Saturday, February 09, 2008

Some Assembly Required

Ta, daaaa!!!!
Look at this handsome, proud man. This is my husband wearing his Dale of Norway sweater that I FINALLY finished. Was the finishing painful? Not really. Was it intimidating? Definitely.

Back in 2006 I gave my husband what I thought was a wonderful Christmas present. I gave him a Dale of Norway pattern and invited him to my favorite LYS to select yarn. Well, he didn't like the pattern I selected ("too flowery" ?????). It took several trips to more than one LYS to select the above pattern and yarn. This was a painful process. He finally selected the winning "daring" color combination: navy blue, dark red and grey. Aren't 98% of men's sweaters done in navy blue, dark red and grey?? But I digress.

I shouldn't berate my husband, however, for the long and painful time it took for him to select a pattern and yarn-- it took me nearly two years to knit the sweater!! We who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!!

I finished the actual knitting of the sweater just after Christmas. But, somehow, the steek and other assembly intimidated me. I previously suffered traumatic experiences with two other steeks in intricate color work. I used baby ull and the shoulders and upper torsos unravelled as I sewed in the sleeves, despite the fact that I thought I had securely prepared the steeked area. PTSS--Post-traumatic-steek-syndrome--haunted this sweater.

This past week I finally faced my "issues" and tackled the beast.
Here is the torso awaiting dissection. I liked the little faux cables running down the front.
Here is the obligatory photo of the innards. I thought I had done quite well, thank you very much. I hated the thought to cutting into those perfect little stitches, on which I had worked so very, very hard!

In my unwillingness to do the steek, I completely forgot to photograph the entire process. I thought I had, but my camera bears no photos of early steps. Oh well.

Step 1: measure and remeasure and measure again the width of the upper sleeve.

Step 2: locate, relocate and locate again the side stitches of the torso. You don't want a sleeve hole in the middle of the chest! AT least, I didn't.....

Step 3: insert sweater into sewing machine. Realize that sewing down the middle of a navy blue stitch next to other navy blue stitches would cause blindness. Remove sweater from sewing machine.

Step 4: Take some contrasting color sock yarn and sew down the middle of the stitches to be cut. Re-insert sweater into sewing machine. Sew up (or down) the middle of the stitch on either side of the marked line of stitches. Remember previous traumas and sweat profusely. Sew up (or down) the middle of the next line of stitches as well.

Step 5: Remove sweater from machine and pace to release tension.

Here's the cut edge. Not bad.. Very clean--no blood and no unravelled stitches!!
Step 6: Sew up the shoulder seams using the modified whip stitch shown in the pattern book. Dale typically leaves a bit up to your imagination in its instructions. The photo showing the seaming of the shoulders and arms was blurry!!! I didn't know if my shoulder seam was as it "should" be, but it looked good enough.
Step 7: Figure out how to sew the sleeves in. I had two sleeves with five rows of reverse stockinette at the top, which was to form a facing to cover the cut edges of the torso.
OK, right sides together. Ok........ Use lots of pins. I wanted the resulting product to have a neat seam along one line of stitches, following that line from the arm pit, up the arm, over the shoulder, down the arm and back to the pit. But, following navy blue stitches lined up with navy blue stitches resulted in stars before my eyes.
Step 8: Remove the pins and sew a contrasting sock yarn up the middle of the stitch I would be following for the seam. Much better. Blindness averted.

Step 9: Replace the pins, admire the neat rows of tiny machine stitches, and place right sides together. No, that didn't seem to work.
Step 10: Pin sleeve into steeked hole WRONG sides together. And begin to kitchener (is that a verb?) the pieces together.

I hope you can see that I inserted the needle through the body of the sweater just above the contrast thread. That way, I didn't have to pick out the contrast "thread"!!! Nifty, huh?

Here's a shot of the sleeve (on the bottom) going into the armhole, and the five rows of reverse stockinette efficiently being "sucked up" under the torso edge. I used the row of stitching just under the reverse stockinette on the sleeve as the "base" of my kitchener stitches.

Step 11: Admire one's handiwork. Do a little finished steek dance! Ignore stares of family members.
Step 12: sew up the hem of the sweater. See those two itty-bitty yarn over holes in the center of the hem? Those are for the elastic cord that gets inserted to snug up the bottom of the sweater to keep out those cold Norwegian (and Wisconsin) gusts of bitter cold wind and to make the wearer look dashing. A loose sweater bottom is simply unattractive!

But wait, isn't the black cord hanging out of the sweater also unattractive??

Step 13: Research mission. Go to LYS and inspect Dale sweaters hanging on display from the wall. Look at what they do! How clever!
They single crochet a couple of inches of yarn and sew it into the side "seam" (or lack thereof on a circularly knit hand made sweater) and the elastic cord passes through the little loop. Now, why didn't I think of that??

Step 14: Are we ever going to finish this thing??? Pick up stitches for around the neck. Ask husband whether he wants stripes on the neckband, as shown in the photo in the pattern book. Ask husband whether he wants the neck band as high as shown in the photo in the pattern book. Hubby says no stripes. Therefore, knit stripes to be on the INSIDE of the neck band, just for cuteness sake. I was very tired of working only in navy blue at this point. Show hubby the progress. Hubby now asks if the stripes can be on the OUTSIDE. Respond, "No!! It's too late. I'm done with this project!!!

Step 15: Put away the leftover yarn, the pattern book with notes about what I changed in the pattern. Skip the finished sweater dance. Go directly to step 16.

Step 16: Narrow choices for new project for myself!!!! Order yarn!!! Begin swatch!!! Yippee!! Do new sweater project dance!


Debbie said...

I am so impressed and also grateful that you left such detailed notes. I know I'll be referring back to your blog when it comes time for me to steek my first sweater.

sherriknits said...

The sweater and workmanship are just beautiful and thank you for such clear instructions on how to do it all!

A work of art!

betty said...

wow Gail! what a magnificent sweater!!! (and what an attractive model ;) ) you know what they say... "nunca es tarde si la dicha es buena" :)

Mary in Boston said...

Gorgeous! You do beautiful work and have created a sweater to be loved forever.

SJ said...

What an accomplishment! I hope your husband appreciates all your hard work (and steek anguish!) -- and I certainly hope he has a better understanding of just how much time and effort goes into these things. You should be very proud of yourself!

Lorette said...

That is just gorgeous! Thanks for the detailed explanation, too!

Vicki Knitorious said...

Beautiful job, Gail. Congratulations!!

Cindy G said...

Beautiful! Wonderful job of finishing! And I'm going to remember that contrast color sock yarn tip. The "pace to reduce tension" I had already figured out for myself *G*

YarnThrower said...

Your sweater looks beautiful! Very nicely done! It looks great on you hubby, too!

Thank you for your very kind note about my grandma!

doulicia said...

Kudos. It's a wonderful sweater. He does look proud, as would I if I'd been made such a handsome sweater and been invited to help select its particulars.

Anonymous said...

Gail I love sneaking into your blog is so you...un besazo enorme a todos desde Barcelona. Uhmmmm John esta guapisimo con tu obra de arte!!!