Friday, 14 June 2013

Completed: Agatha Cardigan

OMG purple!! Yay purple, I love you. This rich and delicious hue somehow makes the cardigan that much cosier.

The Agatha Cardigan.
This was such a fast project (well, because I got super addicted to it mainly), but also, 10ply yarn + cropped length + negative ease = fast! Compared to my previous knitted garment, I flew along!

The only thing that didn't fly along was the sizing modding, that as always, I was compelled to do.
Firstly, this pattern is designed for a much bustier girl than me, and also, my bust size happened to be right smack in between two sizes!
Then of course, there's the fact that there's ribbing and lace patterns to deal with, so you can't just plonk decreases anywhere!
I remember feverishly tossing and turning in bed with a nasty virus, boiling my brain trying to figure it out. Sitting on the couch half dead trying to visualise the pattern. Grim, and I wouldn't advise it!  Hah!

I eventually did figure it out, and to summarise, I did a size small in the back, and a size XS in the front (this meant casting on less for the neckline). I also cast on the armpits as a size XS instead of S to decrease the bust circumference further. I did the sleeves in size S. That's the simplified story and it makes it sound so easy, but it did my head in, lol.

I would have done less decreasing for the waist since I don't really need as much as the pattern calls for, but I wanted to keep the cool pattern that the decreases form on the sides! Check it out! The ribs merge to form Vs.

I'm not sniffing my armpit, I'm showing you the decreases!
The good thing about top down knitting is that you can try it on as you go. I simply knitted until it reached my natural waist and then did the ribbing, which shortened the pattern (I have a short waist).  Of course, that altered the length of the buttonband, but thankfully it was as easy as simply removing a buttonhole and its spacing. Phew!

I also made the sleeves a lot longer to accomodate my long arms. They're very snug sleeves. So snug I don't think I could layer anything much under them. I'm still not sure what the exact niche of this cardigan is. I definitely think it's best with skirts and dresses.

Oh grass, you are fascinating.
This project had its fair share of failings, including when I knitted one side of the front with a whole section omitted, resulting in a lopsided mess which needed frogging! (See my tweeted pic of the disaster here.)
I also struggled with the double pointed needles on the sleeves, leaving big old ladders in between where the DPNs crossed. Yuck! Cue dodgy sewing-up on the backside of the work....
I did end up combating them though, by continuously changing where the needles met like in this video. But I am still very clumsy and slow with DPNS. 

I also had some dodgy bits on the short row sleeve caps and where I picked up the stitches for the sleeves. I just need you to know guys. I need you to know my knitting is very flawed. lol! I want to acknowledge my imperfections, and not present my projects as easy and perfect, when that's not the reality. I think that's important, and I quite love when other bloggers do it. I'm sure there are some people who just get everything perfect all the time... I'm not one of them!

Oh yeah, and I messed up the lace pattern at the top of one of the arms- my decreases were going the wrong way! I totally freaked out because I didn't want to rip back. In a few days though, I had to admit I'd overreacted. It was barely noticeable (my husband did have to point this out quite a few times before I admitted it to myself). I did some dodgy stitching over the top at the end and all was well.

I love the lace pattern along the arm!

Knitting Nerd Details: In my Mary Jane top, I was really happy with the stretchy bind off I used, so used it again.  However, it does create a lettuce edge when not held taut. This isn't an issue with a top, which is always stretched to the body, but what of a cardigan where you might want to wear it open?  I had to admit I couldn't accept a rumpled hem in that case.

The k2tog stretchy bind off makes a rumpled edge when unstretched.
So I ripped it out and tried another bind off- the tubular 1X1 rib bind off. It is really attractive, and I'm so pleased I learned it, though it's definitely harder (it's sewn with a tapestry needle, and I found it slow going)! I'm definitely going to use it for any 1X1 rib in the future. 

This is a pattern I've stalked on Ravelry for ages, and I'm so happy it's done now! I love the ribbing and lace combo. Normally I wouldn't think to do a lacy design in a darker colour like this, but I think the ribbing adds depth and richness to the texture which makes a deep colour suitable. Do I sound like a crazy person? I think a LOT about colour. I tend to think lace is best in light colours, and strong details like ribbing and cables look better darker. I'm sure these rules are in no way absolute however! Do you think these are good guidelines or do I just need to free my mind?

The pretty pattern is on the back too :)
Anyway, I'm so glad I finally got this photographed! Thank you husband and thank you weather!

As for the styling, I paired it with my wool circle skirt. Sometimes you don't really know how a garment will work until the final outfit. I started thinking after seeing these pictures that my cardigan was maybe a little short. But then, if I were to lengthen it past my waist, I think it would bunch up. It IS meant to be cropped, after all. So I'd have to add increases for the hips. But really, I think it's the skirt that might be putting the proportion out of whack- maybe it's too long? My husband insists that skirts that sit on the waist are unstylish (but then, what do men know about fashion?). Gosh, I don't know.

Proportion wise, not quite sure.
What do you think of the proportions? I'll have to try it with a variety of outfits...
Nevertheless, a circle skirt means twirling pics!

Anyway, I'm really happy with this cardigan. (Ravelry notes are here by the way).  It's tempting to make another, but I have a massive list of knitting projects I want to do. No time for repeats!! :)

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