Friday, July 5, 2013

Righting My Bottoms Up

Moving to a new house creates unexpected problems for a blogger. You get into a rhythm with your blog: you write it in a certain way, at a certain time, in a certain chair, even. And you take your photos with the light and the tables/chairs/windows/furniture in a predictable setting that will give you a predictable result.

Then, you move, and for the first few weeks, it feels like nothing is ever going to turn out right.

Since we moved, I've been trying to find a "regular blog photo shoot" spot. Yesterday, I tried the top of my stairs. The light there is good: not too dark, not too bright, but I don't really have anywhere to put my little tripod. Instead, I balanced a few books on the banister and hoped for the best. Some of them turned out a little weird. The blue triangle of Zorg is coming to get me, apparently:


There's also the problem of new distractions... or perhaps not so new. This photo was taken right at the moment I noticed Rascal heading into the bathroom with a suspicious look on his face. That's never a good sign:


Anyway, these photos are supposed to be showing off my latest knitting project, Bottoms Up, by Alice Bell. It's made with Cascade Ultra Pima, a fantastic mercerized cotton that shines like silk. As suggested by the name of the pattern, you start at the bottom and knit your way up to the top. It was a bit of a long haul, since I started it in the midst of moving house and leaving my job, then I ran out of yarn near the end, and had to order the last skein online and wait for it to arrive. Oh yarn, you try my patience at times...

There are a couple of things I really wish more designers added to their patterns to guarantee a good fit. I think it's important to explain the purpose of the shaping they suggest. For example, the lower part of the top consists of three changes in the stitch pattern. The lowest part is a very tight ribbed pattern. The second part alters the rib slightly to loosen it up, and the third alters it again to loosen it even more. Alice recommends that third alteration should occur right below the bust if you are not particularly busty, which was a good idea for me. 


But I also noticed that, in order to direct the eye to the narrowest part of your torso, you should place the second rib alteration there. I had to study a lot of project photos on Ravelry to figure that one out. I looked at why some people's tops were more flattering than others, and when I started looking at where the stitch patterns were sitting, a lightbulb finally went on in my head. Given that we are all different heights and shapes, knowing the reason for shaping or stitch changes is important, because if you only get the instructions to "decrease after you have knitted 5 inches/40 rows" or something like that, you may end up with a garment the points out all the things on your body you would rather not point out. I was feeling pretty clever when I figured that out...


As usual, I had to make the overall torso length longer. I carried on in modification-mode and made the sleeves longer by casting on more stitches at each armpit as I knit upward. To accommodate my larger-than-the-average-bear upper arms, I added more rows to the top of each sleeve/shoulder. I worked a row of half double crochet around the edge of each sleeve to keep them from rolling. I was feeling pretty good about this top...


After that, I used a three-needle bind off to close the shoulders, and declared it finished. Feeling triumphant, I tried it on, only to discover that the neck was now too large because of the extra rows I'd added at the top of each shoulder. Each time I moved, it slipped off my shoulders, no matter how I tugged and shifted it around. It was virtually unwearable.

So I had a tantrum.

I pouted a while, declaring that I couldn't do anything right.

I drank a few cups of tea.

Then, I picked myself up off the floor and I decided to I pick up more stitches around the neck and knit a garter stitch neckband, throwing in a few decreases here and there to close it up. That did the trick.


Nature cooperated and gave me a warm day to block it quickly, and then it cooled down a bit to let me actually wear it outside on a July day.

It's perfect, and I love it, and it turns out I can do things right... eventually. Adjustment mode: ongoing...

12 comments:

  1. Gorgeous! It's so flattering. Great colour too. I usually stay away from fitted knit tops but you've got me reconsidering my position. Nice work.

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    1. I'm still getting used to knitting them. You need the right amount of ease and just the right shaping, but if you get it right, it's worth it!

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  2. Beautiful sweater Adriene! Just came across one of your videos on pinterest which led me to your blog!

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    1. Oh wow, good to know people are pinning them! Thanks for visiting.

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  3. I am just about to embark on this project and saw your link to this blog on ravelry. I also want to add sleeves and will probably have to add a garter stitch neckband too. You have done an excellent job with these adjustments. I only hope I can do half as good as you.

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    1. It's a nice pattern, conceptually simple, but yes, adjusting it takes a bit of work. Let me know if you need someone to bounce ideas off of, and I'll be glad to think it through with you!

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  4. Great job! The changes you made to the pattern make it look more flattering and finished. Terri

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    1. Thank you! It is still one of my favourite finished pieces!

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  5. The finished project looks lovely, and your mods and reasons are really clearly explained. I feel inspired to give this pattern a try!

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    1. I highly recommend it! I still love wearing it. The yarn has held up extremely well, even with machine washing. I hope you give it a try.

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  6. marimariknit at ravelrySeptember 2, 2015 at 8:42 PM

    Just found your bottom's up. Absolutely beautiful! And I just ordered 5 skeins of ultra pima from webs. I am not sure what you mean about adding rows to the top of the sleeves. Short rows? Do you mind explaining?
    marimariknit at ravelry

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    1. It was a simple matter delaying doing the neckline. I just kept working rows for each shoulder until they were wide enough to fit my arms, and then I followed the instructions for the neckline. The only problem is that it increases the circumference of the neckline, which is why I had to add the garter stitch neckband.

      I hope that helps. Feel free to contact me using my contact form above or on Ravelry if you need more help.

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