Sunday, October 30, 2011

FO: Betty Jean McNeil Cardigan

Stats:
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.

There have been many times over the past seemingly endless months of knitting, when I questioned my sanity at taking on this project.

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!

Verdict?

I started this with the 1940's in mind, but the silhouette is actually late 1950's / early 1960's.  That high neck could be very prissy and self-righteous-looking.  I am going to have to take care not to look like a Sunday-school teacher when I wear it.

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!

43 comments:

ashley0107 said...

Yay!! Well done, she is absolutely gorgeous!! I think I found your blog just as you were starting Betty Jean, so it's wonderful to see her finished :)
I LOVE the colours you chose!
Ashley x

Lorna said...

Congratulations, she is beautiful, just like all babies. (OK she has been only been expected for 7 not 9 months, but close enough!)

Suzy said...

It is soooo gorgeous! I want one of those. Too bad I'm a extremely slow knitter.

Miriana said...

Love the blue edging - an inspired choice

Melizza said...

Excuse me while I close my gaping mouth. Holy cow that cardi is gorgeous. I love the colours. So fall/Autumn-ish. And you made it with your two hands.

Knitting amazes the heck out of me all the time. I never knew such complicated work could be possible.

Clare said...

Congratulations!! This is a gorgeous cardigan which fits beautifully. I agree that it would look best with cropped trousers and on your slim frame that would be such an elegant combination. I love the colours you used and those buttons.

Tanit-Isis said...

Wow! Your patience and tenacity are astonishing---and the result is great. I love the teal edging. As a knit-o-phobe, I am officially trembling in my boots before your greatness.

I agree about the fifties look---I want to see her with a circle skirt and fluffy crinolines. Of course, that's what I just wore to the grocery store, so I might just want company in my craziness. Congratulations!

Jane said...

One of the loveliest cardi's I've seen in a long time and you look gorgeous wearing it. The colour combinations are inspired, just lovely. x

Kestrel said...

Fantastic! Well worth all the hard work. It (she?) looks like something from one of those high end knitwear catalogues. An amazing piece of work and a lovely garment.

jenibrown said...

Fantastic - you did a great job and it looks really lovely. The fair isle pattern is great and I love your colour combinations! Glad you were able to get over the fear of steeking too!

Margaret said...

Lovely! Looks like it was worth the effort. You are a very talented (and brave) knitter.

blue hands said...

SO worth it! And that lovely close-fitting body shape looks more Mad Men than Sunday School teacher. (In your climate I guess the silk undies have to be thermal...) I really love the teal highlights.

Karie B. said...

I love the colour combination as well as the fit!

Sadie said...

Lovely - it fits you perfectly and I really like the colour combination!

Where the nodding violets grow said...

This is lovely roo. I feel embarrassed that I didn't continue with mine but I will definitely give it another go now. I love the yarn colours you have chosen. Betty Jean looks lovely on you. Well done for finishing.

Sigrid said...

I'll say it was worth it!

gaylene said...

Utter scrumptiousness - congratulations!!

Ozzy Blackbeard said...

Wow!! Betty Jean is gorgeous! I've been looking forward to seeing this finished. The colours are beautiful, and I admire your bravery with the steeks. Happy wearing! Lynne :)

Debi said...

wow, wow, wow! AMAZING jumper. I just love it!

Penny said...

Oh that is gorgeous, especially the teal button band and cuffs. I love the colours.

Anonymous said...

Stunning!

Go with the tweed skirt...

Annie said...

I really love your colour choices :D
I've not seen a better Betty Jean, well done you!

christinelaennec said...

That is one stunning cardigan, and you aren't looking so bad yourself! It's a work of genius. And I really don't think you look like a Sunday School teacher (unless that's a Bible you're reading). Well done you!

didyoumakethat said...

Oh my god, that is stunning! Am in awe if your knitting skills.

Eleanna said...

It's fantastic, and it looks so well on you!

Sarah said...

Love it!! It's amazing, and so are you! Cannot believe how talented you are.

cindy said...

Great color choices!!! You look marvelous in this sweater. The first pic is so very professional looking.

Sew Quine said...

wow that's one fantastic cardigan! If I'd made that I would wear it every single day it's beautiful!

Alessa said...

The colourwork is so pretty and I love the teal accents! It looks like it was a lot of work, but well worth it. :)

CamberwellGal said...

That is such a stunning cardi! The complementary colours of the blue/teal and red embers/orangey pumpkin really sing together and set of that the 'trout' - which really is the fantastically complex brown trout colour. I'm in awe....

Having only just started to knit myself (all dropped, doubled and twisted stitches), seeing the pictures of your scissors slicing through the 'steeks' in your post last week was worthy of a Halloween horror film. So the finished fair-isle patterns seem like complementary form of magic.

Lizzi said...

That's lovely Roo. Well-knitted and fab colours - great fit too.

Photographer is to be commended too - great pics.

And a new 'do? very nice.

Andrea said...

Oh. My. God. It's so gorgeous I'm practically speechless. You should be very proud. It is absolutely stunning!

Scruffybadger said...

Roo, I like all the commenters before are in awe at its perfectivity. How clever are you!? It's immaculate and it's heartening to hear that all knitters keep learning and setting themselves challenges. And just think what new inspiration and strange terms you've passed on to knit noobs like me ( steeking!) there's a gorgeous vintage vibe and I can't wait to see what else you team it with. I'd say a few new sewn pieces are in order to celebrate such a key investment!

Myrna said...

And gorgeous.

mooncalf said...

Oh wow it is PERFECT! What an amazing job you did - worth every second of hard work!

Funnily enough it seems like it all come together so quickly at the end. I can't believe you're wearing it and it is all finished.

Ace work!

Kristine said...

I love it too! how about a soft courderoy pant in a rich brown color?

RooKnits said...

stunning. I love it,

faeriecollege said...

It's beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL. It fits you perfectly and the colours are fabulous. Good job, you!

sarahel said...

Totally fabulous, the colours, the fit, everything about it. The steeking post had me both mesmerised and not wanting to look. Now SO clearly worth all the months of effort.

Minnado said...

Wow...it is so good, and really suits you too. I am in awe of your knitting skills!

Roobeedoo said...

I am stunned by this response! Thank you all so much for your comments! :)

feresaknit said...

Well I think every flattering word has been used so I'll just say I love you Betty Jean! :D

Colleen said...

You look beautiful! Like you just walked out of 1949! (Except groovier looking)!