From A-symmetric to Z-ipper
Funny, when I receive a new Vogue Knitting magazine, I tend to have two emotions. The first is, of course, excitement as anyone who follows my knitting knows that I believe VK stands well above any other publication for outstanding knitting fashion, photography, and inspiration. The other emotion I notice is fear. I hear myself saying, “Oh, No!! How many of these projects am I going to fall in love with?” With an already extended stash and plans for far too many projects in the future, it is frustrating feasting my eyes on more. The projects in this particular issue, Vogue Knitting, Collector’s Issue Holiday 2011 were posted with an alphabetical theme.
I remember thumbing through and accepting the beauty of each page and having a general acceptance that I wouldn’t have time to make any one of them UNTIL I came to Z. Yes, Z stands for zipper and I have some quirky fascination with the juxtaposition of soft and hard, in this case beautiful soft merino with the hard metal teeth of a zipper. And, anyone following my knitting also knows this is my second multi-zipper project! Having such a success with the first both online and in reality, I was easily smitten with the idea of a second. The distinct differences between the two zipper sweaters are that in the first, the zippers act mostly as function allowing its owner to actually zip off sections of the sweater to change its appearance and functionality as opposed to this zipper sweater where the zippers clearly act as fashion statements. Whether function or fashion, when the metal hits the wool, I am a fan!
Here is zip project number one where the zippers are ‘function fashion’!
In consideration of this second zip project, I was able to consider what worked and what did not work well with the above. I notice that when I wear Urban Zip, I do tend to prefer it without the bottom sections as it tends to pull and be heavy. Knitted in a tubular bulky with 6 metal zippers, you can imagine.
So, I really liked the fact that the second is knitted in a worsted weight. On the other hand, I was unsure of the weight of the zippers due to the lighter weight of the fabric. Would the #5 gauge zipper be too heavy? Would a lighter gauge give the same aesthetic pleasure? And, then there was the color choice of both the yarn and the zippers. Did I want the same exact zippers for both projects? And, then what color for the sweater?
The color for the body came fairly easily upon spotting “Storm” by Manos del Uruguay/Fairmount Fibers Rittenhouse Merino 5-ply wool found at Wool and Flax a lovely online yarn shop.
I could so easily see the grey tones with the silver of the metal and black of the tape. Zipper weight was established after working up large swatches of fabric. Even though the yarn was of a lighter weight, whenever you work up any variation of seed stitch, it creates a very nicely bodied fabric, in this case, able to meet the weight requirements of the #5 metal zippers I wanted. The zippers were ordered, custom lengths from ZipperSource.com, one separating and the others closed-bottomed.
Deborah Newton is a master knitter / designer who designs with details of perfection into her patterns, so much so that the pattern suggests referencing her book Finishing School, a Master Class for Knitters for explicit directions on how to install zippers into hand knits.
Of course, I purchased the book and became familiar with the technique she prescribes. In short, she recommends knitting an edge where the zipper is going to be installed and then hand sewing the zipper in using a straight up and down needle stitch. Admitting to years of seamstress-ing, her technique is truly brilliant and I swear, worked like a charm in applying each of these zippers. Believe it or not, there were no rip outs or re-dos! The other key is that each piece of knitted fabric be the exact length and width it is supposed to be and that is, of course, accomplished by achieving the gauge stitch wise and row wise. If you look closely, you can see that the front zipper that goes diagonal is sewn on one side along the knitted edge but the other edge is sewn appliqué-style over the fabric. That is why you see more of the black tape on one side over the other. Now, the advantage of that is there is leeway for fit due to that zipper appliqué as it can be placed anywhere over the fabric. We knitters know the frustration when we spend hours and hours on a project and the fit isn’t what we wanted.
Another fabulous detail that must be noticed is the ribbed sides.
Again, how thoughtful of this designer to put in MORE details that lend to a perfect fit.
And finally, yes, the cuffs are knitted back and forth in garter stitch and can be wrapped around your wrist as you knit them. One then casts off and picks up stitches from the long edge of that cuff and continues upward to knit the sleeve length. The garter cuff is most durable.
The pocket does require some sewing. I used a silky type lining and a sewing machine to hem the edges, then I hand sewed the pocket along the zipper edges. It looks much more sophisticated and complicated than it really is. Truly.
Overall, this project did call on my tailoring skills of yesteryear as well as provided a relaxing knit during a most busy summer.
I am eying zip project number three!