Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sophisticate lessons learned and future plans

Let's start with a giant TA-DA! (And by this I mean my sweater, not me - lol!)


I finished my Sophisticate. Finally! The Etsy vendor came through, sending me several skeins of similar but not identical bulky yarn. I truly lucked out. The undyed Corteccia yarn doesn't have any dyelots to match. I finished the sweater with the same undyed fibers just used in different proportions. The replacement yarn isn't as soft because it has less alpaca, but as you can see in the collar below, visually there is no difference between the two yarns. They also knit up beautifully - I haven't even blocked this sweater. I've never knitted a thing that didn't need to be blocked, but the Corteccia is the exception. 


The best thing about this sweater is that I've worn it twice and not one person asked me if I'd made my cardigan - not even people who know that I knit. The ultimate compliment!



I did get some criticism about my sweater though. Two Rav people commented that the back doesn't fit me correctly and is too large at the crossback. This is a function of making a symmetrical raglan; I can't cut in the crossback like I do on set-in sleeves. Kathy Zimmerman won't design raglans for this very reason. She says you can't get a good fit. 


But this problem is exaggerated on a larger form - or at least one like mine with lots of curves. Clearly raglans fit skinny chicks like Cecily Glowik MacDonald perfectly; she therefore designs with this form most of the time. Here is one of her creations, the popular Leaflet. Cecily's crossback is about the same width as her hips; she's even worked in some waist shaping, but she doesn't end up with extra fabric like I do. She rocks raglans.


I spoke to our friend Deb Gemmel, author of the ultimate raglan book, Button Up Your Top Down, about this issue. She suggests doing additional increases on the front raglan "seams" and fewer on the back. I'm interested in trying this technique soon to see if I can get a better fit. Deb has experimented extensively with this technique - stay tuned!

Deb has another great idea. She writes:
The only thing that I see when I look at your sweater is I think the back of neck is too wide. I would take a crochet hook and run a slip stitch line across the cast on back of neck stitches and pull it in about 1 1/2" - 2". You can be quite aggressive since the collar covers where you cast on there. If it works better you can do this in the pick up stitches at the base of the collar where pulling it in will actually help with the roll of the collar. Using a crochet hook means if you don't like it you can just zip it out pretty quickly and try again. I've done this with some top downs of my own because after a while they tend to stretch out of shape there.
I'm going to try this brilliant technique. But all things considered, I still love the sweater and know I'll get a lot of wear out of it. I'm also happy to have gotten some experience knitting raglans. This has been virgin territory and I look forward to learning how to make a raglan that fits just like I learned how to make a set-in sleeve sweater that fits. Can't wait.

Next up: I'm going to finish my Sunflower aka Zinnia mittens, modeled here by Monica, my 19-year-old cat.


I also want to make Susan Mill's Patchouli, a new design from Classic Elite Knits. I bought some Classic Elite Summer Set, an alpaca/cotton blend in Hydrangea - you know I'm a sucker for pink. I'm going to upsize this pattern to fit me and add some waist shaping, too. Hopefully I'll have this pretty spring cardigan done by Easter.



Finally, I have another big plan. I'm going to start a Knitting at Large Starmore Knitalong. Knitters can choose the Alice Starmore pattern of their dreams and we'll work on upsizing the patterns. Most of Starmore designs use very simple shapes; the complexity comes in the colorwork or cables. I've always wanted to make her patterns so let's just do it! Besides the online Rav group that I'll be setting up, we'll also have monthly (or at least regular) meet-ups in the DC/MD/VA/WV/PA area. Sorry out-of-towners... if you're ever passing through, I hope you'll join us. I'm thinking we'll start this in April, so stay tuned.

I haven't thanked you in a while for reading my blog and participating in the Knitting at Large Rav group, so let me say it again: THANK YOU. You make my day every single day.

18 comments:

  1. Way to go, Julie! I love the Sophisticate! If it were mine, I would never take it off. I think I might need to make one in something tweedy.

    THanks for all you do to help the intrepid knitters be brave and knit sweaters that fit.

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    1. Thank you, Maggie! And thank you for being an intrepid knitter, too. Onward, yes? YES!

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  2. Nice! I am wondering if you could use Amy Herzog's f2f back shaping for raglans? You could even start the decreases before you finish the raglan increases, if you wanted to preserve the look/symmetry of the raglan lines.

    I always enjoy your posts, Julie! I think my figure is the exact opposite of yours (no boobs & a potbelly), so it's interesting to me to see how we each have to adapt patterns to make them fit and flatter our figures.

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  3. Another successful Julie Project! Way to Go, gal!

    I really like the overall style of the Pachouli. But, as usual, fit is the main problem..again. It seems like when the designers upsize the patterns, they don;t take into consideration the neck and a ballet neckline turns into an almost off-the-shoulder neckline...stretched way out of proportion. Some mildly plus gals even have to crochet around or sew a ribbon under the neckband to get it to stay on the shoulders.
    If you happen to solve this in knitting your circular yokes, please share!!!!
    t_a

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  4. I think your beautiful cardi will fit even better with the neckline cinched up a bit. That's a great tip!

    I just finished my first raglan crew neck pullover and while I'm not completely unhappy with it, it could fit better.

    It has a 52-inch bust, resulting in dolman sleeves that end just below the bust. The extra fabric under the arms and across the torso makes me look even heavier.

    Has anyone tried doing underarm gussets to reduce this? If so, did it work?

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  5. Oh.. Starmore Knitalong.. count me in. I love St. Brigid, but it needs massive refitting for my hourglass figure and i have truly no idea how to do that ;-)

    And congrats for your cardigan! Looks lovely! Regina

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  6. I think a raglan can fit. I've been working on this. My theory is by making the Back 3-4" slimmer than the Fronts the back looks better (when you're walking away,ha,ha). And we all need some extra room on the Front. It also means that you can wear a sweater with a closer fit across the bust without it pulling the fabric. In the end the bust measurement of the sweater is the same it's just redistributed slightly differently. It also makes the upper chest fit better which was were I started with this idea. I've knit sweaters for myself this way and it definitely works.

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  7. Gorgeous...and the sweater is, too. About the fit in raglans.....it's really what you are comfortable wearing. If you have the kind of body that is comfortable in skinny knits that you squeeze into (my daughter, who is a ballet instructor, is perfectly comforatble in these) then by all means, work on the "fit". If, however, you want COMFORT with drape...I personally think it looks better just as you have knit it....even before my 16w days when I was a 5 JP, I have loved a looser fit sweater. I wouldn't change a thing. I'm going to look for your KAL, haven't made any garments for me in a looooong time (I have grandchildren.....covered in home knits...)

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  8. gorgeous and major snuggle factor in that one...
    -Dottie

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  9. WOWed by the way the "new" yarn in the collar is absolutely undetectable. The Knitting Goddess was smiling at you this time! And the finished sweater is a gem. (BTW, I agree that tightening that back neck line will be just the tweak it needs.)

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  10. What a soft and snuggly looking sweater! You can wear this with just about anything. I believe the neutral color is a factor in people not asking you if you knit your sweater. Let us know (with pictures!) how the tightening works. I need to try this with one of mine.

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  11. I think it looks great and I would love to make one and have it turn out the same way.

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  12. This is gorgeous and the fit looks just fine--like a big, comfy boyfriend sweater. Congrats on your patience and your incredible luck with the yarn!

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  13. Wow! Sophisticated is the word - this is such a beautiful piece of work Julie!

    And count me in for the Starmore KAL!

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  14. It looks beautiful. You give me the inspiration to try the Mr. Greenjeans sweater again. Another top down raglan. I knit it once before for myself and had the same problem.

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    1. Make sure you make the bodice long enough... that's always the problem with these types of sweaters... you don't want that line riding over your bust. good luck!

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    2. I love your sweater and I like the fit.
      The raglan construction is still a challenge to me.

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  15. Now that sweater looks comfy. Keep up the great work. Best Rachel

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