Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Finished Object: L'Enveloppe

So, on balance, L'enveloppe worked out well for me:

The flat seam finish of the left arm piece (aka that sleeve cap that's too low on my dress form because I arranged it haphazardly) is a very elegant feature. There's a close up of it below:

In this shot, the left arm piece does sit on top of the shoulder, as it should. But I still neglected to fix the drape of the right sleeve.
A lot of the finished photos of this garment show it positioned as it's knit (on a grid) rather than as it hangs (on the bias). This photo shows how it might have been useful to position the garment in the flat schematic - the way it's worn:

I actually set this on the ground backwards - so you see the left sleeve piece on the left side of the photo...
Notice how the original, folded-over trapezoid is now rotated at 45 degrees? Notice also how the left sleeve piece attaches to that diagonal body approximately half way down the edge? That's why the point doesn't look like a floppy mess.

I will definitely wear this because I nailed the fit, which is the only thing that matters in a mostly shapeless garment. It's a fine line between chic and blob.

No doubt, this is a clever design but, if this garment looks good on me, it's largely because of what I've done to ensure optimal fit:
  • I made the smallest size. Pattern fits large so definitely go down a size.
  • I made a fabric that isn't too open / is fairly firm. It's on the edge of open, but on the right side of that edge. I could see myself using a smaller yarn (worsted weight) on the same needle size next time. I could also see myself sticking with aran weight - as long as it's on the slim side (like the Rowan I used).
  • I modified the width in the shoulders. As drafted, it's very loose and wide. So I further seamed up the neck on both sides. In total I narrowed the neck by 5.5 inches (3 inches on the right hand side of it - the side that isn't seamed because it's where the trapezoid folds in half). It also brought the neckline up and stopped the otherwise heavy collar from drooping. These small changes make a huge difference. Next time, when I create the cleft, I'll cast off 11 fewer stitches (to narrow the collar / neck width). 
  • I cast on loosely. I'm a loose knitter by nature so this isn't difficult for me. But I read a number of accounts of tight cast on's causing trouble picking up stitches for the left arm piece.
  • Although I'm not nuts about Rowan SuperFine Aran, it's a well-made yarn (if on the splitty side). It gives great drape (although I'd have preferred to use it with a tighter stitch pattern than garter). It's not overly heavy, it's springy and it's nice fiber.
  • I ensured the proportions of the garment work with mine. I knew that versions of this top with proportionately small left arm pieces tended to look off-balance. Admittedly, it's difficult to figure out how to moderate proportions if you can't figure out how the pattern comes together. So I read, and reread, many of accounts on the Ravelry L'enveloppe project page.
The reason I've given this pattern so much blog time, over the last couple of posts, is because I do believe that, when made in the right yarn in the right size, L'enveloppe can look terrific. It's an exceedingly practical finished garment. It's easy to make and it doesn't use up that much yarn (less than that required to make a sweater). It functions as outerwear at the right temperature and also as an inside garment. It's a blanket you don't have to fiddle with.

Props to Sally Melville for coming up with a intelligent and elegant design. I only wish the instructions could assist people more on the topic of how to make it so that it fits well.


  1. Oh this is lovely. Very chic indeed. I do admire your maths skills and your perseverance.

  2. Woohoo!!! I'm glad your hard work and skill made the project pay off!

  3. An amazingly sophisticated garment, unexpected in something hand-knit. I can't understand much of the technical challenges you overcame, but the end result looks great. Are you going to model this? If Myrna Loy's character in The Thin Man movies was having a cocktail at home with her husband on a chilly night, she'd throw this on. Myrna Loy's character is knitting at the end of one of those movies, as you'll recall.

  4. Your finished l'envelope is fabulous! I am struggling with the instructions given for the short rows (after the neck opening). I find the instructions confusing! Any recommendations?

    1. Do you mean when you start to knit the front piece short rows? Can you tell me the exact page and section. The pattern is so unwieldy I need more info to re-engage with it.