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Informative Failures: Sideways Sweater Construction


At any given point, there are so many knitting design ideas swimming around in my head that editing out 99% of them is crucial to being productive. For that reason, I find it very useful to know what I don't like to knit, so that I don't waste my brainpower even considering those types of projects. For instance: Shawls. Toe-up socks. Anything on a needle thicker than 10mm. Anything knitted flat.

And now I can add another thing to that list: sideways construction!

To discover that I dislike this type of knitting was a bit of a disappointment. Sideway sweaters and dresses just look so cool, and I could not wait to make one. I even came up with the perfect method to knit a sideways tunic almost-seamlessly, and here it is for anyone who wants to try it:

1. Starting on your front right, cast on your side stitches (from shoulder to hem) provisionally, on a straight needle. 
2. Knit back and forth across the front, inserting optional short rows to give the hem an A-line shape
3. When the fabric is long enough, place 1/3 stitches on scrap yarn for the left armhole. Then provisionally cast on the same number of stitches and continue knitting. 
4. Repeat Step 2 for the back.
5. Kitchner the side stitches, leaving arm holes open
6. Matrass stitch the shoulders.
7. Pick up stitches at armholes and knit sleeves top-down in the round.  

And Voila! 

Well, not so fast. I got as far Step 3, before an unbearable sense of Knitting Ennui overtook me. There is no legitimate reason why. My design seemed to be working out as I intended. When I draped the fabric over me everything looked right, and the yarn/gauge/style/colour were all playing together nicely. I just hated the actual act of working on it. Watching the fabric grow sideways was not as satisfying as watching it grow top down in the round. I also found it hard to cope with the realisation that I had no control over this garment's length after casting on! It really should not have mattered, as I got the length correct. But it did matter, and overall I just was not enjoying the experience of knitting this tunic. 

Considering I had already done half the torso, I did not want to act hastily, and so I set the project aside rather than ripping it out. But coming back to it a few weeks later, I am looking at the prospect of finishing it with the same sense of dread that I had when I left off. So... looks like it will get ripped out after all. And I can put 'sideways construction sweaters' on my list of Things I Don't Enjoy Knitting. It's a failure to be sure. But an informative failure.

That said, I still love the look of sideways sweaters, tunics and dresses, and my hat's off to anyone who enjoys making them. 

If you want to give it a try, there are loads of patterns up on ravelry if you do a search for 'sideways,' among my favourites this dress and this tunic. If you prefer to improvise your own patterns feel free to use my instructions, if you can make sense of them! And for a quick low-emotional investment experimental knit, try going with a DK or Aran weight yarn on oversized needles.