I wanted something just a little more understated than the cable originally specified for my handspun sweater, so I decided to cut two tiers out of the five-tier arrangement, thusly:
(This is a V-neck sweater, honestly. The sides of the neck *do* diverge…)
The trickiness actually started after the main cable section. The ribbing that flows out of the cables continues up the side of the neck and, actually, in a separate band to be sewn together/grafted at the back of the neck and sewn on to the back neckline as a collar. However, that means that the decreases that create the V-neck shape have to happen between the ribbing and the main stockinette part:
Initially, I tried the obvious, left-leaning decrease (since I’m decreasing along a left-leaning edge): ssk worked on the first two knit stitches after the ribbing. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that this was not going to work. It might have, if I’d had the foresight to work a M1-ssk border up the edge of the cable from the very beginning1, but I didn’t. The problem was that the ssk makes a very pronounced, visible ridge along the edge of the cable area. Since I didn’t have one until after the neckline split, it looked very strange, suddenly appearing from nowhere like that.
Unfortunately, I ripped it back before I thought to take a photograph. What I wanted, I decided, was an invisible decrease: one that just lets a stitch disappear without any visible break in the flow. I knew this wasn’t going to be possible if I placed the decreases in the stockinette area; the ‘lean’ in either direction would create a difference in the surface texture. And I couldn’t place the decreases inside the purl band, as it needs to stay the same width!
So I decided my best option would be to decrease across the knit-purl boundary, where the last band of purl stitches turns into the stockinette main fabric. That means that the actual decrease stitch must be a purl stitch: you can think of it as the last purl stitch ‘consuming’ the first knit stitch, to cause a decrease in the stockinette field whilst leaving the ribbing untouched.
So, p2tog? Well, I’m not sure why, but this didn’t seem perfect. Something to do with the fact that the knit stitches seem to sit ‘above’ the purl ones, but p2tog sort of wraps the opposite way. I ended up working the decreases as ssp2togtbl – slip two stitches knitwise, like the start of an ssk, then purl them together through the back loop. I *think* this is the equivalent of working an ssk on the reverse row, so a right-leaning purl decrease. I have no idea if this last bit of pickiness was worth it – I should swatch sometime and find out – but I like the final effect.
1 Thought I’d expound on this a bit more… If I’d wanted to do this (and thought about it early enough), I would have made sure that every right-side row had an ssk as the first stitch of the stockinette field on the right, and a k2tog in the equivalent position on the left. (NB: I’m using ‘left’ and ‘right’ to describe the way the sweater would be worn, not the way you see it when you are looking at it!). Of course, on most rows you don’t want a decrease in those positions, so I’d have compensated by adding an increase somewhere nearby… Of course, that increase would have had to be carefully disguised somehow too, so perhaps it would never have worked anyway…