After weeks of what has probably felt like the knitting equivalent of watching paint dry, well, it’s dried. All of a sudden it’s time to divide for the left and right shoulders, which to be honest came as a bit of a surprise after all this time, a bit like driving along the motorway late at night, miles and miles of relaxing monotony, when suddenly you realise it’s your exit and you have to wake up and pay attention.
It’s a simple calculation to figure out the decreases from neck to shoulder (which usually means I’ve done it wrong) but here goes. My starting point is, I know how deep I want the neckline to be. In this case, it’s a couple of inches or so, quite low for a gansey which traditionally didn’t have any shaping around the neck, but since a tight neck makes me feel like I’m being strangled I say the hell with tradition, and aim for an elegant sweeping curve.
Now, because I’ve ticked off the rows front and back on a piece of paper, I know exactly how many rows there are still to go before the front is the same length as the back – 32. And, as the decrease rate is a giddy 1 stitch decrease for every 2 rows, that means I can fit in 16 decreases between now and the end of the shoulder.
I already know that each shoulder on the back is 75 stitches. So, in order to ensure that I finish up with just 75 stitches, decreasing 1 stitch every 2 rows to a total of 16 decreases, that means I have to start the shoulder with 91 stitches (75+16). I therefore slip 91 stitches onto a straight needle and continue knitting back and forth, decreasing on every purl row at the neck. The diagonal line to the shoulder you can see (hopefully) in the pictures (of necessity, taken with the iPhone again).
A couple of points. First of all, although the straight line diagonal from neck to shoulder looks a bit geometric at this stage, when the neck is finished with a collar it should look softer and more rounded. This is partly because knit 2/purl 2 pattern of the collar naturally draws the shape inwards, but also because by leaving some stitches on a holder around the adam’s apple, the shape is naturally rounded, it’s not a full V-neck.
The second point to mention is that the decreases round the neck should be finished before the “ridge and furrow” shoulder panels are begun. These shoulder panels should be the full 75 stitches, just like at the back (the photos were taken immediately before starting the shoulder, with all the decreases on that side completed).
Apart from knitting, this week I read the historical detective bestseller, “Dissolution”, set in the reign of Henry VIII and focusing on the dissolution of the monasteries. It was a good read – a sort of Name of the Rose lite – but it fell down, as so many do, over the resolution of the mystery. Do real murderers, when they’re confronted by a detective, really start blurting out a full confession (“Yes! It was me! I killed the colonel with a lead pipe in the library!”) before conveniently plunging to their deaths? I suspect not. Or else being a detective would probably be a whole lot easier.
Special thanks this week to Nigel, for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet me for a coffee on the hottest day of the year – not exactly gansey-wearing weather, was it?