The lopapeysa chugged one station closer to Finishville yesterday, after I cut the steek down the front. Snippity-snip. Instant cardigan.
This isn't my first steek, but it's the first time I've secured the edges using a sewing machine instead of rows of crochet. I chose the sewing option because it was for me the less familiar and the more unnerving. Like that nice Mae West, when choosing between two evils I always pick the one I haven't tried yet.
I've only recently started to make friends with my sewing machine. There are still awkward moments, when I'm not sure of myself and she just sits there waiting for me to make a move. We have navigated successfully through a couple of hems, a square pillow and the lower portion of a doll; but never had I run a length of hand-knitting between the presser foot and the feed dogs.
A test drive was in order. I whipped out a swatch* that transitioned (like the lopapeysa) from one color to two. This took ten minutes, and probably saved me an hour's trouble in the long run.
I used the swatch to determine the top tension setting, the stitch length, and the amount of effort I'd need (not much, it turned out) to keep the fabric sliding along the machine bed.
This is not to say there were no bumps. Some knitters like to preserve the illusion of infallibility, but I blew that opportunity years ago. I might as well 'fess up.
The first pass–done with the wrong side of the fabric up, which I'd been told would help me stay on track–was a disaster. It wiggled like an EKG for the first eleven inches, then ran off the steek and and landed in the yoke pattern.
Notice, however, that I am still here, alive, typing this. Notice that the sweater was not wrecked. Notice that the police blotter in the Chicago Sun-Times did not report a man hurling a sewing machine out the living room window and into Lake Michigan.
I learned what happens when (horrors!) your sewn steek goes astray. What happens is you get your seam ripper and you un-pick the stitches. I decided to undo the entire twenty-inch seam. It took thirty minutes. I watched half an episode of Monarch of the Glen while I was doing it. There are worse ways to pass time.
The second and third passes (with the right side up) were uneventful, and whatever jitters attended my maiden voyage with this technique will bother me no more.
Before starting the sleeves, I decided to run a row of single crochet up each selvedge.
I'm so happy I did. The edges have more body, look spiffy, and will provide a more stable base for the zipper.
Sleeves are next. I know I can do sleeves.
*I felt compelled to post a photograph of the swatch to prove that I had done it. I think not swatching and saying you did is one of the dirty little secrets of knitting. It's like flossing your teeth. Maybe you do, maybe you don't; but either way you're going to give the dentist the same answer–which is never "Oh, frankly, I just couldn't be bothered."