Ravi revived

Some of you may be wondering what happened to Ravi.  I was knitting away on it fairly steadily throughout August, and since then it has done a disappearing act.  The truth is that Ravi and I have had a number of disagreements.  I need to solve them before I can finish.  These disagreements revolve around three design features.

First, I had major issues with the sleeves.  I think I’ve worked them out now, as you can see from the above photo, but it was touch and go for awhile.  First, Ravi is designed with three-quarter length sleeves and I couldn’t decide whether to keep them that length or do full sleeves.  I finally decided on the full sleeves and I think it was a pretty good decision.  I like them.  I think the I-cord edging and the fact that they do not come down to a ribbed cuff as many sweaters do, gives my Ravi the appearance of a jacket.  Kind of chic.  That was only one isse I had with the sleeves, however, and not the primary one.

I hated knitting these sleeves in the round.  I always hate knitting sleeves in the round, even though it is all the rage these days.  I don’t see what the problem is with seams.  Knitting the sleeves in the round when the body of the cardigan is knit back and forth leads to its own set of problems, since the gauge doesn’t match.  In addition, knitting garter stitch in the round is not fun (since you have to alternate knit and purl rows even while turning out garter).  And I found that I could not knit it, no matter how I tried or what method I used, without creating “ladders” or “ridges” running down the sleeves.  You can clearly see one in the above photo, running from the elbow to the cuff on my left sleeve.  I am hoping that with a little luck I can block these out.

By the way, once I had almost finished the second sleeve, I decided to check the archives of the Ravi KAL on Ravelry to see what other knitters had to say about the sleeves.  I mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t really follow the KAL, in part because there was so much posted, in part probably pure obstinance.  I was dismayed to discover that many knitters, frustrated with knitting the sleeves in the round, ripped back and knit them flat and seamed them.  Argh!  Why didn’t I do that?  It would have taken me a third of the time and saved tons of aggravation.  Maybe I should have followed the KAL more diligently.  You think?

Annoying design feature number two has to do with the short row shaped back hem.  Here is how it looks on the pattern, as designed and modelled by Carol Feller (taken from her blog, Stolen Stitches):

Here is how it looks at the moment on my Ravi:

See that horrible bulge?  (Some of this bulge is just from the stitches still sitting “live” on the needle at the bottom, which pulls them in a bit.  But some of the bulge is caused by the short row shaping, and it looks terrible.)  Now, once again I searched the Ravi KAL posts, and according to them, many knitters had this problem and they all claim that it blocks out with a good wet block and steam.  Carol Feller agrees, and there are photos to prove it.  Many of them.  Still, I find myself torn between doing all of the finishing on the cardigan and then discovering that the bulge won’t block out and having to rip it all out, or just biting the bullet and ripping it out now and leaving out this feature all together.  In the latter scenario, I would just have a straight hem at the bottom.  The photo below shows both how great the sleeves look at this bracelet length, and how awful the bulge at the back hem looks.

I go back and forth every day about whether to rip this or not.  I think I have probably decided to trust my fellow knitters  and block it out.  It certainly looks great in Carol’s Ravi, and she didn’t steer me wrong with Killybegs, which was an excellent design.

This leads to the third issue and the one that really has me stumped: the buttons, buttonholes, and I-cord edging.  The design calls for an attached I-cord edge that goes all the way down the fronts and around the bottom.  The I-cord looks supremely elegant and gives a very tailored edge to the cardigan. The buttonholes are knit into the I-cord as loops.  I have looked at all the Ravi photos and have found that I really am not happy with the buttons.  On some sweaters they gape, which really detracts from what should be an elegant edge.  On others, the spacing is wrong (and this is hard to fix, because of the lace panel, which leads you to make certain judgements about placement).  On many, the buttons are too heavy and pull down the fabric of the cardigan on one side, making the whole sweater lop-sided.  Some Ravis exhibit all three of these problems.

I have at least five options: (1) Stop fretting, and just follow the pattern.  (2) Knit a button band.  This would entail picking up stitches down both fronts and along the bottom, and knitting a band in garter, complete with button holes. (3) Put in a zipper.  This may be a good option but a slightly scary one as I have never done this before. (4) Use hooks and eyes to make an invisible closure.  (5) Don’t make any closure. Knit the I-cord edging and then wear it open or use a pin to close it.   Not a day goes by when I don’t change my mind about which option to use.  Today I’ve changed it twice….