Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Being honest

So… sorry for a long-ish pause! Let’s continue where I stopped the last time.

I fell in love with Kaleidoscope color work at first sight. This was a pattern I’ve been looking for: a sweater with fairisle and round yoke without that 80s mountain ski sweaters vibe. No snowflakes or flowers, strictly geometric design that doesn’t require 78 different colors. I’ve wanted to use up some leftover yarns from the previous projects and this pattern seemed to me the right choice.

Yet, from the start I knew that I needed to make several changes.
First, the colors. Mine were totally different and I wasn’t sure how they would work together. I drew the sweater on a piece of paper and colored it using pencils in the same colors that the yarns I was going to use.

Second, the sleeves. I don’t wear wooly sweaters with short sleeves. If I knit something out of wool, it has to have long sleeves (unless it is a vest, but I rarely make vests).

Third, the construction. Originally, this sweater is made top-down, without any short rows and with identical front and back. Moreover, there are no provisions for the armholes. Just dividing stitches for sleeves and body and working them in the round till the end. Even if you make a sweater like this with tons of positive ease it would still 1) pucker on the chest since there are no accommodations for the back and front differences (aka “short rows”); 2) restrict the arm movement since there are no provisions for the armholes; 3) stretch and lose its form since it was made without seams.
I don’t like clothes that restrict my movement or make me uncomfortable in any way. In the past, while wearing a top-down sweater knit without any short rows, I had to pull it down all the time to avoid the puckering, and it was bothering me. After making my Splashy last year, I discovered that when a top down sweater incorporates increases for the raglan sleeve, it fits and wears better.
And I’ve said many times that I prefer clothes with seams to seamless garments, so I won’t discuss this topic here again and repeat myself. Bottom line, seams had to be incorporated in the design as well.

You can find all the specifics about my changes on my Ravelry project page.
I had 10 days before leaving Florida. Just enough time to tackle a project like this, right? Well, not exactly. Yet, I really truly wanted this sweater to be finished before our departure.
To make a long story short (too late, I know), I finished the knitting part and I managed to steam the whole thing the last night in Florida. The seaming + weaving in ends were done in New York. By the way, I’ve always admired people who calculate the exact number of ends they had to weave in. Maybe they are secretly craving for some sort of reward for it? A sticker or something? I’d rather do the job and forget about it. And there were quite a lot of ends, believe me. I just don’t know how many exactly.
I wore this sweater in New York a lot.
I love everything about it and it works with almost all my clothes. The only thing that I would change if/when I make it again – I would add more short rows right after the neck ribbing. Otherwise, it turned out the way I wanted it – short but with long sleeves, warm but light, colorful but subdued. Perrrrrrfect!!! And I used up quite a lot of stash yarn – yey!
In New York there wasn’t much time for knitting. Yet, I brought some yarn with me to make Sonobe by Jared Flood. Yes, I know, there are many yarn stores in New York, why bring yarn there?
Because I am trying to knit only from stash till the aforementioned stash visibly diminishes. And I visited the yarn stores of New York:
Purl Soho

Lion Brand Yarn

As well as some other stores. But I didn’t buy any yarn. I think that I definitely deserve a sticker for my willpower, don’t you agree?
Meanwhile, I started working on Sonobe. My first hiccup happened right at the beginning, when I was making the first part of the brioched peplum. According to the pattern all the edges are worked in garter stitch (or GSS - A Garter Stitch Selvedge). I didn’t understand why but complied. Soon I noticed that garter stitch, being stretchy, adds to the stretchiness of the brioche stitch, which is extremely stretchy on its own. I couldn’t possibly imagine this being a good thing. At least one edge of the peplum is open. Garter stitch created a sort of rushing or frill at the edge. It looked weird and not polished. After a while, I unraveled everything and started all over using slip stitch/i-cord finishing at the edge to prevent it from stretching.
The number of weirdly complicated abbreviations in this pattern was my second problem. I’ve already mentioned GSS that was absolutely unnecessary to abbreviate and put at the end in the Special Techniques to begin with. There are also such masterpieces as BRK (Brioche knit), BRK-YO-BRK, FD2-L (Fashioned Decrease Left – Double), Inv-L (Invisible Increase Left), and so on. To decipher these unusual abbreviations you’ll need to go to page 20 (!!!) of the pattern, and then joggle back and forth between pages if you want the job done properly.
If the designer didn’t want me, the knitter, to get lost in this pattern, he definitely missed the mark.
Yet, I prevailed. I got very sick in New York and spent one whole week in bed. So the cardigan's body was finished rather quickly.
My next hiccup was on my first sleeve. The sleeves are made in the round. And normally I don’t do sleeves in the round because… well, they stretch and after a couple of washes get too long, and have a tendency to coil and twist around my arms. So I made sleeves flat. I even managed to finish the lapels before we left New York for Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania I promptly washed and blocked all the details. As soon as they dried I wanted to seam them but the body looked too long and strangely distorted so I decided to pin the parts together and try them on first.

That was a major disappointment. Sonobe is described in the pattern as “an impactful, open-front cardigan whose ingenious construction marries knitting and modular origami”. Well, I am not sure about origami, but ingenious this construction is not. In my point of view, it is poor and not well thought through. The brioche at the peplum is rather heavy (and it is understandable, since it’s a brioche, basically a double stitch). It is heavier than the main body which is made without any seams so is bound to be stretchy. As the result the length of the cardigan changed drastically after washing even though I was very careful and did my best to avoid any stretching. Plus as a cardigan it is rather skimpy on top. I used some wool from Scotland hoping to make not only stylish but also a warm piece of clothing. Yet, there is almost nothing to cover the most vulnerable parts of the chest. It is REALLY open, no matter how warm is the yarn that you used.
But the real “cherry at the top” were the fishtail-like flops in brioche at the front. They didn’t make any sense to me. Being rather heavy they were drooping down, unstylish and unpolished. I couldn’t imagine myself ever wearing this strange concoction. Moreover, I couldn’t imagine anyone that I know ever wearing it either.
Sonobe was frogged the very next day without any regrets. I had to think hard about my reasons to make it in the first place because this cardigan stopped having any appeal to me long ago, probably at BRK-YO-BRK. I think the main reason I bought this pattern and started making it was this picture.

I still like it; from a photographical point of view it is great. Unfortunately, not everything that looks great on a picture, especially on one done by a professional, works as a pattern. I discovered this simple truth many years ago. Yet, sometimes it is difficult to figure out the problems with a pattern right away. Especially when all the people who had made it before are singing the praises to the designer on their project pages.
My point is LET’S BE HONEST with each other. After all, knitting is a time consuming endeavor. Let’s help other people and save their time and money.
Everything else that I knit during last month – and I knit several accessories for the upcoming trip to Scotland – wasn’t photographed for a simple reason. I didn’t have time. We are leaving again for Florida and I’ll photograph and write about them later, when we are back, or even when I wear them in Scotland.

Until next time then,