Monday, October 27, 2008

Fit To Be Tied: A knitting Saga; Part II, Grant Avenue Hell

As promised, I am doing a recap of the two knitting project thorns in my side from 2008. One was taken almost to completion, and the other is in progress, circling the airport until I have time and stomach to finish it.

This blog is about Alice Starmore's "Grant Avenue" vest from her Pacific Coast Highway book. I have knit several Starmore projects over the years and I am a huge fan of her work. I think her designs have mostly tended to weather well in terms of fashion. When the partnership between AS and the Broad Bay Company went belly up several years ago and her yarns were no longer going to be made, I went into a frenzy of buying as much of her yarns as I could afford--enough of the proper types and colors for several projects. One of these projects was the aforementioned G.A. vest done in Scottish Campion.

Once I was finished with school and had started my new career, I finally had real time to tackle this project. I had swatched this in 2005 along with another AS project in Scottish Campion yarn that I completed successfully--the Rambling Rose pullover from Stillwater (the details of this project are posted on my Ravery site). 2006 had been a wild year for me, what with graduation moving out of state, marriage, a new job and yet another move BACK to California for the new job, and now it was 2007 and I was eager to get started a new project. I had a 3 weeks alone in Eureka before my new husband joined me, so what better than to do than some heavy knitting? I could get a lot done, since the swatching was already done. Famous last words..

I had my body measurements in hand and had several false starts before I had the gauge in hand and was on my way. My first attempt ended up being enormously larger that I wanted(I estimated that the sweater would have a 50 inch chest which was large even for me), so I restarted with a smaller vest size at the same gauge, but I realized a way along I had twist at in the circular knitting despite being careful, so I restarted yet again. This time things took. I motored along. measuring as I went. The pattern was beautiful and complicated at the bottom, so this took some serious attention to the colors and charts. The result was really stunning, If I may say so myself and I was super pleased with how the vest looked so far. Furthermore, I measured the circumference and it was what I hoped it would be--44 inches and so large enough to fit my bust measurement, so I felt confident that things were going to turn out as I hoped. The upper part of the picture shows the main pattern repeat and once that was established, things went into autopilot.
At some point I began the process of shaping the v-neck and armholes, which included decreases. I dutifully measured as I went along and check my stitch numbers to make sure I made no mistakes. This section was a bit of a slog as the pattern got very repetitive. Still I was confident because all my numbers matched. Silly, silly me. When I finally finished, I set the vest down for a while. I had to start cutting the steeks and that is very nerve wracking.

I did find some really great antique glass buttons on EBay. Aren't they cute? They are about 1 cm in size and I was thinking of 8-10 arranged closely together along the front button band. I was totally thrilled to find them-- the blue color with the brass fitting matched the style of the vest perfectly. It's not often that I find a project accessory notion that I was so happy with and this added to my anticipation of the finished product.

Well, I finally took a deep breath and started cutting my steeks My stitch numbers were correct and the measurements seemed OK. It took a while to pick up stitches for the borders, sew down the steek hems and get everything done. Finally I was done and I raced off to try my vest on. Quel horreur! Despite all my care, it didn't fit--badly didn't fit. The trouble was not just across the bust, but the neck was constructed to make the armholes lie wrong and it was ridiculously too small across the shoulders, which was the real crux of the fit problem. The safety pins represent to button placement points. Along with the shoulder width, the arm bands were made such that they didn't lie flat, even though I picked up the proper number of stitches.

The damned thing was literally pyramidal in shape. I mean, look at this thing. It's ridiculous looking, and I have no idea how this project got away from me. I was really devastated. I had worked on this project for months and I was so mad I literally contemplated chopping it up in a fit of pique. Still, 10 deep breaths did me some good and I instead wadded it up in a ball with the remaining project yarn and let it lie.

I was pretty discouraged by this. I fancy myself a better than average knitter and this was a serious blow to my ego. I decided I really needed to do a project that was easier and more likely to bring me out of my craft funk blues state. I had scored some Lavold Angora yarn on sale for a cardi project that I had a hankering to make and decided to make that my next project. So began my fateful tangle with "Zarah"...

1 comment:

Erin said...

Sara! That is a shame, it is such a beautiful vest but I guess it is supposed to fit someone 6ft and 90 pounds.Keep it up - you do gorgeous work!