Saturday, October 16, 2010

The shortest distance between two points is...

Last time, I wrote about my quest to find a pattern for my gorgeous mountain of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande. You may remember that I had finished the back and both sleeves of the Melrose Peacoat. I have since abandoned this project after taking Amy Herzog's Fit to Flatter class where I discovered the Melrose would neither fit nor flatter me.

I've thought about little else this week, I'm ashamed to say. I received a lot of feedback from my friends both here and on Ravelry. Several people suggested I try the Mondo Cable Cardigan, especially this version with the zipper:

This is a beautiful sweater, but I'm leary about how it would work for me. It's very boxy and I'm not at all boxy. In fact, there's not a box on me! I'm all circles, lumps, and curves and boxy shapes leave piles of fabric at my waist. They just don't fit. Anything that's shaped like a standard T-shirt - straight up and down, especially with drop shoulders - is unbecoming on me. (I do wear T-shirts but only when I'm knocking around the house.)

Amy Herzog, God bless her, wrote and confirmed my misgivings about how the Mondo would fit me. She suggested that the Lia could work very well for me even in the bulky yarn if I fitted it correctly. I was delighted to get her view because I really would like to make this pullover.

The Lia is shaped not unlike my Diamond Yoke Cardigan. Although it makes me squirm because it shows off my hour-glass-esque figure, I do consistently get compliments when I wear it.

I will make some mods, however. A bit more ease, for one. The pattern calls for zero or negative ease, but I'm going to go with one-inch ease. I don't want it to be quite so clingy. I'm also going to make the sweater with elbow-length sleeves to emphasize my waist. This is an Amy Herzog trick and it really works visually, plus it will make the sweater a bit cooler for me.

Speaking of overheating, Amy wondered if the alpaca would be too warm for me - and after extensive consideration, I agree. I can make cardigans, wear them open, and feel comfortable, but bulky pullovers are another matter. The very first sweater I ever made was a wool/mohair bulky pink fair isle sweater. I virtually never wear it  because it's so darn hot. Maybe once a year I'll don it when it's 10 degrees outside, but that doesn't happen very often in DC. Given this experience, I am going to use the alpaca as I originally planned to make a coat and use something else for the Lia.

After much stash diving, swatching, and general screwing around, I found some Knit Picks Merino Style DK in my yarn shower. I discovered that I could get gauge for the Lia by doubling the yarn and using size 11 needles. I'm happy I can use merino like the yarn spec'ed for the pattern, all without spending another penny. I love the color. Plus it's nice to rescue some yarn from my black hole stash!

So, where does that leave the alpaca? Well, I've decided to make a modified version of Norah Gaughan's Lafayette. Here's why: The coat, which looks like it is knit in the round, is not. Norah knitted the sleeves, fronts, and back separately and then joined the pieces and knitted the yoke. After looking at the schematic, I discovered that the pieces I've knitted are somewhat similarly shaped to the ones in the Lafayette. With a little fiddling, I can adapt what I've already knitted and quickly finish this coat. I spent weeks working on the sleeves and back - how nice it will be NOT to completely gut the sweater and start over!

I am going to make some mods, of course. First off, it needs to be upsized, as usual. I'm going to drop the big cables on the sleeves which one kind commenter noted would make me look wider. I'm also going to make the yoke an inch or two deeper so that I can stop it before it turns into a funnel neck. I have too short a neck to let the neckline go so high. I'm going to add buttons down the front to eliminate the belly gape. And I'm going to eliminate the slight double-breasted shaping and move the opening to the center. This will leave me with what I wanted to begin with: a coat I can wear to walk the dog. This seems like a logical solution to my problem.

Meanwhile, I'm working away on Tom's Christmas sweater. You'll never know how much I want to abandon this complicated cabled pullover to the bottom of my knitting basket so that I can go finish the coat and the Lia! But I persevere. I'm afraid I'll never get it done by Yuletide if I don't work on it now.

And to make my life even more happily complicated, I'm off to Pennsylvania today for another Kathy Zimmerman class! This time, it's about combining lace and cables. Kathy is using the patterning from her Katharine Hepburn cardigan, a design I've always loved, to make a scarf. But I'm going to use this class to make a swatch for the cardigan. In two weeks, I'm heading back to Kathy's Kreations to take the first of several Fearless Knitting classes where I'll make my own Katharine Hepburn customized to my own unique lumpiness. This is another venture in custom fitting sweaters so I'm really excited.

How there's time to do virtually anything else in my life but knit is beyond me. But it's certainly a happy way to live. That's all that really matters, right?


  1. Hi Kathy,
    I didn't put in my 2 cents the last time, but I really like the Lia sweater and think it would look excellent on you. Yes, it's curvy! But I think you have the right idea by not making it quite so form-fitting. A little more ease would do the trick.

    Love the cables in Tom's Christmas sweater!

    I haven't yet decided on a pattern to knit for myself but I am reading through the Fit to Flatter tutorials and finding them very interesting. I never worry much about how I look (Big Denial!!!) but it would be nice to upgrade my image a bit. And you look so nice in your handknit sweaters that it makes me envious!

    Love the model for the Lia! We need more of her!!! She looks fantastic!

  2. Here's my two cents, also. Love the Lia and think it will look lovely on you. Tom's sweater is geo-or-geous, yet I understand about complicated cable patterns and the desire to make them go away sometimes. I was anxiously awaiting your decision about the red, chunky alpaca. You see, I've got a bit of that laying around here myself. I am going to put the Lafayette into my cue with the intention of watching your mods and making some of my own!

  3. Pat, glad you're enjoying the Fit to Flatter tutorials. I think you've got the balance right... don't WORRY about how you look... that's a waste of time. But if you can choose apparel that makes the best of you, why not?

    Pinehaven, glad you like the concept of the Lafayette... I really think it will work.

    And to both of you, thanks for the reassurance about the Lia and most of all for reading and commenting. I truly appreciate it.