Sunday, October 30, 2011
FO: Betty Jean McNeil Cardigan
Pattern: Betty Jean McNeil from Emily Johnson of The Family Trunk Project
Yarn: Alba Yarn, shetland fingering from The Wool Shed in Trout (brown), Pumpkin (orange) and Lochan (teal)
Buttons: 1940's vintage celluloid from Clover Crafts and Curios at eeebaaay.
Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce Miss Betty Jean McNeil?
On first meeting, she seems like a rather buttoned-up and studious young woman, bookish one might say. But I suspect she is wearing silk under her fair-isle and tweeds.
It was my first attempt at "proper" fair-isle knitting: stranding, steeking and all, and it was not easy.
But the biggest strain on my patience was probably the sheer acreage of fine-gauge plain knitting.
I knit little things: socks, hats, the odd shawl, and they usually have snazzy stitch patterns to keep me interested until the next bit of shaping.
Betty Jean was a very different kind of undertaking. She was a very technical, process-driven knit. The first thing the knitter has to do is work a folded hem on circular needles - just one new technique of the many I had to master to complete this garment.
Betty Jean demanded that I slow down and just enjoy the feel of the wool passing beneath my fingers. Even at the very end, when I thought I was nearly done, there was an hour-and-a-half's-worth of i-cord bind-off to negotiate... followed by sewing on twenty buttons. TWENTY!
I didn't dare to try it on until the last button was in place.
I had taken liberties with the yarn / needle combination and I knew this was going to be a very fitted garment. Luckily, I got away with it. But I wouldn't risk it again. Swatch, my friends, swatch!
Knee-length tweed skirts may be a bad idea. Cropped narrow trousers would be better.
But don't misunderstand me. Betty Jean was a labour of love and she is everything I hoped she would be: vintage-looking, fair-isle, a bit preppy College Girl... and really warm!
Yeah... Betty Jean was worth it!