The back piece of my cable car coat is being blocked now, thank goodness.
I had a minor problem when shaping the sides, toward the end of the first section of increases. I thought I'd kept close track of my progress, but somehow I crossed off four more rows than I'd actually done. When I'd checked off what I thought was my final increase, I should have had 123 stitches and 22 inches of fabric.
The first giveaway that something was wrong? My work was about three-quarters of an inch short. So I counted my stitches. I had 121. Even my math-proof brain knew that meant I'd left out one set of increases. Thankfully I found the problem before I started adding on stitches for the sleeves. Just being a couple stitches off might not sound like much, but in some patterns it can really cause problems. I can't imagine how upset I'd be if I hadn't caught my error until I neared the end of the piece!
This experience is a good reminder that it pays to stop now and then to count your stitches - especially when increasing and decreasing. There's a reason patterns note how many stitches you should have at various points along the way. Because I knew how many stitches I should have, and how long the piece should be, I was able to get back on track pretty quickly.
Also remember that you can use the tension gauge to help estimate how many rows you need when a pattern says to "continue until work measures 35 inches from beginning." For this pattern, 20 rows equals 4 inches, which breaks down to 5 rows per inch. Of course that's not a precise inch, so 50 rows might be 9.5 or 10.25 instead of an even 10. But knowing I had roughly 13.5 inches to go, I figured that would be about 68 rows, give or take. After 65 rows I measured. I was a little shy, but only needed a few more rows before I could begin to shape the shoulders, and finally bind off.
Because I'd measured and counted stitches, those last few rows went without a hitch. The back panel measures exactly 25.5 inches wide at the bottom, as indicated on the helpful diagram in the pattern book, and 37 inches long.
I love it when the pattern, measurements, diagrams and my knitting are all in agreement.
Next: the left front.