You see, I've finally finished the Rowan cardigan . I know. What on earth happened? I'm not actually sure I can believe it myself, but it's true. I stuffed up on getting my 3rd Spring Top started on Saturday, and then in the evening I got all twiddly-fingers and couldn't sit still, and thought oh, what the hell! and sewed one and a half sleeves, and one side together.
And then yesterday, whilst sewing the spring top, I thought of a little variation I could do which involved running down to the fabric shop and buying a bit of different gingham. But by then it was 4.30 and I really couldn't be bothered, and the sun as shining, and in fact it was so warm that I could sit outside for more than 2 minutes without turning blue (hey! Irish summer!). And the cardi sewing had gone so well on Saturday that I thought I'd just sit in the sun and finish the thing off. So it's done! Can you believe it?
I sewed a tape across the shoulders this morning (something I got from my mother which stops the garment getting too out of shape) and then my assistant and I took some photos. I learnt two things during this 'photo shoot'. Number 1, my photographic assistant does not provide much assistance, and number 2, you have to trick the camera to get an accurate colour reproduction. Perhaps I should I known both of these things already, but you know...
So here it is (minus buttons which I shall go out and get after I've posted this).
This is pretty much the real colour, a kind of ox-blood red, which is one of the only reds I really like on me (but I bought it about 7 years ago and it looks like it's been discontinued). I think the proportions are a bit off compared to the ideal in the Rowan book but that's what comes of being a lazy arse and not doing a tension square first (although I can usually and reliably just go for needles that are 0.5mm smaller than the pattern recommends, and be ok).
I think doing the squares pattern all over looks much better than just the front (as in the Rowan original). I shall post a photo of me in it once I get some buttons on it and can pin down Mr G (so probably the weekend).
As I said, my assistant was pretty useless...
... and I had to trick the camera to get decent colour reproduction. You can see the difference between the first and second photo. I found I had to aim the camera (it's a little Ixus thingy) more at the background, semi-depress the button, and then move the camera aim to the cardi, to get a dark enough red. Aiming straight at the cardi and doing a point-and-shoot resulted in far too light a colour (as in the terrible colour in the close up of the seam below).
Here's a view of the shoulder tape if you're curious...
You can sew it on by hand or machine (I did this by machine as I had some dark red thread already on a bobbin), but it's just cotton tape measured shoulder to shoulder and then shortened a fraction (maybe a centimetre or so, but not much more), then evenly distributed across the cardi shoulders.
The pattern instructions have a garter stitch neck, but I don't have much patience picking up evenly distributed stitches, so I did one row of single crochet and one of half treble, and left it at that. There are no button bands and the button holes are knitted into the body of the front, so I decided something understated for the neck would work best.
In retrospect, the reason why I avoided this sewing task for so long was because I wanted to use mattress stitch to sew the pieces together, something I had never tried before. Usually I just pin them together and do a back stitch, but that often creates too bulky a seam. But there were all those squares to match, and it's really difficult to see what you're doing with this yarn (although looking at it now, I don't really know why), and so I put it off.
But on Saturday night, I felt a bit bloody minded and just got stuck in. But you know, do I read instructions? I could vaguely remember what mattress stitch entailed so I just picked up a needle and sewed away. And then had to take it all out again, because I had done it with the wrong sides out, and as every self-respecting mattress sewer knows, you have the right side out. Idiot. So I did it again and somehow it worked. I decided not to care too much about how well the squares matched up (because you won't really be looking at my arm pits, will you?) and it came together pretty quickly. Look, I even managed to do one bit perfectly...
So if you've never tried mattress stitch before, I can recommend it, just not with Rowan's Summer Tweed as a first attempt. And just use some plain stocking stitch, ok? Leave all that fancy pattern/lace malarky to the professionals and the reckless idiots (hello? you called?) out there.
Update: no suitable buttons as the LFS this morning so things will have to wait a while.