Monday, October 23, 2017

Sleeves + Seams = Sweater and Shipped

It is finally finished! It only took two years....

Well, sometimes that is what it takes. The main hold up for this one was that the colours I had weren't right for any kind of striping but there wasn't enough of any one colour to use. I decided I could dye two of the colours, but that didn't get done for a long (long) time.

I did finally get to it earlier this year and was able to continue the sweater. Fortunately the notes I made in the printed pattern, which was more like a recipe than a pattern, gave me enough information to carry on.

Last time you saw this sweater, the front and back were done and the collar was knitted on. Everything was ready for the sleeves.

Yes, the sleeves.

The first problem was to address the amount of yarn I had in each colour. I first attempted to knit them in the same stripe pattern as the body, but I didn't have enough of a couple of the colours. I worked on both sleeves at once so I could know right away if I had enough. When I realized I didn't, I had to rip out both of them and decided on a different striping pattern you'll see in a minute.

Then I had decisions to make about the shaping. The pattern called for sleeves with flat tops - no armhole or shoulder shaping at all. This works, but it's not a very nice fit. With wool this thick, it would be especially uncomfortable because of all the unnecessary bulk under the arm.

So I worked on figuring out a shaped sleeve cap that would work. Hmmm, I don't know what I was thinking the first time, but you can see it on the left:
If you can't see how wrong that shape is, let me assure you that it is way wrong. Of course, I had to try sewing it in anyway just to see if it would work. It didn't. So I put it aside and worked on the second sleeve, making a few improvements. You can see it on the right - much better. Once I ripped out the left one and knit it to match, I was able to sew them on to the body.

I decided to use a thinner and stronger wool to sew the seams. As I mentioned before, the yarn it is knit with is a single ply and doesn't hold up very well for seaming. It would also make the seams much too bulky. So I grabbed a leftover ball I had in a sort of "neutral" matching colour and used it instead.

Here is a shot of the mattress stitch before I pull out the slack:
Give a gentle persistent pull, and your seam is all sewn up:
You can't even see the sewing yarn anyway. Here is the seam from the inside:
Still a little bulky. Sometimes people will sew the seam using only half of the selvage stitch instead of the whole stitch. That would cut this bulk in half. I decided not to do it because I didn't think it would work well with the slipped stitch selvage stitches that I do.

Here is a shot of the sleeve seam as well:
And here is the entire sweater:

I don't think you can tell that purple strip had to have surgery:
I adapted the collar of the pattern and I think it worked out well:
I finished the sleeves and hem with a garter band. I prefer it lately to ribbed bands and it matches the garter collar.
Project Stats
: 7 Jul '15
Finished: 17 Sep '17
Pattern: The Steppe Ahead Sweater by Irina Makarow
Materials: Various balls of Lopi, picked up here and there.
Once this was done, I felt it was worth sending a box of woolly goodness to Wool-Aid.
The organization was just recently able to reconnect with a monastery in Gamrau, India. We haven't been able to send to them since 2015. We didn't know why but now know it was because of internet problems and no one who spoke English. Somehow a sponsor in Belgium is now able to act as a go-between and organize things.
There are now 32 young monks, ages 7 to 17 living there (up from 19 a few years ago), plus six elders. Winter weather in Gamrau is severe, and this group has always struggled to stay warm. They have restrictions on what colours they can wear, but my red socks will work perfectly. (And don't worry, the other socks and sweaters will work perfectly well for another group.)

After finishing this sweater, I didn't have a big quantity of any of these colours. I sent them to my sister who's always knitting hats so she could use them up. It will be fun to see what she comes up with.

ETA a picture of the hats she made:
She had them done so fast she was able to get them to me before I shipped the box!

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