Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Knitting FO: Owls Sweater

I have been wanting to make Kate Davies' Owls sweater for a long time, probably about 2 milliseconds after I discovered the pattern existed. It's taken me an embarrassingly long time to a) get around to knitting it and b) finishing the darn thing, given how well the design fits with the rest of my wardrobe. I first downloaded the pattern back when it was free, and then purchased it when the designer updated the pattern with better notes and more sizes. This project is a little different than others I've knit because I made lots of changes based on what other knitters said in their project notes on Ravelry.
Owls Sweater
Side view of the yoke
As an aside, I feel that this is one of the best uses of Ravelry, particularly for me since I'm not a model-sized person.  Although there are notable exceptions, not many designers photograph their work in a wide range of sample sizes, so I use Ravelry as a gallery of what any given pattern is going to look like on a larger body type.  I've definitely decided to not knit certain patterns when I discovered I didn't find them that flattering on larger people.

I actually made a ton of modifications to the pattern, starting with the yarn.  I knew from past experience that knitting a sweater out of very chunky yarn adds lots of bulk to my frame.  I certainly don't need to look like I have even more padding than what nature gave me.  Owls calls for a very bulky yarn, and the first thing I did while browsing the 5,000+ projects was see what lighter yarns folks had used to knit the pattern.  Cascade Ecological Wool was a clear winner and turned out to be quite reasonably priced, so I picked out a dark heathered brownish-grey (or is it greyish-brown?  I can't tell!).   The downside of having all this info from Ravelry at my fingertips is that it tells me that I stashed that yarn back in April of 2010.  Yikes!
Cascade Ecological Wool
Three skeins ought to be enough, right?
I started swatching in January to check my gauge like a good knitter, and worked out that I would need to make a sweater just a bit bigger than the largest size in order for it to fit me at the gauge I was getting.  Great, more math. While I was swatching, I made a sort of half-informed decision based on other knitters' project notes to just make up the body and sleeves as I went along.  My reasoning was that I would need to do lots of math to create a larger size anyway because of my gauge, and I've had issues with sleeves being too tight or too short in the past, so I might as well make it from scratch anyway.  So that's what I did!  I figured out how many stitches to cast on based on my swatch (which thankfully did not lie), then decreased at either side for some waist shaping, then increased again on either side for bust shaping, trying it on as I went.  I also remembered to always stand up when trying on the body of a sweater, so I wouldn't end up with something that was only long enough to cover the top of my jeans while sitting.  I finished the body up to the armpits in March, and then promptly declared sleeves to be boring and stuffed the whole thing in a tote bag for several months.

Owls Sweater (in progress) 
And this is where it stayed for three months. 
After finishing a pair of socks more suddenly than I'd intended, I needed to grab something in a hurry for knit night, and remembered that all I had was boring sleeves. Since I was running late, I didn't have time to pick something out of the stash, so it had to be sleeves. I was smart and did my sleeves two-at-a-time though, so at least I didn't have to take too many notes on what I was doing in order to get matching sleeves. After joining the sleeves to the body, the sweater got to be quite unwieldy and not really that good for knitting on the bus, so my progress slowed a bit.  But since I'd been bitten by the sewing bug, a part of me really wanted to include this sweater as part of my Seam Allowance goals.  I know a lot more about knitting than I do about sewing, and I think it shows in how well the sweater turned out.

Owls Sweater
The whole sweater!

I also opted to only sew buttons on one of my owls for a more understated look, as many other Ravelers have done.  I like to think of my owls as being mostly sleepy, with one awake to see what's up.  Now that this sweater is done, I learned that I like my sleeves a LOT longer than what's usually written in a pattern.  The cuffs can be pulled down almost to my knuckles, which keeps my hands warm.  I was able to apply a lot of the knowledge I gained in Ysolda's class last year to make sure that this sweater fit just the way I want it to.  Finally, this sweater is going to be very versatile.  I can pair it with a skirt, tights, and boots for work, or just with jeans for a weekend.  The yarn is warm enough for foggy mornings and evenings, but not knit too dense for California.  I'll be testing it out while we're on vacation next week in another typically cool and misty environment: Scotland!  I have one more regular blog post lined up to run while we're gone, and many adventures to share when we return!

1 comment:

wildtomato said...

It turned out gorgeous! I love it!