Sigma Tank Revisited

Sigma Tank from Knitty Summer '03

Anne Boyer of Charlotte’s Web Shawl fame modeling the Sigma that hangs in our shop.

Amy Singer of Knitty asked me to look over a recent question on the Sigma Tank pattern that I wrote for Knitty’s Summer 2003 issue.

The issue turns out to be one that has cropped up a couple of times since the pattern was published, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to publish the answer to the problem for posterity.

First, let’s start with the part of the message (and pattern) where the culprit lies. In the listing for shape armholes, the pattern reads:

Dec at both ends of needle [SSK at beg, k2tog at end] over the next 8[8, 10, 10, 12] rows a total of 4σ [4σ , 5σ , 5σ , 6σ ] [_____] sts.

My first oversight:
Since this is knit flat, you obviously would not want to SSK and k2tog on the wrong side of the fabric. On the wrong side of the fabric, SSP at the beginning of the row and p2tog at the end (don’t be tempted to switch them; logically, it seems that you would, but you don’t. Trust me on this. I went to MY technique guru).

SSP isn’t exactly the most common bit of business out there. If you’ve not seen it before, it’s a little tricky, but it works best to match up with an SSK on the wrong side. SSP = Slip 2 knitwise, put both stitches back on left needle without twisting, purl through both stitches at once THROUGH THE BACK (meaning, put the right needle into the left side of the left stitch and on through the right stitch, yo, pull through both stitches). If you want to see a visual representation, Vicki Square calls the same technique a p2tog tbl (purl 2 together through the back loop) in her book The Knitter’s Companion. Guess who has it in stock at the moment.

The other big issue is this: what if 4σ, 5σ, or 6σ turn out to be a number that, when divided by the eight rows over which that number needs to be decreased, gives you an odd number of stitches? Well, for decreasing three per row (which seems to be most common) here are my best options:

Option 1:
Row 1: SSK twice, k to last 4 sts, k2tog twice.
Row 2: SSP, p to last 2 sts, p2tog.
Repeat both of these rows (Rows 1 & 2) 3 more times (for a total of 8 rows worked).

Option 2:
Row 1: SSK twice, k to last 2 sts, k2tog.
Row 2: SSP twice, p to last 2 sts, p2tog.
Repeat both of these rows (Rows 1 & 2) 3 more times (for a total of 8 rows worked).

Option 3:
Row 1: SSK, k to last 4 sts, k2tog twice.
Row 2: SSP, p to last 4 sts, p2tog twice.
Repeat both of these rows (Rows 1 & 2) 3 more times (for a total of 8 rows worked).

I do hope that clarifies any issues that folks may have with the pattern. It’s been a great compliment to me that so many people seem to have enjoyed the project, and it’s really been a pleasure to help everyone who has contacted me with questions.

Thanks so much, everyone. Be well, and know that you’re truly and deeply loved.

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