Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Wednesday's Workbox (20th June)

This week I finally finished the sweater I have been knitting, and I am so happy with how it turned out!  Although it is quite long and loose on me, this is how it is meant to look as the model on the front of the pattern has it this way too (which makes a change from things being long and loose on me when they aren't suppose to be, which is very often the way when you are wee, as I am).  I especially like the neckline, which has a picot edging, and looks very pretty indeed.  I like my clothes to leave a little space between the edge of the garment and my face because that small distance lends an illusion of height - I tend not to wear garments with high, tight necklines such as roll-neck or turtle-neck sweaters for this reason. 

The sleeves for this garment were the hardest part to knit, as they had quite a lot of shaping in the form of increases at both sides of the work every 6 rows.  This involved having to work the increases into the pattern, which was quite tricky (as you can see, there are 2 different pattern repeats on the main body of the sweater, and only 1 on the sleeves, but it was the more complex of the 2 patterns that was used on the sleeves).

To set sleeves into a garment, I first stitch the sleeves up.  How far up the sleeve depends on whether they are a raglan (decreasing into the shoulder so that the neck of the garment hangs across the shoulder blade and creates a soft, draped effect) or a fitted sleeve, like this one.  Fitted sleeves are slightly harder to set into the garment because they do not necessarily fit obviously into the shape of the arm hole in the way that a raglan sleeve does.  But the principle for setting them is the same.  Start as last week by pressing the pattern pieces on a wide surface such as a table covered with a towel.  I place a dampened tea towel on top of the pattern piece before I press it, to protect it from scorching. 

Having done this I then pin the sleeve right side to right side down the seam that will be on the underarm of the garment.  With a raglan this will be only to the point where the shaping begins, but with a fitted sleeve this will be all along that seam until it joins the cast-off seam along the top.  Do this for both sleeves.   Tack into place, then remove the pins.  Check now for fit against the garment (which will already have the shoulder seams into place).  The top of the sleeve should join the centre of the shoulder on each side and the underarm seam should join the centre of the underside of the armhole (in other words, where the side seams will be sewn).  You should have a point where all the seams should converge, and this must be the centre of the underside of the armhole else the sleeve will not be perfectly set in place.

When you are happy with the fit, mark in place with a pin the point where the side seam finishes on the main garment.  Now pin the 2 side seams right side to right side, tack and stitch up using backstitch as before.  Keep the garment turned inside out.

Set the sleeve (still turned inside out) into the armhole of the garment as above but now pin the right side of the top edge of the sleeve (the cast off edge) all around the right side of the front and back of the shoulders of the sweater.  You are grafting the sleeve on.  I usually pin the top, bottom and corresponding right and left sides, then make adjustments as necessary - it's fairly easy to get it right as long as you make sure the seams all converge where the underarm meets the armhole.  When it is correctly in place, pin all around, tack and then backstitch.  Repeat with the second sleeve. 

It sounds harder than it really is, and with a raglan sleeve, it is quite easy to just follow the shape of the 2 sides of the sleeve into the shoulder, with the shape of the armhole (when doing the shaping on a raglan sleeve, you normally fetch up with one single stitch left on your needle).  Some sleeves have further shaping to set them into the shoulder of the garment so that they have a gather, rather as you would with a jacket or shirt.  This can look very attractive with a fitted garment.  But I find raglan sleeves easiest to work with.

And if the sleeves weren't the very hardest part of all about knitting this sweater, what was?

Well, I'd say it was having to finish it!  Now that it's done and ready to wear, I am so eager to start knitting something else!  I have my "sea lettuce" scarf to complete, and a crochet blanket, but I have really got the knitting bug at the moment (which for me at this time of year is quite unusual - normally I sew in the summer, and knit in the cooler months instead) and I just can't wait to get started on my next project!  I wonder what it will be?