Oregon Coast Spider (Shadow) Top
It seems like forever since I've finished something, but not for lack of trying. I did a lose a bit of time to a few in between projects that have yet to go anywhere, but mainly, it's just that it took a long time to tear through 880 yards of Knit Picks' Shadow lace-weight wool with a tiny size D (3.25 mm) hook. Exactly a month, actually. I really enjoyed working with this yarn; all the fun of doing intricate thread-like things (I'd compare it to a size 5 crochet cotton) but with a soft fuzzy drape. The photos don't show it well, but it's really quite a delicious mix of colors with all sorts of subtle shades of green, blue, purple, rose and tan going into what ends up reading as a sort of a muddy khaki color once you step back a foot or two.
Of course, there was a downside to working with such tiny thread, namely that given how much time it took just to make a row or two, I was a lot less willing to frog than I usually am, which isn't so good when you're winging something. In retrospect, there are some burbles and shaping errors that I probably should have gone back to correct. But it's not bad enough that I truly regret the tradeoff that got me a finished product this month instead of next.
I've been rather fascinated by the idea of one-piece, top-down raglan sweaters, and that's where the idea for this basically came from, though obviously I took some rather major liberties. Two documents I studied before starting were: Pamela Costello's The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater instruction page and Janis Cortese's General Guidelines for a Basic Sweater. Both great resources, and ones I'm sure I'll tap again once I'm ready to do something more like a standard sweater. After I'd finished, I found one more source in a similar vein that would have been useful: Stefanie Japel's Raglan Cardigan from the Top Down.
I'm big on v-necks, so naturally, instead of saving myself oh-so-many headaches, I launched into that with a lot of enthusiasm if not a lot of major thinking-this-through-ism. I figured out how to make the front v-shape by adding a fifth point of increase pretty easily (see inset picture above). Where I messed up was in making more of a racing back over the shoulders rather than having a good width that would extend all the way over (see inset picture, right). This caused me some headaches when trying to shape the upper sleeve. I mostly managed to truck through by circling in a half moon until I'd reached the edge of the shoulder and evened up the opening, and only then switching to going all the way around. It's still a little funky though. So note to self: don't do that again! However, the stitch pattern I used on the shoulder, Vs separated by chains, looked really nice when it was just peeking over my shoulder (similar to the tea leaf top sleeves) and that I *will* probably do again.
Anyway, to back up a little, the general way I proceeded was to: (a) make the 5-sided yoke until I thought the width was right (this could also have stood to be wider, methinks. another thing to try next time). (b) work a row of fancy stitch (same as the sugar n' cream stitch pattern) along the front two sides, then a few more regular rows until it looked like it would reach down to the armpits (c) work more regular rows along the back side until it looked like it would reach down to the armpits (d) connect and start circling around. Once I'd exhausted the first skein, I went back and (e) worked the sleeves in starting with the second skein. (f) I then used the rest of the second skein to add length until I ran out, switching to the same v-chain pattern I'd used on the sleeves when I knew I was getting close to running out. I was originally going to end with more of the fancy stitch, but I'm glad I went with the open sleeve stitch, I think it ties everything together better.
Oh, I should probably mention that I had to do a little song-n-dance at the bottom edge, because the front V was resulting in a V-shaped bottom, which I did not want. So I started going back and forth, knocking off a few stitches every time until it was a little closer to even before adding the final border. That's one of the parts I'm a little iffy on, since the back really is still noticeably shorter than the front. The other issue the V-neck caused was that it made my waist-shaping very tricky. Because the V-increase center meant I was adding stitches every row, when what I really wanted was for the thing to get narrower. I tried several ways of dropping stitches here and there, none of which I'm quite happy with, as it tends to blurble a bit here and there over the stomach, though they're thankfully all smoothable and a lot less noticeable since I blocked it.