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.)

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