I have been trying to decide for some time which of my knits to feature in my next Wearability Wednesday post. In the WW series, I re-visit a garment I’ve knitted and examine it in terms of wearability. I try to address the questions: Do I actually wear it? If so, how do I style it? What do I wear it with? Do I dress it up or down? If it doesn’t get worn, then why not? What doesn’t work about it? Is it a fit issue, or just a poor choice in garment style?
I finally decided to focus this week on Levenwick, a design by Gudrun Johnston for Brooklyn Tweed; published in BT’s Wool People, vol. 1. Here is the pattern photo for Levenwick:
I instantly loved this pattern (though I hate the headscarf). I was certainly not the only one. Levenwick has proved to be very popular. Interestingly, when I look at my blog statistics, one of the most frequently used search terms is Levenwick; a lot of knitters are clearly interested in the pattern. (Levenwick is also the name of a small village in Shetland, but I imagine most of those searching for it are looking for the cardigan. Maybe that’s knitting-centric of me?)
I knit Levenwick in September and October of 2011. I used Cascade 220 in a very pretty teal. I have written a number of posts about Levenwick, which can be found here (this will link to all the Levenwick posts, including this one, scroll down to read the older ones). Here is one of the photos we took when it was first finished:
Emma took this photo, and I really like it. I love the way it looks against the peeling wall and I especially love the contraposition of the teal and the rust. You can see that the Cascade looks great, the stitches beautiful and uniform. But you can also see that the fit is not good. The whole area around the shoulders and yoke is awful and the fabric bunches. You can imagine, with Emma in charge of the photo, that this is as good as Levenwick ever looked on me. This photo is the result of Emma adjusting and pulling and re-adjusting, and me not moving. As soon as I move, even the slightest bit, the bunching looks worse.
Knowing what I do now about the fit issues I had with Levenwick, I can see some of it in the pattern photo. Though not as pronounced as mine, you can see the fabric bubbling under the model’s chin. I still think the pattern is lovely, and many knitters have made great-fitting versions of Levenwick. However, try as I might, I found my version of this cardigan to be pretty unwearable.
Now, when I wasn’t holding completely still and pulling the sweater into place just so, the poor fit became even more pronounced:
The above photo was taken in the stands at the Olympics (a fabulous day watching the rowing). You can see how happy I was to be there. You can also see that this sweater doesn’t fit at all. It just doesn’t.
Here’s another photo, from the same day, taken from a different angle (and yes, that is me, knitting at the Olympcs – Score!):
Let’s face facts: it doesn’t fit. I tried to wear it, I really did. I tried it buttoned all the way up. I tried just buttoning the top buttons. I tried just buttoning the bottom buttons. I tried leaving it open (a real no-no). I am usually good at knitting a garment that will fit properly. One of the problems with the fit is that the pattern starts by knitting a long strip of lace for the collar and then picks up stitches and knits down. The collar, however, is really too wide, so no amount of adjusting the pattern as you knit is going to make it fit. The only way I could have gotten a better fit was to rip the whole thing out and start over with a much narrower strip of lace. In addition, the raglan sleeve increases just didn’t work out at all. This could result from my gauge rather than the pattern; my stitch gauge was spot on but my row gauge was off. Raglan decreases are one of those areas where the right row gauge is essential.
On Saturday morning, I finished knitting Leah’s February scarf and blocked it. Afterwards, I decided to grab my Levenwick and take some more photos in preparation for writing this post. This is what I found:
A moth hole! Holey moley! (Pun intended.) Now, I could probably fix this. But, I rationalized, why fix the hole when I’m not going to wear the sweater? And before you could say “Goodbye, Levenwick” I had the scissors out and started cutting.
This sweater took a very long time to frog. Because of the way it’s constructed, frogging was not straightforward. I put on my headphones and listened to an audiobook (Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold; very enjoyable start to the Vorkosigan series) and spent hours steadily ripping it out. (Frogging, by the way, is the highly technical term we knitters use to denote ripping out your knitting. I have been told it’s because you “Rip it! Rip it!” – which sounds like the English word for what frogs say.)
I no sooner finished frogging, then I grabbed some needles and started to knit. I didn’t even take the time to steam out the kinks in the yarn. (The knitting thus looks pretty uneven but I am fairly certain it will steam out when I block it.) And what, you may ask, am I knitting? Well, you will have to stay tuned to this spot to find out.
I believe you may have just documented one of the only times in human history where a moth hole is a Good Thing.
You’re such a skilled knitter, it’s a bit reassuring to know you too encounter the occasional wayward pattern. Your point about studying others’ finished items to spot problems upfront is well taken. Am sure we all have tales of “bought the pattern, knit it, THEN I noticed that …”
Looking forward to seeing what this lovely wool is on its way to becoming.
It’s funny, Barbara; I didn’t have the slightest freak out about the moth hole, which is unprecedented! I think you give my knitting skills too much credit; I still have much to learn, but I appreciate your kind words.
such a great post!!! this pattern was in my to do list until now…
I will search for your WW posts and read them all, because this one is so good!!
Hi Liza, thanks so much for commenting on the post. It was not my intention to scare anyone off from knitting Levenwick, however. It is a very pretty cardigan, and as they say “Forewarned is forearmed.” I think if you started this pattern knowing where the potential problems are, you could knit a well-fitted garment.
I love the look of this pattern too. Too bad about the fit. Good to know.
Thanks. With a bit of adjustment right at the start, you can definitely make this fit. But it clearly wasn’t working for me. I think the moth hole gave me the freedom to rip.
Oh wow, kinda glad the moth hole gave you an excuse to knit the wool into something you’ll love. I knitted a levenwick last year and have had a few issues with fit too, in the same places. I try to wear it with the neck open and that works for me. I also knitted long sleeves and it makes it more versatile I think. Look forward to seeing what you make with the frogged wool!
Hi Angela, it sounds like you’ve been a bit more successful making your Levenwick work for you. I’m glad to hear it. I think if I made it again I would go for long sleeves as well. As for the frogged wool, I’m blocking the new project now and will post up a report soon.
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