Sunday, March 8, 2009

What a Ride!

After spending most of Saturday sitting at my sewing machine, I am happy to announce that my newest baby, the Quirky Queen Cardigan is complete! The journey of this sweater has been the most enjoyable knitting experience I have had to date. Knitting is definitely a hobby that hasn't ceased to excite me after over four years. It just keeps getting more fun!! Here she is:

The idea for this sweater came from one of my favorite sources of inspiration, Anthropologie. When I had first seen it in the fall of 2008, I hadn't been drawn to it. When I saw it on Grey's Anatomy, I fell in love.

The design process turned my brain a little wacky for a few days, which might be why I decided to start knitting at the waistband. I measured the smallest part of my waist and knitted a simple six stitch cable until it measured just a bit shy of my size. I allowed two purl stitches on either side for selvedge. Then it was back to the drawing board. The fact that this sweater is almost seamless wasn't a design element, it just happily turned out that way! I did some measuring, picked up stitches around the edge of my waistband and began knitting the top portion. I separated the front from the back when I reached the armholes and knit the back first, then each front.

I had a hard time deciding what to do for the peplum of the sweater, so I settled for a 2 x 2 rib. I felt a little defeated at the time that my brain was a bit too fried to come up with something more creative, but in hindsight, I am most happy with that choice.

It was also pretty difficult to come up with the collar I wanted, so I designed that portion while I was knitting it. I probably could have done a better job with it by doing short rows instead of m1 increases, but it's good enough for me. Besides, short rows confuse me!

The sleeves were easy, which I only thought then because I had thrown my reservations out the window by the time I knit them, again an "on the fly" design. I scribbled down my stitch numbers and decreases only so that I could replicate them on the second sleeve. I probably should have taken the time to analyze what I was doing a little better, because they didn't come out exactly the way they were supposed to. I knew I wanted a puffed sleeve, but even after sewing the pleats, they are a little too loose. I might go out and get some smaller coverable buttons and make another pleat at the bottom edge and attach a button, but I'm not sure if the sleeves bother me enough to go to the trouble.
I seamed the sleeves and set them in with my sewing machine only after I attempted to do it by hand. I won't say it was any easier, but it was definitely quicker and produced a better look. Sewing the knitted fabric by machine is a bit trickier than it may seem.
By the way, her name is largely a result of the season of her birth, Mardi Gras, which has a lot of royal themes. I had thought she would be ready right around Fat Tuesday, but me and deadlines are not great friends!

Somewhere along the ride, I realized that the sweater I was knitting didn't look anything like the eclectic Sylvan Scene by Leifsdottir sweater that inspired it. I doubt I could have ever replicated it exactly, but that's why it was such fun - for the first time, it seems more like my design. Well, if you forget that I copied the idea of the big buttons and knitted loops.

Here is a (terrible) shot of the back:

Here's where I reinforced the buttons and loops from the inside:

My husband was like, "that looks raggedy", with a confused look on his face, when he saw what I had sewn on the inside of the sweater. Obviously the man didn't realize that it was exactly the vintage look I was going for. Besides, this Queen has her Quirks! Sometimes men are so clueless! Anyway, here's a shot of the tag I made for it:

I played around with it, and I will probably add an applique' or some other kind of embellishment. I need to get some custom tags made...

Anyway, the Queen is ready enough for her debut, and that will probably happen tomorrow at my office. There's no telling what some of the clueless guys I work with will have to say about it (or what their looks might say). Maybe it will be good enough to write about....!



Clumsy Knitter said...

Wow--very impressive! I think it looks great!

Jeannine said...

Wow, I am amazed at your ability to take a design and run with it! Fabulous! Color, fit, design! Wow!

lucky knitter said...

The sweater turned out great! I love the buttons. I too am amazed at your talent for designing a sweater from an inspiration.

Emily said...

Hiya! I'm right across the bay in Bay Minette! Beautiful sweater, but I bet you aren't wearing it today. :D

soknitpicky said...

So, so brilliant! I love it!

Longhorn Diva said...

I just ADORE this! Wonderful job!

Goce said...

beautiful, I'm excited, I like your work,I enjoy every moment while knitting!

Stephanie said...

WOW this is beautiful! I found your link via Ravelry. Thanks for sharing!