November 22, 2004
You don’t? This is Dolman Updated, a design in the Fall 2003 Interweave Knits. Back in November 2003, I was knitting this then-brand-new pattern in the back seat of a tiny car that was careening and skidding around the hills of the Piedmont region of Italy. Usually just before or after eating a meal with 4 appetizers and a blur of other courses after that.
Dolman Updated is a simple yet ingenious pattern. See how the seams are on the outside? See how the sleeves are not knit separately, but formed by casting on stitches when the armhole level is reached (you can’t really see that, but I’m telling you)? See how it’s constructed of 4 nearly-identical pieces? I made this sweater because I liked its easygoing esprit de sweatshirt. I also thought it would be just the therapy to shake off my Bad Dolmans of the Eighties.
What? You don’t remember the Bad Dolmans of the Eighties? Here’s a reminder:
The thing to note here is that the armhole begins at the waist. Why was this considered good? We don’t know. It did a great job of disguising under-arm dingle-dangle, and it allowed plenty of cargo space for emergency Kleenex, but at what cost?
Not all that bad, you say? How about this one:
Doesn’t that just sear your brain cells? I wore a lot of these sleeves In The Day. I suppose I didn’t have much choice; these were the sleeves that Fate dealt me. The good thing about having worn a lot of Dolman sleeves is that I now have a healthy respect for the concept of the Set In Sleeve, and its also-flattering cousin, the Raglan. I think there should be a PBS Documentary–a Nova or a Frontline or at least a The American Experience– devoted to the pioneers who spread knowledge about these crucial Dolman Alternatives throughout our land.
But I digress (quel surprise). All I really wanted to tell you is that I finally finished the dang thing. I had knit all the pieces by the time I returned from vacation. (This was in 2003.) I promptly blocked it and sewed up the 4 ‘inside-out’ backstitch seams, which I found challenging (being the Queen of Mattress Stitch but not even a minor royal of backstitch). Then I left it in the bottom of my Sew-up Basket. For a full year.
The reason is that during the partial sewing-up, I had twigged to the fact that the sleeves were WAY too long for me. I probably could have figured this out from reading the pattern, but I didn’t have even the faintest premonition until after I had knit up 12 balls of Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim Aran. Since these sleeves are knit sideways instead of top-down or bottom-up, there is no practical way to shorten them, and they can’t be reknit without re-knitting most of the sweater.
To make matters worse, it was only after I had sewn the thing halfway up that I unearthed this little Repressed Memory: I have a Tummy Issue. The issue being that my tummy is Convex where it ought to be Concave. Wearing a boxy little pullover like this calls a good deal of attention to this Issue. Eww.
Time to Recalculate Route. My task became selecting a long-armed, flat-tummied recipient. And luckily, I happen to know a long-armed, flat-tummied recipient:
Pam! I sewed the last underarm seam in Pam’s living room. The arms were a bit long, but it’s a sweatshirt. The arms are joogeable. Another nice thing is that like me, Pam has a wool allergy, so she appreciates the fact that my version of the Dolman Updated is in cotton.
I call this a Happy Ending. I still need to find a way to exorcize my Bad Dolmans of the 80s, but it’s a comfort to know that Pam has gotten rid of her Dolman ghosts, shoulder pads and all.
P.S. And lookie here! Pam’s been Log-Cabinning:
Pam started knitting about a year ago. Other than scarves, this is her first project. It’s in Peaches & Creme, the very best 100% cotton yarn you can buy for $1.28 a ball. She let me pick out the colors. Cheerful, no?