Thursday, March 14, 2019


Simple things are more difficult to make, don’t you agree?
All the patterns that I’ve been making lately look simple but have an interesting construction and a flattering silhouette. Actually, the silhouette (as flattering as possible) is the main thing that now attracts me in a pattern. One can always change colorwork or cables, but silhouette is hard to change. If you are not a designer, that is. And I am not.
I wanted to make Ply cardigan as soon as the pattern appeared on Ravelry. I love the lines and geometry of it, combination of stockinette and reverse stockinette, little slits at the front, V-neck, and, of course, big pockets. Yet, at first, I thought that this one wasn’t for me – too long and big, and might make me look like a short-legged gnome. Later, when I bought the pattern – couldn’t help it – I discovered that it required quite a lot of yarn and I didn’t have enough yarn of the same color in my stash. Last month though, I figured that I could make it using three different ColourMart yarns of required length in lace weight (all specifications - on my Ravelry page).
The ultimate color of the mixed yarn – grey and black – would go with ALL my clothes. This way I could work on my stash while finally making this long wished-for cardigan.

First, I needed to shorten the pattern. Initially, the cardigan was supposed to have 19.5” up to armpits. In my version it has only 16.5”. I shortened the hem band all over to 1 ¾” and I started shaping the neckline on the front just after finishing the pockets. And the pocket’s bottom part was shortened as well to 3”.

Plus, I wanted it to be less A-shaped, more streamlined. To that end, I made the back using directions for size 37 3/4 up to armpits without decreases and just before the armhole decreases I decreased 4 sts as explained for side shaping. This way I got 178 sts total as I would were I knitting size 42. Fronts and sleeves were knit using directions for size 37 ¾.
The next one wasn’t a real modification, rather a mistake that I decided to leave and make it look like a feature, not a bug. While finishing the back part I totally missed the line in the directions about switching to all stockinette after the armhole decreases and kept 4 sts on each side in reverse stockinette. I found out that I made a mistake while binding off for the back and I really didn’t want to unravel to the armholes. I was knitting from 3 different cones which would make unraveling quite tricky. Plus it meant to undo many hours of work… Blame my laziness but I decided to just add 4 sts in reverse stockinette to the fronts to make it even.

At first I even thought about making sleeves in reverse stockinette as well but when I actually put together the back and the fronts, the difference was hardly noticeable on my marled yarn. By the way, the fact that I started 4 sts in reverse stockinette right after the armhole decreases to match the back made sewing all parts together much easier!

My last change wasn’t a change per se but a little addition inspired by this sweater by Rag and Bone.
I decided to imitate it and incorporate an inscription in Japanese. I didn’t expect Google Translate to give me the exact translation for “barking knitter” which is my trademark (!), but I thought that “handmade” would do nicely instead. Especially, since it WAS a handmade knit for real.
I taped “handmade” into Google Translate and got the translation. Then, my loving technical husband performed some technical magic on it (put the phrase in PaintShopPro and pixelated it).  At the end I had a printout looking like this.

I used black yarn for my kanji because I wanted the inscription to be subtle, not too obvious and a bit like graffiti. It was so much fun to make that I finished the sleeve in no time.
Also I was kind of worried that I had the right translation because I know that Google Translate is not a very reliable source. As soon as my sleeve was done I posted its picture on Instagram to make sure that I don’t have something stupid or obscene on my sleeve. Fortunately, my Japanese readers confirmed that it was a correct translation. Sigh of relieve and back to work!
Second sleeve took a bit longer but the longest and toughest part was to make the button band. It is done in one go, and it’s double knitted. Ugh!

I have no words to explain how pleased I am with this cardigan. It turned out exactly as I imagined – soft, warm, light, roomy, and comfortable. And look, I am wearing “Handmade” on my sleeve (for those who’d understand!).

I didn’t use as much yarn as required per pattern. Since I know the length of yarn on each black cone (450 m) and I used all three of them, total meterage for Ply was 1350 m. If you, like me, want to make a shorter version and have the same gauge, this is the amount of yarn you’ll need.
I was pleasantly impressed with the thoroughness of the pattern. Have you heard about the all-inclusive resorts? Well, this is an “all-inclusive” pattern. Everything that you need to finish it – and I mean EVERYTHING, all the information possible – you’ll find there. No need to go to the Internet, no links to YouTube video for special techniques. At some point I even found a sentence like this: “Break yarn and pull tail through last stitch” – which strikes me like rather endearing.
It was my first time with double knitting (exciting stuff but it slows down the process to snail pace) and I didn’t have any problems with it thanks to the clear and detailed explanations.  I used my own method for creating a sloped bind-off but if I didn’t know how to do it, the pattern has a full description of the technique.
In conclusion, if you are an adventurous beginner who grew tired of shawls and scarves and consider herself ready for some more difficult stuff, this is a pattern for you. It is not easy (far from it) but it is extremely well explained and the designer is basically holding your hand all the way till the end. And I highly recommend to follow ALL her directions (especially, pay attention to needle sizes, it’s important!).
While I was laboring on my Ply cardigan I managed to finish a pair of socks.
The pattern is called Fragment by Helen Stewart. It is from Laine Magazine Issue 4 that I own but, truth be told, didn’t even notice these socks in the magazine. The original sample was knit in dark brown wool and photographed on a dark background. Granted, it looks artsy and moody, but defies the purpose of pattern photography. I think I am not the only one who by now is annoyed by this new trend of photographing handknits on dark background. When I pick a pattern to make I need to see it as clearly as possible. Otherwise why would I buy it? Does anyone buy patterns just because of good photography? Pretty model? Famous designer? Well, I don’t. I have to be fascinated with a garment itself and it is hard to be fascinated when you cannot really see it in every detail.
This part out of my chest, I must tell you that the sock design is simple and clear, just the way I like it. It was a fast and enjoyable knit; no problems whatsoever. I am glad that I noticed these socks on Ravelry knit in a light color and well photographed.

I used some Cashmere scraps of three different colors for the socks.
See how much of the main color was left at the end? Yes, I was using the scale all the time trying to evenly divide the yarn.
The socks are now on their way to England. My Ply cardigan is finished. And I already started two (!) new projects. One is another design by Emily Greene (here we go again, simple but challenging). The second  is from a Japanese book that I just got on Etsy. Now, this book is a fine example of how knitted patterns should be photographed.
I saw this cardigan and had to start it immediately.
Again, the construction is the key. And it’s like putting together a puzzle.
Stay tuned,


No comments:

Post a Comment