Cape as Finished Project / knitting notes

If you are a reader of Hollyknits, you know I’ve been talking about a wedding cape I recently made for a daughter of a friend.  Also, a former student of mine!  Since it is a high risk thing to knit for another,  I share tips on how to do so, here.   I talk about details of gift giving, here. This post, while on the same project is moving away from the event and focusing on the knitting of the cape, itself.

It is kind of funny how I am so opinionated about capes and shawls.  Some people interchange these words in identification.  I see such vast differences in them.  To me, a cape has coat-like qualities typically with closures, sometimes with slits for arms, sometimes as pullovers.  Shawls I see are more like a scarf, typically in a geometric shape like a triangle or rectangle and meant to be wrapped around a body.  Truthfully,  I have such a vast like of one and dislike of the other.  This is a picture that Mom, bride, and I initially saw of the cabled cape wanted for this wedding.

Designed by Michael Kors and found in Vogue Knitting, Fall 2007.  It is a pattern that is worked from the ribbing at the bottom up to the neckline decreasing along the way at key points along the raglan seams in both front and back.  All of us loved the pattern especially the cable texture and I particularly liked the double breasted closure.  I appreciate the detail of stockinette stitch around the neckline below the ribbed collar.  The ribbed collar, k1p1 is wider in back and is shaped using short rows.  The short row method I find easiest is called the short row shadow wraps.  Directions can be found, here.   The bride wanted a single row of buttons along the edge.  She knew she wanted the cape in navy blue.

The beautiful part about knitting a cape is that there are minimal measurements needed.  In fact, the pattern did not even have a schematic. When I perused the other finished projects utilizing this pattern in Ravelry, I noticed a wide assortment of yarn that was used from sport weight to aran.  This would significantly change the fabric, weight, and could change the size of the garment if you didn’t alter the stitch count.  The yarn that is used to knit the example in the image above was no longer available, however looking at the content of the yarn, considering the size garment we wanted, and the venue in which it would be worn, we decided upon this lovely DK, a blend of merino, silk, and cashmere.

I used as large a needle as I dared with a sport weight to create springy and stretchy qualities while maintaining a luxurious cabled fabric.  Being that I was fitting another, I felt the elasticity of the fabric would lend itself some leeway in fit.  Also, by being elastic, I felt the fabric might hold position better around the shoulders and be more comfortable for movement sake.

The pattern has a mistake regarding the placement of the markers.  When you become familiar with the cable pattern, you can see that the double decreases need to happen outside of the middle p2k2p2.   In other words, you need to place the markers differently than indicated in the pattern.  This is of utmost importance as all of the shaping occurs at the markers and the pattern of cables and ribs follow.

Minor alterations for a better fit was made for the bride.  Buttons were purchased by Mom, sewn on by me.  We discussed the ease of removing the pearl buttons and changing to a different button to give a more casual look for future wear.  I did use the one row buttonhole method and I did sew a snap at the collar and just above the rib along the bottom to hold the overlap of fabric in place and purposely secure to not dangle below the hemline.

My saga now ends, fulfilling in every way and clearly the bride and groom are off to a very happy start!

photo credit to Amy Paulson/photography

I said Yes to the . . . Cape / Tips on Knitting for Others

When I was recently asked to knit a garment, I couldn’t say no.  I couldn’t say no for many reasons.  First off, it was a friend who asked.  I will call her Mom.  The garment was to be a cape and I love capes.  A wedding cape!  Who doesn’t love a wedding?  This wedding was her daughter’s.   I happen to know the bride well as she was also a student of mine,  a diligent, hard-working, serious student I remember from many, many years ago.  This former student is now an adult and working her way through the leadership ranks of the service and getting married at West Point, of course!  Who isn’t proud of someone who has met with professional success? Who wouldn’t be honored to have their knitting worn by another and their talent of craftsmanship chosen for the task?  Hence, I said yes to the cape project and so, we began.

I don’t know if it is wise or not to knit for someone else.  Can’t you just imagine a myriad of potential disasters that could arise but I will say, if for no other reason but to remind myself (if I should take this on again), why this project did work at this time and for this friend.

Make and share the schedule for completion.   When the decision to knit this garment was set, the very first thing I did was map out the steps towards completion on a calendar.  I left a reasonable amount of time for each step with an entire month at the end for alterations.  There would be no last minute knitting or decision-making.  Since the bride knew she wanted a cover-up, cape style, and in the color navy, we were leaps and bounds ahead in the time factor.  So, we really only needed to plan when I had to have the yarn in my hands and the time I needed to actually knit the project leaving that must-have one month window available at the end for unforeseen issues and/or alterations.

Be flexible to allow for ‘surprises’.  I will not deny there was a day (or two) I freaked.  I was not aware that during the time frame of knitting the project,  Mom was going on a trip to visit the bride and wanted to take the project with her.  Somehow, this did not come up in the planning stages.  Did I say the bride was not local?  It caused me to knit like a fiend, the very thing I was trying to avoid.  I was able to knit up pretty close to the collar before her departure however I really wanted to finish all the cabling so as not to forget the pattern and the math I was calculating.  Minor alterations meant we were going off pattern.  I did not succeed in getting to the collar like I had hoped before Mom’s travels, therefore I took copious notes.  How I calmed myself down about the interruption was by looking at the situation differently.  If Mom was taking the project, this would give the bride a chance to try it on.  If alterations needed to be taken, better at mid-point than in the end.  Also, I had left that month window at the end for such surprises.  I was not angry as I think so much is taken for granted and we all live such busy lives, that this was simply a slip up in communication, pretty much the definition of ‘surprises’.

Assign a contact person.  This is like the saying, “too many cooks in the kitchen . . .”  Brides are very busy especially if they are professional people working throughout the planning stages of their wedding. So, Mom informed me that she was the go-to person.  This immediately made it clear to me who to contact when a decision needed to be made or a measurement was needed or a question arose.   It also kept all three of us on the same page.  This chain of command worked perfectly.  I will add that it also helps when the people for whom you are working are able to make and keep their decisions.

Give input or opinion but ultimately listen to what the bride wants.  Aside from some minor size adjustments, we followed the pattern pretty closely except for one detail.  The pattern calls for a double-breasted closure.  I could not see past this while the bride thought one row of buttons along the edge was what she wanted.  This would give an asymmetric  look which was what she was after and I did think snaps could hold the overlap underneath in its place.  She was so sure of this and it continued to be difficult for me to see.  My feelings, aside we did what she asked.  One row of buttons and buttonholes, two snaps on the inside so the overlap did not hang below the hemline.  Also, it took awhile for me to accept the navy blue as a wedding color but look how beautiful she looks.  And, that new hubby, too!

Keep in constant contact/communication.   Right at the beginning Mom and I exchanged numbers.  We shared with each other our preferred communication method.   I believe, however we used every device known to man today through this process.   True story ~ I recall calling Mom on the phone when I was in her driveway!  Lots of words of encouragement, support, photographs, even praying was shared between us.  I cannot say enough how this constant communication was so helpful and added to the success of the project.

There was the month at the end as planned.  It was so peaceful and comfortable and I had long moved on to another project.  I could not wait until the wedding day.  How sweet it was to view these beautiful pictures.  I have to say I loved helping the bride create the look she was after and love knowing this knitted piece has now become part of the memory she will always have of her wedding day.

Please note:  Photo credits to Amy Paulson/Photography.