Boxy Pullover Tells All
March 18, 2005
Being as how this is a knitting blog and all, please excuse me while I recount, at a nausea-inducing level of detail, Creeper’s sewing-up story. After all, in Blog Lit 101 we were taught that the Sewing-Up Story, like the Bildungsroman, is a literary genre unto itself. We must not ignore it simply because it is tedious and repetitive and we’ve all done it a hundred times and nobody cares.
There are also humanitarian reasons. Others have embarked on Creeper. I want them to be prepared. I want to help them, and in as many words and pictures as possible, by golly, I mean to do it.
Fixin’ to Mattress
Creeper is a pullover from Rowan’s Denim People book. One of its quiet charms is the funnel neck. I have never made a funnel neck. I liked the idea, though, because t-necks make me feel choky, but any structure that distracts from or obscures the neck/chins area has got to be a good thing. So we begin our sewing up, on the dining room table, mug o’tea at a safe distance, by joining the funnel neck and shoulders with one mattress seam on each side.
This is Easy Mattress Stitch because we are joining row ends to row ends, so there is no need to ‘ease’. Just make that ladder, row by row.
See how nice? I just had to try it on. (Note: That is my Sewing-Up Face. Do not mess with me when you see the Sewing-Up Face.)
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
We come, much too soon, to the Sleeves. The sleeves of the Creeper, they are the ‘Shallow Set-in Sleeves’. This means you attach the sleeves at the shoulder before you join the side and sleeve seams. Except for the little notch of shaping at the sides, this is just like putting in a Drop Shoulder Sleeve. (You should get an Ominous Inkling right about now.)
The shaping bits are easy to join with Mattress Stitch. Rows to rows again. One for one. Easy to get a perfect join.
Two tricky parts, one mild and one thorny.
Mild tricky part:
For the rest of the sleeve, you are joining the cast-off stitches of the sleeve to the row ends of the body. Ruh-roh. Row gauge and stitch gauge are different, so you can’t stitch them one-for-one or you’ll end up with a stretched part and a bunched part. Since I am loath to count stitches and rows and perform simple math (just figure out the ratio between stitches and rows), I did it by eyeball. Which is fine over such a short distance, if you’re willing to undo it when you see any stretching or bunching. If it saves me math, I am happy to do a seam over.
See that big fat cable that is twisting right at the top of the sleeve head? That, my friends, is Trouble. Wish I had thought about THAT before casting off the sleeve. But I’m too impetuous (!) to reknit the last few rows of the sleeve. I forge ahead. At least the cable makes it unnecessary to mark the center of the sleeve so I can match it to the shoulder seam.
When I reached this point, I realized that I could not mattress-stitch through the gnarly knot of that cable. So, with the suppleness of a pro (HA!), I went back to an inch before the cable, and right then and there I switched from Mattress Stitch to Back Stitch. This was not particularly graceful or fun, but I didn’t want to back-stitch the whole seam.
Yay! The sleeve survived!
After that, it was just a matter of mattressing the sleeve and side seams. This was so routine that even I did not feel the need to document it for posterity.
Dum De Dum Dum
We come to the part where I try it on.
As it turns out, I made one little mistake with Creeper: I knit the wrong sweater.
The DNA that governs my shoulders and biceps comes from centuries of my foremothers pushing plows across rocky fields in Northern Europe and the Great Plains. As the Manolo would surely agree, the big arms they are not the fashion for the ladies of today. A Shallow Set-In Sleeve, which turns out to be a Drop Shoulder by another name, highlights the bulk of the shoulder and upper arm. And then– cruelly, really– the big juicy cable on the arm makes matters much, much worse. I could make the first cut of a rugby team try-out just by showing up in this sweater.
I also feel it should be an inch or two longer and have a touch–a whisper–of side shaping. I did say I wanted it to wear it like a sweatshirt. But I didn’t want it to fit like a sweatshirt. (I know you’ll notice, so let me just say that I made the sleeves short on purpose. The romantic, trailing sleeve is for Rowan models and other people who don’t have to wash dishes.)
I don’t hate it. But as my Great-Aunt Carrie would say, it ‘doesn’t do a thing for me.’ I like it enough though, to tinker and make another version. Plain sleeves. A ‘flatter’ center cable–maybe a diamond cable. A lighter-weight denim, such as the Elle brand, which knits to 22 sts/10 cm instead of Rowan’s 19 or 20. And most importantly, a Real Deal, 100% No-Kidding Set-In Sleeve.
Please, please, do not let me make any more sweaters for myself that don’t have a set-in sleeve! Friends don’t let friends look husky.
For recovery knitting, I followed Siow Chin‘s lead and made a Parquet Squares Dishcloth.
Aaaahh. I feel better now.
Happy weekend everybody!