One of my goals as I entered into retirement was to knit from my stash. The stash I am talking about includes patterns I have loved and collected over time and/or the bundles of yarn that were purchased at a time when I thought I could knit a particular project. I suppose enthusiasm outweighs time, at least that is my case, so in my new state of retirement, I am addressing this. This project is an example of that. I don’t even know where I first saw this pattern as I do not subscribe to Interweave Knits but I have been following Teva Durham, the creative designer since being aware of her work through Vogue Knitting. The pattern is called Renaissance Tunic, as you will see, for obvious reasons. And, I am thrilled to finally be adding this to my wardrobe.
So, with the pattern from that stash and with a glorious gift certificate from a school where I retired, I headed to a local yarn shop. I purchased some brownish gold worsted called Ella Rae, Classic Superwash Heathers. How fun it was to explore Raveloe Fibers, actually a yarn shop that was new to me, that is situated in the back of a gift shop called, Kissel Country Tin both owned and managed by a Mother/daughter team.
Now, you might be wondering why the pattern does not look ‘new’ with its scribbles. And, I admit that a few years ago, I knitted this with another yarn, ran out, ripped the entire thing out, utilized it in another pattern, and set this pattern aside. So, this is attempt number two.
Renaissance is its name and now you can see its wonderful styling: a stand-up collar, key-hole neckline, extra long sleeves with bell-shape hem and button closure. The cables run from hem through the collar with increases and decreases cleverly adding to the curvaceous nature of the garment. ooo, so cozy . . .
I felt the directions were excellent through the body and through the neckline up to the shoulder, knitted in the round up to the armhole, then worked back and forth for the back and front. You just needed to have careful attention to where you were in the directions due to those increases and decreases that alternate in both the purl and cable columns.
Where I felt the directions became a bit confusing was in the sleeves. The bind off for the underarm is opposite the slit at the hem of the sleeve. With the size Small, there is no problem as the column of purl stitches are exactly opposite, so the knitter can do what the direction says. However, with the Medium and sizes up, there is a cable column directly opposite, so you have to choose an underarm spot, be aware of where you placed that underarm, and then ‘do’ the opposite for the other sleeve to have both sleeves have the hem slit at the same spot at the end. For example, for sizes Medium and up, there are 5 cables. So, the sleeve has to have 3 cables, underarm, 2 cables for one sleeve and 2 cables, underarm, 3 cables for the other sleeve. In that order. That creates a left and right sleeve to be sewn in accordingly. Also, with all sizes, the sleeves are sewn to the body with a mismatch of underarm purl column being sewn to a side seam cabled column. Now, some might not care and this mismatch does not interfere with the look of the garment. As a seamstress of many years, before knitting, and always being fastidious with matching the patterns of the fabric I was sewing, this was very odd, almost uncomfortable for me. I thought for a long time how to avoid this and I think the slit at the bottom of the sleeve impacted this design feature. And, of course I was not going to do away with the gorgeous hem work of the sleeves.
Can you see me having fun with the sleeves? And, yes, I am curling my hands in due to the cold air. The button is sewn holding the slit closed.
The last question I had about the pattern, again had to do with the sleeves, this time further up where the knitter begins the cap work. The pattern says to go from the round to working back and forth which is, of course, no problem but the round ends in a different spot than where to begin knitting back and forth. Now, I found the only way to do that was to break the yarn. I felt this should have been clarified in the directions. If you were not astute to detail, you might unknowingly go from knitting in the round to knitting to the back-and-forth spot causing an extra row on only one side of the sleeve. This impacts the cable pattern. It took a few rip outs to figure that out.
I’ve never worked a neckline using short rows which ended up working out just fine, nor working a collar with a cable pattern that continues from the body. The problem there is that the cable pattern is worked further up on the back than the front (as the front always has a lower curve for one’s neck) and yet, the knitter had to somehow get an alignment of cable back when working the collar. There, I did a little fudging . . .
I did not block this. Ever since reading Finishing School, A Master Class for Knitters by Deborah Newton, page 22 where she says as an experienced knitter, she rarely blocks anything (except for lace), I pay particular attention to whether my piece needs blocking and love when I feel it does not. And, one more tip regarding fit and size. This tip comes from me. This fabric is quite elastic, much like ribbing. It would fit had I knitted a smaller size. But body curves (good and bad) would have been accentuated. Also, I used a size 8 needle (suggested is size 7). This gave me gauge but it also made the fabric a bit looser, lending itself to a looser elastic. I like shape, don’t get me wrong, but wanted control of how much. So, by knitting the next size up and keeping the elastic fabric loose, I took control of the fabric. Looks like it worked. No pulling, no tightness, no discomfort and yet, shapely. This will get worn a lot. And, there is minimal seaming, only at the shoulders and setting in the sleeves, so the finishing goes quickly.
I went into my large button stash, in keeping with the theme, found a decorative button for the neckline and two of similar look and feel for the sleeves. I feel quite satisfied with this unique and beautiful fashion statement and the school faculty needs to get prepared for a thank-you doughnut and bagel breakfast set for the near future.