Travel knitting recap

I was away from home for a full month, including a working trip to South Africa and a holiday to British Columbia, Canada.  You may recall that I took two knitting projects with me: Cullum, a linen tee shirt with a bit of lace designed by Isabell Kraemer, and Sofi, a light jacket in wool and linen designed by Hanne Falkenberg.  Photos of both designs are shown below:

First off, I must admit to not having accomplished much knitting on either trip.  While in South Africa I was kept quite busy on the job, and in Vancouver and surrounds, I was enjoying hanging out with my daughters and other relatives, and wasn’t feeling the knitting mojo so much.  This latter may be partly because I was concentrating more on the linen tee, which admittedly is not a particularly scintillating knit.  (It is in linen and much of it is in stockinette in-the-round.)  Once I got the jacket on my needles, I found it more enjoyable.  My rationale was that the linen tee was a summer top, so I should put some effort into finishing it while it was still summer.

The tee is knit from the top down; the front and back are joined in the round at the armholes.  Thus, I didn’t get to try it on until after it was joined and I had knit a few inches in the round.  Now that I am home, I have tried it on and…..IT IS TOO BIG!  And, not very nice looking at the back.  Here is the evidence.  This is the front view, clearly a bit big but still reasonable.  (Please note the effects of serious jet lag in these photos; what a difference a little sleep makes!  Look at the sweater and ignore the wearer!)


Here is a side view.  You can see that the arm scythe is very low, but this is the type of tee which I will probably wear over a tank, so still salvageable.


Below is a view of the back.


I am really not happy with the way the sleeves look at the back.  There just seems to be lots of extra fabric everywhere.  UGH! Let’s look at this dispassionately, however.  It is knit in 100% linen.  I know that it will shrink a bit when I have washed it.  I also did a gauge swatch and made sure to wash and dry it before measuring.  So it is quite possible that, once properly washed and dried and blocked, this will look as I imagined it.  I also know that I purposely didn’t want it to be fitted – it is a summery linen tee, made to be worn in hot weather, so it should be loose and airy. Right now, however, I am feeling that it is miles too loose and airy.

What do you think?  Is it as big as I am thinking?  Is it likely to shrink?  Why do the backs of the sleeves look so bad?  Why is the back neck so loose? Is this likely to block out? More importantly: should I rip back and do some re-fashioning?  Should I forge ahead but put in some decreases? (I actually put in one set of decreases on the plane, just an inch above where I’ve knit to in the photo, and was thinking of one more set for just 8 stitches decreased.  Is this too little too late?)  Should I just leave it be?  Or should I, perhaps,  throw it in the (now empty) WIP basket and instead knit the Falkenberg jacket?

To help you address the last question, here is a progress shot of the jacket:


Pretty, huh?  The body is knit in one piece with no shaping, thus it is a boxy little jacket. When I made my swatch, I had this idea that the body would just be a larger version of the swatch – basically the pattern knit as a big rectangle – but I forgot how brilliant Hanne is at design.  Her pieces are so clever and so well-tailored.  To illustrate, here is the side seam:


And here is the centre back of the jacket:


I love these details.

It is Friday evening here in England and they are predicting a gorgeous weekend with sunny skies and hot temperatures.  My friend Erun is visiting and we have good food, good wine, plenty of sun screen and knitting projects on the go.  Which one do you think I will be knitting this weekend?

22 thoughts on “Travel knitting recap

  1. It is way, way too big–and knowing linen it will not shrink that much. Either re-do the entire back or, as you said, throw it in the WIP basket for another time and go on to the jacket. I know you hate a re-do as much as I.

  2. Hmmm. Can you measure your swatch and measure the gauge you are getting on the sweater? That will give you an idea of shrinkage.
    I don’t think it looks as awful as you do, but if the gauge doesn’t tell you that it will shrink some, I would definitely do the second set of decreases.

    And it is lovely, you know, no matter how it seems to be right now.

    The jacket – just beautiful! Can’t wait to see that one made up. 🙂

  3. Have a good time there! Love from Liv, Eruns mother. And I think the top shall be just fine with a good wash!

    • Hi Liv, I am enjoying a lovely visit with your daughter. (How can you not enjoy a guest who makes you seared tuna with mango-chili salsa for dinner?) We are having a quiet day in the sun and I am plotting what to do with this top.

  4. Everything I knit induces paranoia. I stress about everything, do I have enough yarn, will it be ghastly on…. you name it.
    Looking at your linen tee, I think once blocked it will be completely fine. The lack of finishing on the sleeve edges will neaten, and you can press those flat. I can’t abide the thought of tight lace tees, and am certain anything would cling during summer wear so tight to your body the only way to get it off will be to use scissors, either that or your nails will rip the fabric as you undress. :O

    • I have to agree! The more I fuss about size, gauge, appropriate yarn, amount of yarn, etc, the more paranoid I become as I actually knit the item. Right now I’m working on a poncho and am already obsessing about running out of yarn. That’s a lot of knitting to be paranoid about. : )

      Kelly, you definitely don’t want this to be real fitted for summer wear. However, I agree that it won’t shrink much with blocking so a few more decreases might be in order. I hope you enjoy your weekend with your friend.

      • Thank you Arlene, and Jen too! I think sometimes we need to step back and remember that knitting is supposed to be fun and relaxing! Sometimes I wonder whether writing the blog puts extra stress on me to get things right … then again, I have had some pretty good screw-ups documented on here, so perhaps not.

  5. Me, I’d make sure I have copious notes and photos, frog the whole damned thing and put it in a bag at the back of the closet for another year. I knit a garment in linen once and I’m glad I don’t have to do that again. I’ll buy linen garments, thank you. I like the spring of wool. The Falkenberg, in addition to being a brilliant design looks like much more fun to knit.

  6. I’d do what salpal1 suggested and do a comparison between gauge on the washed swatch and the unblocked sweater. If you figure it out as a percentage you can pin the excess out and get a better understanding of how it will change after blocking.

    • Thanks, Robin. What I actually did is to put the whole thing on a spare piece of yarn and wash, dry and block it. It definitely does look better than before but it is still pretty big. I am going to take a bit of time to ponder on it. Today, it is pretty hot here in the UK, however, and that makes big seem less bad.

  7. Hmmmm…I am on the fence with this one. My LYS just posted the same project on Rav (EspaceTricot). The arm scythes are low and it looks like a baggy knit. I think it should go into the time-out basket, for an eventual frogging. I’d re-knit one size down. I just frogged over 400m of baby alpaca (all cables, no less…) and went with a smaller size. So happy I did it. I’m over the pain and disappointment now LOL. I have 8 skeins of Rowan’s Pure Linen in black, and *might* just make Cullum, too. While I love linen with a passion, I find it a fickle knit. I knit with Pure Linen in white and natural, and can tell you that each colour knit and blocked differently. Can’t vouch for the Quince and Co. yarn, but I’m not putting money on it shrinking. It will drape better, but I still find it too big for you.

    ((Your Hanne Falkenberg knit is wowsa…))

    Hope you are having a great summer and that you’re all faring well!

    • Hey, Ann, how lovely to hear from you! It looks like you win the frogging prize! One of the things I like best about knitting is that it is un-doable (unlike most other things) so we should rather be happy that we can frog, no? I am beginning to think that maybe I should give the linen a rest this year, however. By next summer, I will have forgotten all this. (Check out my new post regarding the Callum….)

  8. The lace pattern of the linen top is really beautiful. I agree with you about the back sleeves, though. I knit a cardigan once with sleeves that ended up looking a bit like wings and I found I never wore it. In that case I was able to fix the problem with elastic but this one seems like you might need to frog it and knit it in a smaller size. That might help with the armholes gapping as well. I often find things fit much better if I knit a smaller size for the back than the front. That might be another solution although those calculations, when knitting in the round, would be trickier.

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