Bobble Babble Battle

Knitters do have opinions about bobbles! And non-knitters, too—Melissa calls them buboes.

I actually like how they look, but approach them with some caution because they

a) can eat up a lot of yarn,
b) don’t always make for comfortable garments, depending upon their placement,
c) tend to look lumpy if you don’t get the shape exactly right.

Well, I don’t have any answers for a and b, but Janet Szabo’s Aran Sweater Design has a solution for c: work the decreases symmetrically. Most bobble instructions tell you to work 3-5 stitches into one, then finish off by passing stitches 1-4 over stitch 5, which results in a listing bobble. Instead, for a five-stitch bobble, Szabo suggests working K2 tog, K1, SSK on the next-to-last set of bobble stitches, then working Sl1, K2tog, PSSO on the final set of bobble stitches. Voila—a nice, round bobble.

I just discovered this book at the local library, while browsing the knitting shelves. For now, I’ve checked it out, but I will most certainly be buying my own copy for my personal knitting reference library. This is not a pattern book, though it does include half a dozen garment patterns in a final section. Instead, it is a theory-and-practice-of-Aran-knitting guide that is both clear and thorough. Szabo (also the author of Cables: The Basics and editor/publisher of Twists and Turns) introduces knitters to different manners of constructing aran sweaters (saddle shoulders, vs. set-in sleeves, for example), explains the “design blocks” aran knitters have to play with (front panel, sleeves, button bands, etc.), discusses the effects created by pairing particular kinds of cables and varying the distance between them, and offers a myriad of specific, helpful suggestions (like the tip for producing symmetrical bobbles).

With the help of this book I expect I’ll soon be dreaming up Aran hats and scarves. And, who knows? A few years down the line with some coaching from Janet Szabo, I may be working my own custom Aran sweater.

3 Replies to “Bobble Babble Battle”

  1. Buboes — snort! That’s hilarious!

    In context, I can accept bobbles. But I recently saw the Best Friend Cardigan from Twinkle’s Big City Knits knit up as a sample in a LYS (not where I live, it will remain anonymous though it’s awesome), and it both looked better (in terms of fitting an actual person nicely instead of an overly thing model) but worse (whe I saw the bobble placement) because — as the owner said — the bobbles kind of made you look like a sow. Here’s a photo of the pattern knit, so you can see what I mean:
    (someone elsewhere called them ‘boobles’ for this cardi!)
    I’ve seen it without bobbles and do like it better.

    But thanks for the centered bobble tip, I hate it when things slant that aren’t supposed to. And I don’t object to small bobbles in Arans…. I’ll have to check out the book, it sounds awesome, thanks!

  2. Bobbles in lace weight or sport weight might be cute; Bobbles in Aran weight worsted are OK, but those bobbles in what has to be a super bulky yarn? That’s where the sow comes in! Yuck!

  3. Me – no bobbles. I’m actually afraid of doing them and have never even tried! As for Drops, i didn’t know either. I saw that sweater on Ravelry and now it’s all over… I think it’s a bunch of designers under the umbrella name – and watch out, I’ve been told the translations can be wonky (they’re Danish, maybe?) but the designs are amazing, aren’t they??

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