February 3, 2013

WIP #1, now a nearly FO: The notes.

The final product...sort of
I have completed my first WIP for the year. I love it and wear it now as I enter this post. My goal was to reproduce a similar sweater, though I made mine simpler than the original. My confidence boosted, I will feel ready next time to add more of the details in the original and maybe even use some Spud&Cloe Outerwear yarn to do it!

It was fun to make design decisions as I worked with Ann Budd's generic "bones" for a raglan cardigan and to make it my own.

Here are my decisions, why I made them and what I learned from this project:

1. I wanted a fitted sweater, so I chose not to add a button/buttonhole band. Instead, I sewed in a zipper. I also made the entire sweater in 2x2 ribbing, causing the finished fabric to "draw in," while still have nice give and enough stitches to be a comfy fit. I made a size 38" finished bust in 4st/inch with Patons Shetland Chunky Tweed, brown. When choosing the size, I also remembered to consider that most sizes that should fit me (usually should be able to wear a size smaller and store bought or in knitting patterns according to my actual bust circumference) usually do not fit my shoulders. Thus, I jumped up a size. For more info on this, check out Amy Herzog's Fit to Flatter here.

Basting? I think so. Maybe I will
even cover it in some flannel fabric....
2. The zipper, lightweight and sturdy, also accomplished an "indoor/outdoor" feel to the cardigan. (I found it in my Grandma Miller's zipper stash) It is 26" long to come up almost all the way to the top of the split funnel collar to add more "coat" feeling.

Even though I am a sewer as well as a knitter, I used Deborah Newton's "Finishing School" for some good advice on installing a zipper into knitwear.

She also is a sewer (and a former costume designer, learn more about her here) and gave this important advice: sewing zippers into knitwear is NOT the same as traditional sewing installation! They are handsewn with larger stitches, and an up and down "poking" motion, VERY different than my past experiences with machine sewn installation. This was my first time and it turned out okay. The finished appearance is nice from the outside, but I may tidy up my stitches next and treat the originals as basting so the back/wrong side looks more professionally done. Just in case I needed to do this, I planned ahead and used lighter colored yarn than the zipper or sweater yarn for the "basting."

This pic shows the increases I used. I basically just increased
while following the ribbing pattern as it presented.
3. To get long, cozysleeves, I had to add 3 inches to the original sleeve length (I also have long arms). This gave a more modern appearance, and also gives the option to make cuffs by turning them up. A person could even add an eyelet/button hole style spot to put a thumb through at the end, make a sort of fingerless mitt and the edge. hmmm....might have to try that...

The zip does not go all the way up so as not to scractch my
4. The collar stands up pretty nicely with the thicker yarn as I wanted a mock turtleneck style (does that phrase give away my 80's growing up?). The top edges of the zipper also help. I left just enough space at the top to allow a little split so as not to constrict the neck area. This was something a bit (very tiny bit) annoying in the original sweater.

I did not use the crew neck shaping and BO followed by picked up stitches for the collar as given in the training wheels pattern. When the raglan shaping was done, I just kept knitting in the rib pattern all the way to the end of the collar to add continuity. I also did not want the collar to slope away from the center, since I wanted the zipper to go all the way up, nearly to the top.

5. Difficulties: This pattern is knitted from the bottom-up. When attaching the sleeves to the body, the tension is pretty, well, tense at those joins for a few rounds. For me, this created ladders along the first few rows of ragalan shaping. I sewed them up for the most part, but am considering doing a single crochet "edge" along the seam from the inside of the sweater in a smaller yarn, just to add some strength to the join areas.

6. This brings me to the yarn. In my experience, this yarn tends to be very soft and droops with time. Due to this characteristic (especially since I made a large sweater with chunky weight in the Patons), reinforcing the raglan seams altogether seems like a good idea. Already, I can tell that the weight of the sleeves may be a pull in the future.

I look forward to doing this again with a higher quality yarn, such as the Spud&Chloe I mentioned above. Maybe I will try a smaller sweater for Amy Rose to practice the joins.

Me in the a.m. after coffee but before
shower. Forgive me.
Summing it up: This sweater took me about 2 weeks to complete. This was evenings and weekends and a couple of marathon hours (4 at a time) on my days off. Ann Budd's book is very helpful and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to design their own sweater but are afraid to do it from scratch.

A note on finishing: I really liked the advice found in Newton's book on finishing. Those little things really matter and when we spend so much time and effort on our work, why not go that that little extra step to make the final product so much more awesomer? (Yes, awesomer.)

I will make more sweaters/projects from both books and I look forward to improving my knitting skills!

Next up: a pair of socks to stay awake at all day meetings...


Sava said...

It's beautiful. I absolutely love the look of ribbing and I think it was a good choice here.

I really love the color. I tend to gravitate towards blacks and greys because they're so versatile.

The Knitting Muse said...

Sava, I could not agree more about those colors. I find myself all the time picking up/buying greys, blacks and browns. They can be dressed up or down, and good to wear just about anywhere, too!

Thanks for the kind words--I have been wearing my sweater every day!