Friday, June 1, 2012


 Occasionally I go wild and make something that is just for kicks.  Something that is just for me and something that I don't have to do any math to invent.  This time a couple patterns from Tori Gurbsz caught my eye.  I was actually planning to make her Coastal Hoodie, but once I realized that the recommended yarn was going to run me $160 (and I really did want the yarns she used because her color combinations were so perfect)....anyway, I decided to come up with a Plan B.

Plan B was not hard to settle on at all.  I just had to glance at Tori's designer page on Ravelry to see another cardigan that I loved.  Zephyr seemed perfect - casual, but could be dressed up, it goes with anything, it appeared to be very comfortable, and the fit looked pretty good on almost all the projects listed by other users.  I was convinced it was going to be a winner.

And it is - let me start with that.  I really do like the sweater, and I may even make it again sometime.  I have a lot to say about the pattern, but I don't want to overshadow the fact that I do think it's a good design and one that I think many people will enjoy.  However, there are definitely things I thought were unnecessarily difficult about the pattern, and knowing what I know now, I would do a few things differently if I were to make it again.

First, this pattern is listed as "Intermediate".  I know, that's kind of vague, but to me it means that anyone with basic skills and the willingness to learn a few new tricks will do fine.  I would consider myself to be an advanced knitter and I found myself frogging a couple times, just because there were many things to keep track of and they were on multiple pages.  So at any one time, I might have 3 pages in front of me with 3 different things to remember for a row, and I would forget one of them only to remember a couple rows later and have to frog.  I'm a couch knitter and laying out 3 pages of instructions to read simultaneously isn't ideal.  I just felt like there could have been a more easy-to-follow way to word the instructions.
Adding to the "what have I gotten myself into?" feeling is the fact that the last 2 pages of this pattern are simply spreadsheets full of stitch counts for different parts of the construction.  I write these sort of spreadsheets when I am sizing a pattern that I am writing, but I don't know why she included it with the pattern itself.  I can't imagine that a lot of pattern users look at it and have any idea what they're looking at (I certainly didn't, anyway).  And it gave me a mini-heart attack to look at it and think, "Am I going to have to make sense of this thing in order to work the pattern?" 

Second, this was my first crack at a contiguous sweater.  The pattern didn't look complicated, so I thought it would be a good introduction to the method.  The cast-on was also new to me.  There is an internet link to help people learn the cast-on and after a couple tries I got it with no problem.  But, since I was unfamiliar with the construction, I wasn't able to preemptively modify the design to fit me properly.  I liked the way the shoulders were very fitted in the sample photos and many of the user project photos, but once my sweater was blocked, my shoulders were pretty droopy.  It's one of those "no one would notice it if I didn't point it out" things, and I'm not terribly worried about it, but for a future sweater, I would only work about 2/3 of the rows that are written for the section where you're making those rows on the top of the shoulder.  The last 1/3 of them just droop over the top of my shoulder and it would fit better without them.

Speaking of being a novice, something that would have really helped me with this sweater would have been a couple close-up photos, especially of the shoulder / sleeve cap area.  There is a helpful picture of the button loops, but all the other shots are just full-sweater beauty-shots.  If I had been looking at a picture of the sleeve cap, it would have saved me a lot of time, since one of my frogging incidents happened because I missed the line about increasing for the sleeve caps.  If I had seen what it was supposed to look like, I would have known much sooner that I had made a wrong turn. 

My favorite part of the sweater is the design of the button band.  I am fresh off of working on two designs that use pairs of twisted stitches, so when I started working this button band I had a moment of thinking "Why did she use the two more difficult pairs of twisted stitches?  Maybe I should just reverse them and do the whole thing that way."  But the I decided that there might be a reason for it that I'm not seeing, so I did it the way it was written.  After working the whole thing that way, I can confidently say that there's no reason to not do the front cross as knitting the second stitch through the back loop, then knitting the first stitch, and doing the back cross as purling the second stitch, then purling the purling the first stitch.  Those two pairs are way easier than the two she used and it will give you the exact same effect.

Lastly, I modified the length (29" instead of 24"), though I think the listed sleeve length was perfect for me.  I love the Quince & Co. Osprey yarn that I used, but it does grow quite a bit upon blocking, so if you use it, make sure you figure that in while you're knitting.

Even though I would change a few things to use this pattern in the future, I do love this design and I am happy with my sweater.  If you want to give it a try, know that it is written for 8 sizes, so you'll want to go at it with a highlighter before you begin.  Also, a good portion of this is a "thinking knit", so if you are looking for something to do while you watch tv, this isn't it.  Don't get scared when you print out the pattern - it is long (though I really see no reason to print out the last 2 pages) but if you just figure out each section as you come to it, you can get it done.

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