And you thought bobbins were ugly.


Well. It turns out that gauge issues and vertical stripes were just the beginning of the challenges that Papa Warnie had in store for me with this jacket project. Two nights ago, I was dealing with a felted, tangled mess that looked a little something like this:


Basically, I had been hoping to achieve a fitted waistband for this jacket with a combination of increases in the last row of the waistband, and a higher level of felting on the waistband than on the rest of the coat. This plan afforded a valuable opportunity for me to learn a thing or two about felting:

1. There is a limit to how far a garment will hand-felt, after which continuing to add soap and friction will not shrink it any further; and
2. Failing to accept that reality leaves you with a sadly over-felted, pilly piece of fabric that is still too large.

Luckily, knowing I was lacking in felting experience prior to starting this project, I invested in extra yarn and geared myself up to be patient. Having felted the waistband to death, there was nothing for it but to slice the felted part off of the un-felted colorwork body, knit another, smaller waistband, and graft it on. It ended up being one of those "shortcuts" that was probably actually longer than simply ripping out the whole thing and starting over, but I was unreasonably attached to the lovely plaid pattern beginning to emerge in the body of the jacket. So I cut...


...Then yanked and dislodged the remaining felt fragments away from the body (no easy task, as it turned out). As I was cutting the waste felt away every inch or so, there were the requisite body stitches that got cut and had to be carefully fixed back together, with cursing and nimble manipulation of crochet hook and clear nail polish. As David pointed out, it wouldn't be a Johnson-inspired garment without a respectable number of curse words and improvised solutions knitted into it. In the end, I managed to pick up the body stitches as they were released from the former waistband:


This part was more complicated than it would usually have been, because the whole thing was double-stranded and the strands wanted to twist around each other in grotesque, unnatural ways, hopping over and under each other, reversing their orientation, and so on. I had to experiment a bit to get them back onto the needles in an orderly fashion, but eventually they were sufficiently correct to be grafted to Waistband 2.0:


There are imperfections in the grafting, but nothing that blocking and felting won't fix (or obscure). I'll probably felt this new waistband version tonight, just to be sure I can get the dimensions I'd like. Hopefully I can, because I really don't fancy going through this process again.

Other than that, though, I am quite pleased with how the plaid is working out:


You can begin to see the vertical repeat, and the interlaced squares of grey and camel that play on the red background. Manipulation of the bobbins has become second nature to me now, and I'm finding that if I keep them short until they're needed, they don't tangle. It's very easy as far as intarsia goes: every transition is a straight vertical line, so there's no necessity to remember when I need to twist the old color over the new color and when I don't. Plus, I'm transitioning so often that I get into a rhythm and stop noticing that anything unusual is going on. Overall, I'm feeling optimistic!


  • Just looking at this makes my brain hurt. You are so talented!

  • ditto! . . . but,i'd have done the same thing!

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