Actually, Victoria (Ravelry link) has been been in varying stages of doneness for the past couple of weeks. I attached the last button on 12/20 or thereabouts but did not get around to blocking the piece until this past weekend.
All in all, this was a delightful pattern to knit - nothing too tricky and thus perfect to work on while reading.
As you can see from the picture, I made a few mods to the pattern. First, no picots. Not that they aren't lovely in the pattern photos and in the projects on Ravelry, but picots on a sweater were just a bit too girly for me. Instead I went with a basic turned hem. If you want to do this, just knit the turning row (it's a WS row) to create a ridge of purl bumps instead of the picots.
Second, I didn't work the full neck and went for a shorter version instead. After picking up the stitches for the collar, I worked 6 rows in the pattern stitch. Then I worked a turning section (again, with no picots) done with 3 rows before the turn as opposed to the 5 called for by the pattern. A 3 row turn seemed better proportioned than a 5-row one.
The third mod is a bit obscure but is one that I find infinitely helpful when it comes time to finish a sweater. Let me digress a moment and sincerely thank the designer for using short-rows in the shoulder shaping. This is something that I always substitute since, when combined with a three-needle bind-off, it makes a much cleaner shoulder than what you get with binding off so many stitches at the beginning or end of every alternate row. (For a nice article on how to convert traditional shoulder shaping to short-rows, look here.) So after seeing short-rows at the shoulder, I was a bit surprised not to see them in the neck shaping. Since all of the little details like this earlier in the pattern seemed carefully chosen, I tried the staircase-like bind-offs and just did not like my chances of picking up a nice clean edge for the collar (perhaps this was a result of the editing process rather than personal choice by the designer). Naturally, I ripped back and re-knit the neck shaping with short-rows. When I bound off it was so nice to see an unbroken curve at the neckline. The same principle in the short-row shoulders article works just as well at the neck.
Another kudos to the designer for making me pull out a crochet hook on this project, something I am usually loathe to do. Here the chain stitch detailing around the neck before picking up stitches for the collar was pure genius. Not only did the chain give a nice clean line, mirroring the bind-off line at the top of the pattern stitches at the bottom of the torso, but it also showed exactly where to pick up each new stitch for the collar. The extra structural support was wonderful as well.
Thinking back on the project, what I am most proud of is the button bands. The pattern says something like "make button loops and attach buttons." The prospect of making 15 little crochet chains and then sewing them on was enough to make me set the sweater aside for a week or so. 30 little ends to weave in! So I spent that week trying to think of a way around the problem. The designer's use of chain stitch at the neck served as inspiration. I decided to work a chain stitch up the button-hole side of the sweater and add little loops as I went. The way my math worked out, I needed a button loop every 7 stitches (one chain for each stitch on the turned band). I chained 7 stitches, each of which was attached to the button band, and then chained an additional 3 without attaching. I then attached the next chain stitch (number 11) to the 8th knit stitch and began my count to 7 all over again. Only 2 ends to weave in if you do it this way.
Attaching the buttons proved to be another challenge. For the record, I hate attaching buttons. Sewing them on with needle and threat drives me absolutely crazy. I had managed to sew on half the buttons when I decided to button the sides together and see how things looked. Apparently eyeballing it is not a good technique for button placement (yes, yes, I did know this but I didn't want to take the time to count stitches). A few expletives later, I cut all of the buttons out again. For take two, I decided to pull out my crochet hook instead of needle and thread. No need for any math this time: I knew that I needed one button every 7 stitches. First I wove in one end of my yarn to secure it at the bottom of the sweater. Then I strung all of my buttons (pearl buttons with shanks from M&J Trimming) on the yarn and began to chain. I worked 7 attached chains just like I did with the button loop side. Then I moved one button up the strand of yarn so that it was snug up against the last chain worked. Holding the button in place with my finger (more to keep it from flopping around and getting in the way than anything else), I worked another 7 attached chain stitches before placing the second button. You get the idea. I will have to remember this for the next time I use shank buttons since it was relatively quick and easy and looks spectacular (poor picture notwithstanding).
One last pic:
Until next time. . .
One last pic:
Until next time. . .