Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bed Jacket.

Or, "The end of lab photos."

(If only because I have a new MacBook with its own iSight...so, now you get crappy photos in new locales!)

You also get headless photos, as I only had decent light in my apartment in the morning, so even though I'm wearing a dress, I also had a raging (and ragingly hilarious) case of bedhead.

I'm amazed at how quickly this jacket came together, especially after I spent so much time slogging through Fad Classic.

Pattern: Bed Jacket, from Knitting Lingerie Style, 34.5" bust
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Candy Apple, just over 4 skeins
Needles: KnitPicks Options Circulars, US 7, and one crochet hook, size F
Notions: Polyester sewing thread, needles (darning needle and sewing needle), and one rather pricey 3/4" shell button
Date Started: August 12
Date Completed: August 20

The most significant alteration here was using a different yarn and needle size than that called-for in the pattern. I followed Stitchywitch's lead (I will say here that I was very, very thankful to have her blog posts to refer to when I made this) and went with the Cotton Fleece (much easier to find) and smaller needles, and knit the second smallest size in the hopes of getting a finished garment size between the two smallest pattern sizes. I also:

Did short row shaping of the armholes and shoulders, and used a 3 needle bind-off for the shoulders.

Placed all increases and decreases 3 stitches in from the edges, to make seaming (and boy, is there ever a lot of seaming for this project!) easier.

Followed the instructions for larger sizes in knitting the body edging (29st instead of 25st) to add a little length/width to the body of the garment and make up for the smaller stitch gauge I had.

Instead of seaming the upper and lower edgings together, I did the following: I knit the lower edging first and kept the stitches live, then picked up stitches along the cast-on edge and knit the upper edging. When the upper edging was the desired length, I grafted the lower and upper edgings together with kitchener stitch. Instead of seeing seams, or a "dip" where the seam is (like you'd see with a shoulder-type seam), you just have a short stockinette section. You can see it here in a close-up (click to enlarge):

I also threw the button/snap instructions aside. Closing the garment as instructed was a) nearly impossible, and b) hugely unflattering. Given that there are no photos of the jacket closed in this manner in the book, I suspect the same could be said of the jacket on the model (I bet she could close it, it looks as if there's enough ease, but I bet it did that weird poochy thing my jacket did). Honestly, I'm a little confused as to how closing the jacket that way would be flattering on anyone not wearing a corset or blessed with a pin-up girl's figure (ie, with a tiny waist and ample bust). Anyway, I opted to place a button about 1.5 repeats below the upper/lower edging "seam" and use one of the loops from the crochet edging as a buttonhole. It took a lot of fiddling around with the jacket to determine where I'd like to close it.

And...here's where I make a little confession. I didn't block anything before seaming. I know, I know, that's bad. But I am exceptionally lazy. I also almost never knit gauge swatches. Also bad. But, again, lazy.

I did, however, wash and block the jacket before embroidering the body (which I have yet to do, as completing this sweater (or nearly completing it) in 8 days has left me feeling rather burnt-out) -- from embroidering the sleeves, I could see that the chain stitch didn't have much give, so I left it until after the body was blocked to its final dimensions. I don't really think the embroidery is needed along the front edges or along the collar (where it would be hidden), but I think it will add a nice touch to the back lower edge. If you do a good clean seaming job on the sleeves and body, I don't think the embroidery is necessary, but looking at it on the sleeves, I think it adds a nice finishing touch (which is why, someday, I'll embroider the body).

Looking at the finished jacket, I think I could have added another edging repeat along the back neck and maybe one or two along the back lower edge. I actually calculated the number of repeats to knit ahead of time (using that 3:4 stitch:row ratio I'm always reading about), and when I held the edgings up to the body of the jacket, it looked right. However, I had to block the Hell out of the edging to keep it from curling/make the collar sit properly and to give it some flare...having a little more fabric to work with would have been nice.

In playing around with the finished jacket, I've found that I really like wearing the collar flipped-up (what can I say, I'm a child of the 80's...my old Izod shirts would be so proud).

This is, hands-down, the girliest thing I have ever made. It may also be the girliest thing I have ever worn (at least in the last decade). I am very proud of myself for having made this (and especially for having made it so that it isn't completely hideous on me), but this won't see much wear, I'm afraid. I just don't have much to wear it with! It will see the light of day, though, but only on special occasions. You know, the 2-3 times a year I wear a dress (I do have a wedding to attend next month, so rest assured, this won't be languishing in my closet).

For anyone interested in making this, I have a couple suggestions. I would probably knit slightly more edging than you think you need -- it'll give the edges more flounce and you won't have to block the garment as aggressively as I did. Also, don't make this if you hate seaming. I don't love seaming, but I don't hate it. In fact, I find it somewhat meditative at this point. However, if I had to seam this thing in one go, I think it would have driven me batty. I sewed the pieces together (all 9 of them!) as I completed them. If you do this, do not be dismayed when you put on your garment sans edging and see that it looks really, really terrible. Actually, don't be dismayed if you put the jacket on after finishing the whole dang thing and it looks really, really terrible. Just play around with it, block the $^%#@!! out of it, and keep the faith.


Margene said...

Stitchywitch's post also lead to me adding it to my queue. Your finished jacket looks fabulous and I really love the color. Nice work you!

Amanda said...

Thanks! When I got the book, this pattern really grabbed me (granted, a lot of patterns in the book grabbed me, but this was the one I truly fell in love with). Seeing Stitchywitch's finished jacket is what convinced me that I could make one and it would (probably) flatter me.

dileri said...

It looks great! You did a good job with what looks like a really fussy pattern. The turned up collar pic looks very retro glamorous, like a young Liz Taylor or Audrey Hepburn.

goodkarma said...

Oooh, so pretty and so retro lady-like. Well done!

She'saCraftyOne said...

very pretty!

The Amy said...

Oh my god, that's gorgeous. You did a great job, and it's so flattering on you.

Amanda said...

Thank you everyone! Dileri, I couldn't put my finger on the exact style the collar-up look reminded me of, but old-school Elizabeth Taylor is dead-on. The padded bra I'm wearing with the dress helps (as does the camera angle)...hee.

Elizabeth said...

This is gorgeous. I loved Stitchywitch's too, so I'm glad to see you've made it as well. I'm almost tempted to buy this book just for this pattern... almost. Thanks for the good tips on the pattern.

allie said...

Lovely. Thanks for posting all the mods!

itsjustmeghan said...

i LOVE this! so stunning! and very girlie like you said! cute!

i wanted to ask you, do you take requests?
could you give me the rundown on your blocking and seaming methods? i'd love an email!
please, share your knowledge! school me on blocking! i'm utterly clueless!

itsjustmeghan said...

ps. congrats on the macbook. such a WONDERFUL machine. i love mine. and need to get a second one, so husband and i don't fight over it each night.

Amanda said...


A message is on its way to you...

And oh yes, I love my MacBook. This is my second Mac laptop (I killed the last one with a teabag...*sniff*
...but it was nearly four years old and had a good life).

Octopus Knits said...

Lovely job!