Months ago, I told myself that I wasn't going to bring any "unfinished business" with me to the new house. I had planned to finish all outstanding projects prior to packing. I had hopes for a clean slate upon moving. It didn't work out that way. I didn't finish any of them. Not one.
As I continue to unpack my supplies, I came across my box of WIPs. And, I was posed with the choice to either A). Find a new area to store all these abandoned endeavors, or B). Finish them.
I went with the latter choice. I really need the satisfaction of finishing somethings. Lately, all I've been doing is starting new projects. Everything is in various stages of completion. Truthfully, it's a little chaotic. Most of the projects exiled to my WIP box are close to complete. For instance, this Effervescence Cardigan. Poor thing was banished to the box, because of bad math.
Often, I buy yarn before I have a project in mind. When I come across a sale or have the option to buy a bag, I have a hard time passing. When I'm aiming for a sweater quantities, I try to buy at least 1k yards. It's pretty easy to find a pattern to pair with that amount of yarn. But, it's not always enough to get the job done. Sometimes, a girl has to improvise.
I bought the remaining stock of this Louisa Harding Kashmir Baby on a whim during a knit night last winter . Eight Balls; 1144 yards. I arrogantly estimated that I would be able to squeeze-out an Effervescence Cardigan. I didn't crunch any numbers. I avoid math whenever possible. I decided to go with my gut and knit. I felt pretty good about my decision until I reached the sleeves. That's when I got the sinking feeling. I'm sure all you knitters know the one I'm talking about. The, "there's-no-way-I-have-enough" feeling.
Instead of stopping to evaluate my yardage situation, I determined I would cheat the pattern and knit 3/4 sleeves instead. I kept knitting. Long story short, my cheat provided me the perfect amount of yarn to knit mid-forearm length sleeves for my sweater- And, absolutely no leftovers for the neckline and button band. As you can imagine, I felt pretty defeated. Like a gambler whose lucky streak ended on an all-in hand. In that moment, I didn't have it in me to RIP and re-knit.
A smarter knitter would have known from the start that she was playing a losing hand. The largest size of this pattern uses 60% more yarn than the smallest size (1086 yards /1810 yards= .6 ). There are six patterns sizes spanning between the largest and the smallest sweater sizes. Therefore, we can reasonably assume that each size between the smallest and largest sweater sizes requires approximately 10% more yarn (60% / 6 sizes) than the size preceding it. The "37 sweater I chose to knit reasonably requires 10% more yarn than the "33 sweater, which we are told uses 1086 yards. SO, I should have expected to need ~1195 yards (51 yards less than what I had.. ARGH!). I would have spared myself a lot of headaches had I started from this point instead of working backwards.
When I reached in and rescued this sweater from the WIP box, I knew I needed a new plan of attack. I started with the neck and button band. Pretty easy stuff. Then, I took my remaining yarn and divided evenly using my gram scale. I use my scale ALL THE TIME for weighing yarn. They're very inexpensive and a true lifesaver for figuring yardage on leftover balls of yarn or in instances like this.
Once I had my yarn portioned, I reworked my sleeves from the top-down. I wanted to maximize the length of my sleeves, so I used Tasha's tutorial for a seamless set-in sleeve and knit until I ran out of yarn. It was a fantastic option for the predicament I was in. I do think I could have decreased a bit quicker to gain an inch or so, but overall, I'm pleased with the way things turned out.
I feel like I regained a little bit of the luck that I'd lost earlier in this project. Because, after I'd finished knitting, I found some vintage buttons from my stash that are a perfect match to pair with my new sweater. I think they are from the 1940's, but I can't be sure. They're some form of primitive plastic but look like glass. They're manufactured by Costumakers, and the bottom left corner indicates that they're from Western Germany. If you've got any good button resources, I'd love to know more about them.
The moral of this story, math is a friend, not a foe. What are your tricks for beating the odds against yardage shortages? Are you the betting type, or do you play it safe?