In Rogue

March 20th, 2006 | View Comments

Now that this blog has been up for a week and a half, it’s about time I established some knitting cred. So if you’re one of the non-knitting readers that randomly wandered in from Thought Bubbles, watch out, because I’m about to prove I’m a real knitta.

Rogue. I fell in love with Rogue the first time I laid eyes on the pattern and I vowed to knit it someday, after I had a few sweaters already under my belt.

First, some praise for Jenna Wilson: the pattern for Rogue is amazing. I found it extremely clear and easy to knit from, even though I’d never used a charted pattern before, and it really does cover everything you need to know.

Every time I had a problem, it was because I hadn’t actually bothered to, y’know, read the pattern. Oh, and one time it was because I was dense, not realizing that to k1, p1, k1 in the same stitch, you…k1, p1, k1…in the same stitch. Duh.

The yarn is Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in Hemlock. I had to choose a yarn with a bit of sheen to it because I wanted the sweater to emulate the elven look in the Lord of the Rings films. I had originally wanted to knit it in Empire, a light blue, or Quartz, a purple, but alas, the yarn shop down the street only had enough skeins in Hemlock.

I wound up using 15 skeins, including swatching; I bought 16. Needless to say, this was not a cheap sweater.

And it was right around the time Jo Sharp switched distributors and so, as I walked out of the shop clutching my treasured sweater-to-be, the LYS owner warned me that were I to run out of yarn, she would not be able to get more from the same mill, forget dye lot, so was I positive I had enough yarn?

I assured her I did. The size I planned to make called for 1200 yards; I had bought nearly 1500.

In retrospect, that was the beginning of all my troubles.

Closeup of Rogue's neck detail

I took the yarn home and I swatched it in the round on US 8s. I washed and blocked the swatch and checked my gauge. It was slightly off, getting 5 sts and 7 rows per inch instead of 4.5 sts and 6 rows per inch. I would have to go up a needle size. Problem was, I didn’t have circular needles in US 9.

The other problem was, I was worried about how much yarn I would wind up using to swatch. Because the Silkroad Aran had expanded after washing/blocking, I didn’t think I would get true gauge if I simply ripped out my original swatch and re-knit it. I was supposed to swatch in the round and in the flat and I had already used up about half a skein on the swatch in the round alone.

At this point, what I should have done was march back to the yarn shop, buy a set of US 9 circs, drop $25 on the few remaining skeins of that dye lot, and re-swatch to my heart’s content. What I did instead was a bad, bad thing. I let the yarn sit. For a year. And when I picked it up again, I cast on using the US 8s without re-swatching.

Closeup of Rogue's wrist detail

My rationale was this: I had started knitting more loosely in the last year, having recovered from Beginners’ Death Grip Syndrome after I nearly injured myself on Hourglass. Thus, I would make gauge. And even if I was a little over gauge, that was ok.

Because the size I wanted–a 37″ bustline–did not exist; there was 35.5″ and 39″ and nothing in between. So I would knit the 35.5″ size, and if I made gauge, great, I’d just block it a little bigger, and if I didn’t, then also great, it would come out the size I actually wanted. Plus, I’d start with the sleeves, check gauge once I’d gotten a few inches done, and if I was way off, I’d just frog it and start over.

You can see where this is heading.

I didn’t make gauge. I didn’t even come close to making gauge. I was in the ballpark when I checked gauge on the sleeves, but you know the perils of “in the ballpark” and of checking gauge while the fabric is still on the needles. Not to mention that I had started the cabling already and I really hate re-doing cables. Love doing them the first time, hate ripping them out and doing them again.

So not only was my gauge off from the start, but then I loosened up even more as I knit the sleeves. Even worse, I had been lulled into a false sense of security by my not-that-far-off gauge check before, so I didn’t even measure the sleeve pieces after I bound them off.

Had I done that, I might have realized that my gauge was way, way off and I should march my butt to the LYS, buy some US 7s, rip back the sleeve caps, and re-knit them. Had I realized that this was especially important because Rogue has set-in sleeves, unlike the forgiving raglan sweaters I’d knit before, I might have actually done it.

As it was, I cast on for the body and just kept knitting.

Closeup of Rogue's side

Somewhere around the armpits, I realized I was in deep, deep trouble. Remember, I was knitting the 35.5″ size. At this point, the bustline was measuring nearly 40″, which was more than a size too big. I looked at all the pretty cabling I’d done. I thought about ripping it all out and starting over. I kept knitting, figuring that I would try to block it smaller (yeah, right) or I would figure out a way to shrink it after I was done. Plus I was trying on the body as I went and I kept thinking, “well…it’s not that big….”

Closeup of Rogue's hood detail

I divided for the front and back, my knitting got even looser as I switched from knitting in the round to knitting in the flat, and I started knitting more tightly out of desperation. And then my hands got tired, so I gave up on that. I did all the lovely cabling around the hood and grafted the hood together.

When I washed and blocked the pieces in preparation for setting in the sleeves, I realized I had a problem. I was able to block the pieces to the dimensions for the 39″ size, but wasn’t able to make them shrink any further. I set in the sleeves. I tried it on.

The fit wasn’t horrible. There had been some positive side-effects of my gauge-free joyknitting: the sleeves and body length actually fit my long arms and torso. In fact, the body was a bit too long–as long as Big Sack, which is…a big sack.

The big problem, as you might have guessed, was the size of the armholes. Much. Too. Big. They made me look like I had flat, misshapen, and mislocated boobs. So I was in a pickle. I needed to shrink the sweater, but not ALL of the sweater, and the dimension that was easiest to shrink–the length–was actually the one that was closest to fitting.

I’m not sure which thought pained me more–the idea of ripping out all my work and re-knitting (and re-seaming) the whole darn thing, or being too embarrassed to wear my beloved sweater. Ever.

Washing and drying it was out. Silkroad Aran felts extremely easily and losing Rogue before even getting to wear it would have killed me. After pondering this for a while, I hatched a plan.

I armed myself with a tape measure, a spray bottle, a bunch of blocking pins, and a hair dryer. I pinned Rogue to the floor, in the dimensions I wanted. Then I sprayed down the problematic areas and started drying it on high, hoping that the heat from the hair dryer would make the areas I was aiming it at, and only the areas I was aiming it at, shrink. I call this the Aggressive Blocking with Hair Dryer method, or ABHD.

To my utter surprise, it worked. I took off an inch and a half from the body length easily, the bustline is now around 38″–still roomy, but within the 2″-4″ recommended ease for my 34″ bust, and the shoulders fit much better but the sleeves were still the right length.

Picture of me wearing the Rogue hoodie

I don’t know if I could have done it with a less delicate yarn. And I may try it again to shrink the armholes a bit more. But now it fits well enough that I will wear it out. On Tuesday. When I can stop by the yarn shop and show the owner what finally came of all that Silkroad Aran, because she always asks me about it when I see her.

Aside from the gauge issue, there are a couple things I would do differently if I were to knit Rogue again. I would do the decreases on the sleeve caps and armholes differently, and I think I would also try some short rows on the hood. But all in all, I consider this to be a happy ending–I finally have my elf sweater!

CogKnition posted this on March 20th, 2006 @ 5:38am in Finished Objects, Sweaters | Permalink to "In Rogue"


  1. Yvonne says:

    Thanks! And yeah, whatever works! That might just be the motto for this sweater.

    I actually botched one of the double increases on the sleeve cuffs and didn’t notice it until about 20 rows later. I wound up fixing that with some creative sewing with green thread, which then got hidden when I hemmed the sleeve. Now that it’s done, I can’t even tell which sleeve it was unless I look reeeaaally closely.

  2. WOW! Too cool. I’ve thought of making this sweater, I love cables. I’m just not ready yet, my first garmet was a disaster that I still haven’t fixed, so I’m weary of anything that needs put together or particularily anything that has pieces that need to fit to each other :-P

    That color’s perfect for a Lord of the Rings sweater!

  3. lobstah says:

    I think your Rouge looks fantastic. Love your creative method for shrinking it–hey, whatever works, right?