Pretty little one that I adore...
And yes, it IS supposed to be that low-cut -- it's a layering piece. The under-layer, a white cami, is just really hard to see! (OK, I am pale.) Check out a full-length shot here, where thanks to a bit of sunshine it looks even more immodest, as you can't see the cami at all! I tried to adjust the colour in Photoshop Elements but apparently I am not as good at photo editing as I am at knitting, because I just could not figure out how to use the burn and dodge tools to fix this problem, even after reading the Help file. Oh well. One of these days I will sit down and really learn how to use the program, maybe even take a class.
Anyway, I digress. Although I made two small mistakes in the lace (I challenge you to find them!), this is by far the best sweater I have yet made in my life. The yarn is so deliciously soft… if you ever make anything out of Misti Alpaca Chunky, people will want to pet you! (The colour is Eggplant, if you're wondering.) I could not be happier with this sweater.
I bought the yarn at half-price from Cloth & Clay's closing sale in the spring (hmm... they really need to take down their web page), with the intention of making this very pattern by Ashley Adams Moncrief from the Fall 2007 Knitty. I started swatching for it just over a month ago, aiming to finish it in time for the K-W Knitters' Fair. Well, Last-Minute Lisa was still knitting and blocking on Friday night until bedtime, hurrying the blocking with my iron and hairdryer! I set my alarm early and hoped to finish the seaming Saturday morning before going to the Fair, but I didn’t leave myself enough time. So I brought the pieces with me, then after I had finished my volunteer gig, I sat myself down at a table in the lunch area, where I bound off and seamed the second sleeve and attached the sleeves to the bodice. I met some lovely knitters while doing so, including Divy, which made the tedious chore much more enjoyable. (Thanks for the company!) It took a LONG time (which cut into my shopping, which is probably just as well… it was a dangerous place for a credit card to be!) but it was worth being able to show it off to some of my friends who were there! (I even got a little cheer from some of the people nearby when I put it on and it fit so well!) JennyP and Stickyfingers/NonStopKnitter just missed seeing it... Sweet Pea needed to get home for her nap. I did get to show it off to Knitteopath (a.k.a. Julia, the friend who got me going on this with her "You're a saint" comment... Thanks hon!) and Etcgirl -- they were so encouraging! I also ran into GlennaC, who was wearing the most gorgeous lace shawl, and she was sweet enough to mention my accomplishment on her blog post about the Fair -- Thanks Glenna!! :)
The pattern is fairly well written – as others have noted before me, the neckline decrease section was a bit challenging/unclear, but I did manage to figure it out. Oh, and even with EZ's nice stretchy loose sewn bind-off, the armholes JUST fit my skinny arms – I definitely would have had trouble getting into this if my upper arms had been chunkier! The lace patterns were super easy to memorize, and with my beloved KnitPicks Options 6.5 mm needles (4.5 mm on the ribbing) and just over 6 skeins of yarn (maybe 675 yards including swatches), it was a FAST knit... very nearly instant gratification, as sweater-knitting goes! Ravelers who might still be interested after reading all my blathering here may check out Cherie's Ravelry page...
I made a couple of modifications to the pattern; I lengthened the sleeves by about 2 inches and omitted the sleeve ribbing, and I lengthened the skirt by 5 pattern repeats. (The designer must be rather petite, I guess. At 5'6" I would hardly call myself an Amazon. I did want the hem to fall lower than the original sweater, though, as I think this length is more flattering on me.) I was really glad I hadn’t bound off the first sleeve before blocking it (I just left it on the KnitPicks Options cable with cable ends) and measuring it on me, because I did end up having to knit it longer. And that way I knew exactly how long I needed to knit the second sleeve!
If I were to make this again, I would purchase DPNs to knit the sleeves in the round (I didn’t have any in the 6.5 mm size), especially since there is no sleeve cap, they’re just tubes once you seam them up. I tried magic looping, but it wasn’t for me, so I knit them flat. As I suspected, sewing that sleeve seam was a pain, which I could have avoided.
Careful swatching pays off if you substitute yarns as I did; the pattern called for 9 mm needles, and with the rate at which this alpaca relaxes and grows on wetting/blocking, I would have ended up with a potato sack had I cast on with that size of needles!
All in all, this sweater has been a great present to myself, even better than the fabulous Roving Spinners handspun by Linda Janssen, gorgeous buttons, Fleece Artist Trail Socks, and Noro Kureyon Sock yarn I bought! And it has inspired yet MORE knitting for me: on getting home, I immediately cast on a Sunday Market Shawl for myself using the irresistible handspun! Mmm, shiny...
P.S. That is a tomato plant growing behind me, climbing up the crab-apple tree. I am standing up in this picture; the thing is taller than I am. Hugest dang tomato plant I ever saw in my life. Now if some more of its miniature sweet yellow pear tomatoes would just ripen before frost... what a shame it would be to lose the bounty from such an astonishing monster!