Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Something I'm Very Proud Of!

I can't believe I didn't include any pictures in that last post! Okay, I see why. I either haven't actually taken finished object pictures, or haven't downloaded them yet. I've been busy with my other blog and detailing our cruise, and doing Christmas knitting. But I did find a couple pictures to talk about!

This is a project I am VERY proud to have made and finished. In the summer of 2007, I subscribed to KnitWords, a CANADIAN machine knitting magazine and the first issue I got was #41, Summer 2007, now sold out! I was stunned at the patterns. Previously I had only a few magazines from 1999/2000 (not KnitWords), and I wasn't too impressed with the patterns. I didn't think they could be too outdated, only 7 years! but I guess fashion changes more than I do! There were a few things I wanted to make in this issue, but I had that silly white shawl stuck on the Singer 327. I really wanted to finish it for the cruise, so I finally buckled down. While I was working on it, I was planning the next project, a bathing suit cover up called "Window Dressing" from the KnitWords magazine. I could mail order the yarn from a not-too-far Ontario machine knitting source, but I was having a hard time choosing just one colour! I finally picked one, and also bought some part cones she had. I finally started the cover up about 10 days before we were leaving.

I'm not sure that I realized that I was kidding myself. In the picture, it looks straight forward. It says it's for intermediate knitters. I thought that by now, I was intermediate. Ha! This project nearly whipped my butt several times! There were so many things that I hadn't done....in particular, hadn't done as part of a formal, machine knitting pattern. Sure, I had knit with needles out of work, even done shaping, but it was my own thing, not trying to interpret someone's pattern. There was SO much knitting off on waste yarn and re-hanging and knitting one row then casting off. And there were a few typos, and errors in the pattern. It was making my head hurt, LOL. I got a couple pieces knit before I gave up so I could finish the flowered dress I had been making, that was also supposed to be "EASY!" but wasn't.

For a long time, a piece of Window Dressing hung on the machine, waiting for me to go on to the next step. Last spring/summer, I finally did the next step (re-hang, knit one row, cast off) and it took me longer to figure out where I was in the pattern and where the stuff was and blow the dust off the cone, then it did to do the step. I worked on a couple other projects while it was off the machine (my mother's shawl, actually, that might have been the only project on the 327; I was using the LK150 a lot). I decided when we booked this year's cruise that I would finish it. I had 9 weeks. That would be enough, right?

I started corresponding with the designer, who lives near where I bought the yarn from. We're in several Yahoo machine knitting groups together, so I felt really blessed to be able to approach her and work through my many issues with the pattern. I don't think you could do this with some of the bigger hand knitting designers! Eileen had been on several cruises and had knit several versions of her cover up, and I truly would not have finished if it weren't for her letting me cyberhold her hand!

I am very proud to have finished such an ambitious project!! NOW, I feel like I really am an intermediate machine knitter!! LOL. And, I have to admit, it's the little details that made this a great finished item. When I first looked at the picture, I assumed it was knit from the bottom up, one piece for the back, one piece, then divided for the front. Add the neck band and sleeves...Umm....no.....Here's a run down:

1) Knit an inner casing (easy).
2)Knit another inner casing (easy).
3)Knit skirt.
4)Remove on waste yarn, rehang (tricky) involving some decreasing.
5)Hang casing over skirt, knit one row, remove on waste yarn
6)Rehang bottom of skirt (tricky), knit some 'marker rows' and a bunch of plain rows
7)Pick up the sts of the marker row onto the needles. (Very tricky).
8)Knit one row, bind off.

So, to sum up, there's a skirt with a bottom hem, and a casing, still open, at the top.

This is the bottom hem. I'm not sure I did the right cast off (but I also don't remember what I did). This is the wrong side, and on the right side, the join to the body looks tight, and tends to flip the hem up a little. The sleeves don't' do this.

There's one casing left in the workbasket, and the next step is to make the back. Which I did, however, there was an error, and two skirts should have been made first.

9)Upper back...not too hard until shaping for arms--didn't know what to do with the out of work needles, and then short rowing the shoulders.
10)Fill empty needles and take off on waste yarn. I forgot to do this with at least two of the shoulders.
11)pick up 4sts on each side of neck, knit 1 row, bind off.
12)Rehang bottom of upper back.

12b)Knit another casing because you don't think the one left in the workbasket is right. Screw up, then knit it again. Realize in the end that it's exactly the same as what's in the basket.

13)hang casings sts (already joined to the skirt) from waste yarn, and pull through.
14)Knit one row and bind off.

So, the upper back and skirt are joined by this casing, which was knit separately. Pretty sneaky---having you knit the easiest pieces first, LOL!

This is the inside where the bottom meets the casing, and the top where it joins the top and casts off.

15)Knit right front, again, not tricky until doing shaping. Part of my problem was that I wasn't sure I had done it right for the back, AND, it had been so long ago I couldn't remember anything.

16)Knit left front, same as right but in reverse.

17)Join fronts to skirt casing, like for the back, treating the two front pieces as one. That involves a few steps again.
18)Join shoulder seams. I did the first shoulder wrong THREE times!!! I kept putting the wrong sides together. I really wanted to do it on the machine, like real machine knitters, LOL, instead of grafting by hand. I would have only had to do it once if I did it by hand! Each time I had to rip it out, there were problems with the sts filling the empty needles, and the wraps from the short rows.....it wasn't a fun day here that day!!!

The inside back neck and shoulder seams. I had a loop where something happened during the back neck shaping. As well, the yarn broke at one point and I didn't notice, so I had a barely two inch tail to secure. It's not too pretty on the inside, but I made sure when I took it off at the pool to fold it up right side out :)

19) Knit neckband....think you know what to do, but doubt yourself and follow the incorrect instructions anyway.
20)Get totally confused by the instructions to join the neckband to the body. Try really hard to figure it out on my own, but I'm clueless. Eileen to the rescue.
21)Knit second half of neckband after another email to Eileen to decipher the instructions.
22)Join rest of neckband to body.

Now, it's time for the sleeves. At this point, I was thinking of leaving it sleeveless. The neckband really kicked my butt, mainly because the pattern instructions were so vague. But the armhole openings curled and looked unfinished, and I figured I had probably knitted the hardest parts by now, LOL.

23)The main part was the same as starting the skirt, then there was the shaping
24)Hem the bottom as per the skirt--rehang sleeve sts, knit hem, pick up sts (I HATED this step), knit one row and cast off

25)Repeat for second sleeve!

Then there's the pocket. Cleverly designed to perfectly fit your cabin card, I couldn't leave it off.
26)Pick up sts from skirt
27)As you knit a row, you pick up a st from the body and put it on the end needle, so it joins the sides of the pocket to the body as you knit!
28)Knit a few more rows, then pick up hem sts to fold over top edge, Knit 1 row and bind off (there's a good picture of the pocket in the magazine).
29)Buttonloop--pick up 3 sts from top edge, knit 8rows, join to top edge, knit 1 row, bind off.

30)Sew all the #%$)@! seams, and buttons, and weave in the ends.

I found perfect buttons in the discount bin at Fabricland---35cents!!

Whew!! If I had really read the pattern, I would have realized there was no way I was doing all that in 10 days! I find with a lot of magazines that patterns start out with lots of detail, but as the pattern goes along, and space starts running out, details get more vague. That's what happened here I think. It could have easily used another page.

I was thinking I might sew the front two pieces closed and wear it as a dress. But I decided not to, because I thought once I wore it as a dress (and I had lots of dresses with me), I wouldn't want to wear it over my bathing suit again. Every time I wore it, Rob commented on how great it looked. He seemed really surprised that it turned out so good!

I can easily see this as a dress. On the model in the magazine, it comes to her upper thighs, on me, just above the knee! The upper pieces are a little long, but I need the length for the sleeve openings. It's as if the entire upper front needs to be raised a bit, but the armholes stay the same size. Often when I alter sleeveless tops/dresses I just shorten the straps. The back is also a little loose on me, causing the upper back to be a little baggy and droopy. I could have knitted a smaller size for the back (but I didn't feel up to altering the neck/sleeves). I had hoped that my breast reduction would stop the need for knitting smaller backs, but I guess not, LOL. I did put a ribbon inside the casing, but it was a little awkward trying to tie a bow on the inside. A wide elastic would work, but Eileen cautioned against that if using it as a bathing suit cover up over a bikini....any red marks left by the elastic would not be attractive, LOL.

All in all, I am very glad I didn't give up on this. It is a little heavier than I expected it to be, but if I did it as a cover up again, I would make it at least 4 inches shorter in the skirt, LOL. I meant to check my gauge and see how it compared to the pattern...I learned so much with this pattern and I can't wait to make something else. Funny thing is...there are other items in that issue I want to make...and they are listed as beginner level!!! LOL!


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a lovely finished project!Well done! Marcella in Holland

Knitman said...

Excellent work!

Knitaholictoo said...

**standing and applauding** Fabulous job! You rocked it out!

smariek said...

Yay on finishing! As I am reading about your adventures in knitting the cover up, I am reminded of my attempt to knit this Lion Brand vest pattern for my mom, which was labeled "intermediate" but seemed straightforward. Ha! Took me 8 months. I had made extensive notes here for future reference in case I wanted to tackle it again with the same yarn I used before, so I wouldn't make the same mistakes again. I'm still in awe of everyone who can whip up a real knitted garment. I might get there someday... when I have a full head of grey! LOL

Anonymous said...

That looks gorgeous! You could totally wear it as a dress, and the shape is so flattering!

Hmm...so you're now an "intermediate" machine knitter eh? Good- so once my new office is set up and I can pull out my 2 machines I know who to ask for help!!!

Toni said...

Wow!! Thank you for sharing your journey on this project! IT is awesome! Perseverance paid off! Beautiful!

Monique said...

Lovely job on your dress. It looks great on you!