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Monday, November 29, 2010

Knitting progress - long and knitterly.

As promised, here is a post about my dress. I thought I would have gotten more done by now - I'd hoped to be finished with the sleeves and the smocked section around the ribcage, but I just never seemed able to settle down after I got home with my patient and went on nursing duty. Happily, BD is vastly improved and doesn't need me as much. Something Enormous to be Thankful for. But there were other days were great amounts of frittering took place and then there was the long stretch of trial and error knitting I had to do to customize this dress to fit me the way I want it to fit.

This is my first top-down project and there is an interesting comparison between the traditional bottom up vs top down that is worth noting.

The most important part of a garment is the area around arm holes, bust and shoulders because that's the part that frames your face - it's the part you see the most and the part others look at the most. How that fits is essential to a good looking garment and often, that's the part that needs the most adjusting. Drooping in front or back, riding up in front or back, wrong armhole shape or size, unusually small or large frontage, all these things require knitting math. Lets' face it, once you get to the underarm of a sweater it's just a straight tube down. A dress might nip in at the waist and hips might need a little extra width to fit nicely, but there's very little knitting geometry below the arms. With top down knitting you work on this tricky part first, when your enthusiasm is high. I'm finding I'm willing to rip out and try again now, while the project is small and I'm still curious about it. And - I haven't had weeks of tube knitting to worry about whether this will fit, or I'll be able to adapt it to make it fit.  I'm positive that my fit-anxiety is the biggest cause of project abandonment.

So where am I on this dress? I've added THREE inches of short rows to the bust - and I am pretty sure I'm going to need another 1/2 inch still, but I am very happy with the way it fits. I tried the dress on when it had no sleeves and the single inch of short rows looked like enough, but picking up stitches around the armohole defined it a little more rigidly and when I tried the dress on, the front rode up some more. Rather a lot more, so I added 2 more inches of short rows.

Also, I discovered that sleeveless, the armhole opening was perfect but when I picked up stitches around it to make a sleeve it made for a somewhat skimpy sleeve. I don't have big biceps but I do slip the first stitch of every row when I do flat knitting so I have half the number of pick up stitches as I have actual rows of knitting. On the long stretch from underarm shaping to shoulder top this makes for a good looking pick-up ratio but across the shoulder top I needed a few more stitches. When I knit this again, with sleeves added, I won't slip the first stitches of every row till I've knit about an inch on front and back. Then the pick-up will be easy and I'll have that little extra width right at the top of the sleeve cap.

Of course - I didn't decide this till I'd knitted about 1/3 of the left sleeve, tried on the dress and found  - oops. looks a little like knitted sausage casing. To experiment I just started picking up the stitches for the right arm sleeve, adding 6 more stitches at the very top of the sleeve cap. Much much better. Only I had run out of #6 needles, with one still in the bodice and one in the other sleeve. So I used a #5 and knit happily away, forgetting about the size difference. My Bad! Had to take that sleeve out and raid the left sleeve for it's needle. Ahh. Sweet. knitting looks happy, slightly bigger sleeve fits well.  But - once there were 2 sleeves on the dress and I tried it on ... That's when I discovered I'm going to need about 4 more short rows across the front. Funny how just that modest tension of a sleeve stuck into a bodice can make it fit differently.

So. That is where I am on this last day but one in November. My hope and goal and desire is to wear this dress to work when I go back in January so I hope my Knitting Mojo stays with me throughout the holidays.

Hope your Knitting Mojo stays with you too. Ta.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Heart, you are definitely a more courageous woman than I -- a dress!! I count it greatness if I finish sweaters beautifully these days. In her younger years (20s and 30s) my mother knit her own dresses; I have two long 3 mm circular needles left from those days. Bat-wing sleeves, fitted bodices (this was the 1930s and 1940s after all)...she was slim and trim and wore them like a model. I am short and not-so-trim (not fat -- just a bit bumpy!) I said, you are far more courageous than I! May your KM last as long as required for your masterpiece to be completed. (Recommendation: read "SweaterQuest" by Adrienne Martini...will entertain you as you go.