Sunday’s happier news

I have finally finished knitting, seaming, zippering and weaving in the ends of, the twice-frogged mansweater. I am in a malaise so am not taking my uncharacteristically critical observations of this completed garment too seriously; I will review the situation in a week or so, since the Man is wanting to wear this today rather than allow me to obsessively re-block it. This is probably a good sign. I mean him wanting to wear it. Here he is in said sweater, mucking around in the autumn leaves.

I love love LOVED knitting with this wool. It is incredibly soft and warm, puffs up with a beautiful bloom when blocked, and is extremely forgiving when seamed and sewn in a perhaps less-than-perfect fashion. Its rich colour – which is the natural colour of the sheep that it came from – is pleasingly rich and bearlike, and I think it will wear in very nicely. It is 100% shetland wool purchased from Blacker Designs, and I used about 11 balls of it to knit the mansweater.

My favourite thing about it is the nice way that it sits around Mark’s back and hips. I like that it follows his actual shape and is not made in the normal man-is-rectangle mode of masculine knitwear. I am also proud of the neatness of my stitching around the shoulder-seams, and the clever way that I have concealed the zipper between two layers of knitting so that the scratchy, nylonic nightmare that is the zipper-fabric is not scratching against Mark’s neck.

My least favourite thing has been installing said zipper (really, wool and zippers never should meet in my opinion) and trying to work from an existing garment, rather than knitting from scratch a design more suited to the specific personality of this wool. The template for this sweater was made in a cotton/acrylic blend. It was heavy and massive and had been machine knit in flat pieces and then seamed together on industrial sewing machines. It was, in retrospect, foolhardy of me to think that its shape and construction could be easily translated to the makings of a handknit garment, and reorganised to accommodate an in-the-round construction, and a 100% wool composition. This is a valuable lesson, and I have now got the perfect gauge-swatch, should I ever decide I want to revisit this idea and construct something for the man again, starting this time with the wool…in fairness, if I hadn’t ripped out the whole body once and redone the shoulder section twice, this wouldn’t have been such an immense knit! I would like very much to sit down and write the story of this sweater soon, so that I immortalise all the knowledge I have gathered in the creating of this jumper.

The neckband and placket have been done twice; the first time involved steeking the placket and continuing the fabric of the body up much further than in this final design. It wouldn’t close around Mark’s neck and looked extremely foolish. In spite of Mark’s loyal defense of my efforts he eventually conceded that it was almost unwearable. So I ripped back the design, effected fewer raglan decreases in the round before switching to flat knitting for the top shoulder section, and grafted the shoulders together at the top to create a stretchy join, allowing for his manly shoulders to fill out the design without strain.

I then picked up around the top and knit a double-layered collar with a ribbed outer layer, and a stocking stitch inner layer. Then began the evil zippering of the garment. I found the entire process of putting the zipper into the garment to be a nightmare from start to finish and in spite of undoing and redoing things several times it still doesn’t lie flat, because wool and zipper are the material enemies of one another. In fact I find it hard to imagine any two such materials with less affinity for one another than the unyielding plasticky ick of zipper, vs the forgiving, stretchy loveliness that is wool.

Bah to zipper, Mmm to wool. I am confident that blocking it will help… Mark seems less bothered about it than I, which is encouraging. And he is not eager to relinquish his toasty sweater so soon after getting it, for a second round of blocking!

In spite of my gripings, the sweater does look good on the man as he is going about his Sunday, and I am assured that it is warm and comfortable. I am very happy to have made a jumper for my beloved bear and I have realised that when you make something for someone you really love, it just can’t be perfect enough. The knitting in the round of the body and sleeves was joyous and pleasant, with wafts of delicate sheep-smell rising periodically from the growing tubes on my needles, and the warmth in my lap shall be missed now that the Winter is commencing in earnest. Luckily I have another enormous, 100% wool garment to be getting on with.

Happy belated birthday, Mark, I hope you are warm all Winter. XxX

5 Responses to Sunday’s happier news

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » Dyeing with Black Walnuts

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