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Four years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wilted Leaf Cardigan

The Wilted Leaf Cardigan is pilling already, and we are not amused.

I designed it to replace a wonderful featherweight commercially-made cardigan of merino with a touch of angora, which my late mother gave me when I was in the sign language program at then-TCJC in 1995. Over the years, I had replaced the buttons. I had dutifully appliqu├ęd elbow patches. But sadly, I also wore through the derriere on one cheek. And I could see no way to make a “tush patch” look office-appropriate. I am already pushing the limits of business casual with my hair. I like my job. Most days.

This new cardigan was mostly fun to knit and is actually a little *too* warm to wear all day at my desk, where you can hang meat on the Fourth of July, or any other day of the year. It may well join the Rasta Scarf on the slow boat to Parts East, or it may follow along next year after a somewhat lighter-weight black workhorse sweater replaces it, and it’s had a thorough cleaning and de-pilling.

I started with the leaf border on page 120 of Nicky Epstein’s “Knitting On The Edge”, in lieu of ribbing. It wasn’t until I had the sweater body paused at the armpits and one sleeve done and the leaves half-knitted for the second sleeve, that I realized the leaves were curling because I had slipped the first stitch on the leaf edge as well as the garter-stitch edge, which was *not* what the pattern specified.

[That's one, *one* wilted leaf! With apologies to The Count, from “Sesame Street”. The little speck is probably a vagrant bit of down. I am fond of knitting in bed.]



Those who follow her directions explicitly would have a Non-Wilted Leaf Cardigan. I, however, do not, but I will never see a copy of my sweater walking toward me on the street.

Other things you will not see in the photographs: between the raglan decreases, I inserted garter stitch bands [3 sts wide] to echo the leaf borders. And the button band and neckband are one long, wide garter stitch swathe, because of the way it expands and contracts around the curves, and because it is so easy to hide the YO K2tog buttonholes and to calculate their placement.

The funky notch at the front of the sweater is due to a slight problem with my gauge swatch. Or perhaps a large problem with chocolate consumption. At any rate, unlike the Rust Fibonacci Sweater [knitted side to side and therefore easy to tweak], after I had stitch-and-slashed the sweater body, I discovered to my dismay that it lacked about 6” of meeting in the middle. And I was not in the mood to figure out how to pick up sts for the button band from the leaf border. So by default, the button band begins and ends above the border and makes a little Frank Lloyd Wright cantilever on each front, and we are calling this a Design Element.



That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

After picking up sts from the leaf border at the hem [10 sts for every 9 in the border], and knitting in the round to the underarm, grafting in the sleeves, and knitting a v-neck – still in the round – I ran two lines of machine stitching down either side of the center and bravely slashed.

I had done this on my Kaffe-ish Coat, 20 years ago, with great success. I had forgotten over the course of 20 years that when I did the stitch-and-slash back then, the only sewing machine I possessed was my 1951 Singer Featherweight, so perforce the stitches were straight stitches. While it was terrifying to grab those scissors and cut between the stitching, the fabric retained its integrity.

This time around, I thought “A narrow zigzag would be perfect.” It was not. Do not attempt this at home, it was done by a semi-professional stunt sewer running a little short on REM time. I had to go back and split out individual plies from leftover yarn to make “sewing thread” to whipstitch those edges down. If you are going to stitch-and-slash, make sure that the machine stitching is straight stitch, not zigzag, unless you feel your childbirth words are getting rusty.

The buttons were great fun. I took an hour of personal time at lunch and drove to Benno’s Buttons in Dallas. These are little black football-shaped gizmos that slip easily into the buttonholes yet stay buttoned unless and until I am ready to exit the sweater. They are perhaps the only element of this sweater with which I am utterly well-pleased.

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