April 20, 2010

Ballerina Sweater Take Two: Complete!

About three months ago, I began making a ballet wrap sweater for my 3 year old daughter.  I have made many sweaters, some from patterns, and a few from my own imagination, and thought  would be a fun, simple project.  After all, I had been hording this beautiful Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino wool for almost a year.

The nightmare of this project began as soon as I pulled the label off the yarn and began winding it into balls.  There were several, more than acceptable, places in which the yarn was unraveling, noily, or knotted.  Each of the four skeins of yarn had issues, however, I chose to just cut out the bad parts, and go with it.  I had just finished a challenging blanket using the same yarn, and had no problems with any of those five skeins.  

After creating a 4 inch gauge swatch, measuring a few favorite sweaters, and a very cooperative daughter, I had all the materials, and measurements needed to design.  The inspiration to design, as opposed to follow a pattern, came from a new book Design It, Knit It:  Secrets from the Designer's Studio by Debbie Bliss that I had just purchased.  Confident in my calculations, I put the needles to the yarn, and a month later, had all the pieces ready for assembly.  Upon completing the shoulder seams, it was possible something was wrong.  The two front panels just did not lay correct.  Once the sleeves were attached, there was no denying something was terribly wrong with the design.  The shoulders did not lay correctly, the neck seemed too narrow.  My daughter tried it on, and there was no way to make it work, much to both of our disappointment.   For days I poured over my measurements and calculations, but was unable to determine the error. So with much lamentation, I pulled it all out, and once again returned the yarn to balls. 

This time, with the help of a pattern from Adorable Knits for Tots by Zoë Mellor, I set needles to the yarn again, although with much less enthusiasm.  I found the entire process to be tedious, I was annoyed with all the breaks in the yarn, but six weeks later all the pieces were completed.  To be honest, it wasn't my best work, but it was complete, and considering the condition of the materials, I was pleased.  


Trying out a blocking technique I discovered on Chic Knits made assembly much easier.  All the pieces of the sweater were rolled up into a damp towel and allowed to dry over night.





An odd process, really.  It is unbelievable that there is an entire toddler sized sweater wrapped up in that thing. 

The front edges were put into place, and it was really beginning to look like a sweater, when much to my dismay I realized I did not have enough yarn to complete the assembly!  The pattern called for four skeins of this specific yarn, and that is what I had, well minus what was bad and had to be removed.  Just about in tears, I called my friend, who was also making the baby blanket I had just finished, and begged for just a few yards of yarn.  Luckily she likes me enough to share.  The assembly was complete!


A few finishing touches of satin ribbon, et voilà, something beautiful is born.


Fortunately she has irresistible, big, brown eyes that smile when she is happy making it worth every stitch.

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