count. This is important to consider in a super-bulky yarn but practically negligible in a sport or lighter weight yarn. So I tend to remind my students of this, but just add those 4-8 stitches as “extra” instead of counting them in the math, to keep the math simpler.

But in the sweater I am making, I can’t just add those 40 stitches of my raglan cables as “extra” because that would add more than 7” of ease to my sweater! Unfortunately, when doing the calculation for my yoke increases, I used the stitch count between my raglan markers instead of the total stitch counts for the back and sleeves…essentially making those raglan stitches extra.

The worst part is that I didn’t realize my mistake until I had split the body from the armholes and counted the total number of stitches on the needle. When I had 30+ more stitches on the body than I expected it took everything I had not to scream in the middle of knit night. I just put the project in my bag sadly and moved on to a different project.

A few days later, I ripped back 24 rows of yoke knitting. The only good news is that I will be replacing it with only 16 rows of knitting and 40 fewer stitches by the bottom of the yoke.


This is what the sweater looked like before I ripped back. It looks similar now, just with smaller dimensions.

Here is a comparison of my working yarn before…

…and after the ripping…

(Sorry for the dim photos. I was ready to rip after 9pm on Friday, so there was no decent light to be had.)

The only good news (besides making a sweater that won’t have 7-8″ of ease) is that I was a bit worried that my yarn estimate was off and I was destined to run out. I am less concerned about that now!

About Structured Stitches

Designer - Knit, Crochet and Architecture
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