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PROGRESS - my crochet project log

Hooded Bone Car Coat

Nov 2005crochetacrylicinexpensivemediumyes

This one's a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, there's a lot overall that I'm pleased with, mostly the general look and feel, and it's really comfy. On the other hand, there are some faults that are rather glaring to me, maybe (hopefully!) not as glaring to others, that I could have fixed had I just noticed them sooner. Still not bad for just about a year of serious crochet under my belt, no pattern and no physical model, though it was loosly based on this Anthropologie sweater. Mine cost just a smidge less than that one. At, oh, I guess around $13-ish worth of materials (the main color being Simply Soft in "Bone" with supporting roles for "Seashell" and "Toasted Almond", plus wood buttons.) Took me just about a month, partly because it's rather larger than my average creation, but considering how fast I get going now, I suspect the major culprit was distraction. Object of distraction will hopefully be showing up here in another couple of weeks. (Update! it's done)

Anyway, first the good. I figured out how to put the band all around the outer edges without having to create it separately and then sew it on.

The ribbing is your basic sc in back loop (6 scs per row for the bands, 12 sc for the cuffs). But I did it sideways. So I would pick a spot, anchor in, chain 6, ch1/turn and go back towards the edge doing scs. When I got there, slipstitch in the edge, and then up in the next stitch of the edge, and then turn around and start single crocheting in the backloops of the band again. So basically working it just like I was making a long skinny piece, but anchoring it over on to the main fabric whenever I was on that side. It was easy, and I think it looks pretty decent. Not as nice as knit ribbing, but decent.

Of course, that ribbing method also was what got me in trouble with the front lengths. One side is decidedly longer than the other, and it's not because of any difference in the main fabric, where I diligently counted my rows. It's because when I was anchoring the band in, I must have gone a little too closely on one side and ended up with too many ribs in too little space. Normally I would just shift the whole thing up so that the bottom was even when placing the buttons, since it's less noticeable if the top edges are offset, but because of stripes that was impossible without having the stripes mismatched when the sweater's closed, so I guess I'll just have to live with it. And be more careful next time! At least it's not particularly noticeable when I wear this without buttoning it closed, and fortunately, I like to wear it that way.

The other issue I had is with some lumps along the side seams (see picture to left of body sewn together). It took me a while to figure out a good way to decrease/increase with the stitch I used (Paris/Forget Me Not stitch, same as my first scarf set; 2dc,2ch,sc groups). It's tricky, because when you lose an entire stitch cluster, it's a really abrupt change. I noticed that right away, of course, but I thought when I seamed it up, it'd be buried and not very noticable, but when I actually got to the seaming point... ah well. At least I did figure out a reasonably smooth way to transition by the time I got to the hood.

The diagram to the right is my attempt to note what I ended up doing.

When you decrease at the beginning of a row, you chain 1 and turn (instead of the usual chain 3 and turn), sc in the first chain 2 space (instead of doing the normal cluster) and then start the row as you normally would with a 3ch,dc,2ch,ch in the next chain 2 space. For added smoothness, on the following row I throw in an extra sc in the extra sc from the row before, and then proceed as normal.

When you decrease at the end of a row, you work as usual up the the second-to-last cluster, and then simply do a single sc in the final chain 2 space. Then you chain 3, dc, ch3, sc in the new last full cluster from the previous row and go on your merry way. Again, to ease the transition, when I get back to that side from the other end, I throw in an extra sc somewhere in the chain 3.

The general working method was: I created one front piece, working from bottom to top, decreasing at the waist, then increasing a little while before the arm hole shaping, then a big decrease at the arm hole and straight up for a while, finished off with a decrease over on the other side to form the neck. Then I did a matching/mirror piece for the other front piece. Then I did a double-wide version (all in one color) for the back. Connected everything up and started crocheting around the neckhole to create the hood. Once I'd gotten to what seemed like a reasonable point, I stopped going all the way back and forth, and just started zipping back and forth on one half, decreasing at the center edge to make a rounded shape for the back of the hood. Then I broke off and retied in to do the same thing on the other half. Finally, I seamed the hood closed along the top. Then I made the band along the front and hood edges, followed by the band around the bottom. The last step was to make the sleeves, for which I used my now standard method of working from the bottom in a round, and then splitting at the arm pit, working straight for a while before quickly decreasing to create a cap for the sleeve.

For the colored stripes, I worked 5 rows in the bone color, 1 row of toasted almond, 2 rows of seashell, another row of toasted almond and then repeated the pattern. Except for the first section of bone which only has 4 rows. To produce my size (I'm 34/25/35, the coat is about 37 around at its widest) for the front halves I did:

R 1-12: 10 paris stitch clusters (psc)
R 13-27: 9 psc (decrease 1 psc on outer edge on R13, then maintain)
R 28-35: 10 psc (increase 1 psc on outer edge on R28, then maintain)
R 36-39: 8 psc (decrease 2 psc on armhole side by sc-ing over on R36, then maintain)
R 40-44: 7 psc (decrease 1 psc on armhole side on R40, then maintain)
R 45-46: 5 psc (decrease 2 psc on neckhole side by sc-ing over on R45, then maintain)
R 47-53: 4 psc (decrease 1 psc on neckhole side on R47, then maintain)

For the back, I just doubled the stitch counts and did armhole/neck/waist shaping on both sides as appropriate:

R 1-12: 20 paris stitch clusters (psc)
R 13-27: 18 psc (decrease 1 psc on each side on R13, then maintain)
R 28-35: 20 psc (increase 1 psc on each side on R28, then maintain)
R 36-39: 16 psc (decrease 2 psc on each side by sc-ing over on R35, then maintain)
R 40-44: 7 psc (decrease 1 psc on each side on R40, then maintain)
(starting at R44, do shaping for one half, then tie off and go back and do same shaping on other half) R 45-46: 5 psc (decrease 2 psc on neckhole side by sc-ing over on R45, then maintain)
R 47-53: 4 psc (decrease 1 psc on neckhole side on R47, then maintain)

And then of course, working the hood up from the neckhole to create the shape shown to the right, which is then sewn along the top to make the funky pieces into a more hood-like appendage.

For the sleeves, I worked 32 rows of 12-sc wide sc ribbing, connected and then started working paris stitch clusters into one edge of the tube. Note that in order for the paris stitch to work when done in the round, you have to turn around and go back the other way after joining the last stitch of each row. General procedure was:

R 1-20: 11 paris stitch clusters (psc) -- about 9 inches
R 21-27: 12 psc (increase by 1 on R 21, then maintain) -- about 3.5 inches
R 28-31: 13 psc (increase by 1 on R 28, then maintain) -- about 2.5 inches
R 32: Do 13 psc, but stop working in a circle. When you get to the end, don't connect, just turn around and go back the other way. R 33-36: 13 psc (keep working back and forth, not connecting) R 37-47: drop one psc on each side every other row 5 times (so 11,11,9,9,7,7,5,5,3,3)

Once again, I was amazed by how much more drape the simply soft acquired after a whirl through the washing machine. I was worried that the sleeves were going to be too stiff, but they're just about perfect.

So, moral to the story? I think I'm now pretty comfortable just making up cardigans from scratch, as long as they don't stray too far from the basics. But I gotta watch the cocky and pay attention to the details, because that's where I'm losing it! At anyrate, coworkers seem to be favorably impressed, it's cozy, the colors work well with a lot of things floating around my closet, and I saw the basic style all over the mall last time I went shopping, so I consider this by and large a success.