August 2008 Archives

Field trip


I've been working hard lately, and between my day job and doing the more drudge-like parts of Family Trunk Project (can anyone say "sizing"?), I've been feeling a little lacking in, well, fun. On Sunday, though, I got to combine business and pleasure in a thoroughly delightful way. Can you guess what I did?


My dad and I took his Honda and the completed Warren Johnson jacket out to Cascade Locks, the park in the Columbia Gorge where the family scattered Warren's ashes a few years back. It was a favorite place of my grandfather's, and a beautiful ride. Although motorcycles aren't particularly characteristic of Warren himself, three out of his four children have taken a great liking to them, and I grew up riding on the backs of my dad's and uncles' bikes. It felt great to be back in the saddle again; somehow both exhilarating and relaxing. Getting a little father-daughter time was really welcome, too - hey, connecting with family is supposed to be the goal of this project, right?


As for the actual jacket, I'm really pleased with the final product. This was my biggest project yet in quite a few ways: physically largest and longest-term, it was also the trickiest technically, as I had to invent a hybridized colorwork technique in order to achieve the plaid effect. It was my first foray into felting, which turned out to produce a beautiful texture, even if it was more work than I had anticipated to hand-felt each piece. The felting treatment regularized and blended the stitches, and made the finished fabric smooth and cozily buttery to the touch.


Between the felting and the double-layer of fabric created by the colorwork, this is a seriously warm garment, an actual outerwear jacket rather than a jacket-styled sweater. My dad was a great sport to model it for me on an 80-degree day in August - and he is not a cool-blooded man! Doesn't he look handsome, though? And that cream shirt and the 50's shades are the perfect accessories.


The fit, too, was a big stretch for me. I am drawn to tailored garments with zero or negative ease, and this baby has eleven inches of ease in its finished state. My dad kept stressing that he wanted "room to move around," and I feel proud and relieved that he is so enthusiastic about the final product. I certainly did much more second-guessing of myself during the construction process on this one than I am normally accustomed to doing. Overall, though, I think I got a good return on my experimentation, especially as I was working hard to get a knitted garment to imitate a fabric (woven plaid) and a style (bomber jacket) not normally associated with knitwear. As far as the styling, I'm particularly pleased with the simple, understated cuffs and collar:


It should be a week or two before the pattern's done, which is really fine: anyone wanting to knit this would do best to wait until the cooler, fall weather sets in anyway. When it IS done, I will let forth a wild, celebratory whoop, and go on to party Emily-style: perhaps with a glass of wine, an Edwardian novel, and a thick pair of woolly socks.

New pattern: Betty Jean McNeil!


It took slightly longer than I anticipated (raise your hands, all you who tend to underestimate the time a project will take to finish), but the Betty Jean McNeil pattern is up and ready, complete with charts, photos, schematics, and sizing to fit bust sizes 30" through 54".


The essay/info page for this sweater is also up, right over here. I worked especially hard on the essay for this one, so head over and give it a look, if you get a chance. Betty Jean was a special part of my life, and I've really gotten a lot out of working on her Family Trunk project. I hope you enjoy the pattern!