Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Knit for Victory: My Victorious Cardigan

Alright dudes, BRACE yourselves, this is a full-on post!! While writing this post I realised I had a lot to say, and maybe it's only interesting to me, but I left the waffle in!

This is my completed Knit for Victory Cardigan! Knit for Victory is the 40's themed knitalong hosted by Tasha of By Gum by Golly.

This skirt, one of the first things I ever made... I need more skirts like this as I paired this with my Miette cardigan too. So unoriginal!!

When I first wrote about my plans, I had found a version of my pattern from both the 60s AND the 50s, and reasoned it looked very 40s, so I was sure there was a 40s version floating around. And I found it- completely by chance! I got this book out from the library over Christmas, and happened to find not only a version of the pattern from the 40s, but a picture of another modern knitter wearing her version. What an amazing coincidence!!

This vintage pattern was pretty sparse on the details (and I think most vintage patterns are). So I had to spend a while reading it and figuring out how it was constructed. I even drew my own half-baked schematics to figure out what was going on. So from the start I knew it would be a challenge.

I did a LOT of maths for this project:
-Figuring out decrease rates for arm and waist shaping

-Calculating the original pattern's ease

-Altering ALL my stitch counts to fit my different gauge and custom ease (I estimated how much ease I wanted by looking at previous knits I'd made, and also by pulling numbers out of thin air. lol).

-Spacing the buttonholes along the button band 

-and the biggest doozy of ALL- Creating my own custom sleeve cap shaping using lots of calcuations and even trigonometry! Yup, busting out the Pythagorean theorum is now what I do for a hobby apparently! That's nuts.
For this bit, I used Tasha's post on sleeve cap shaping, and this resource she linked to ended up being the main information I used. And, it took me forever. And, it was kind of fun actually.

Cackling "Victory is miiiine!"
I also changed the construction in many ways for this project:
-I changed the front from being knit in one piece with a faux buttonband, to being knit with an opening for a REAL buttonband. This meant picking up stitches and knitting the band once the body was done. I decided to go with a moss stitch button band to echo the texture of the seed stitch body.

-I knit the front and back as one piece, unlike the original pattern which had side seams.

-The original pattern has a seam under the bust connecting the ribbing and the bodice, meaning they are knit as two different pieces. I knit it all as one. This was a little tricky as I slowly transitioned the stitch pattern from ribbing to seed stitch, to mimic the diagonal shaping of the original pattern. As the ribbing was knit on smaller needles, I had two sets of circular needles in my work at once!

-I noted that the bodice piece was slightly gathered into the ribbing. As I wasn't sewing together two pieces, I decided to mimic that by placing increases under the bust in my transition zone. I did this very scientifically by holding it up to my body and eyeballing where I thought I should make those increases.

Boobie gathers!

-I lengthened the sleeves to full length.

-I added decreases to the ribbing from the high hip to the waist. The reason for this was that I have relatively large hips, and I didn't want it to be either too tight on the hips, or too loose at the waist. I realise ribbing is such that it expands and contracts to fit your shape, but that ability has limits.

I tested this up by holding the knitting (placed on scrap yarn) up to my waist after I'd cast on and knitted a bit of the bottom. It still looked a little loose at the waist so I feel like adding shaping was justified. In any case, it doesn't seem to have hurt the garment.

-I changed the shoulder shaping (originally done with bind-offs), to short rows, which meant I could seam the shoulders with a 3-needle bind-off (I know that sounds like gibberish to anyone who doesn't knit, but it's a good technique!). There are lots of tutorials floating around, like Tasha's or the free Craftsy class on short rows.

I know what you're thinking... that seems like a LOT of work, just for a knitting project! And yeah! It is! But I actually really enjoy stuffing around changing EVERYTHING. It's a challenge, and I love customising things for my tastes.
Here are my notes on Ravelry.

This was the first project I've done that involved lots of seaming! Even though I eliminated the side seams, I decided to do the sleeves vintage-style, and seam them. I can see why knitting sleeves in the round is so popular these days, but I definitely found pros and cons to seaming!

+stable: It adds sturdiness to the knitting, and could see how it might stop it stretching out with wear or in washing. I have heard that negative ease garments don't need seams so much, but I can see this being useful on the side seams of a drapey, positive-ease project.

+enjoyable: seaming is kinda zen like hand-stitching. I found it quite fun and satisfying, but I can see how the novelty could wear off, especially with multiple seams on a large garment!

+avoids knitting in the round: I'm not the greatest fan of knitting in the round in a small circumference, as I'm still pretty slow and clumsy, and I can get tension issues too… knitting sleeves in the flat was a nice change.

-time: yeah, it does take a while! I would love to compare which method was faster overall though, as I think the knitting portion of the sleeves went faster.

-fiddly factor: I found the sleeves pretty nice and neat, but seaming in the sleeve cap wasn't as smooth. Still, overall, I don't think you can go too wrong if you have a nice clear tutorial.

Wow, I sound like I'm almost a convert to seamed sleeves huh? It was nice to try out anyhow.

So, I think I see why they designed this as a fake cardigan- it looks much nicer buttoned up I reckon. Otherwise the gathers poof to the sides. Plus, my button band is a skosh wavy, but I was too lazy to sew ribbon behind it (it doesn't look that bad, right? Right??). I had an idea to try stabilising it on the back with crochet, but… it didn't work.

I quite like it half open though!
Funnily enough, after the gargantuan amount of effort I put into this, I don't think this is a super versatile piece, but I guess that wasn't the point. It was a good challenge, and I enjoyed knitting it. I think it'll go best with vintage-style skirts and dresses, so OBVIOUSLY I need to sew more of those!

If only I was as inspired about my sewing as I am about my knitting right now!!

In fact, I have the perfect fabric to pair with it, but it has stubbornly remained in fabric form rather than becoming a dress at this point.

By the way, the girdle action on the original models is quite stunning. My waist is gargantuan in comparison, haha!
This is me sucking in to get that vintage sihouette, lol!

"Ahhhh, as long as I don't breathe or move, this is working out great!'
In any case, I consider my Knit for Victory cardigan to be a victory! Thanks Tasha for hosting it, and I can't wait to see everyone else's vintage-style knitting projects! :)

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