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August 07, 2005

Love triangle

Me. Grumpy even with incredibly delicious dessert sitting in front of me.


My sewing machine. Look at her peeking from under her cover! Such a trouble maker!


Sewing machine manual and accessories. No, I have no idea why I only have one sock on. It was unintentional. I figured I wouldn't crop it - it goes well with the rest of insanity around here.


How will we get along in this love (hate?) triangle? Me and the manual agree on a plan, but the sewing machine doesn't cooperate? The sewing machine is willing to help me, but I can't figure out how to work one of the little attachments? The manual and the machine team up against me?

That last option is most likely.

Steeking. It's an adventure.

(full disclosure: I make no promise of actual steeking in the extended entry :) )

Part 1: The sleeves are finished.

  

Here they are in their pre-blocked state. The pattern is very textured, and they are bumpy.

Part 2: The sleeves are blocked.

I blocked them by washing them in lukewarm water and a little Tide. They bled, but you already knew that was going to happen. I didn't try any chemicals to prevent the bleeding because I wanted to treat them the same way I treated the sweater's body, otherwise the colors wouldn't match.

I pinned down the little scalloped edges as they were blocking. That's what you saw in one of my previous entries.

Here is a sleeve in all its glory. The pattern evens out and flattens a bit when blocked. It is gorgeous. Stupid sweater, gorgeous sleeves.

The sleeves are about 19" long from the armpit. As far as my arms are concerned, this is perfect length - the sleeves go down to exactly where my fingers (not counting the thumb) emerge from the palm.

At least the length is right. Width is another story.

Part 3: Delusions.

Do you know the best thing about steeking? I don't have to weave in the yarn ends at the edges of the sleeves! Because, well, they'll be cut off anyway, and, I know this is going to sound super-crazy, when you steek, you create two ends for every single row! Those few yarn ends are nothing compared to two ends, every row. And you know what else? There's no seaming!

Delusions. Clearly.

Part 4: Assessment.

This was the first winter in many, many years that I did not put away my wool sweaters into storage for the summer. Why? Because I need them on hand at all times to serve as templates for my knitting! So, I got out a few of them (I really have a one-track mind when it comes to color) and using this one and that one as templates, I figured out how much needed to be taken in:

There are basically two areas that need to be taken in - first, the underarm flab area needs to be about 3" smaller in circumference. That's A LOT. Second, what brilliant Adrienne Vittadini designer decided that the sleeve construction you see above would give nice bell-shaped sleeves?!? The decreases are all done at the edge, so it just looks odd - flat and even on the side that has no decreases, and droopy along the seam! I don't know why this didn't occur to me as I was knitting the sleeve, but one explanation is that I started this sweater half a year ago, which is half of my knitting career ago.

So, I marked the areas that needed to be taken in, and started to pin the sleeve to a sheet of paper (to protect from feeder dogs). That's when I realized I was in big trouble.

Part 5: Trouble.

As I was pinning the fabric, I realized it was very thick - all that wonderful lace and cables sure add a third dimension! My typical pins were not long enough to go back and forth through the doubled fabric of the sleeve. The really long pins I use for blocking scrunched up the fabric in a way I didn't like. I thought, okay, let me first see how it feels in the sewing machine, if the scrunching would be a problem.

This is the sleeve next to the raised presser foot. So, the fabric is easily twice as high as the space under the raised presser foot.

This is the fabric under the raised presser foot. I had a hell of time squeezing it under there, and you can see how it's ballooning from all the edges. Suffice it to say that I can't really move it, adjust it or control it in any way.

Part 6: Sigh.

So I guess the machine and all her accessories turned against me. I knew what I had to do, but they wouldn't cooperate.

Where do I go now? I know all you wonderful seamstresses will be quick to suggest special quilting presser feet and using various screwdrivers to mess with my machine. I could go that route, but I'm not a seamstress. I knit well, I sew decently by hand, but the sewing machine is an unfamiliar animal. I can hope and pray, but I will not be a seamstress any time soon. So, suggestions along these lines are, simply, not an option for me.

Edited to add: I'm aware of crochet steeking (thanks to cosmicpluto for reminding me), but all the stitches in this sleeve are involved in eyelets or cables or pass the two slipped stitches over, so I don't think it will be possible either.

I thought about seaming the sweater as is and seeing how I feel about it. Except I already know how I'll feel about it - I won't like it. I could then donate it to a charity, except I know it will be bought by someone who has no idea how to care for such a garment, and it will end up in the washer and dryer quicker than I can say, "Presto chango! Small enough for your daughter!"

Frogging and reknitting is out of the questions. The obvious reason is that life is too short to spend so much time and mental energy on a sweater I already hate. The more practical reason is that this yarn doesn't wear well and won't stand up to frogging.

Do I just throw it out?!? It is hours or work, but it is only $25 worth of yarn.

Or... hehe... do I cut it up wildly with my scissors and then throw it out? Actually, I wouldn't be able to bring myself to do that. Sigh.

Posted by Kathy on August 7, 2005 09:48 PM

Comments

what about crochet steeks? i'd hate to see such an awesome sweater go in the trash!

Um, sweetie? You wouldn't actually be trying to sew those sleeves together with the sewing machine, now would ya?

Cause, I really, really don't think that would work. At all. If it were ME, I would run a basting thread (a white one) on each side of the sleeve where I wanted to cut. Then I would sew a line of stitching just inside of the basting thread, may a half a stitch in or maybe a whole one if there are lots of YOs. Obviously your cutting line will have to account for this extra seam allowance. With a single thickness of fabric, you now should be fine with your sewing machine with no adjustments needed. Then I would trim away the excessfabric, cutting right on top of the white basting line. Then I would seam up with wool and a wool needle just inside the line of stitching as per almost normal.

That is, if it were MY sweater.

What about finding a local person who's good with sewing machines and bartering something for help with your steeking?

Oh dear. yes, I see what you mean, the sleeves look way too bell-y for you. I say handsew the suckers together, then cut. If you needed to, you can find someone to serge the edges. Don't scrap it! Think of how nice the sweater would look with nice black pants.

My vote is to go with Claudia's suggestion. This is too nice a sweater and far too much work to give up on it now.

BTW, you with the dessert: you look very sad, not grumpy.

I'm also with Claudia. I did something similar with a cotton tank last summer and I sewed up each side separately and then seamed it up. I was a little afraid that one row of sewing wouldn't be enough so I did 2 rows closely spaced apart just in case.

The other thing (besides Claudia's suggestion) would be to release the presser foot lever. If you don't do that, I guarantee that you'll have a tangle of thread faster than you can say...um...(insert appropriate expression here).

Although the previous suggestions are better, I'll add that some sewing machines have presser feet that raise up really high (possibly the worst sentence I've ever written). I think the Husqvarna/Viking is one of them. Not that I recommend buying one (got $$$$s to spend?), but you might find a quilter who has one to try.

I love Claudia's idea, but it makes me nervous. This may be a job for a seamstress. Please don't throw away that beautiful knitting.

You are getting some wonderful suggestions. I would opt for getting help. Don't trash the sweater...you can make it work! I have faith!

I have no ideas for you unfortunately. It just seems a shame to walk away from all that work when the lace pattern is so pretty. Maybe one of the other suggestions will solve the problem.

Seamstresses and tailors can work wonders.. but can you trust them? Hmmm.....

It really is nice though.. so I wouldn't throw it out.. but somethin needs to be done for sure..

I wish I could be more helpful than that... : /

Claudia and others gave excellent advice to your dilemma. Listen to them, because it would be a shame to get rid of such a lovely sweater.

I say, that Claudia is a sharp cookie. Good advise. Let us know how it turns out.

I have no suggestion to offer as everybody here knows much better than me on how to do it. Just wish you good luck. But if you really run out of idea on how to deal with it except the last one, save it for times when you feel like punching a hole in the wall ... at least that's YOUR sweater, not THE LANDLORD's wall!

Orrrr, you could try to convince yourself that sending it out to be professionally finished isn't a cop-out, it is offering the sweater a chance to be as great as possible. Offering it up to the finishing gods, if you will.

Well I too think that claudia had a great idea, but honestly if it was me I would have gone the cut them up and then throw them in the trash weeks ago.

but I am easily frustrated:)

But whatever you do, we'll support your decision. :)

Why oh WHY did I click on the link for your dessert? Me, who is in the bakery-free, vast wasteland, known as Eastern PA! A former Long Island girl.

OH, woe is me!

An the steeking front. I looked as the pictures and thought "It doesn't look good". I'm sorry I can't offer any advice. I would toss everything in a corner and not speak to any of "them" for a month!

Mmmm, dessert.

I'm no help here, as the idea of sewing something I knit scares the beejeesus out of me.

But good luck, whatever you decide.

Don't burn it! It's too nice.

You might consult with Lucy from Mind's Eye on the sleeves. I bet she could help.

BTW, I find it terribly unconvincing that a person who has gotten so good at knitting within a year and does CALCULUS, for god's sake, would have trouble following anyone's suggestions about working with a sewing machine!

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