Monday, June 9, 2008

My Unseasonably Warm Serpentine Sweater

It was 85° inside our apartment today, so of course I thought it was a perfect opportunity to take pictures of myself wearing my new sweater. Don't worry - I didn't sweat on it too horribly : )

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Serpentine Sweater (A shorter version of the Serpentine Coat by Norah Gaughan from the book Knitting Nature)
Reynolds Odyssey, Merino wool (104 yards / 50 g per ball)
6.72 balls of "Brown Mix"
2 balls of "Granite Mix" (not quite enough, as it turned out*)
1.42 balls of "Sea Mix"
US 4 (3.5 mm) circular needles for yoke, body, and upper sleeves
US 3 (3.25 mm) bamboo dpns for lower sleeves
US 2.5 (3.0 mm) dpns and circular needles for sleeve cuffs, collar, and button and buttonhole bands
US 8 (5.0 mm) circular needles for lower body bind-off

As I mentioned previously, I decided to convert the pattern for knitting from the top down, imagining that I could make the sweater fit me better if I could try it on as I knit (a good idea in principle... unfortunately, as you will see, my execution was, shall we say, lacking).

First, I should mention that I really enjoyed the Odyssey yarn, which consists of 4 plies, each of which changes color independently. I'm so glad I was able to find it on sale last year! I love the colors :)

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After working the yoke, I realized (or rather, finally admitted) that my floats were way too loose (ahem, gauge problem alert), so I spent some time trying to tighten up the worst offenders. I laboriously shuffled the excess yarn to the edges, where I later cut it and wove the ends into the button and buttonhole band seams. There's still some extra looseness in places (and some bumpiness), but it's much more tolerable. I definitely need to work on figuring out the right amount of tension for stranded knitting....

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I knit the sleeves to fit me excellently (ripping out the forearm a few times on the first one to get it just right). Nothing ever goes as planned, however, as after blocking the yoke grew significantly (duh... all those loose stitches) leading the turtleneck-style collar to migrate down over my collarbones and the armpits to hang about 3 inches below where I was expecting them to be (I have some pretty impressive flying squirrel "wings" when I spread my arms). This situation, of course, caused the sleeves too be a corresponding 3 inches too long (and wider than expected - moving the part of the sleeve that was meant to fit around the meaty part of my forearm down to my wrist area, etc.) and shifted my waist and hip shaping (as well as the bottom edge of the sweater) downward.

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Clearly, my brilliant plan for perfecting the fit backfired a bit...

The upshot of all this is that what I meant to be a closely-fitted cardigan is now a relaxed, rather roomy one with cuffed sleeves. Luckily, I like it anyway :)

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My buttonholes ended up smaller than expected (I think they were the only things that did), so I chose 0.5 inch buttons that I thought went well with the color scheme. After the fact, I realize that more frequent button placement would have been a good idea to prevent gaping (I placed three rather close together on the collar/upper yoke, but spaced the rest about 4.5 inches apart, as the pattern suggested).

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I'm too lazy to reknit the buttonhole band (*which had the added problem of me having run out of the "Granite Mix" and having to switch to "Brown Mix" too soon), so instead I decided to try a technique I've been meaning to use on several other sweaters: lining the button and buttonhole bands with grosgrain ribbon for added stability.

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I think this went pretty well. I used the overcast stitch as described in TECHknitting with all-purpose sewing thread to attach the ribbon (the cut ends of which I folded toward the center (to make a point) then under twice). For the buttonhole band, I stitched the ribbon to the edge of the band first, cut a hole in the ribbon behind each buttonhole, and used the buttonhole stitch to stabilize these holes before overcast stitching the rest of the grosgrain ribbon down.

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I didn't line the collar (I did initially, but it seemed to make the collar flop open (exposing a little more of the ribbon than I liked) when not buttoned).

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All in all, this sweater didn't work out (at all) as intended, but I like it!

I think the inside is pretty, too:

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Too bad I can't really wear it until the temperature drops considerably.... ah, well... it looks nice folded up :)

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69 comments:

Herdis said...

Wow, that's beautiful! The colors are so pretty and I really like the relaxed fit. I'm also seriously impressed with your modeling the sweater in the sweltering heat - you must have come close to getting a heatstroke!

I've also never seen in detail how to attach the grosgrain ribbon, your explanations are really neat.

Donna said...

It's just gorgeous! I'd turn the AC *way* up and wear it anyway. Or it's cold here now, you could send it to me ;)

Amanda said...

That is absolutely gorgeous -- the colors and the fit! I have Knitting Nature, and can't even remember that sweater in the book...I'll have to take another look.

Queen of the froggers said...

That is just gorgeous, the whole thing ... colours, ribbon trim, knitting! I have no tips on tension I am afraid.

Micky said...

Fab.
U.
Lous.
:)

berlinBat said...

It's very, very beautiful, and makes my hands itch to make one too (and buy exactly those yarns, too :). And the grosgrain ribbon really gives the last touch!

YarnSnob said...

Beautiful!!!! I have learned so much from this post! Your knitting is so so neat, even on the inside!! Amazing! What talent :)

mistress of fiber said...

I adore the colors that you chose and you look fab in it! For having so much of "not coming out the way you planned" business it sure is a super-duper sweet outcome :) You rock! In a knitterly way of course ;)!

Leslie said...

Making lemonade is a grand talent to be sure, and you have proved yourself "Mistress of Lemons."

If you don't tell anyone else, they'll never know - it's lovely!

Ruth said...

This must be one of those situations where you see all the flaws, but all anyone else sees is a very, very beautiful sweater. Well done!

Vicki said...

I never would have known you didn't mean it to fit that way - what a gorgeous sweater! Too bad it's crazy hot out today!

anphoe said...

it's just gorgeous! I love the combination of colors you have picked, they are like perfect. The sweater is like a piece of art, amazing art.

Cabbage said...

Oh my god, that's gorgeous!

SJ said...

I'm sorry it didn't go as planned, but it is an impressive sweater -- your finishing job on the button bands is just spectacular!

I think this sweater just really wanted to be a jacket, and I have a feeling you'll be throwing it on a lot come fall!

Virtuous said...

It is just wonderful! And goes perfect with jeans!!
I luv all the details you put in it, as it fell into place perfectly!

Gurl only in the 80s there?? Try 99 here!!! *Gawk!*

Kirsten said...

Swoon!
Amazingly gorgeous and spectacular!

Anna said...

That`s absolutely gorgeous. I admire your determination to make the sweater work. But it was so worth it. It looks amazing on you.

muchadored said...

I think we're our own worst critics. If you hadn't mentioned anything about flying squirrel wings, I never ever would have noticed.

All that I see is a striking, well-knit, flattering sweater. It is so gorgeous! I never liked that pattern in the book (note to self: I've had this book for over a year; let's plan a project from it already!), but this post has me seriously considering it. I really love, this. Congrats!

Herdis said...

I forgot in my comment to give you my tip on tension in stranded colorwork (I just took a course in Norwegian knitting): When you get to a stitch where you change colors (say, from MC to CC), pull the stitches on the right needle back a little, so they are as spread/stretched out as they would ever be in a garment. Then knit with CC and make sure that the strand of CC between this and last occurrence of CC is long enough that the fabric in MC isn't pulled in (or it would pucker). Also make sure that the thread isn't any longer than necessary to accomplish this, or you will have excessive loops.

Gee, that was a longwinded explanation! I hope you can decipher at least some of it :)

Liz K. said...

What a gorgeous sweater. I love the color combos.

jennsquared said...

Oh that sweater is gorgeous!!! Even though it's hot, I think you should totally bring it Thursday!!! It's too pretty not to show it off in person! Plus they have AC there ;)

Disentangled said...

First of all, I wanted to say that I love the sweater! And secondly, thank you for your candor and the descriptions of what happened during your knitting experience. It would have been really easy to share those photos and none of us would have been the wiser, but then where is the chance to learn? So thank you! And I am especially glad that you ended up with a sweater you love, even if it came out differently than intended. ;)

jillian said...

It's absolutely gorgeous! When I saw that pattern in the book, I immediately thought of making it shorter. Seeing yours makes me want it all the more! The pattern colors really are perfect too.

Lisa said...

Wow - beautiful!

Viktoria said...

Wow! It's really beautiful! I really liked that you shortened the sweater... it looks great!

Nonnahs said...

This. is. stunning! And, ditto to what Dis said. Bravo!

Katy said...

Even with all the challenges--the finished product is gorgeous! ;)

Rachel said...

Ditto to what disentangled said...It's an amazing sweater and the colors you chose really do make it a gorgeous knit. And I'm very glad that you took the time to share the troubles...I learned some new things reading this post.

Nell said...

Gorgeous! Well done!

Rosina said...

Love how the colors and the pattern work together in this one :) And even though it is too hot to wear it now you'll have a new sweater waiting for you in the fall.

Jeannie said...

Wow! For something that didn't come out as planned, that's a very good looking sweater! It looks perfect on you too.

chrispy said...

I love your shorter version of this coat. I was wondering how it would look when I saw it in your projects.

Great colors and if you hadn't told me I would have thought the fit was right.

Cobbalicious said...

I love it! You can't tell at all that anything was wrong in the making of it. Brilliant!

Allison said...

Wow! That has to be one of the most gorgeous creations I have seen in the blogsphere. And it looks fabulous on you!

craftoholic said...

What a beautiful sweater, it looks and fits just perfect! I like the grosgrain ribbon idea.

Tammy said...

Stunning! And thanks for the link on adding the grosgrain ribbon. I need to do that with a sweater and didn't know how.

LizKnits said...

Wow! Despite all the troubles you describe, that sweater looks phenomenal! I love it! Great colors and it looks great on.

Silvia said...

Wow! It's beautiful! Great job.

Amanda said...

That is a beautiful sweater! What wonderful choice in yarn color, ribbon and buttons. Seriously, I would live in that sweater in the fall and winter!

Emily said...

Interesting, and beautifully photographed details of your problems. Thanks for that.

But I think it looks very beautiful. I'd honestly NEVER considered making this sweater, but now I am!

Ella said...

I covet this sweater. LOVE. Love the colors, love the pattern, love the neckline, love the buttons, love the snuggliness, just LOVE. It's beautiful!

sulafaye said...

Wow, that's an amazing knit! Great details, great pattern and yarn combo...if I were you I'd sneak it on in the evenings whenever the temp dropped below 75!!

Sarah said...

Beautiful! I love the color combination.

Marlena said...

Way to see the sunny side! And I love your fix for loose floats.

Beautiful sweater. I love the colors!

Jane said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Love the colors too...

Anonymous said...

Well it's beautiful. I don't see how the sleeves are too big.
It came out lovely!

big geek beth

del said...

That is GORGEOUS! The color combo is just perfect. Although it didn't come out as planned, I think it's great. Beautiful work!

Laurie (Moo!) said...

It's so pretty, with wonderful color combinations!! I'm impressed and awed!

Laiane said...

Nicely done! Your color choices are inspired. I think the blue would match Bug's eyes quite well.

Gail said...

What a pretty sweater. It looks great and will be wonderful to wear in the fall:)

Meredith said...

It's just beautiful! Even if the fit isn't exactly what you wanted, it looks great!

Knittymuggins said...

I think your sweater turned out absolutely gorgeous!! Even if it's not quite what you'd envisioned, I'm so glad that you still really like it :) Great job!!

knittymuggins

Lolly said...

Your sweater is truly one of the best I have seen. I adore it! Beautiful work :)

Beth said...

I always sound like such a gushing lepton, but I can't help it. Wow, I just LOVE this sweater and as always, am blown away by your talents. You are way too humble!

missalicefaye said...

oooh--it's fabulous! Great job!

f. pea said...

what a serendipitously wonderful series of unexpected brilliances! that sweater is fabulous, and fabulous on you.

Yarn It said...

The sweater is absolutely gorgeous! The "issues" as you state them would never be apparent if you didn't mention them. How did I miss this sweater in the book??? I think I must knit it now!

wendy g said...

What a beautiful sweater!

gleek said...

wow! it's super gorgeous! i especially love your color choices :)

ducky said...

wowee....that is one awesome sweater...everything about it....the colors, the fit, the perfect knitting. I think I would be so proud if I had knit that, that I would wear it around all the time, even if it's 90 degrees ; )

Brynne said...

That is absolutely gorgeous! Now I want to blatantly copy you...

Rachel said...

Oh my gosh, that sweater is SO beautiful. I think your "issues" added up to perfection!

sarah / knot another hat said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Erin said...

This is simply, stunning.

KarenK said...

You've created a work of art! Congratulations, well done.

Oiyi said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Your knitting always amazes me.

Amy said...

Do I hear Rhinebeck sweater? ;-)

It's gorgeous!

Mel said...

Ummmm...WOW. It's stunning and I think the fit looks perfect. Flying squirrels should have hand-knits too...

Deenz said...

Awesome! I have some of that Odyssey that I've stashed forever - you're inspiring me to pull it out again!