Here’s a pro tip for you: just, you know, finish the damn thing.
According to Ravelry, I cast on a French Cancan in March of 2015. And, as I remember, it was a pleasant and quick knitting experience. The Madelinetosh Pashmina yarn was a soft, bouncy, butter dream to work with. I got all the way to the end of the shawl: all I had left to do was weave in the ends and block it. But instead of wrapping up these inconsequential tasks, I shoved the shawl into a bag, which eventually got shoved into a closet, where it languished for more than a year.
This shawl floated through my mind the other morning, emerging as a perfect thing to wear right now (matches the jacket I wear often; would be cozy for the chilly weather without being too bulky). So I spent five minutes weaving in the four (four!) dangling yarn ends, gave it a quick bath in the kitchen sink, and then spent about half an hour pinning out the 140ish points in the edging.
Honestly, the most difficult thing about the whole process was avoiding tripping over the shawl while it was drying on the living room floor.
I feel like such a dummy for not finishing this ages ago. It is the perfect amount of shawl–my version is really more scarf-sized, I suppose–for the chilly-ish weather Vancouver has been getting lately.
So, note to self for future projects: just finish the damn thing.
I wonder what other almost-done items are lurking in that closet…?
Those two things would go well together, wouldn’t they?
I know I said that Eddie’s Prada sweater is not my kind of thing, but that stitch pattern really is a slow burn. No wonder Farwell-Clay went to such lengths to figure it out!
Plus Prada has other colourways in the same stitch pattern.
I don’t like orange/brown bits here, but the subtler blues and greens up around the collar bones are doing it for me. I must have something in my stash that I can use to whip up a little Prada-inspired knit purse.
And… clocking in at just under four months of knitting, my (first) #fringeandfriendsKAL2016Improv sweater is now done! I couldn’t be happier. It does have some quirks, like those not-quite-100%-symmetrical pockets, but I refuse to let my perfectionist tendencies destroy my pleasure in this accomplishment. (I’ll… revisit those pockets someday, haha.)
There is so much to love here: a snug (perhaps even a little sexy?) fit (#sweaterpuppies); the splash of pink in the pockets; the firm and crunchy but not itchy fabric; the graceful curve of the collar. Now that this sweater is done, it reminds me a lot of my beloved Stanny–the texture of the Jamieson & Smith wool, and the feel of the knit fabric, is highly reminiscent. Except that this Improv is so much cuter!
When first planning this sweater, I considered copying this cute pink sweater worn by Chelsea Peretti as Gina on Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
But as I thought more about what I really needed in my wardrobe, I realized that what I should knit was a new-and-improved copy of a grey Joe Fresh sweater in my closet that I had worn to death.
I wanted a better fit, long sleeves, and a sturdier, less pill-y fabric, and I think I achieved all of my goals. But I also didn’t want to lose sight of Gina’s no-fucks-given-endlessly-confident attitude, hence the little pink pockets.
And so, as Gina would say: “Oh dang!
One little detail I particularly love is my decision to do split hems on the sleeves as well as on the body. I am constantly pushing my sleeves up, and having that little notch on the cuffs means that they look nicely fitted when the sweater is pulled down to my wrists, but there is plenty of space for my forearms when I push the sleeves up.
And… I am SO PROUD of how well my rolled and sewn down collar turned out. It looks perfect on the outside–and perfect on the inside! I just love how the cast-off edge of the collar snugs up so neatly against the little ridge that was created when I picked up the collar stitches.
So good! Such a success!
And I loved using KT’s Improv tutorial to make this sweater happen. It is full of excellent advice and techniques… Right now I have a little bit of a “my knitting is forever changed after this” feeling, having learned so much about fit and construction.
And… I am still working on my second Improv sweater. It is, at the moment, less than perfect. In retrospect, the long silhouette of my inspiration doesn’t suit my body type, and my planned sweater doesn’t fit into my wardrobe all that well. So there will be some frogging, and on-the-fly re-planning, but I’m sure I’ll get something wearable out of it. (At least, that’s what I’m telling my internal perfectionist accomplishment monster…)
After writing the other day about the start of my second Fringe and Friends Knitalong sweater, I pretty much immediately scrapped the first few rows I had knit. I worked another two rows, and realized that my raglans were looking like the dog’s breakfast. I was adding Irish Moss stitches on the front, cable stitches on the sleeves, and different cable stitches on the back. It was a mess.
So after a quick check to see that I liked my chosen number of cast-on stitches, I pulled out the needle and started to rethink things. The problem was my decision to centre my cable layout on the sleeves and back–so how to rethink the placement of the layout?
I ended up inputting my cable layout into Excel (the different colours representing the different stitches, of course), and printing off a few copies to play with. The solution was to cut the cable layout in half, and then insert the required number of sleeve stitches (and back stitches) into the centre.
I did consider adding additional cables in the centres of the sleeves and backs, but instead opted to just work more Irish Moss stitch (the pale green). Since this is a sweater for me to wear at home, I feel fairly relaxed about the back: no one’s going to see it, so I might as well take it easy back there, lol.
But–if I did care more about the back, I think an even better way to approach the design of the cables/ stitches on a raglan cardigan would be to design the back first. Then you’d just have to cut it in half to get your two fronts. And then, to get the correct stitch count on the sleeves, just remove stitches from the centre of the sleeves. This way, your stitches would line up nicely along the raglans, and things would be pleasantly symmetrical.
I am much much happier with this second take on my second Improv sweater. In addition to looking much better, it is also easier to knit.
Despite this progress on Improv #2, I am not neglecting my first Improv sweater.
Yesterday morning, I cast off the hem–leaving just the pockets and sleeves to knit, plus the faux seams to sew up and all the ends to weave in. I have decided to finish the body–pockets, seams, ends–before proceeding on to the sleeves, so that I’m not left with a ton of finishing work to do at the end.
I knit the HOT PINK!!! pocket lining last night, and am going to take advantage of the daylight now to weave in some ends.
The pullover has gone swimmingly–the fit is perfect, and the finished project is going to be a really useful addition to my wardrobe. But the process has almost gone too swimmingly. With the exception of a dropped stitch (which I am blaming on Stranger Things being utterly amazing), nothing has gone wrong. I did adjust my raglan increases on the fly, but this required no ripping back and not much thought. I simply opted to split the sleeves from the body a little earlier than my swatch math had indicated because it felt like the yoke was getting too long; I worked the last few body increases under the arms, and it worked out perfectly. This sweater is taking shape with no problems, and no difficulties. I still have to work the pockets and sleeves, and sew up the faux seams, so I suppose there is still a chance for drama!–but it’s unlikely.
I am revelling in the sensation of something being too easy… and of course I’m also making things more difficult for myself, in the form of another top-down improv sweater.
The sweater’s basic shape–a long cardigan–is inspired by an old store-bought cardigan that I wear at home all the time. It’s basically my housecoat, I suppose. I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of this sweater–and it shows. The entire thing is covered in pills, and has started to form a few holes. It is worn past the point of repairing, so the plan is to replace is with something hand knit that will get treated with a bit more love, and that will be worth repairing once it starts to wear out.
I spent a lot of time considering various design elements. I even printed out pictures of a few favourite projects and taped them into my notebook so that I could think slowly and thoroughly about their appeal.
Kay’s post on Mason Dixon Knitting about searching for a “glamorous granddad” sweater definitely gave me a lot to think about–so many good links in the comments. I fell in love with the notched collar on the sweater in that post, and hope to achieve something similar on my Improv #2.
I was also attracted to a wide button band, as seen on this Vine Lace Vest and on this Dark and Stormy sweater. And I really liked the two button look on the Storytime Scholar sweater. But I also liked the no-button band look on Aidez, and the way the lace pattern follows the neck shaping on Vignette. Deciding on a button band and collar style for this project was difficult–all my desires were very competing. But my love of the notch overrode other concerns!
I’m also really into the cables-up-top-stockinette-below look of Flyingdales, so I will be doing a variation on that. I will likely place my horizontal line a little higher up than shown in that project, and add pockets.
And, when it comes to Mr. Handsome McBeardyman… I’ll be making my cardigan a little bit v-necked as shown, as I think it will look good with my collection of denim shirts.
And finally… overall, looking at many, many, many projects… I decided that I like Irish Moss stitch and tight skinny cables, so that’s what I’m going with.
My chart is kind of a mess, but it makes sense to me! I cast on last night and so far–four whole rows!–it’s going well.
I’m using Knitpicks’ CotLin yarn, as something machine washable seemed to make sense for an item that will get a lot of wear. Plus I usually love the way that my store-bought cotton yarn sweaters wear, so hopefully I’ll get that same feel out of this project. And although O-Wool’s Balance was very appealing, I wanted something lighter than worsted weight.
I created a layout for the two fronts of the cardigan, and then centred this layout on the sleeves and back as well. I’m uncertain what I will do when I have reached the full width of the cable layout on the sleeves and back–I may just leave the motif centred in a sea of stockinette, or I may chart out some more cables. I’ll figure it out when I get there.
This will either be a disaster, or it will be amazing–either way, it’s just challenging enough.
If the Fringe Association blog starts to fill up with genius solutions for tackling that stack of dirty dishes you want to avoid, and how to balance your desire for all the cool Craigslist finds with the space available in your one-bedroom apartment, I’m going to start worrying.