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PROGRESS - my crochet project log

White Waves Cardigan

June 2005crochetacrylic< $10mediumonce or twice

After struggling to figure out shaping and sizing on my own with the brown jacket, working on this project was wonderful! extra relaxing and soothing.... The pattern told me what to do down to the last stitch, and I just did it. And I could see what I was doing! (yes homespun, that is a rather pointed barb in your direction!) Before I knew it -- less than 10 sessions over the course of a couple of weeks-- it was done. I started bits and pieces of it as an portable project for when the brown cardigan was stalled or too bulky to bring along, and then completed the sleeves, assembly & edging after the brown was done.

The pattern in question was "waves of blue" from Crochet Cotton Separates by Joyce Nordstrom, American School of Needlework, 2000 (see @Elann or @leisurecrafts) which I bought for 50 cents at last year's friends of the library used book sale. Actually, the "2000" thing boggles my mind, because on a quick glance at the half dozen projects, and my guess was early-90's-still-clinging-desperately-to-the-remnants-of-the-80s. The only give away is that there are no shoulder pads.

The yarn called for is something called speed cro-sheen which I've never seen, but imagine is something like size 3 crochet cotton, but shinier and thicker. At any rate, by dropping from the recommended G to an F hook, I managed to match the gauge pretty well with Caron simply soft. Which I really wanted to use as an excuse to frog the white vest. So the edging, top fronts and top back on the vest became the back of this sweater (I have a plan for the rest, so left that part un-frogged). And I bought 3 more skeins on top of that, of which I ended up using 2 plus a tiny bit of the last one. My kitchen scales tells me the whole thing weighs around 19 ounces.

I didn't really care for the poofiness of the bottom back or the extra low V-opening of the original, but I *loved* the way the shaping was combined with the pattern stitch, and since simply soft is so cheap and I was so drained from working on the brown sweater, I decided to just go ahead and get started without too much forethought, and just do the pattern largely unaltered, hoping that later on I could do a new version more to my taste based on what I'd learned the first go around.

Of course, this is me we're talking about, so I did do a few itsy deviations from the pattern as written. I dropped a few hook sizes around the waist on each part to get it to narrow some, and brought out the desired hourglass shape even more obviously by dropping a DC from each side of each 'wave' segment from just below the waist to around the shoulder blades. I also made the two front pieces a tad over-long so that the back of the neck (formed by the top of the back piece) would dip down a bit rather than forming the slightly raised collar visible on the original. I also left out the very last row of trim, since I thought the scalloped edges were more than enough without a whole bunch of 3-CH loops to add to the froo-froo. Oh, and I made the edging band 1 row of DCs thicker than the pattern called for. But you know, other than that....

I was actually surprised by how happy I am with how this turned out. It's a tad over-large on me, and the extra small hook is not doing simply soft any favors (little on the stiff side there, poor thing) but it's an acrylic cardigan, and it's not hideous or terribly uncomfortable. Definite surprise there. Who knows, few passes through laundry, it might actually soften up a bit. Drape is probably a bit too much to ask.

For my next pass, I think I'm going to try Simply Soft again in a different color and with a larger hook. I'm going to have to futze with the stitch pattern to get that to come out narrower than this version, but I have some ideas about how to do that. I also want it a good 4 inches shorter, with the opening V moved up a corresponding amount. And long or 3/4 sleeves, I think. I'm considering trying to convert the pattern to set in sleeves so that it can be very trim and cute, but I'm not quite sure if I'm up to that challenge. I'll probably try and then if it's too much of a headache go back to the dropped sleeves. I get the feeling that's gonna be tricky, because the sleeves have to be worked from the bottom up, which might give me fits trying to getting it to increase just right to end up the right size/shape to fit the arm scythe.

UPDATE: A little while after I wrote the above, I put the sweater through a standard washer/dryer cycle, with my usual one dryer sheet in the dryer, and wow, what a difference! I don't think the surface is noticably softer than it was, but the garment as a whole actually *does* have drape now. Good bye stiffness! I'm pleasantly surprised. And it occurs to me, not only have I not sent any of the things I've crocheted during this little renaissance period of mine through the wash, I don't think I've *ever* sent *anything* acrylic through the wash. At home, my mom always did line-drying, and never used liquid fabric softener, and I don't think I took anything she made with me to college or beyond, where I discovered the wonders of non desert-sun-powered drying (no more "seche et archi-seche!"). So now I'm considering "rescuing" a few old sweaters from the house next time I visit to see if a little trip through the whirlywindmachine might salvage them... and I'm also wondering what in the world is going to happen to the red heart symphony or the lion brand homespun garments when I get around to collecting the quarters and dragging myself down to the laundry room to wizz them through?

UPDATE: I took what I learned here and made a version I'm much happier with: this way to the dark country blue version.