This is one of those good news/bad news/good news stories.
The good news is that I calculated how much yarn I would need for the nieces' Yule superhero sweaters, ordered it from Mary Maxim, and received it in the mail. I don't know why it's so hard to find machine washable DK yarn suitable for kids' things in walk-in shops, but it is, so mail order is the way to go. This is Maxim's own-brand Ultra Mellowspun — it's synthetic, but it's soft, durable, and comes in lots of colours.
The yarn arrived just as I was finishing up (I thought) the cotton t-shirt that's been aggravating me all summer. I thought I just had to graft the fronts closed and sew the body onto the yoke when this happened:
Those are the two sets of stitches to be grafted, and as you can see, there are a lot more stitches on the bottom needle than on the top one.
At first I thought there might be a mistake in the pattern, because I've been counting my rows obsessively, but this morning I figured it out.
In my little corner of knitting, when a pattern wants to tell you to increase every row at one end, it says something like, "Inc every row at neck edge, 8 sts from edge of work for 24 rows." Get it? The increasing is happening every row, both right side and wrong side, it's only happening at the neck edge, and it's happening eight stitches in from the actual edge of the fabric. Also you need to do it 24 times total
Instead, the instructions said:
Inc row (WS): Purl to m, sl m, p2, M1P
Inc row (RS): K to 2 sts before m, inc 1, k2, sl m, k to end
Rep last 2 rows 11 more times.
I know they boil down to the same thing, but it's the extra atomisation of the instructions, plus not stating the full number of repeats ("11 more time" as opposed to "12 times total") that throws me off. I've made the same mistake already on this same pattern.
To fix this, I'm going to have to rip back to where I stopped the increasing prematurely (30 rows) and work up again. Meanwhile, I've already tried to do the grafting, so I have to make sure the raw stitches from the provisional cast on stay safe. Also there is the drop-stitch lace right in the middle of all the shaping to contend with.
I am not happy. This was supposed to be an "easy summer knit", and the dumbed-down instructions are driving me crazy.
Given that the summer is practically over and that Yule yarn has arrived, I decided to start Niece the Elder's Wonder Woman sweater from the free pattern I found on Ravelry. The original pattern is in adult sizes and uses worsted weight yarn held doubled. I'm making it in DK yarn to a child's size 8. According to my math, if I follow the largest size in the instructions and use the recommended needle size on the DK yarn ball band (4mm), I'll get a size 8 sweater:
And what do you know? It's working out exactly to size. What's in the photo only took me two days to do as well. Before anyone says, "kid's sweaters go faster", remember, I'm using the exact same stitch counts as for an adult's size large, just on smaller needles with thinner yarn.
It's been a nice reassurance that I can knit something correctly, so long as it's difficult enough!