I finished knitting my Ravi cardigan a week ago, but haven’t been able to post it before now. This is due to (1) not being able to find my bottle of wool wash, even though it was right where it was supposed to be and I looked there twenty times, and (2) not being able to take any photos because it is cold, grey, wet and drizzly. Did you know Ravi means “sun”? Regardless of it’s name, my Ravi has no power over the weather. Today, in total frustration, we ran out during a short break in the rain to take a few photos. Doug kindly stood out in the cold and damp, even though he was feverish.
I reported previously that I was having issues with the back hem of this pullover. It has a curve which is formed with short rows. On my un-blocked piece, there was an unattractive bulge produced by the shaping. I hoped that this would block out. I was also debating about whether or not to put in buttons, and pointed out that on many of the Ravi sweaters I had seen, the buttons gaped. I published that post late in the evening and when I woke up in the morning I had a note from Carol Feller (Ravi’s designer) in my Ravelry mailbox. I thought I would repeat it here in it’s entirety because she made some very good points.
“Saw your blog post but was having trouble sending comment, so thought I’d do it here!
I’ve got a suggestion for you on the hem, put the sts on waste yarn and give the short row hem a good steam or spray blocking. If you like it then leave it in. Take care to work the I cord bind off loosely (possibly even bigger needles) to ensure it doesn’t pull the edge in.
Buttonband wise, you are in control of button spacing and the weight of the buttons. Gaping is usually due to knitters using negative ease in their cardigan.”
Isn’t that cool? What a great idea for the back hem. Basically, it allows you to partially block your sweater and then make crucial design decisions before doing the finishing. I don’t know why this never occurred to me. In the end, however, I didn’t try it. I decided that all of the knitters who had finished their Ravis couldn’t be wrong, and that it would block flat. They were right, by the way:
As to the buttons, Carol is absolutely right: each knitter has control of the weight of the buttons and also the spacing, but there were some mitifying factors at play here. First, the buttons had to be big enough that the I-cord could loop around them (the I-cord acts as the button loop); since the I-cord is rather thick this leaves out really small buttons. Second, the placement of the buttons is affected by the lace panel in the yoke. Both of these issues could easily be solved. However, in my case, the third is the killer: As you can see from the photos, I knit this sweater with a good deal of negative ease.
(Note to Emma: yes, I did run out and take these photos without stying my hair and doing my makeup. Furthermore, I am not even smiling. Trust me, I looked worse in the other photos.) See the rather wide gap between the two sides of the front? This is what is meant by negative ease – the width of the cardigan is less than the width of my body. In a pullover, if the fabric is sufficiently stretchy, this gives you shapeliness and va-va-voom. In a cardigan, it gives you buttons that gape. Why so much negative ease? Well, partly it is because I knew that garter stitch knit at this gauge would have a tendency to stretch. Mostly, however, it is because I gained ten pounds over the summer and I decided to be optimistic in planning this sweater. Easy on, easy off, no?
Now, that we’ve noted the negative ease, look back at the above photo. Can you see how absolutely gorgeous the finishing is on the front edges of the cardigan? The attached I-cord is so elegant, the line so beautiful…..this is the real reason to forego the buttons. I think the edge looks perfect just as it is. I don’t want any buttons cluttering it up.
Now that I’ve finished knitting two great Carol Feller sweaters in a row (both of them for me!), I can heartily recommend her designs. They are intelligently written, witty, architecturally interesting and fun to knit. Next up – a sweater for Leah based on a medieval jewelry design.