I have been trying to not let projects linger too long in the knitting basket once the pieces are actually knitted up. I made my peace with seaming some time ago, and I no longer feel as frustrated about picking up stitches. I used to read the pattern directions that would say, for example, "pick up 124 sts." Well, I did my best to mark out increments along the edge and would really try to pick up precisely 124 sts. Inevitably, I'd mess up somewhere, or lose count, or pick up too many stitches in one section and not enough in another, or something.... something that would make me have to start over, usually more than once.
Eventually, it dawned on me that it didn't have to be that difficult. Most of the time, it doesn't really matter exactly how may stitches that you pick up, as long as 1) you distribute the stitches evenly, and 2) you don't cause unintentional flaring or puckering. So what I started doing is pretty much disregarding the number of stitches the pattern tells me to pick up and just picking up stitches as I go along. If I'm working along a horizontal row of stitches, I pick up stitches 1 for 1. If the back neckline is pretty much straight across and is 34 sts wide, I pick up 34 stitches. For vertical columns of stitches, I pick up a ratio based on my stitch gauge vs. row gauge. So if my gauge is 5 stitches to an inch and 7 rows to an inch, I'll pick up 5 stitches for every 7 rows along a vertical column. I'll pick up 2 sts over 2 rows, skip a row, pick up 3 sts over 3 rows, skip a row, and repeat. And that's it!
Sure, sometimes you may need a certain multiple of a number, such as picking up a multiple of 4 sts so that you can do 2x2 ribbing along a neckline. But it's easy to tuck in an extra stitch here or there towards the end.
This all came in handy for picking up stitches along the neckline of Eastlake. I had actually reknit the top portions of the front because it sagged when I first basted the pieces together, so I had to knit fewer rows to make the armhole less deep. Recalculating how many stitches to pick up according to the pattern would have been a headache. Anyway, using this technique made it easy to pick up stitches and finish up the neck for Eastlake in one quick go. This was while I was at knit night, which means I was talking and working in low light at a coffee shop. I could not have been able to do that if I were trying to pick up an exact number of stitches!
So this means that Eastlake is done!
Here's something else that made the neckline go faster: after picking up stitches, I chose to knit it in the round on the wrong side rather than purling in the round from the right side. Zip, zip, zip!
I'm very happy with this sweater! I was worried about wearing an A-line top since I mostly have things that are fitted and have waist shaping. However, this does not feel tent-like at all! That probably has a lot to do with the nice drape of the Cascade Venezia. It is probably my new favorite yarn. It’s very soft and has wonderful stitch definition. Buttah!
More pics and details are in the gallery and on Ravelry.