Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gray Area

On a recent gray, rainy day shortly after finishing my "Black, White, and Gray" tunic sweater I decided that I would never wear it. So, in an impulsive moment, I threw it into the washing machine on hot and then into the dryer in the hopes that it would shrink into a better-fitting size. Surprisingly, it came out of the dryer exactly the same size but not the same color. It had turned gray (The black hand-dyed yarn had bled into the cream-colored yarn turning it a medium gray).

I knew I would never wear this ill-fitting gray sweater and for a couple of days I felt deflated and a little depressed about it. However, I happened to see my good friend Nancy and offered the sweater to her. She tried it on and it fit her perfectly! She loved it and couldn't say enough nice things about it. So, I gifted the sweater to her. It's really good to know that it has gone to a good home.

All's well that ends well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tracking the Sources of Inspiration for One FO

Most of the time my knitting projects are the result of seeing a pattern I like and deciding to make it. Simple. But, sometimes there is a more complicated genesis as was the case with my most recent FO: "Black, White, and Gray."

First, I noticed a page in the Harper's Bazaar, Spring issue 2011, indicating that Black and White was on trend.

The graphic impact of black and white appeals to me. I tend to wear a lot of black to the office because I think it's chic and slimming, but I do worry about appearing too funereal to the children with whom I work. I'd rather not look like the Wicked Witch of the West. So, the idea of lightening up my professional attire with some white (or cream) was also appealing.

With this in mind I sketched out a general idea of what I might knit with the idea that the sweater would be cream-colored near my face and then blend gradually into the black of my skirt or slacks.

Next, I searched the patterns on Ravelry to find something that would approximate this design and was delighted to discover this pattern "Eva" by Stefanie Japel in Mission Falls Dreamer 136:

"Perfect!" I thought. So, I ordered Madelinetosh Vintage DK wool (my new favorite) from Eat.Sleep.Knit, in antler (cream), composition book gray, and port (black). I cast on and very carefully checked the sizing on my dress form, Heidi. I also modified the neckline from a boatneck to a scoopneck.

I wanted to be sure to make the tunic in a size that was fitted and flattering. To this end I added two darts in the front and two in the back. I measured and calculated, and calculated and measured until I was sure that I had exactly the right fit and happily knit along until I had this:

When I laid it out on the blocking tiles I was horrified to discover that it measured 21 inches across the chest, meaning that it was a size 42". I am a size 36-38, so the sweater is not at all fitted in the way I had hoped it would be. In retrospect, I think I went wrong when I continued the increases for the sleeves well beyond the point I should have. It looks like I increased about 6-8 times too many thus increasing the diameter of the garment by 12-16 stitches, translating into about 3" too much. Furthermore the armscye is about and 1 1/2" too long.

Disappointed, but undeterred, I moved on to the finishing the neckline.

As you can see, the neckline shape (from the "Hillary" version of Mission Falls pattern 136) has pointed edges to the front of the shoulder increases. At first I thought I would reduce this bulk by using a p2sso at these points. However, this resulted in a very wonky neckline edge. Instead of increasing to accommodate the extension in the fabric, I decreased. Exactly the wrong thing to do. Sometimes I think I have no knitting sense whatsoever.

It's hard to see the problem in the above photo as I had pinned the offending points out in an attempt to block the edges so they would lie flat. This did not work at all and that part of the neckline simply puckered when it was worn.

So, I frogged the neckline and re-did it by using a m1, k, m1 stitch every other row at those two points. This created more knitted fabric where it was needed and resulted in a beautifully flat neckline.

I don't know if it's possible to see the difference, but it looks much better (trust me).

Here is a gratuitous close-up shot of the lace pattern:

I believe it is a variation on the feather and fan motif.

However, despite the perfected neck edge and the pretty lace, in the end, I still do not like how the sweater fits me at all.

It's baggy and there are big batwings underneath the arms. A friend suggested I wear the sweater with black leggings to better balance the proportions. I think that's a good idea, but I know it won't make the sweater fit me any better. I am not a big fan of frogging completed garments, so I think I will be looking to donate this sweater to someone who is a 42. Any takers?

Feeling properly chastened by this failure, I am retreating to finish a Dale of Norway sweater for my beloved brother who has been patiently waiting for about two years now. Coincidentally it is in the same color palette. My hope is that I will do a better job of fitting it to his true proportions. Onward and upward ...