Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bartok sleeves - lessons learned

You know when I go incognito here and on Rav that I'm up to my ears. That's certainly the case now. I'm an overburdened pack horse at the moment, weighed down by family drama, work, and life in general.

But I do manage to slip in some knitting time every evening. I'm plodding away on Julia Farwell-Clay's Bartok Tunic from the most recent Interweave Knits. I finally finished and blocked both sleeves and now have advice for anyone who wants to make this sweater.

As you know from previous posts, I've worried about my yarn choice, Rowan Amy Butler Belle Organic Aran. If I were to make this again, I'd use a wool or wool/alpaca blend. While I love the feel of the Amy Butler yarn, it doesn't make for nice colorwork. I'm an accomplished stranded knitter - I've knitted the Handstrikket and many other colorwork projects, but this is my far from my best work. I think most of the problem is the yarn which isn't the least bit forgiving. With a wool yarn, the spaces between the stitches fill in nicely and give a smooth, even fabric that hides any small missteps. This yarn instead yields what I guess some would call stitch definition. I just call it kind of ugly.

This yarn would have been better off knitted at a tighter gauge, too. I was able to get gauge easily and thought it would be okay, but if I did it again, I'd recalculate the entire sweater at a 4.5 spi rather than 4 spi,  or selected different yarn altogether, an easier choice.

My second suggestion is to either do the colorwork all in one color as Julia designed OR to use intarsia for the bird motif. I stranded part of the design at the bottom and tops of the birds and it's pretty chunky looking, especially given the heavy worsted yarn. I should have done the blue vines in four separate intarsia sections and done the birds as two separate intarsia sections. Oh well, live and learn.

The sleeves do look pretty when they're folded into place; they should nice on the tunic. I started the front last night and included more ease than usual because I want this sweater to fit like a tunic and not a fitted cardigan. I should be able to fly through the sweater now - assuming I don't fall asleep during the endless swath of stockinette. :-)


  1. I think you will love the sweater when it is done- it looks great in the photos, maybe you are looking too closely.

  2. ditto what Maggie said.

  3. It doesn't look awful in pictures. Maybe it's different in person.

    I think when you are wearing it, no one will say " She could have done a better job with the intarsia." Instead the will say "it's a lovely sweater" and " seriously? You knit that?"

  4. Yarn can certainly surprise us, even when we've used it before. I'm really interested to see your tunic version.
    I thought you must be very busy. Hope it's mostly 'good' busy and that it moves into a more even pace for you.

  5. I can only say that first picture of the donkey is hilarious. I needed that.

  6. Ditto on the pack horse... I'm is the same boat right now, but thinking of you and hoping all is well...