July 2008 Archives

Betty Jean, girl detective


I posted recently on Ravelry that one of my life ambitions is to look like Nancy Drew. Well here I am, living the dream.


This may just be my favorite self-designed project yet. Even though it's late July and hot as the dickens, I've hardly taken it off since I sewed on the final sleeve. Not only that, but the pattern is this close to being finished too, which is a first for me. There are certain aspects of sizing (sleevecap shaping, I'm looking at you) that almost always make me procrastinate about finishing patterns, but this one has been a breeze from start to (almost) finish.


I'm so pleased with the details on this sweater. I wanted a crisp, tailored look that retained visual interest, and I think the combination of turned hems and that narrow yellow border is quite snappy. And the buttons! It does take a while to get them all fastened, but oh, how I love a zillion little buttons, all in a row.


There are faux seams under the arms (which are also convenient reference points for the waist shaping), and the little i-cord neckband is sweet and simple, to go with a Peter Pan collar.


To take these photos, we went down to Cleveland High, the building where my grandmother went to school in the early 40's. Back then it was a secretarial school called Commerce, and offered courses in shorthand, typing, composition, and other skills that would outfit young women for the pre-war economy. (For you indie rock fans, Cleveland is also the setting for the Decemberists video Sixteen Military Wives.) My grandmother said that Commerce wasn't all-female - but she shook her head a bit over the quantity and caliber of boys in attendance. These days it's a standard public high school, but there are a number of original architectural details. Here's the sweater, investigating a case:


And here it is meditating in the crook of a tree that was probably planted around the time my grandmother was graduating from Commerce:


We brought Mr. Bingley with us on the shoot, and he got very upset when I went up into that tree. Judging from his reaction, and the joyous reception I received on my return, he assumed I was never coming back down. Either that, or he was afraid I was turning into a squirrel. Lest you think us cruel dog owners, we did take some time to chill with our little guy:


In any case, I'm extremely pleased. And if anyone else shares my fixation on looking like Nancy Drew (or my grandmother), the pattern should be ready very soon.




So close...




I am very, very pleased with how this is coming.


It's my first steeked project, and I continue to be surprised at my lack of nervousness about the dread Moment of Cutting. I do take a certain amount of pride in keeping knitting mishaps in perspective (ripping out is just part of the process, and so on), but I can't honestly say that an entire sweater-body unraveling before my eyes is something I could take in my stride without some serious weeping and gnashing of teeth. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to avoid stressing out about it at all. I think it's because I'm just having so much FUN with this sweater; my positive knitting force-field was keeping all the negativity at bay. Here it is approaching the cutting table:


I believe it's customary within the knitblogging community to include this shot:


And then, like magic, a malformed tube of knitting is transformed into a sweater!


It's no 48-hour garment, but I've been shocked at how quickly this sweater body has come together. And I just love - love, love LOVE - the results so far. This is my absolute favorite aesthetic: crisp, tailored, feminine, with clean lines and well-plotted details. I'm also surprised how much I'm enjoying the whole steeking process. Having a slew of pretty little facings all tacked down on the wrong side of the garment, creating clean, finished lines on the outside, injects just a touch of seamstress-like precision into my knitting experience, and the balance is very satisfying indeed.

I've pledged to finish the second sleeve for the Warren Johnson Jacket before casting on for the sleeves for this little treasure, which means I'm motivated. David and I are leaving on Thursday for a few days in California, and I want some plain stockinette sleeve knitting for the plane. Hopefully, I can have Warren Sleeve #2 felted and drying, and Betty Sleeve #1 cast on and flying by, when I board my flight. Wish me luck!