Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Sweater Tee Update

In full disclosure, there are no photos of the SNCS Tee yet cuz the freakin' sweater pin still has not arrived. I'm almost about to get worried. But not quite.

This post is to tell you a bit more about the pattern - what I did right, what I could have done better...

  • I decided to make the XS (thank God cuz this thing fits very large by everyone's estimation). I don't understand how all of the measurements from the schematic matched up mathematically in accordance with gauge - and still the overall outcome is large. Note: I was knitting slightly tighter than the gauge, so that outcome is even less comprehensible. All I can say is that most people on Ravelry note the same concern. So beware...
  • I used Debbie Bliss Rialto DK - which goes insanely limp as soon as it hits water. It's totally disturbing. Add that to the large fit factor (see above) and this XS fits, well, suboptimally.
  • Given that, in accordance with the schematic, the XS was supposed to be 34" in the bust (as opposed to my 37"), I decided - after much debate and recognizing that I basically had no choice - to sew horizontal bust darts using short rows.
  • While the link (above) shows you how to do the wraps and turns that comprise short rows, they don't tell you how to determine the number or placement of short rows within a garment. That's a big-time process that took me a few hours with a calculator and I could not have done it without the bonus tutorial in this Craftsy course. Seriously, if you have large boobs and you knit, you need to take this class.
  • It's well worth it to learn the method for inserting horizontal bust darts (an additive process in knitting, rather than the reductive process that sewn darting employs). Even though you'll need to figure out the specifics for each pattern, the premise is the same - as are the baseline calculations. I'm choosing to believe that it's hard the first time, and progressively easy thereafter.
The Good
  • I am super proud of myself for taking the time to figure out all of the convoluted details involved in creating the short rows. They worked well: They look good and the depth of the darts is just right.
  • I also shortened the sweater from the bust to waist and waist to hip - and increased or decreased the stitch count to create curves that match my own. Really, I redesigned this pattern and it worked!
  • The yarn knit very nicely - relatively little splitting (though it is known for splitting) and excellent stitch definition.
  • I determined how to make the trim a bit slimmer and to ensure that the facing (the inner hem) wasn't too long. See my Ravelry post for more technical deets.
  • I think that the camel/black colour scheme is rather chic.
  • I found the perfect sweater clasp and, if it ever arrives, I'm sure it's going to work well at the neck...
The Bad
  • The yarn did not respond as planned to the wet blocking. I suppose I should have blocked my swatch. Live and learn. Now I have to decide if I ever intend to use this yarn again. Or, if I do, how I'll make future garments adequately small to accommodate the yarn-grow.
  • When knitting the yoke (the top part of this top-down garment) I artificially altered my tension to get gauge. (My natural tension was slightly tighter than it should have been.) This totally screwed with the fabric and created unnecessary lumps and bumps (which, thankfully, largely blocked out). As soon as I realized this, I stopped trying to work my will on the fabric. They tell you not to try to change your gauge -and now I know why...
  • Never mind how things grew in the blocking, the pattern is dowdily large-fitting. I made the smallest size and it was still large. I don't know that I'd recommend it - even though the model looks great...
  • The yarn - which I did love till I blocked it - and which looks great even after being heat dried (size notwithstanding) - does seem to show the transition from skein to skein. This is despite taking special care when aiming to weave in the ends seamlessly. Not a selling feature.
So, have any of you worked with Debbie Bliss Rialto DK (or any of the other weights of this brand)? If yes, what was your experience of the yarn? Has anyone made this pattern with similar results? Have you short rowed to insert horizontal bust darts? How did it go? Let's chat...


  1. Once upon a time.... I used to knit and it was a very relaxing work. Now I have no motivation.
    But I like hand knitted pieces and to see them, so.... a picture is needed :)

    Hope all is fine with you, lovely.


  2. I am so impressed with the way you engage 100% with a project and eek out every little bit of learning you can while making the garment fit you as perfectly as possible.

    The yarn situation sounds really frustrating.

    Several posts ago you suggested that knitting has fewer downsides than sewing. Do you still feel that way?

  3. I don't have experience with this yarn so I can't address it directly. I am also not a big fan of superwash wools because of the way the process of making a wool superwash removes the scales that make the wool fibers grab onto one another and which both makes the wool felt, but also which provides that resiliance that is so prized in wool. Superwash wool, although easier to care for, doesn't have exactly those qualities that I tend to prize in wool. That is why it is so important to wash your swatch before knitting your project, and if you are using a superwash wool, I would even hang the swatch to dry, to simulate the way the weight of a sweater will allow it to stretch while being worn.

    Even then, I think that I would not dunk the sweater before blocking. The way I originally learned to block, and it is a good method, is to pin the sweater (or pieces) to the board then spray it thoroughly to wet, and allow to dry. I think this is a better method when using any yarn that is inclined to get soft and stretchy when wet.

    When you actually have to wash the sweater, well superwash probably benefits from a good fast spin, which would felt a more "grabby" wool. But then at least you have your swatch, so you can always play with washing and/or drying the swatch to see how the sweater will react. This is also a good reason for making a bigger swatch, say 6x6 or even 8x8. Not that anyone likes swatching. But it is relatively painless compared to knitting a whole sweater only to have it become something resembling the blob.

    If your sweater is still a little big, you might try washing it as directed on the label and letting it spin out and see if it is a better size. If it is still big, you might toss it in the dryer a bit. It is not going to felt. How many risks you take depends on how likely you are to wear the sweater as it is now.

  4. Seeker: You are totally right - photo to follow. Promise!

    Susan: Leave it to you to bring that up now :-) I think I may be reconsidering! Actually, I still think that knitting is more knowable than sewing. But it's sure as hell not as quick...

    Mardel: Excellent advice, as always. I didn't realize that about super wash wool. I think I may be about to change my feelings about it. And I def agree that spray blocking is the way to go with it (as well as spinning the heck out of it). I've spray blocked my other Debbie Bliss yarns and they look great. I was wondering how I was ever going to wash them. Now I think I'll go hardcore on the dryer. I've now dried the sweater in the dryer for 30 min. I may dry it for another 30 min to see if it might shrink further.

  5. I'm getting nervous about the sweater dress I'm knitting with Zara -- I've loved this yarn for hats, but never made a larger garment from it. It's a superfine merino, machine washable as well, so I'm realizing Mardel's description applies. Just gone and read a few reviews and not hearing any complaints so I'll just proceed and see what happens. . . Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to see what the sweater looks like with that clasp.

  6. This is actually a reply to Mater; I've used Zara for sweaters lots of times, in various weights, and never had a problem with it. I had actually forgotten it is superwash. I usually machine wash cold gentle and spin it out at medium, then dry flat. It always reverts to the original size.

    So I guess I have to amend my statement to say there are some superwash wools I love and many I don't like.... I keep learning that it is not good to say "never". All that stuff about accumulated experience and the like....

  7. Thanks for following up, Mardel. That's a relief to hear. I love Zara for its bounciness as well as stitch definition. It's really a lovely yarn, and I'm so glad to hear that wetting it will not be an issue, especially since this sweater dress will have considerable weight (thus stretchability!)

  8. Mater and Mardel - I love this conversation! Thanks for using this post as a platform for communication. And thanks for telling me about this yarn. Will look it up...