Tuesday, April 27, 2010

FO: Aran Coat for Alexa

I have spent long months on this project, although part of the time it was put aside while I knit other things. This is my first Elizabeth Zimmerman project, and although I have all her books and love to read them, I knew I would have to think carefully about what I was doing if I wanted to do it well, so I kept putting that off. I wanted to knit this aran coat because I loved the ribbon cable design on it, but the original coat is knitted from bulky wool and would totally dwarf my daughter. And we live in a fairly temperate part of Oregon, so we don't need quite that much warmth. I got 5 skeins of this lovely color of Cascade 22o Superwash on sale at our local craft store, and I did a gauge swatch in the round of the ribbon cable, which after washing was 6.5 st/in so I thought I would do a sleeve first to further check gauge and to get in the swing of things. I cast on 50 stitches at the wrist and set up the cable pattern using a sc (small 2 stitch cable) at the underarm where the seam would be and a small cable at the top of the sleeve also (which would eventually go all the way to the neck on the saddle shoulder,) and a ribbon cable and a what I call a herringbone cable and EZ calls a fishbone on each side. So starting at the underarm, sc, P2, SF (what I call a ribbon and EZ calls a sheepfold), P2, HB, P2, sc, P2, HB, P2, SF, P2.

I wanted a steady increase up the arm so I increase 2 stitches every 14 rows into the purl section on either side of the underarm sc to 60 stitches total and the arm a total of 12 inches long to underarm. I did want a sweater to go down past her hips a bit and to give her space to move, so I cast on enough stitches to give her 6 inches of ease relative to her "bust" and then decreased down to 3 inches of ease at underarm.
The body has a few extra 2 stitch cables to fill up the extra space between the ribbons and herringbones. I had an extra 2 stitch cable on either side of the side cables and I always twisted those toward the side they were close to. These were decreased eventually to a single twisted stitch, and then out of existence toward the underarm. I merged the sleeves and body at the yoke and managed to place half a herringbone up the sleeve decreases as EZ does in hers, but after I got up to the place where she recommends reversing the direction of the decreases to make the shoulder more round, I got impatient and just started the saddle. I do wish I had followed her advice because the shoulder is too sharp and creates a bump at the junction of sleeve and shoulder top.
I decided to omit the hood because I didn't think Alexa would actually use it, so I did a little mandarin collar instead. (Should mandarin be capitalized here?) Then it was time to actually cut the front open. These were my first steeks, so I was a little nervous, and the yarn is pretty smooth so I definitely wanted to stabilize it. I found a YouTube video of crocheted steeks, and it seemed sensible and more stable than doing it on a sewing machine, so I did that method. Then I picked up along the front at 2 stitches for every three rows, did garter stitch for about an inch and did a regular bind off. I whip stitched the little steeked flap down on the inside.

I like the look of the button loops and toggle buttons, but making them the way EZ recommends seemed a little flimsy, at least with my much thinner yarn, so I crocheted some chain loops for the buttons, which worked well until Alexa started putting her finger in the loop and pulling on it.

Sometimes things that work perfectly well in my imagination prove impractical in the face of Alexa's destructive ingenuity.
I may end up undoing the facing and replacing it with actual buttonholes and regular flat buttons of some sort. I am also kind of puzzled by the gaping open of the front. She should have about 3" positive ease, so why the gaping? Recommendations?
And this last one is just a shot of my adorable daughter who may be a difficult model for the sweater, but is so adorable I can't get mad at her for it!
I used a little under 4 skeins of yarn and size 6 needles. The pattern is called Aran Coat WG39 on ravelry. (Which I just now figured out stands fro Wool Gathering #39, which I believe is where it was first published.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

FO: Alexa's Unmentionable's Reprise

I started these last month when I needed a simple project to take to knit night. The Aran Coat was too complicated to work on while chatting in a low light situation. I have had the yarn for several years, since I bought it at a sale at FNC. Since then I have discovered that I don't really love elasticized yarn, or very textured yarn either, but I did love the color and I had about 5 skeins of it, which was perfect for this. Alexa's previous pair of Unmentionables have received so many compliments, and she wore them for two summers, so it seemed like a great thing to make a second time. The yarn is Classic Elite Star. I made them a little narrower than the original because Alexa is so skinny, I cast on 72 stitches for each leg.
I omitted the lace, since I thought it wouldn't look very impressive in this yarn, and it is a lot of work. I did an inch of seed stitch at the bottom of the ruffle. I love this pattern because it is seamless. You start with a provisional cast on and move up from the bottom of the legs, I grafted the stitches between the legs with Kitchener stitch. Then you pick up from the provisional cast on and do the ruffle.
I also added a drawstring to hold them up better, last time I used elastic, but it showed through the waistband, so this time I did an I-cord. I hope it works, it's very hard to keep pants on when you are this thin and have no behind!