I have just learnt that no matter how long you've been knitting and no matter how much of an expert you might think you are, knitting has a cunning way of reminding you, sometimes via a lot of frogging that you're not as clever as you think.
It started with a dress, the most elegant, romantic dress. One with style and panache that I knew without any hesitation would be perfect. Perfect to knit and to wear. A dress made for summer evenings, for picnics and cocktail parties. A dress that would stun all who saw it.
The dress is from Vogue Knitting and can be downloaded here
So full of excitement I cast on 288 stitches and began the first round. Three rounds later I realised it was twisted and had to start again. I'd also realised that 288 stitches was going to be quite wide and although there is a lot of shaping the finished bust size was still going to be generous on me. So I decided that I could just do less pattern repeats, so instead of 288 sts and 12 repeats I cast on 216st. Easy I thought. No need for nasty complicated maths that hurts my head and makes me want to swear. No good if I happen to be knitting in my break at work. Sailors might be masters at cussing but it's still not ladylike or officer like.
But then then five decreases into the pattern and about 110 rounds I begin to think that it might be too small. After all it gets to just 12 stitches in each repeat which is only 108 stitches in total. I decide no worries I won't do all the decreases. I stick at what seems like a safe 14 stitches in each pattern repeat. Still easy peasy no complicated maths.
Until that is I get to the waist shaping and realise I can't just make 2 stitches in each repeat because then the next row doesn't work and suddenly I'm up to my neck trying to figure out the maths to make it all work. It requires several pieces of paper, two cups of tea and two painkillers (for the headache). Finally I think I see what to do. I will just take the waist up to 18 stitches per repeat and adjust from there, because now I have to keep track of how many rounds in order to get the armhole shaping in the right place. I'm thinking that might be important, or I'll either have an evening gown with orangutan arms or a scrunched up tunic. Now having roughly figured that one out I realised I have made a mistake in my thinking right back at the beginning. I have to divide for the front and back to shape the armholes. This requires an even number of pattern repeats. That's why 288 divided by 24 equals 12. 216 divided by 24 equals nine and no matter how much I fume I cannot make nine and even number. Maybe it's time to let this one rest awhile, until I see how to make the back and front equal without destroying the pattern or the universe complies and makes nine divisible by two.
Lessons learnt here. Read the pattern all the way through before starting out on your modifications. It saves a lot of pain killers.