Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sweater Fail

Eventually it happens to all of us: a thoroughly botched project.  Today, I will share my recent failure: The Buttony Sweater.  

It started out great, as you may recall from this hopeful photo:

And it seemed like it was going great all the way until I reached the ribbing at the bottom of the body.  

The first issue I encountered was that I ran out of the contrast color yarn that I was using for the top & bottom ribbing a few stitches before the end of the bind-off.  But never fear!  I had a very similar color of yarn that I substituted for those last few stitches & no one will be able to tell the difference.  Once I'd finished binding off, I tried it on & the real problem revealed itself.  This thing fits terribly!  It's too bulky under the arms & way too tight in the waist & hips.  My waist shaping is too low & too dramatic.  On top of that, I don't have as much yarn as I thought I did, so I definitely don't have enough to do full sleeves. 

Here it is lying flat.  Even here, the shaping mistakes are obvious.

Luckily I have a plan!  I'm going to rip it back to the armpits & start the waist shaping almost immediately below them.  I will make fewer decreases & increase more at the hips.  To ensure that I have enough yarn, I'll knit one less buttonhole.  Lastly, I'll have to make short sleeves instead of long sleeves.  I only have one ball of the main color yarn left so I'll have to use half of it for each sleeve.  Fingers crossed that this turns out better & if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!   

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Metropolitan Knits Review & Giveaway!

A few weeks ago, I was approached to review Metropolitan Knits: Chic Designs for Urban Style, the debut book by one of my favorite designers, Melissa Wehrle.  I first took notice of Melissa's work back in 2005 when Sesame appeared in MagKnits.  I was a brand-new knitter at the time & this was one of the very first sweaters I aspired to knit!  Then, when she was the featured designer in KnitScene Fall 2009, I really fell in love with her patterns.  They are functional, sturdy & flattering.  She utilizes design features such as tabs & uniquely-placed lace motifs, which add a ton of personality to classic designs.  Her body of work also includes a good mix of fitted feminine pieces & more relaxed, comfortable knits to appeal to a variety of styles.  The patterns included in this book are no exception. 

This book is inspired by & dedicated to life in NYC & is divided into three chapters based on different facets of city life.  I'll tell you a little bit about my favorite patterns from each chapter.

Chapter 1 (Heart of the City) starts with two quick-to-knit accessories then dives right into a sweater that a more experienced knitter could really sink their teeth into.  The Museum Sweater consists of an all-over lace pattern, with shaping worked into the selvedge stitches on the sides.  There is additional shaping around the neck & shoulders, then the cowl gets picked up & knit inside out in twisted rib.  For me, this would be a years-long project but I still find myself drawn to the drape of the yarn, the relaxed yet flattering silhouette & the huge comfy cowl neck.  Plus I definitely welcome the occasional knitting challenge.

The Meier Cardigan, which appears on the cover, is one of my favorite patterns in the book.  The construction is really smart: it's knit from the bottom up in one piece to the armholes, then gets divided for the sleeves.  One reason for this is that the cardigan includes side lace panels, which I didn't even notice until I'd looked at it quite a few times!  I feel like this would also get the cardigan off to a really quick start, as you would see a lot of progress right away & be encouraged to keep knitting.  

Chapter 2 (Urban Bohemia) is my favorite chapter.  It's full of big, comfy sweaters & I want to knit almost all of them.  These are perfect Seattle garments: rustic, warm, layering pieces that could take me through about 8 months of the year.  

The Magnolia Cafe Cardigan has a shawl collar & button band that are actually knitted separately, joined at the back then attached to the cardigan for a cleaner look.  I love that level of attention to detail.  That theme is continued by knitting the lining of the pockets in a contrasting color yarn.  These touches, plus the combination of cables & double moss stitch, make this a great piece for process knitters & product knitters alike.

For a more laid-back knitting experience, the Washington Square Cardigan, is high on my knit-list.  This sweater makes me want to hug it.  Due to the vast swathes of stockinette & the simple lace pattern, I think it would look awesome knit in a bulky thick-&-thin yarn.  I appreciate the continuation of the buttons onto the inside of the collar, as they move from functional to decorative & complete the line.

Chapter 3 (City Gardens) mixes the elegance & casualness of the two previous chapters with a lighter touch.  Looser gauges & lighter yarns are used here to evoke a more natural aesthetic in contrast to the lively, urban experience celebrated in the previous two chapters.  Balancing a busy, full, extroverted city life with quiet, introspective time in nature is an important aspect of life in Seattle (& actually part of what drew me here rather than NYC).  This chapter highlights some of those areas that offer a respite within the city.

Normally I am not a shawl knitter, but the Grand Army Plaza Shawl might be the exception to that rule.  I love the open, un-finicky quality of the lace & the yarn chosen for this pattern is just gorgeous.  

Of all the patterns in this book, the Courtyard Pullover is my favorite & the one I hope to cast on first.  I love the variety of all the different stitch patterns & I find the length & shape of this piece really flattering.  I could see myself wearing this a lot, with both skirts & jeans & I think it might look great in a semi-solid yarn as well as a solid color.  The best part is that this sweater is knit raglan-style from the top down.

I hope I've piqued your interest in this book & in Melissa Wehrle as a designer.  You can pick up a copy of Metropolitan Knits: Chic Designs for Urban Style through InterweaveAmazon, or Barnes & Noble. Or, if you're really lucky, you can win the copy that Interweave has kindly provided for me to give away!  Just leave a comment on this blog (not on FB) with either your favorite pattern from this book or your favorite pattern by Melissa & I will choose a winner on August 16th (which will also be my 11-yr anniversary with Dan, an auspicious day no doubt!).  Good luck & I can't wait to hear from you!!!