Thursday, July 5, 2007

Latoya, redone as a sweater with short sleeves

I liked the Berocco pattern, Latoya, for two reasons--it was cabled and ribbed and it was the right gauge for my stashed Cotton-ease. The asymmetry was not my favorite part, but it was quirky and subtle enough for me to live with it. The straps were the part I didn't like, but I found I had enough yarn to knit them away.

Not only did I have enough yarn to make the straps into shoulders, I had enough for small, short, cabled sleeves. I completely made the changes up, but I give credit to Grace, who also changed the straps in her version. She had the same idea I did originally, which was to carry the ribbing up the shoulders. When I read that the ribbing in her version made the shoulders roll up, almost like i-cord, I decided to go plain stockinette for the shoulders. I first made the switch from ribbing to stockinette while knitting the back. 
My next challenge was to knit the shoulders for the front, but I thought about the sleeves while I did this. I very much wanted the cable on each sleeve. I had less than one skein of yarn left, though, and I know cables eat yarn. I knit the tiniest sleeves I could, centering the cable near the bottom edge. They were a fun, quick knit, but probably could have been a bit wider. My second choice would have been plain ribbed sleeves, but I'm glad I had enough yarn for the cabled ones.

Now let me explain the front. First, like Grace, I changed the reverse stockinette sides to stockinette, to match the back. Then I had to decide how to add shoulders. I still thought Grace's idea of ribbing going up the front was good. I decided to break the ribbing at the middle of the cable and move the 3 stitch cable out along the neckline. This produced an asymmetrical v-neck; somewhat unusual, but in keeping with the design of the sweater. I had to decrease for the neckline every row, and my choice of decreases may not have been the best. I got my technique book out, and tried to select the appropriate right or left leaning decrease, depending on whether I was decreasing a knit stitch or a purl stitch. I was never totally satisfied with the results, but just kept doggedly at it, sometimes redoing a particular decrease until I could tolerate the look. The line of decreases is not the best, but I don't think it is terribly noticeable. I kept a purl stitch next to the the 3 knit stitches to set off the edge a bit, and the purl stitch detracts a bit from the sloppy decreases.

I had to repeat the confusing decreasing for the sleeves, decreasing through the ribbing, but I was able to do better there after the practice on the front. Now the other problem--

The color, um that color. I can wear orange, luckily. Several years ago, I had my colors "done" and orange is one of the colors recommended for a brunette, olive-skinned 'autumn' like me. However, it is a bit bold for my taste, and I haven't owned very many orange shirts. I have a solution, one that I thought of on my own, and would probably have been advised against if I had asked--bleach. You see, Cotton-ease is a 50/50 cotton and acrylic blend. All the knitting boards will tell you don't expect to dye acrylic. Acrylic yarn is manufactured, not dyed. Or something like that. But you can bleach Cotton-ease. I have proof:

I took my swatch and soaked it in a medium-strength bleach solution, with favorable results. It looks like bleached denim, I think. (1/3 cup bleach in 2 cups water for 5 minutes, in case anyone wants to try it.)

I might bleach the sweater later. I certainly expect the orange color to fade with just regular laundering. I'll just live with it a while before I decide. By the way, I've been dithering over what to do with three skeins of orange Cotton-ease for a couple of years now. That's why the swatch has a different stitch pattern. I was originally going to make the mitered tank from Interweave, but I decided against it. I thought the point at the bottom and the lack of sleeves would not be flattering.

Posted by Picasa


Grace said...

Your sweater looks great! I liked the sweater BECAUSE OF the asymmetry. Asymmetry is an important element of Asian design.

I have a skein of the same orange. I still haven't found a use for it yet, though.

Have you thought about over-dyeing it? Procion fiber reactive dye would work for the cotton. The acrylic part probably wouldn't dye (though you could try an acid dye for protein fibers). You might end up with a heathered look if you choose a dye color that goes well with orange.

Luni said...

Thanks, Grace. The asymmetry is growing one me. :)
I have thought about dyeing it--I'd probably bleach it first, then over-dye it for the best effect.

Patricia said...

That is another great sweater. Love the color, not everyone can wear orange. The cables are great, ribbing AND cables, my favorites!

Busy Mom said...

Wow! I love how Latoya tank turned into a short sleeve sweater. It's great.