Sunday, July 21, 2013

Scarpetta Finished but Maybe Not up to Snuff

Less than a week ago I said I was going to knit, and knit I did.

Escaping the heat by sitting inside knitting a sweater may not seem like the most intuitive plan, but it worked for me!

Once I [finally] got the front and back sections Kitchenered together, I could start on the sleeve section. Since I started at the shoulder, it was decreases all the way to the cuff and every fourth row I had few stitches to do. That helps to keep things moving!

In "no time" at all, I reached the cuff and did a turned-over hem to match the first sleeve. Unlike the first sleeve where I started on the cuff and turned over the hem and knit together with the cast on row, this time I had to turn over the hem and knit together with the stitches from the 10th row previous. But I didn't want to have a big bulky cast off line around my cuff, so I Kitchenered the live stitches off the needle to the 10th row below instead. Yes, "seamless" knitting seems to require a lot of Kitchenering. Good thing I like it.
Hem is partly done. I am working the live stitches off the
needles.
If you've noticed that I have switched to dpns, I'll explain that I did that because working from the cable needle just wasn't convenient for the Kitchenering. I needed to be able to work with smaller groups of stitches at a time.
And the final result! Isn't it pretty? (This is the wrong side.)
Both sleeve hems tend to flip out and I really think I should have taken EZ's advice and decreased 10% of my stitches. But I wasn't thinking that far ahead when I started the pattern.

Once the main body (including sleeves) was knit, I could turn to the collar. First I had to pick up stitches all the way around:
I did my usual "pick up as many stitches as seems right" and then adjusted the number of stitches to match the pattern on the next row. Sometimes you have to decrease; sometimes you have to increase. In this case I needed 192 and was about 20 stitches short. That's about 10% and I can live with that. (On the other hand, if I had picked up stitches and then had to increase 50%, let's say, I would probably redo the pick up row.)

Then I knit and knit and knit in rounds until I had three inches.
Almost there!
I was worried about the gauge of the collar and thought I should have maybe increased my needle size so it wouldn't be too stiff, but I didn't. Once the collar is long enough, you're once again supposed to knit the stitches together with the cast on row as you cast off, but this time you don't match up the stitches with their first row counterparts (directly under them). No, you are supposed to find the stitch 20 stitches over and knit it together with that. This puts a pretty bias twist in the collar.

I had a very hard time picturing being able to do this very well. I could barely find my cast on stitches. Plus I wanted to encase the ugly sort-of "seam" that is made when you pick up stitches.
So I cast off the collar stitches and sewed them to the body of the shirt. I did make sure to shift the stitches by 20 and pinned it all in place before I sewed. I'm still not sure I got it "right," but I got something that works so that's ok.

Once the collar was done, I sewed the underarm seams. You may recall they were funny shaped V seams and I will say they weren't very pretty. The quick decreases and increases you need to do to get the right angle made the edges ugly to work with and I'd say six of the eight of them pulled in too tightly compared to the body. (Even after my changes to the types of increases used.)
Long story short, I did get them sewn (mattress stitch, in case you're wondering), but I wasn't overly  happy with them. I redid one of them and it was a little better the second time, but really I don't think I'm going to like it. The seams come up really high toward the shoulder--something I missed on the pattern pictures. (I think they had a very clever and tricky photographer, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of pictures were rejected because those seams didn't look good. Or maybe the designed just did a far better job than I did. If so, I would appreciate her tips on how.)

Anyway, there wasn't much else I could do about.

So. :big breath: I tried it on. The underarm seams were too tight. (They didn't look horrible, but the shirt just wasn't comfortable.) The length is too short (like I feared all along). And the sleeves are too long. On the model, they are a good inch above the elbow (nice) and on mine they are a good inch below the elbow. Just that awkward length were it's uncomfortable to bend your arm because the fabric bunches up there. I guess my row gauge was off? (Except the body of the sweater was too narrow, so that doesn't compute.) Oh yes, I hadn't said that yet. I made it with a little ease (I thought), but it ended up being quite fitted. But not tight, so I can live with that.

It's so pretty though. The colours are gorgeous and I love how they blend. The collar also came out pretty good. I thought the neckline would be a little bigger, but the collar really pulled it in.

I was able to block the shirt tonight:
I first blocked it "by eye" but then went and got the pattern out and looked at the schematic drawings. I made some adjustments and am just hoping it fits better after the block. (The measurement from underarm to shoulder was a full inch smaller than the pattern gave. That's not promising.)

Ah yes...did you notice I have some colourful blocking mats? I found them at a yard sale a couple weeks ago for $2. I've had my eye out and this set was still in the zippered pouch and everything. I was sold on the idea of using these "play mats" for blocking pads from reading online, but I have to admit when I got the blocks out I thought there was no way they would be sturdy enough to hold a garment in place. But, nope, they worked great!

It will be a day or two before this is dry and I can try it on again. Whether it fits or not, the important thing is that it's ready to be entered in the county fair this Saturday!!

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