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July 6, 2010

Believe it or not, I finished something. That’s not happening much lately, I feel like I knit and knit and get nowhere. Maybe it’s the continued stifling weather.

Anyway, I ran across this pattern on Ravelry not long ago, looking for shrugs for fingering weight yarn. It caught my attention for several reasons. First, it was a sampler of real lace patterns, not just an all-over lacy-looking thing. Second, it didn’t look like a shrug – most shrug patterns I see nowadays are to my mind rather silly-looking things that don’t even come down to your bra in back. This looked like it would come down nearly to one’s waist in back, and look like a bolero in front. Third, it used close to the amount of yarn I had earmarked for such a project.

I didn’t have QUITE enough yarn. I had some old Wooly Wonka cormo/angora fingering that amounted to about 650 yards, in two radically different dye lots. On the other hand, I didn’t need those sweepy knuckle-length sleeves. So I set about replanning the lace. I was going to have color asymmetry, as well as the asymmettry of different lace on the two sleeves, so I decided to do away with the asymmetry of having the center pattern not lie in the middle of my back. I reduced the number of repeats on all the repeating lace patterns, and when I was done I had cut almost 25% out of the length of the body as well as centering the zig-zag pattern on the back. That seemed like enough to get going.

The knitting was easy and the yarn was appealing. The challenge was in the finishing. There was a lot of it.

First, you knit two cuffs – they are an edging pattern, which you start from a provisional cast-on. When you have repeated the pattern the required number of times, you put the last row on a holder, pick up from the straight edge of one cuff, then begin knitting the body, which proceeds like a stole. When you have completed the length of the body, you take the second cuff and graft it onto the end. Then you have a big rectangle, and at each end you have a stitch holder on one side of the cuff and a provisional cast-on at the other side..

Next, you begin again with a provisional cast-on and knit the edging pattern, but a lot more of it this time, till you have a very long piece about 3 times the length of one cuff. At the end, you stick the last row on a holder, so one end has a holder and one end has a provisional cast-on.

Then you block. I followed a steaming method to avoid this thing getting skinny – after washing and pinning it out, I laid a wet sheet on top and ironed it so that it steamed.

After THAT, you sew. Here is a picture to break up all the words and show you why this was all worth it. (It looks like the sleeve lengths don’t match, but it’s just how I”m wearing it – the vertical lines of eyelets are supposed to lie approximately at my shoulders with the pattern centered on my back.)

Pretty, eh? Good thing, or I’d have gotten very discouraged at this point. The invisible joins of the cuffs and the edging. I followed her directions, which I don’t even want to repeat hear as I still feel faint when I think about it, and I got something like an invisible join, which is a miracle.

Then, you mark the edging so that you know where the four quarters of it lie, and place the center of it at the center of the top of the back, and start sewing it to the edge of the body. When you get close to that quarter mark, you stop, and begin mattress-stitching the edges up from the cuff to make the sleeve. When it looks about right, you stop, and continue sewing the edge to the body, across the seam. At that point I stopped and went back to the center top and went down the other side and did the other sleeve. Then I finished sewing the edging from both sleeve seams across the lower back so that it fit.

Phew. This took for EVER. And I probably had about 3 yards of yarn left. But the result is really beautiful.

This is the only way I could come up with to fold it safely for storage – straight across the center back and tops of the sleeves.

Yes I feel very virtuous to have completed it. No, I don’t think I want to do it again! If finishing doesn’t make you want to crawl under a table, this pattern really makes a beautiful result, and I am quite happy with the shorter sleeves. I will get a lot of wear out of it in the over-air-conditioned summer office.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Katie K permalink
    July 6, 2010 4:56 pm

    It’s really beautiful. I love the patterns in it and how it fits you. How clever you are to figure out all those mods!

  2. July 7, 2010 12:31 pm

    Oh. My. God. That is spectacular! Couldn’t do all that fussing myself, but I’m glad you were willing!

  3. July 8, 2010 2:27 pm

    All I can say is Beautiful!!!!!

  4. Sam permalink
    July 12, 2010 9:15 pm

    That is really lovely! Do I detect a haircut in there, too, or do you just have it artfully pulled back? Brava to you for all the work!

  5. Jan permalink
    July 15, 2010 10:57 pm

    Beauty! That one deserves a night on the town!

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