Thursday, April 24, 2008

Carolina Springtime: Completed!

Carolina Springtime:
the Inspiration

I promised everyone that I would post the final results of my first hand-knitted sweater project and here it is!

Getting to this point was a tad circuitous and I'll tell you why. I was basing the dimensions of the front and back panels on one of my favourite sweaters. The problem was that the one that I used for reference was a rather bulky sweater. My own knitting looked quite droopy and blah at those original dimensions.
So.....I cut it up!

If you're used to half-finishing knitting run up on a knitting machine, this won't scare you.

First: I laid the panels out on my cutting board to measure.

Second: I marked the place where I needed to cut. In this case, I was aiming for 3-4 inches of ease plus a seam allowance of approximately 1/2 inch.
Third: I took the panels to the machine. Using a rather small stitch length and carefully following my knitted stitches as a guide, I sewed straight lines on either side of the cutting line. I reinforced the new garment edge with another row of straight-stitching and a zigzag stitch - trying very hard not to stretch the fabric as I did so. (Stabilizer might have made this easier but I didn't have any handy.)

Fourth: I cut off the extra several inches.

Fifth: Keeping in mind the vintage pattern that inspired this endeavor, I chain-stitched the shoulder seams.

Sixth: I joined the sleeves to the body, right sides together. For this, I used a back-stitch.

Seventh: With a running stitch, I joined the front to the back, under the sleeves and down the sides.

And here's the finished sweater!

The next time that I make this pattern up, I will use a solid yarn and be certain to block my swatch before settling on the stitch count. The self-striping yarn is lovely but I wasn't really aware that it was self-striping when I bought it, assuming that the ombre was a bit more random in character. Since I was working on the flat and not in the round, it meant that the stripes would not match up at the side seams and so on. Since this was my first attempt, I'm not overly distressed by the result. And, as it was really intended to wear at-home, the lack of matching sides seams will not keep me awake at night.
That being said, I will probably only use this yarn for projects that are either knitted in-the-round or for crocheted pieces where the stitches would tend to obscure the striping.
The yarn used for this project was Paton's SWS in "natural pink" and the needles were bamboo. The yarn is what I consider a "slow" yarn - that is to say that there is some tooth to it and it doesn't slide off of the needles very easily. Easier to control but a bit grabby - especially with the bamboo needles. Still, for a first project, I found it less frustrating than having my stitches go springing willy-nilly off of my needles! It's a matter of preference, of course. When I crochet, I have an assortment of hooks in different materials and with different finishes that I can select from and I will be doing the same with knitting. I must say that I have a great fondness for the bamboo needles - especially the shorter ones. I have had better success with that type than any other knitting needles I have ever owned.


sharck said...

I really like the shoulder seams! It looks great. (from a fellow refashionista)

JennySlash said...

Thank you! Actually, the shoulder seams were the only thing that I copied from the original pattern. I think they add a nice detail without being too obvious and I'll certainly use that idea again. So glad you like.

lorrwill said...

Dang! Not only is this just gorgeous (seriously you picked the best colors and they work together perfectly - good eye) but your innovative solution for the fitting problem is just brilliant.

JennySlash said...

I understand that it is quite common for sweaters that are knitted in the round to be slit for sleeves and front openings so I decided there was no harm in getting used to taking the scissors to my handknitting!

In Catherine Cartwright-Jones' book, The Prolific Knitting Machine, she advocates using the knitting machine to create yardage and then cutting and stabilizing the pieces to suit one's requirements.

I figured that using the same half-finishing approach to salvage this project was a better use of my time than frogging the lot and starting from scratch!

Ginny said...

Pardon my blogging slackness for just now seeing this! It's beautiful! The colors really are reminiscent of azaleas.

I love your solution for adjusting the size. I see a lot of steeking in your future (something I've never had the nerve to try!) The shoulder seams really do add such a nice touch too!

JennySlash said...

I'll probably have to give it a try when I start working on things for Fall and Winter. Before then, I want to try working in the round for a while. I think that it will be rather challenging for me to learn how to follow a graph while working in the round. I fairly suck at graphs!