August 24, 2005
On the other side of the tracks
First-time test-knitter is an interesting position to find myself in. You know I’m a perfectionist, and as far as I’m concerned, “perfection” is the lowest common denominator when it comes to patterns. As I knit the “Mia” shrug, I often found myself thinking, is this little thing or that one important enough to point out and comment on? I think by the number of e-mails Karen and I exchanged, I couldn’t stop myself from blabbing about everything ;). Thanks for putting up with me, Karen! I think the pattern took shape as we chatted back and forth, so I hope I was helpful.
Well, here she is, in all her glory. I model her with a sundress (which still smells like Jamaica), the type of outfit I assume needs a shrug (my hot self needs to be told these things):
My biggest concern was framing for that, “here I am!” look. However, I don’t think that’s the case here (for an alternate view, click here to look down my dress, PG-13 rated). Maybe because the shrug matches my skin (and my background) and my dress doesn’t at all, the shrug is almost unnoticeable? What do you think it would look like if it were black or dark red, and I was wearing a light peach or pink dress?
Overall, I’m happy with how this shrug turned out. Continue onto the extended entry (edited to include "bustier" photos) to read more details.
Before moving to the shrug's back, here are some photos of the shrug paired with jeans and a t-shirt:
I really like the more casual combination, and I don't think I look any more busty with the shrug than I do without it, right?
And here’s my backside:
I always thought shrugs should cover my shoulder blades entirely, and you can see that this is the case for Karen’s own shrug. However, in this pattern the width of the shrug is exactly the circumference of the upper arm. Since my upper arms aren’t very big (unless I’m flexing my monster biceps, in which case, you know, watch out, they’re going to burst through the seams and hit nearby objects), the shrug width is not very big either. I think I can work with it, though, it matches the 3/4-length sleeves.
The bottom flares out a little bit. Well, a lot if I stand up very straight, arching my back, and a little bit if I stand up “normally,” as I am in this photo. I think that’s simply caused by the difference between how much the fabric has to travel around my shoulders versus straight across my back. The fact that there isn’t a lot of fabric to weigh the edge down doesn’t help.
Also, the pattern specifies to slip the edge stitches, and that’s immediately followed or preceded by a yarnover – while the resulting edge is very neat, I don’t think the slipped stitches followed by a yarnovers give it enough substance, so the result is a little curling and flaring. I may thread some very thin elastic through the edge, that should be simple enough to do.
However, I must point out that Karen’s own shrug seems to cradle her back quite nicely, probably because she used a heavier cotton blend, and her shrug is wider in the back.
The lace pattern is very attractive. However, it tends to draw in a bit, so while I cast on 11 inches worth of stitches in stockinette, as specified in the pattern, it’s only 9.5 inches in this lace pattern, adding to the shortness in the back.
As I mentioned before, the lace of my shrug differs from Karen’s because she twisted her stitches. The stitches are also twisted in her ribbing, and not in mine. She intends to give instructions for both shrug versions in her pattern.
The rosettes are called Ruffle Roses from Nicky Epstein’s Knitted Embellishments. I worked each over 19 sts, omitted the last 4 rows, and beaded by hand as I assembled. They are small, about 1.5” in diameter, so that four can comfortably fit around my not-so-big shoulders (click here for a close-up).
The beaded cuffs are of my own design, and are about 2.5” long. On the minus side, they aren’t easily incorporated into the pattern because they need to be worked in the round, while the rest of the shrug is worked flat. On the plus side, they can be worked in either direction: cast on and make cuff, or make cuff and bind off (click here for a close-up).
The pattern itself: I know how long it takes to write a pattern - I shake my head with understanding and appreciation. I wish they only took a week or two to conceive, sketch, knit, correctly work out the details, and test-knit! Karen has gone through a huge number of revisions with her “Mia” Shrug pattern, and it has gotten better, more complete and thorough with each one. She has incorporated details of my shrug and hers, and the pattern should be available shortly. For now, congratulations, Karen!
The knitty gritty: US 6, KFI Cashmereno (color #01, 22 sts/30 rows per 4” square in stockinette, 55% merino wool, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere, 135 m per 50 g ball), 3 balls plus a little bit of the fourth for the rosettes (450 yards total), 112 beads (48 per cuff, 4 per rosette). Shrug is 9.5” wide, 50” long (the whole length, including the cuffs).