Friday, December 26, 2008

Filling in the Blanks

I got the idea for the sweater I knit Mom for Christmas way back when I saw the Spring/Summer issue of Vogue Knitting. A Kaffe Fassett floral cardigan, fitted with 3/4 length sleeves. It was made from Rowan Pure Wool DK.

I started to look around for the yarn. Not available in Fresno at the time, so I looked around on the internet, and found some of the 8 colors at one place, some at another. I ordered what I could, but I couldn't find the background color, shamrock, and two of the others. Article Pract in Oakland would order it for me, but then I'd have to ship it here. I didn't want to switch yarns, because part of the appeal was the interplay of the colors, and I didn't want to mess that up.

Then Swatches opened, and Fran carried Rowan! I quickly made my way there and she had black in stock that I could use as the blackground (better than Shamrock's goofy green anyway) and she could order the other colors. She initially forgot to place the order, but after two weeks it was placed, and took another week or so to arrive.

That took me to October. Still plenty of time, right? Meanwhile, I was looking at the pattern, and decided that a wool cardigan that clearly was outerwear should not have 3/4 length sleeves. Oh, I can do that, no sweat. And didn't really want it fitted, looser fit better. Okay, no problem. The rest would be easy. Just follow the pattern.

Then the yarn came and I started to swatch. I've done color work before, mittens, socks, no problem. Flat colorwork, with color changes every row, sometimes with more than two colors a row? Purling with two colors was complicated, and you couldn't see if you were going according to the pattern. Hmm, what if I knit it in the round, and steeked the front? Never done that before, but it might be easier....

So I did all the math and wrapped my brain around connecting the pieces and knit it as a single tube. I looked up and read all the steek info I could find on ravelry and the internet, and plunged ahead. It went fine, until the armholes, when I had to once again think it through, and the same with the neckline. Meg from Ancient Pathways gave her advice, and I was cheered on by Janice, Tracy, Diane, and several in-progress comments from Ravelry people, some I knew, and some I didn't.

I sewed and cut the steeks on December 15. That part was fun, kind of like daredevil knitting. I trust my sewing machine, so I really wasn't scared, and it was fun to see it start to resemble a sweater. I knit the bands on the fronts and neck, sewed up the hems, and meanwhile, had to figure out the sleeves.

Time was running out, and Janice suggested doing the sleeves solid black. Splendid idea, except I knew I didn't have enough black yarn for that. Quickly ordered more, priority mail (love priority mail-- 4 days from New Hampshire!) and decided to do a band of pattern at the cuffs, which I had to do more math to lengthen. A little marathon knitting, and on December 23, the sleeves were sewn in and it was done!!

A date with the steam iron, and we have a sweater folks!

Here's what I learned--
*steeks-front, armhole, neckline
*converting from flat to round (both body of sweater and sleeves)
*how to lengthen sleeves based on arm measurements (mine), row gauge, and a bunch of math
*pick up stitches and knit front bands
*Jingle Bell stitch markers are festive, but noisy in some emergency knitting places
*A pattern is only a suggestion
*Kaffe Fassett probably did not knit this sweater or he would have done it my way
*Start Christmas knitting earlier

Would I do it again? Maybe. It turned out nicely when all was said and done. It was dicey at times, but isn't all Christmas deadline knitting?


Tracy said...

That's one impressive tale, my dear!

Chrissy said...

Beautiful sweater and model. You are SO talented!!!! So glad you posted a picture since I don't speak 'knitlish' or 'yarnese'. Wow, I knew the time we were knitting scarves at Good Things that I was in way over my head! When you're ready to paint some wood or play with jelly beans, call me.....I'm your gal!!!

Pat said...

WOW!!! I am so impressed - a GORGEOUS sweater and you are so brave and creative - Way to go Cindy!!!

kcochran said...

Well done! Did the retreat help you knit? :-) Happy New Year