Heavy Brown Jacket
This was made with 5 skeins of Lion Brand Homespun in barley (size K hook), with trim in Red Heart symphony in persimmon. It ended up being rather more flamboyant than I'd originally intended or usually wear, but I'd put myself in the "moderately if not absolutely pleased with how it turned out" category, if only because it's so soft and so warm and I love the subtle variations in color in the homespun (the view from the back shown above shows the subtle striping particularly well). That said, I think it's going to be a long time before I do anything with homespun again, I really like to be able to see what I'm doing, especially when, as in this case, I don't actually *know* what I'm doing. Though it seemed like I was working on this project forever, my notes show that I bought the yarn on 5/09/2005 and it was finished 6/3/2005, so huh, less than a month. I guess deciding to unravel back to nearly the beginning after finishing the first time will do funny things to your time-perception!
I was first inspired when I saw a post by Suz_Anne over at crafster. Having now struggled with my own version, I have even more respect and admiration for her work modifying the original Antique Bed Jacket pattern. Right along about the time I was considering giving her modifications a try, I ran across Laurie B (aka mrs who)'s fluffy pink schrug schematics. I liked the idea of starting at the arms and working the body afterwards, as I figured it would be the body that would the trickiest to fit, and starting with the back and then the arms and then doing the front like the original Bed Jacket pattern did would mean if I realized I needed to make a change on the back to make it work with the front, I'd have to frog the arms too. No thanks. I really liked the Y-shaped split front Suz_Anne had illustrated, but I figured if I was going to do the arms first, no reason not to combine the front and back so there'd be no seams to deal with. So I ended up combining Suz_anne's and Laurie's approaches; instead of doing a giant circle around the opening in the sleeve/shoulder piece, I did a semi-circle, turning around and going back the other way when I got the center edge of either front piece. I also adopted Suz_Anne's modification to the sleeve/shoulder piece with the center increases that result in a bobble in the part that will eventually form the back of the collar.
So I started working a piece about 52 inches long, and when I got 6 inches in, I marked the center with a piece of yarn (so that I had a chance of actually noticing where my center was on subsequent rows) and did a v-stitch there. The next row, I did a V stitch to the left and to the right of the original V stitch. And so on until it was 12-13 inches wide and seemed like it would fit around my shoulders without being too constricting. I sewed up the arms with thread and was ready to begin working the semi-circle around the body opening.
For my first attempt, I left way too big a gap in my semi-circle, starting just a few inches inwards of the armpits, resulting in not nearly enough chest coverage, so that when I added rows around the border at the end to form the collar, I had to make it much longer than I wanted to give the collar enough real-estate. I attempted to rectify that the next time around by starting 6-8 inches in from the armpit (I'm 5'4", 34" bust) which on paper seems like it should be enough, but the next time I try this, I will most definitely increase that even more in the hopes that I can get a more close, v-shaped collar opening rather than the more circular opening I ended up with here.
I also found that if I didn't start decreasing right away, because of the funky shrug-shape, the two parts (the point labelled "A" on the diagram below) met very high on my chest, which didn't seem like it would give me that nice medium cross over Suz_Anne's has. So made sure to decrease at the end of each row I added, until the combination of the increasing length and my decreasing girth made the points met somewhere between my waist and bust line (approx 3 inches). Then I worked straight until I got to the waist (approx 4.5 more inches) and then I did a row where I did a couple of decreases in the back to try to accommodate my inward curve (maybe more next time? okay for thick fabric, but if I was working something thin, I think it'd need to go in more), but at the same time started increasing on the edges to get some material to overlap with. Did that for another 4.5 inches and then around my hip line, I did one row with increases every fourth stitch on the back only, and also began decreasing rapidly at either front edge for another 2.5 inches to give the bottom part of the fronts a rounded curve.
Then I just started going around and around the opening adding the border, increasing when necessary to try to get the band to lay flat around curves. First I did a row of SCs, then a row of HDCs with the persimmon symphony held together with the homespun, then a row of [HDC, CH, skip one stitch], another row of HDCs and then back to my main pattern stitch, which was [DC,SC] (I'm not sure if that pattern has a name?). I made the border/collar 3 inches wide. This was the point where I started wishing I'd started the edges in a bit more, because I ran into the same problem I had with the first time around, namely, I wanted to add more rows to give the collar more width, but each row was also making the whole thing longer at the bottom, and I was starting not to be happy with the height/width proportions. Plus, almost out of yarn. So I stopped going all the way around, tried to find a natural spot for the collar to widen out (near the bottom of the non-increase segment) and then just went back and forth, decreasing on either end to give it a more rounded, natural look.
I trimmed the collar with the persimmon symphony, using a size G hook that felt tiny after working with the K for so long. I did HDCs first, then added a row of [3 HDCs in one stitch, skip a stitch, SC, skip a stitch]. I made 3 chains of the same stuff, braided it, knotted the end into a loop and sewed that into the front flap to create the botton loop (twice). There's also a hidden button that holds the corners of the collar together. The brown buttons are cheapies from wal-mart, but they were actually exactly what I had in mind when I headed there to get them last night. They even have orange in the cracks, perfect match!
I was a little unhappy with how wide the sleeves were. They couldn't stay straight just as they were, and I didn't think it would look at all right with the rest of the sweater to cinch them with a narrow cuff, so I had no choice but to bell them. I'm not crazy about long belled sleeves (bad incident in the college cafeteria reaching under the sneeze guard and ending up with a sleeve full of mustard. ::shudder::) but I think they work with the rest. I just did some v-stitches and rows of HDCs with chain-space-skips to replicate the border, and trimmed with persimmon symphony.
I really had a tough time wrapping my head around the shapes that would be necessary to replicate the way Suz_Anne's jacket fit. I'm not entirely convinced I've got it, though I think I'm in the same neighborhood. Not as classy, though, which I suppose is a given considering the yarn. "Willow and/or Tara" was my husband's verdict. The part that really gave me fits was the part where I had to imagine what the shape of the base would need to be so that the border, when folded just so, would form the required collar shape. Yikes. In particular I need to experiment more with where to start the semi-circle and when to increase/decrease along the front edges. I probably should have worked it up in fabric first, but I'd already spent rather a lot more than I usually do on yarn, I didn't feel like wasting material on top of that. So instead I just spent a couple of weeks studying the notes I had and trying to draw things on paper. I think the fact that I couldn't really see what I was doing in the homespun was also a hindrance. I'm pretty sure it's a little lopsided and there are spots where I didn't time my increases right to get the eding band to lay perfectly flat; considering I found it very difficult to count stitches, I'm happy that it's not more off kilter. I definitely want to try this again in some lighter, non-nubby yarn, both to try and improve the method and so that I can actually wear it this summer! It would also be nice if I could figure out a way to make it look decent worn open as well as closed, but I'm not sure this style lends itself to that.