Sunday, September 9, 2012

Advanced Sweater Repair

 My new sweater is going to be called Leap of Faith.  I was talking to one of the owners of my LYS one day and she was asking me about the sweater I was knitting.  I found myself saying (as I did in almost every conversation about this sweater) that "Theoretically, it's gonna work.  Not that I'll know for sure until I cut the sucker down the middle, but the numbers all add up and I think it'll be ok."  I told her that the whole thing was "a leap of faith."  She asked me if that was what I was going to call the sweater.  At the time, I said no, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided it would be very aptly named!

So, here's the (kinda) finished sweater, pre-blocking (so it's a little too tight) and pre-steeking (obviously, the cardigan isn't open in the center like it's supposed to be.) 

I really did enjoy knitting it.  I did it in the round, from the bottom of the hem all the way up to the top of the hood.  The set-in sleeves are also knitted right on to the sweater (not made separately and sewn in later), and those are in the round, too.  The only purl stitches were a few on either side of the cables. 

After entertaining my neighbors with the Blue Man photo shoot in the front yard, I took it back inside and got to work figuring out how to steek this baby.  I knew it was a thing people did, so I wasn't terribly worried about it.  But, since I had already invested a chunk of money in 4 skeins of this lovely Three Irish Girls yarn, and about 30-40 hours of my time (remember, I had two false starts before I actually knitted this final version of the sweater!), I really didn't want to screw this up.  Lucky for me, Kate Davies has a fantastic blog series about steeking.  It's a four-part series, but I'll link you to the meat & potatoes portion of it: Part 2: reinforcing and cutting.

Anyway, I got through the steeking without a hitch (and video taped the whole thing so you can enjoy it later!)  Then I whip stitched the steeked edge into place and had myself a little open-front cardigan.  After blocking, the fit was 100% perfect. 

.....except for the hood.  This is the first hooded garment I've designed and actually only the second one I've ever knit.  The first was a DROPS pattern I made about 3 years ago, and while the hood is fine, it doesn't really have any shaping in the back, so it looks like a very pointy elf-hat when worn up.  So I knew the hood was going to have a little trial & error potential for me. 

The main problem was that it was about 3 inches too tall.  When worn up, it looked big & slouchy, and since this is a fitted hoodie, it just wasn't the look I was going for.  Normally it would be no problem to frog back a few inches and redo the top part, but since this thing had already been steeked, that made the repair much more complicated. 

Foraging ahead, I took the whip-stitching out of the top few inches of the hood and hacked off about 6  inches.  I had to dig in farther than the repair itself because I needed about 3 inches for the shaping at the top of the head. 

Miraculously, I got the hood back on the stitches (for the most part.  I didn't trust the stitches on the edge of the steek to stay put once the needles pulled on them, so I left the outer two stitches on each side dangling free and decided to sew them in later.  It worked like a charm.)

In this third picture, you can see one edge after the repair was a few inches along.  The body of the sweater is to the left of the picture and the top of the hood is to the right.  On the left you can see one of the steeked edges looking a little ragged (that was from me picking out the whip-stitching.  It didn't look like that after being steeked.) 

Once I had knitted the new and improved 3-inches back into the hood, I folded the edge over and re-whip-stitched it.  It looked great and matched the steeked edge almost exactly.  The only difference is that the new edge didn't have the small thread of the crochet reinforcement running through it, but I had used a piece of blue yarn that was so close to the color of the sweater, that it's not at all noticeable that it's missing.

I'm hoping to get modeled shots taken soon and the pattern graded this week so I can start testing.  Meanwhile, I can already tell I'll be getting a lot of use out of this in the cooler months!

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