Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mostly about knitting.

Hello, hello, hello!  I've been gone, but now I'm back :-)

Over the weekend, we went to Upstate New York to visit Hubby's youngest brother and his wife and our littlest niece, aged two and a half.  Such a cutie!  We were lucky with the weather on Saturday, and they drove us to Vermont, which I was surprised to learn is only about an hour from where they live.  They took us to Hildene, the summer home of Abraham Lincoln's son.  This beautiful Georgian-style home was completed in 1905.  The house and grounds are just gorgeous, even at the tail end of winter:



Robert Todd Lincoln was president of the Pullman Car Company, so there was also a beautifully restored Pullman car on the site.  I love trains, so I was pretty pumped about seeing that!



We returned yesterday morning, and as you can imagine, I had a lot of things to take care of.  But I crashed mid-afternoon, so I decided to spend some time with my Geno/Ghia sweater.  The sleeves on this thing have been giving me fits!

One of the downsides of watching Netflix while I knit is that I don't pay as close attention to my pattern as I ought to.  In this case I just forged ahead, following the instructions without really thinking about what I was doing.  I knew the sleeves were meant to be gathered, but I didn't realize until I was a couple inches in that the increases which doubled the stitch count were all happening at the side seams every single row!  Here's how it looked when I stopped to actually analyze what I was doing:


At that point, I'd only done about 8 of 26 increase rows - look at that steep angle!  What this means is that all the volume of the sleeve would end up right in my armpit.  Call me crazy, but I don't think that's the most flattering look!

So I ripped it all out and rewrote the pattern  to evenly distribute those increases just after the ribbing.  And then I forged ahead again.  It took me a long time to knit that darn sleeve - there were twice as many stitches as there were on the front!  I had an inkling about half way up the sleeve cap that this one wasn't going to work out either, but I decided to finish it to see.  I followed the pattern instructions for the shaping of the cap, which has you work 2 stitches together across the last couple rows to do even more gathering at the top.


Hmmmm.  That's a lot of sleeve.  Here's how it looked arranged next to the body:


Napoleon Dynamite, anyone?  Just not digging this look either.  I may be alone on this, but I think that after a certain age, super puffy sleeves just aren't appropriate any more.  And I think that age is about 6.

So yesterday, after all my chores were done and I was ready to sit down with some knitting, I rewrote the sleeve pattern with the help of Maggie Righetti's Sweater Design in Plain English.  What I came up with is a lot more wearable for me.  And because there was so much less fabric to make, I was able to make the sleeve in about an hour and a half.


Next to the sweater:


Now that's more like it.  I'm going to post my sleeve instructions on my Ravelry page for this sweater rather than write them here, since I don't really think it's a thing of general interest.  My instructions are based on my gauge and the way I wanted my sleeve to fit.  But what I wanted to say here is that Maggie Righetti's book made it pretty easy for me to figure out how to do this.  I've had this book for a few years but haven't actually read it yet.  I'm thinking that maybe I should!  I did read Knitting in Plain English, and while I didn't agree with everything in that book, I did learn a lot of neat tricks from it.  I think both of these books are great additions to any knitter's library.

Have any of you read either of these books?  What did you think?  I didn't read the sweater design book because, let's face it - I don't really have any original ideas!  But now I'm thinking it may have tips to help me problem-solve other knitting patterns.

30 comments:

  1. Haha, I totally agree with you-- puffy sleeves are for small children! This is such a pretty sweater, though-- I love the lace pattern!

    Glad you had a nice trip! Travel by Pullman car must've been so glamorous! Sure beats the Greyhound bus, anyway. :)

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    1. The amount of detail on the inside of the train was just incredible - stained glass windows, highly polished woodwork - so luxurious!

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  2. That train looks so fancy! Sure beats my subway commute to work any day :) I agree about the puffy sleeves, specially on small framed women. You've mentioned Maggie's books to me before but I have yet to look into them... perhaps it's time? In any case, your sweater is going to look just great.

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    1. Yes - for me, small frame + broad shoulders + middle aged = no puffed sleeves! It's a formula I try to stick to ;-)

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  3. Phew, that's a lot of knitting! That sweater looks really lovely, though, and I think you made a good choice with the sleeve redesign. Thanks for the book recommendation too, I'll check those out from the library!

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    1. It really was! I was shocked at how long that puffy sleeve took! The new one only took 2 Doctor Whos ;-)

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  4. That sleeve redesign is great. Looks much better than the puffed version. For some reason I always seem to be drawn to things with puffed sleeves, before I remember they look dreadful on me!

    It looks like you had a lovely break - that train is beautiful.

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    1. I think my problem was that the lace distracted me so much, I didn't realize the sleeves were puffed until I actually started knitting the sweater! The photo in the magazine didn't help much either.

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  5. The lace is so elegant and distinctive that puffy sleeves would merely distract from it (even if the wearer was the appropriate age for them). Your plain sleeves are a definite improvement.

    Was that a standard Pullman? It looks like a Gilded-Era financier's private railroad car!
    -- stashdragon

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    1. Wow, you know your trains, Stashdragon! The curator told us that it was a private car, but not owned and used by any one person. Rather, it was rented to family and corporate groups.

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    2. Ha - I've seen photos of the rich man's transport (comparable to a top-of-the-line private jet today) in histories of the era. You can bet that the railroad companies weren't wasting that gorgeous woodwork and upholstery on the average traveler!
      -- stashdragon

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  6. How absolutely lovely to ride in that train - so Downton! And what an estate Lincoln had. Is it b/c spring is slow to come that the parterre garden is dry? What a great persimmon like color for your sweater. How clever of you to be able to modify.

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    1. Yes, it's still the tail end of winter there - nothing had started to sprout yet. I did see a couple crocuses starting to pop through, which I thought was funny because our crocuses are long gone by this time of year.

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  7. So sorry I missed you on this visit but I'm definitely looking forward to when we're next both in the same state! As for your sleeve notes, it's incredible to see what a difference a little attention & thinking can do. Love how your sweater is coming along.

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    1. Hehehe - yes, maybe I should try paying attention more often!

      It was probably for the best - our niece ended up having a fever (and vomiting) on Sunday, so I probably would have had to cancel anyway! Next time for sure!

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  8. love how the sweater looks! good call on ditching the puffed sleeve.

    sounds like a great little vacation. you were close to my neck of the woods! (okay, a few hours out, but still...)

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    1. Thanks - I'm glad I finally figured it out! Oooh, maybe we could do a meetup too next time I visit there?

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    2. definitely give me a heads up! kid schedules permitting, that would be fun!

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  9. The sweater looks lovelier and lovelier the more of it you show us. The lace is very beautiful. And you made an absolutely right decision about the puffy sleeves, the new plain sleeve is much more suitable.

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    1. I feel like I'm really getting somewhere with it now. Hope to finish soon!

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  10. Oh this is going to be so beautiful! I'm impressed with your process to make the sleeves exactly how you want them -- the thought of adapting a knitting pattern still befuddles me, but I suppose I felt that way about sewing patterns at one time too. :) Looks like a lovely trip!

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    1. Well, honestly, I try to avoid doing this kind of thing! If I'd realized before I started knitting this one that the sleeves were like that, I may have chosen not to do it! But in the end, it turned out not to be such a big deal with Maggie's approach to things. Other instructions I've seen for designing sleeve caps were much more intensive. This one is pretty common sense.

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  11. Hahaha- your sleeve comment made me giggle out loud! Soo true though! I am absolutely going to have to check out your instructions on ravelry as I have so many vintage sweater patterns that I love EXCEPT for the big puffy sleeves but i have never been ambitious enough to change them! Thanks! :)
    Ps- that house looks amazing!

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    1. Yes - I could happily live in that house. In the summer though. I have a feeling Vermont winters would make me grumpy!

      You should really check out this book then! I shy away from doing major alterations on knits because of the math involved, but this really wasn't too difficult!

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  12. What a cute sweater you're working on, and oh my gosh that house! And the train! Thanks for sharing those awesome photos with a history nerd.

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    1. Definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods! They even do reenactments in the summer!

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  13. I can't wait to see how your sweater turns out. I love the color.

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    1. Thanks, Lashell! I finished the second sleeve last night, so now I just have to do the front and the finishing - getting close!

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  14. I love your perseverance! Good idea to rip and make the sleeves suit you and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of knitters didn't do what you did. I love the color too.

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    1. At a certain point I started to feel like this yarn is cursed: this is the third project I've tried to use it for! But I'm glad I didn't give up :-)

      Surprisingly, the majority of people who have made this did it as written!

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