Make it stop
Yes, it's true - I ended up screeching into the Babies R Us parking lot, printing out the registry information, and picking out a gift, all thirty minutes before the shower. What have I become? I wrestled a heavily pregnant woman for a bluebird mobile. I cursed in front of a toddler. For God's sake, I USED THE STORE WRAPPING PAPER! Clearly, my soul is a blackened, shriveled twist of tissue.
I'll give her the sweater when the baby is born - the thrill of twenty women with spatula-slathered makeup and claws filed to points oohing and ahhing and secretly thinking that I'm cheap for not just buying the same thing from Baby Abercrombie and Fitch is just something I guess I'll have to go without. Thanks for the commiseration, though :)
I think that I perhaps didn't explain very clearly what the problem was. Tallguy says:
OMG!! What went wrong? There is no need to rip anything -- there is always a way to fix it.
Why didn't you like the steeks? Too much bulk you say? Then you did something not quite correct in that case. There should be no bulk at all! And heavens, no! You don't have to weave in all those ends! This needs more work; I'll have to get back to you on this.
Hmm. I don't think I did anything "wrong", exactly. There are several traditional variants on the steek, all of which form a bridge of waste stitches where holes should be so the knitting can later be cut. I suppose the major division lies between steeks where the waste stitches are kept as a strip of knitted fabric, and steeks where the waste stitches are dropped or unraveled. The nitty-gritty of cutting between or through stitches, how many stitches wide, stabilizing techniques, and "finishing" techniques don't really matter - I think those variables are usually determined more by preference and comfort and habit than anything else.
This first time around, I used the first technique - the steek people are most familiar with, with an alternate-stitch seeded pattern and a background color edge stitch on either side. Everything was fine until I went to pick up the sleeve stitches - to up the utility of the garment, I'd constructed the shoulders with about an inch of front/back overlap. The overlapping portions of the front and back tapered to a point, meaning that, when folded into position, the neck facings and shoulder facings of each side also overlapped. When the front and back of the shoulder were put together and joined, six layers of fabric came together.
To tell the truth, I didn't like the feeling of the facings, even at a single thickness around the armhole, for a baby garment - they just provide too much bulk for such a wee little sweater. For me, it's a proportion thing...in an adult's garment, a facing is unobtrusive, even pleasingly stable. In a baby garment, the facing seems too stiff for the delicacy of the piece.
So, the Baby Fair Isle v.1.2 employed the principle behind the wound steek. I think the usual wound steek - where the yarn is wrapped around the needle x times, dropped and wrapped anew the next row, creating a ladder as you work - is messy and sort of unwieldly. To keep things compact, I just knitted bridges of ten stitches with both colors carried together and dropped steek stitches rather than binding off.
I put the single shoulder stitches on safety pins, and cut my steeks.
Then, I just dropped each steek row to get a bush of 2" tails - two for every row.
I know it seems counterintuitive - for many people, a big attraction of the steek is the way it eliminates fussing with ends - but you're suppposed to weave in each and every tail with a wound steek. I braid mine instead - it's the same concept as a french braid, but incorporate new strands only on one side of the work and drop old strands as you go, keeping each part of the braid to four strands of yarn. Trim the ends close, and you have a narrow, flexible, delicate cord running down the selvedge - it even naturally turns back onto the wrong side of the work, just as a facing would, to cover picked-up stitches.
So, that was the problem and the solution. That, and the baby shower was at 1pm and I was writing at 3am. Oh, that we didn't need to sleep :)
Keridiana linked to another version of the Print O' The Wave stitch, and asked me what the difference is. I haven't knit a swatch, but reading the chart, it appears that the major difference is simply that each finger is a stitch wider and a pattern row taller. It's a very old pattern, with lots o' variants floating around (har har har!) - I charted mine using a couple different images I'd seen, and then downscaled it to work with the planned delicacy of the piece.
Constests and such - I'm always the last to know about anything :) Thanks for participating, and for the lovely things you've said. These things seem to be a lot of fun, and it IS kind of cool to have won - in absentia, no less. I think the best part is seeing my name up there with the other winners and nominees - really amazing bloggers, one and all. Thanks!