Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second

Yeah! Second project from SWAP F/W 2014 done!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Design & Pattern


This was originally going to be a better fitting version of Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the First. But I got a bit off track while muslining the pattern. I also blame Pinterest which stuffed other ideas into my head. Trying high (front) low (back) on the muslin convinced me that it’s a more flattering shape and works well with the A-line silhouette. And I thought long skinny sleeve might be a nice counter balance to the voluminous bodice & cowl collar.

Now that collar, erm, it ended up a bit floppy because I didn’t think it through. I kept thinking I don’t want a turtle neck look & did everything I could to avoid it. But I went overboard & ended up with this floppy funnel. As it’s knitted with a sticky mohair yarn so too late to fix. I think I can live with it. But I’ll know better for next time.

Block Used:

Tunic Bodice + Sleeve Blocks

Design Changes Made:

(The pattern was done before I corrected the armscye height over-tweaking. So the shoulder seams are still lowered.)

  • Widened neck opening & lower front neckline. This is to ensure the knitted collar band would be wide enough to hang like a cowl rather than a turtle-neck.
  • Curved bodice hem from just below hip at CF to just below bum at CB. This high low hem hopefully gives my shapeless frame some hip curve!
  • Added 7-1/2″ knitted cowl collar. This was flared from neckline seam towards the collar edge.
  • Added 2″ bodice knitted hem & 1″ sleeve knitted hem. These were straight (rectangles).

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Cream Mohair Gauze (?) from Mood NYC. I was hoping for loose sweater knit in cream, but couldn’t find any. This has the surface texture of one, but sadly not the drape. Maybe I should have used it for underlined & unstructured jackets like Puu’s Gerard Coat (which looks like the same type of fabric): It certainly would have made the fabric less delicate to wear! Mine I will have to treat with kid gloves. I already had a seam rip accident (patched now). Plus underlining would have protected my skin from its scratchiness. But as I had bought the fabric with the sweater in mind I stuck with the course. Next time I’ll know better.
  • Rowan Kidsilk Haze silk & mohair yarn in Cream (634). No matching rib fabric to be found so I thought I could knit my own since yarns come in so many different colors! Actually, it turn out not to be a perfect match. But squint your eyes & it’ll be fine. Definitely softer than the fabric & marginally less scratchy.
  • Vilene Bias Tape.

Construction Notes

  • Marking was difficult in such fluffy fabric. I tried cutting out without marking, but where I needed to mark I resorted to bad habit: the reliable if not always removable wax carbon paper – in red no less. Some cursing & stain scrubbing was unavoidable when the red marking refused to just disappear. Don’t do it. Thread trace if you need to.
  • The fabric portion was predictably easy. The neckline & shoulder seams were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked. The edges where I was going to add ribbing were overlocked to give the knitting something more substantial to cast onto.
  • Cowl collar and sleeve & bodice hem ribbings were knitted by hand.
    • Collar is 1×1 rib knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles (I avoided increases like the plague – too confusing – so made my way-too wide funnel by gradually upping the needle size.)
    • The hems are 2×2 ribs knitted with 3.25mm needles.
    • I started all with approx 8 stitches per inch, but ensuring I have the right total number of stitches for my rib pattern (ie multiples of 2 or 4).
    • Casting on was a bit of an experiment, none of which were entirely clean & successful. I forgot that unlike entirely knitted pieces there isn’t a well-formed edge here to hook my first row of knit stitches into. It didn’t help that this fabric is so loosely woven so wanted to fray with any tugging at the cut edges. Maybe I should have underlined the fabric at least at the edges. Or better yet, knit the ribbings separately then treat like purchased ribbing and overlock to the edges.

The Verdict

While not exactly what I had envisioned, it’s wearable. If only it wasn’t so delicate & scratchy then I’d feel comfortable wearing it more often. Next time I’ll wait for the right sweater knit to come along. Yeah, no chance of me knitting the whole thing from scratch. Way too slow & complicated & stressful!

The Chinese Knitting Machines

This morning I saw a lady knitting on the Tube (London subway). It’s quite rare to find people knitting in public here in London. I was doing it myself just this past year when I tried to learn how to knit.

It’s rather a useful skill to have as you generally can’t sew on the go, but knitting is much more portable. The only problem is, if I find home sewing pattern frequently rather dowdy, home knitting seem much worse. I like knit clothing that you’d buy in stores, so it’s not like I don’t like knits. But my own knitting projects so far have turned out 2 Oops (sweaters / jumpers) and 1 oops-but-still-good-enough (boyfriend scarf). And ones knitted presumably by experts and featured in knitting pattern books don’t seem much better style-wise.

Oops # 1: big chunky short sleeve sweater

My second knitting project, this one is destined for the Frogging Pile despite looking OKish in the end. I had already frogged it once, the original pattern being one size smaller yet still too big. Thankfully the Rowan Drift yarn was very fast to knit – I almost finished half of it on one 6 hour flights to the States – and easy to frog.

But call me frigid if you will, if I go chunky I need everything covered. Chunky + short-sleeve is knitting oxymoron. Chunky is actually also rather uncomfy under the arm. Maybe I’m just a princess with her pea. Anyway, Plan B is a puncho. I’m waiting to see if the August Burda have any skinny retro pants or skirt to go with it. Not the Poodle Pants that Channel No. 6 had already poo-poo’ed though!

Oops # 2: bat wing sweater

Project # 3 turned out more Michelin Man than chic. I’m terribly disappointed. Again I had already went one size too small and further. But it’s still a balloon. (Is it that I’m just too short for all these Western patterns, sewing and knitting?)

Style it right and captured from the right angle I might just be able to get away with it in photos. But in full motion life it’s going to the Stay At Home Pile – the Rowan Kidsilk Aura being too hairy to frog…Unless I can somehow alter it by sewing, basically treating it as a knit fabric. A real shame anyway, as I managed to knit it in the round so there’s practically no bulky seams at all.

oops-BSGE: boyfriend scarf

k-boyfriend-scarfGlenn’s Scarf by Katherine BuckspanGlenn's Scarf from Ravelry by Katherine Buckspan This was the beginning. And probably most successful despite minor oops. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with a scarf can you?

The oops is in the pattern. I read the instruction wrong, so the first 3 rows of repeats are not reversible. No biggy though, I just turn the last 3 rows into the same and make it look intentional.

But the whole point of this post is to…

…Point out how fast the Chinese knit. The lady on the Tube presumably is knitting the English way. Many different finger movements were involved which seems to slow things down. I tried to learn from an UK book, but my Mom then showed me the way she learnt, which supposedly is the Japanese way. It’s a bit more efficient, but still nothing compared with the way a Chinese lady showed me when  I was knitting while waiting in a shop. Her fingers were like a knitting machine. Up down up down, the loops spilling out in no time at all. What took me weeks to knit she claimed would have been done in one day in China.

chinese knitting video (see 4:55)

chinese knitting video (see 17:58)

Those Chinese, tough & capable as … I’ll leave you with this inspiring image then.

Let’s hope prosperity won’t turn them soft! 😉