Friday, June 12, 2009

Always a Little More

Am I a glutton for punishment or what. After all my recent writing about not liking fiddly time-consuming finishing and embellishments, look what I've been working on:
Why why why do I do this to myself? Well, look at the picture again...at the end, it's all worth it. Look how cute that is!

And what is it? It's the hemline of a little baby cardigan I finished up "just in time" (read, two weeks late) for a friend's new baby girl. It's sized around 9-months, so being two weeks late is fine in my book. (As long as your friends aren't too impatient.) Project Stats
Started: Sum 2007
Finished: 2 Jun 09
Pattern: Baby Jacket by Michele Rose Orne in Vogue Spr/Sum 07 (rav link)
Materials: Red Heart Super Saver; DMC embroidery floss; flower button
And considering how long it took to finish, I'm glad it's even close to the birth!

I knit the sweater up pretty quickly as I recall. That was in the summer of 2007, so forgive me if I don't remember exactly. I did the embroidery on the back and was still rather enjoying myself. To finish the ends, I was trying a modification of the square knot that was supposed to be more secure.

Sometimes it was, and other times it just came undone. I had made the sweater out of acrylic so it would be easy care; having the knots come undone did not fit with my plan! Maybe it was operator error, but that doesn't help me get it retied when I've already cut the ends. Oh, it was demoralizing. So I threw the whole thing into a duffel bag and hid it under a bed somewhere.

The sweater only resurfaced 2 years later when these friends announce that they're having a girl, and the mother (on a separate occasion) happens to mention that she loves handknits on kids. Well, there's nothing like an expressed appreciation for knits to get me motivated!

So I haul the poor neglected sweater out again and ask around for some advice. The most likely suggestion is to glue the knots. Now, normally I am not a glue person.

I eschew glue.

It's all I hear on craft shows, and especially slap and dash Martha Stewart: glue it! glue it! I don't trust the stuff. Normally. But I'm at my wit's end and decide to give it a go.

I used a fabric glue that claimed to remain flexible (so it wouldn't be a hard little uncomfortable knob) and washable (falling into that "easy care" category). I used it very generously on every single knot. When the back looked ok, I proceeded to finish the embroidery on the fronts and sleeves and, again, glued every single knot...a lot.

I had no more problems with knots coming undone.

But then there was the glue. It was mostly flexible, but kind of scratchy. The ladies at Red Purl insisted in their polite way that I had to do something. Will this project never end?

The only thing to do was face the back of the embroidery to cover up the glue, and in the process, neaten up the back of the work. I know it's in the inside, but it never hurts to make the inside pretty too. And it would protect the knots and hopefully keep them from being damaged by wear.

So with all this in mind, I motivated myself for yet another step.

When the embroidery was done, the inside of the back, fronts, and sleeves looked like this:
The knots and messy stuff were exposed.

I started by picking up and purling stitches off of the first rib of knitting below the embroidery:
I then knit just a few rows of stocking stitch. In the pic below, you have the main piece (with the embroidery, and all that glue: just look at it!) and the extra flap I have knit (being held above the main piece):
Now, I've folded the flap down and you can see how it covers the ugly backside:
But it still needs to be fastened down on the free edge. Although I considered a type of 3-needle bind off, that would have been far too bulky and messy. (And ugly. We're working to minimize the ug here.) So that left me with a Kitchener stitch done between the live stitches on the needle and the last row of bumps on the panel I did the embroidery on:
I think that left me with a very neat facing, and no more ugliness. With the added bonus of increased durability.
Voila!
Having finally declared the work finished, I quick as a bunny sewed up the seams before I could change my mind. (Or anyone at Red Purl could have another nose wrinkle at it.) Then knit the collar with one buttonhole and blocked it:
I wasn't sure how blocking was going to work on the acrylic, but it did wonders. The front bands had been curling all over the place (I hate curling) (not the sport) and the blocking took care of that like nobody's business. The facings for the embroidery make the sweater very thick there and it took several days for it to dry completely! The piece should be safe in the dryer, however, so I don't anticipate that being a problem for the new owners.

And now I give you some glamour shots of the [finally] completed baby cardigan:



May it be worn in love and good health.

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