I finished that sweater from last week! And I actually like it a lot despite its many, many mistakes and imperfections.
First off, details. Pattern is McCalls 6796, size 16. I did the large collar with the long sleeves. Fabric is knit on my machine from a 50% merino wool – 50% acrylic yarn. The collar is made of plain stockinette (jersey) at tension 4 (looser tension). The body and sleeves are knit in stockinette stripes. 10 rows at tension 2 (tighter) alternated with 10 rows at tension 4. I also knit some plain stockinette at tension 2 that I wound up not using.
I made the collar out of the looser knit because it has two layers. I didn’t want it to be much thicker than the body. The sleeves were supposed to be in the tension 2 and the striped body was going to tie the sleeves and the collar together. And then, I discovered I had enough of the stripes for the sleeves so I just used that.
And that’s where the mistakes come in. When I started knitting the striped piece, I screwed up about 400 rows in. I did 20 rows at tension 2 instead of 10 (mistake 1). I cut out the two body pieces and saw I had enough for the sleeves. I looked for that 20 row stripe to avoid it. I couldn’t find it. And then, I looked at the back piece and it was right there, staring at me (mistake 2). It’s toward the bottom and you can’t tell it’s there.
See? Can’t find it, can you?
I cut out my sleeves, single layer. Forgot to flip the piece over (mistake 3). I thought the sleeves were symmetrical but they weren’t. And I didn’t have enough stripes left to cut out another sleeve. By then, I was committed to those striped sleeves. So I just set them in as is. And again, I couldn’t tell you which side has the backward sleeve…
Construction was pretty straightforward. I set the sleeves in flat. Seriously, why does McCalls always tell me to set in knit sleeves in the round? Let’s make things more fiddly than they need to be, why don’t we? I skipped the buttons on the collar and did my own thing for the hems. And I tacked down the neckline seam allowance at the shoulders so it wouldn’t pop out (especially on the left side where the collar is open).
So, sewing up the knit. How was it? Difficult. I tried the serger on the edges and it didn’t like it at all. The fabric got all stretched out unless I totally messed up the differential feed and then, it achieved that weird combination of a non stretchy finish but with a still wavy stretched out fabric. No good. It worked a tiny bit better when I had two layers but not well. I ended up doing french seams wherever I could. This fabric needs the extra stitching to make sure it doesn’t unravel and the pattern’s instructions for that didn’t please me. (They have you stitch twice and zigzag over the edge. It feels unfinished to me.) If I were to do it over, I would reduced my french seams at the armscye though. I have a hard time getting that seam allowance to lie flat, no matter how much I press. Or get some stretch mesh or something like it to finish the edges. I used my regular presser foot which probably stretched the fabric out a bit. I did try the walking foot but the fabric didn’t like it. It kept getting pushed down the needle hole… Next time, I should try using tissue paper underneath have something non stretch under the feed dogs. Oh, and I used a straight stitch at shoulders (stabilized with fusible stay tape) and side seams and a stretch stitch at armscye.
And now the hems. When I showed it last week, those hems weren’t done yet. But I liked that rolled edge a lot and wanted to keep it. If I left it as is though, it would unravel. I ended up turning the edge up 1/4″ twice and sewing it down like that. My hope was that it would then curl up on its own like before. But no. Of course not! It just stayed there all limp and weird. So I rolled them up a little and hand stitched them in place, hoping again that they would roll up some more on their own. Of course not! So this is how they roll. I left the seam part of the sleeves unrolled to have a bit of a point there. And I tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to get rid of the points at the side seams.
And you know what? No matter all those mistakes and imperfections, I really like this sweater. In fact, I want to make another version, taking my time. And since the knitting machine is set up, I may as well do it, right? Right after the costumes that is…