Sunday, June 24, 2012

It Took A While...

So, I've finally finished my cropped shawl sweater, a month after beginning the project. That may not seem like a huge time investment for something created from scratch, but it was protracted from my vantage point. The last 6 weeks have been other-worldly on the busy front. I've got to get through this next week (a few events, readying the kid for 6 weeks away and getting myself organized, reno starts tomorrow - demo starts on Wed. etc.) and then I'm off to NC.

Let's start with the pics and then I'll tell you about my findings:

While it looks better on me, what with me being a real person, it's too wide in the shoulder... Remember, this dress form is wider than me, and you can still sort of see it. Mind you, on me, the front comes together in a nicer way.

Here's that join that traumatized me. In the end, it's not noticeable to others. I'm going to see if I can provisionally cast on these stitches in my next attempt. If it doesn't work, at least I will have tried.
Overexposed to show the detail...

This is the true colour. Look at those adorable buttons. I got them with Mardel in NYC last year...

 
I hand-sewed silk petersham ribbon to back the button holes and the buttons. What a production... (see below)



The Good:
  • It's a lovely cut.
  • Practical!
  • The yarn worked really well, even though it was a light worsted rather than a DK.
  • My many sizing alterations and, ahem, experiments, seemed to work pretty well.
  • It's not hard to make once you know what you're doing.
  • I had awesome help from everyone - thank you!
The Less Good:
  • Those short rows were mind-bending until I figured them out.
  • I learned (the hard way) that you need to end the upper back and upper front pieces on the same row (right at the underarm join), or you're pattern will be uneven. Oh well - it really is not noticeable unless I point it out.
  • This thing is too big in the shoulders. Next time I'm going to take 12 stitches (about 2 inches) out of the upper front and back to get the cap to sit right on my narrow shoulders. I will add those stitches back at the underarm join when I start making the body of this top down sweater, so that I don't lose necessary width at the full bust. I don't think, given the construction method, that I can do this any other way. But if anyone can identify potential challenges with my proposed work around, pls. advise!
  • I had enough yarn to lengthen the body slightly more, and to lengthen the sleeves. Next time (I'm going to use exactly the same yarn in a diff colour so that I don't have to rescope sizing), I will add about an inch to body and to sleeves.
The Ugly:
  • I really do not like that join at the shawl collar. I don't know if provisional cast on will solve the problem. It will remove the horizontal seam, but it may not fix the half-stitch off challenge.
  • I did not start the first few rows of the through-the-back-loop rib very elegantly. It does show on the finished product (not that I'm going to highlight it for you). Alas, that's a learning curve element that will not be repeated. I more than got comfortable with the rib stitch in the course of making this sweater.
  • The instructions were not particularly helpful - and I identified an error that cost me a few hours in ripping back the left-collar. Directions instruct one to short row on the inside of the collar instead of the outside. Note: I find knitting instructions to be suboptimal at the best of times. I think it's more about the convention and my lack of experience than about the instructions themselves.
And Let's Talk About The Machine Buttonholes:
  •  Lord, this was a production - and not one that I can guarantee will really add much to the finished sweater. I mean, it's not like there's so much weight on the (short) button band that everything's going to stretch all to hell...
  • ...Except, in trying to get the sweater under the needle on my Singer, I had to stretch that band all to hell. Here's hoping that some steam and reblocking will tighten the whole thing up again.
  • To its credit, the machine did not mess up the buttonholes - and this sweater plus ribbon is about as much bulk as one could insert under the needle under any circumstances. (The buttonholer imposes some restrictions because you can't lift it up very high.) The pile of the knit rib made things particularly challenging.
  • The reason that the buttons are not perfectly aligned on the band is because I had very little option to maneuver things once I eventually positioned the band under the needle. I actually used a piece of plastic to help slide things around. You can even stitch through it, but I didn't find it necessary with the Singer. It didn't struggle with the buttonholes at all (this machine is STRONG).
  • There is nothing quite so stressful as applying a make or break technique to your garment at the last second. This was a very good learning experience, but I wonder if I'll use it again on this particular sweater.
But enough of the chatter. What do you think of the finished product? Do you think the machine buttonholes add or detract from the final result?

20 comments:

  1. It's really cute! I'm just in awe of those of you who knit. And have the patience and forebearance to learn to do it RIGHT.

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    1. I was totally in awe of knitters too - and then I tried it! You can do it! (It doesn't take patience - as long as you work quickly :-))

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  2. I think this is a beautiful cardigan and only you can see any issues with it. I love the buttoholes. A really fabulous addition to your wardrobe.

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    1. Thanks Evie! I've already scoped out sizing for the next version. I'm going to buy the yarn this week and make it while I'm in NC. I will probably use the petersham ribbon technique again. It seems to be getting good reviews.

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  3. The cardigan is gorgeous! I love the Petersham ribbon as well - a nice touch.

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    1. Thanks! The ribbon is growing on me...

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  4. i think i'm very wide in the shoulders and you should protect this with your life if ever i am in the vicinity.

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    1. Ha! How's this? If you come visit, I'll give it to you.

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  5. I think the buttons kind make the project pop. I mean, it's a beautiful sweater either way, but the buttons just add some needed visual interest. :-)

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    1. Aren't they fun? Scott doesn't like them, crazily.

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  6. Nice work! I really hope you enjoy wearing it.

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  7. I think it looks like a chic little cardie -- so much so that I went and ordered the pattern. I'm thinking it might be possible to move the shawl collar seam to center back neck, rather than picking up at both fronts -- we'll see. I doubt I'll do machine buttonholes (you're a brave woman!), but from a quick look at the pattern I think I'll work them differently. All your hard work paid off -- enjoy the wearing! Karen

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    1. I think you could. Not that I can figure it out with my current level of experience. The machine buttonholes took a LONG time to sort out. Like hours. So I'd be interested to know how you'd work them differently than the pattern in the knitting. I'm going to start the next one this week. Now that I've made the muslin, I'm going to try to improve fit etc. in this second version.

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  8. No magic solution for the buttonholes, but I've wanted to try the "tulip buttonhole" technique from the Tech Knitter site ( I think there's a link to a video?). Probably would go smaller too, but that would depend on the buttons. It seems reasonable that you could simply start the collar by casting on mid (back) neck, knit down to where you need to begin the front piece,then pick up the additional front stitches from your back cast on -- in theory anyway. If it works, you would only need to join the neck band at center back -- and even if the join wasn't perfectly smooth it wouldn't be so noticeable.

    Need to check if Tech Knitter has any vertical buttonhole advice -- to my eyes that would look better in ribbing, but I'm just not stout hearted enough to machine sew them. Again, I bow to your bravery! Karen

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    1. I should check that out...

      Note that I am an affirmed machine buttonhole-phobic! Which makes my action braver than brave! :-)

      My regular machine (a beginner, lightweight) cannot do buttonholes to save its life. But the vintage Singer my MIL gave me (which seems to mess up when sewing routinely) does beautiful buttonholes with little incident. The vintage buttonhole contraption moves the fabric under the needle to create the buttonhole (rather than my modern machine's way of moving the needle over the fabric). I don't know how it works so well, but it really works. Helps that the motor on the Singer is SERIOUS.

      Until I finally tried the Singer buttonholer, I ran screaming from buttons. I have a snap setter, for heaven's sake!

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  9. It is beautiful! Well worth the effort for sure :)

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    1. Thank you! Wait till you see the newer version. Much better fit for me.

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  10. Wow' it's so beatiful! The buttons are so cool :) And I hope I can get to this level- I think my first knitted garment is probably quite lacking in many areas. lol!
    Your machine buttonholes sound so stressful! I'm glad they didn't eat your project!

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    1. You know, my mother (whom I gave the sweater to) doesn't much care for the buttons! She's going to change them and send them back to me.

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