Sunday, February 28, 2010

Safely across the finish line (and with time to spare)

I finished Coraline last night and I have to say that I am really pleased with the result. I've been wearing it around all day - the DH and I even took it to go see the Modern Wing at the Art Institute this afternoon as a bit of a "coming out" party - and I absolutely love it.

Pattern: Coraline by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: my handspun! A 2-ply dk-weight (14 wraps per inch, according to my iSpin Toolkit app) worsted spun yarn from 13.1 oz of BFL fiber dyed by Chris at Briar Rose. I can't say enough good things about this yarn or the fiber that it came from.
Needles: size 4 (3.5 mm) Addi lace needle for everything but the turned hem and a size 2 (3.00 mm) needle for the inner part of the hem.
Gauge: 5.5 spi and 8 rpi
Started: 9:30pm on Friday, February 12
Finished: 9:05pm on Saturday, Februrary 27

Mods: Well, the obvious change is that I shortened the sleeves. The pattern calls for long, bloused sleeves and at first I planned on shortening them because I was worried about having too little yarn. But as I progressed through the pattern, I realized that, even though I probably had enough yarn for long sleeves, I much preferred the look of a just-below-the elbow sleeve. This would also save me the trouble of pushing the sleeves up to my elbow like I normally do.

The modified sleeve has no shaping other than the blousing just above the i-cord edge.

Because I was worried about having enough yarn, I also made a much larger modification and changed how the sweater was constructed. When I was browsing through finished Coralines on ravelry, I thought the pattern was worked top-down. That seemed like the most natural construction for a sweater of this sort and I was expecting to have a lot of flexibility in how and where I shaped the piece. Sadly, that was not to be and had I actually looked at the pattern before the opening ceremonies, I could have saved myself several moments of panic. 

The pattern calls for working the body and sleeves up to the armholes and then joining everything together to work the yoke. That is fine when you're not concerned with running out of yarn but it inspires sheer terror at the thought of running out two-thirds of the way up the yoke. I like a wide scoop neck as much as the next person, but I like it to be intentional.

So I decided to work the body up to the underarms and then provisionally cast on stitches where the arms should be. This let me work the yoke without worrying about yardage. Once the yoke was completed, I picked up the stitches from the provisional cast on and worked the sleeves top down. I switched the pattern increases to decreases and then worked an i-cord bind off.

One last little mod: since my row gauge was a bit off from what the designer used, I added an extra 2 rows to each section of the smocking pattern and worked an extra set of short rows at the top of the yoke. This just brings the proportions a little closer to what the designer intended.

I think this is a great pattern for handspun yarn. The endless rows of stockinette on the body and sleeves really let the yarn speak for itself while the patterning on the yoke provides just enough interest to keep the knitter from getting bored, without taking any attention away from the yarn.

This was my first experience with the Knitting Olympics and at the finish line I have mixed feelings about the experiences. First, let me say that the excitement of the whole thing was a lot of fine. I truly enjoyed picking a project that was going to be a challenge (and this one turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought it would be) and then pushing through obstacles (like big work projects) to complete the piece before the close of the olympics. I also adore this sweater - my first knit out of my own handspun yarn. All that said, knitting to a deadline was a bit more stress than I really wanted in this experience. Perhaps if I'd been a bit more on-the-ball with my Christmas knitting this past year I wouldn't have minded quite so much. 

Ultimately, I don't think knitting monogamy is for me. Sometimes you just don't want to spend the night with stockinette and that new cabled pattern or intriguing little sock is a bit too enticing. What can I say? In my knitting life, I'd rather play the field.

But monogamy isn't all bad. It gave me this:


Estella said...

Your Coraline is stunning and that it is from your handspun makes it even more stunning. I'm knitting one right now and you have inpsired me to get cranking on it.

Sel and Poivre said...

A Gold Medal for you for sure! The combination of using your handspun and then knitting (with mods - the fit is perfect!) and assembling and even having worn the garment in public all within two weeks... yours is the first Olympic Knit FO post I've seen and I fear it may spoil me for all the others I read after this! Beautiful job!

elizabeth said...

It couldn't have turned out any better! I absolutely love the color! I'm with you - it's nice to see what knitting monogamy can accomplish, but I don't think I'll adopt it as a way of life. It was only my fantasies of future knits that got me through the past 16 days!

Rachel said...

This sweater is gorgeous Rue...I was anxious to get back to the internet world because I knew this FO post was waiting! :) And you do not disappoint! I like the shorter sleeves in your version...may have to consider that if I ever cast on this pattern!

Knitting is my stress reliever so except possibly at Christmas, I tend to avoid all things that make it a stress inducer. Just doesn't seem a like a good idea. And like you, while too many in progress projects stress me out, I definitely am not into knitting monogamy either!

Congrats on a beautiful project!