Thursday, February 17, 2011



Oh my gosh... what a journey. From the horrifyingly huge first attempt to a sexy wearable dress. It's been a long road... okay, not that long, really. I started the first one on January 29th, ripped it out and started the new one on February 6th, and finished it today, the 17th. So it was a pretty short road as it turns out... but emotionally, a twisty one.

To recount:

I was nervous about starting the dress in the first place-- I had a lot of doubts about sizing, yarn, etc. But I decided to force ahead with the standard small/medium size as written. I worked on it for a few days, until I reached about 20" of length-- essentially the waist shaping. I began to have serious concerns about running out of yarn, because I was already on the 6th ball when I reached the waist (and I only had 8). I tried it on. It was enormous-- just enormous; there was no way to salvage it whatsoever.

So I ripped it out, winding the yarn into a huge ball, and cast on again, this time removing FOUR pattern repeats, or 96 stitches. The dress was fitting great as I worked up the body. And it CONTINUED to fit. That's where I left you at the last post. Since then, I have finished the rest-- armholes, shoulders, and crochet edging. And that's another tale.

OK, so. A lot of Ravelers have mentioned that if they altered the pattern at all, like by removing repeats, the armhole instructions were very vague and hard to follow. I solved this problem by pretty much ignoring them. It worked well on the back, although I was a little worried that when I bound off for the middle back (leaving the shoulders), it would end up looking weird, because the pattern calls to bind off 32 stitches, and I only bound off 18. Keep in mind, when you divide for the front and back, you're basically splitting the stitches, putting half of the repeats on hold and knitting the rest for the back. The pattern is assuming you have six repeats on each side. I only had four, and the armhole decreasing meant that by the time I was ready to bind off the center back, I only had two full repeats, plus a few stitches on either side of the markers. This was a problem, because all of the shoulder and armhole shaping assumed and therefore required the presence of those extra middle repeats.

I had to bind off, though. So what I did was take half of each of the two 18-st repeats and I bound those off. In other words, I worked the first 9 sts of the first repeat, bound off 9, dropped the marker which indicated the start of the next repeat, bound off the first 9 sts of the second repeat, and then for the shoulders, I had half of a repeat for each one, plus those leftover stitches on the side. This was where everything got hazy, because the instructions were explicitly specific for the exact amount of stitches you were SUPPOSED to have at this point, and it was fairly impossible to extrapolate instructions for my random numbers. So I just kind of fudged it. I have to say that this didn't work out great for me. The two back shoulders actually came out fine. I kept track of exactly what I did-- decreasing at the armhole edge, then increasing for the cap sleeve, all while working the remnants of the pattern repeats-- so I could repeat it (mostly) on the other sleeve, so the back right and left sleeves = AOK (by my standards).

That's the back there. Then I picked up the stitches which were on hold (on the blue yarn pictured above) to work the front. The front was another story. It was more difficult because I had less stitches to work with for the shoulders, since I had to BO edge stitches to make the nice sloped neckline. So I ended up with really skinny little straps which then kind of bulged out into weird totally improvised "cap" sleeves. I have to admit they do look weird, and not totally awesome, but I don't think anyone else would notice, and I am by NO means a fussy knitter, so I'm absolutely not going to rip back and re-do them.

But that's not the end of the story. I did all the armhole and shoulder shaping last night in a fit of knitting frenzy. BUT-- I only finished one of the front shoulders. I was too tired to do the other one. I had written down what I'd done so I figured, hey, whatevs I'll do it tomorrow. However, I was excited enough to try on one sleeve by binding off one shoulder together (3-needle bind off). So I did and put it on, but the sleeve looked a little weird-- kind of backwards:

You can't see THAT well from this picture, but in effect, the cap part of the cap sleeve was pointing inwards, towards my neck, not outwards over my shoulder. I took it off and examined it:

For a few minutes I thought I was actually losing my mind, because you can clearly see above from the first picture that the cap sleeves WERE originally pointed in the right, outward direction, and now suddenly the cap sleeves were pointing inwards. I started at it uncomprehendingly. It was much later than I usually stay up, and I had been glued to the knitting for hours, and things just weren't making sense.

Smarter, more awake people might have already realized what I had done, but it took me a good few minutes to figure out that I had seamed together the two back shoulders, instead of one back and one front. You can see that the "armhole" is very strangely small. That's because it's the neckhole. Once I realized this, and also realized I wasn't crazy, I undid the binding off and safety-pinned the two correct shoulders together and tried it on again. Oddly I'd actually liked the way it had looked before a little better, but I wasn't going to do anything drastic until I had finished both shoulders and looked at it as a whole. So before I went to bed, when I posted last night's cryptic sentence, this was what I had:

I was extremely pleased with how it was shaping up as a whole, so I went to sleep a happy camper. Next morning before work I bound off the two shoulders together, so when I came home I was ready to finish the left front shoulder. Yeah... that wasn't great. I hadn't kept track of where I was in my little homemade pattern, and it didn't really make sense to me like it had the night before. I should have done it then when I had just done the other one, but it was too late. So I just wildly improvised some more and it also came out skinny and a little weird looking. But whatever-- I didn't care-- I was done!!!! I bound off the left shoulder and yanked it on again with all the loose ends hanging free:

Instant love!!!! 

It even gives me a tushie!

I single-crocheted around the neckhole and armholes. I thought I would try filling in the weird sleeves a bit with crochet, but it looked even weirder so I just chain stitched it around once each side, which really neatened up the rough edges. I love it love it love it love it love it, despite the weird sleeves. I weaved in all the ends and tried it on one last time, and got someone other than the self-timer to take a picture:

I am pleased.

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