Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ophelia in Cactus - Completed

I was going to wait and post my review of Ophelia when I finished my Mediterranean version. I was hoping to finish it today. It didn't happen. So, I'm posting a review on my Cactus version. It makes sense as I am making some slight changes to Mediterranean. So, that project will get its own review. Also, I know some of you on Ravelry are chomping at the bit to knit up your own version of Ophelia. :)

BTW...I have received a lot of complements when I wore this at my LYS. I can't wait to get Mediterranean done.

Here's my detailed review on Ophelia and more pics (if you can believe that!)

Ophelia in Cactus color. This color is not accurate. See next picture below

Name of Pattern:

Designed by:
Elizabeth Klett

Pattern/Garment Description:
Pretty sleeveless cardi features two different lace patterns: a simple lace rib that mimics curving vines and a more complex pattern that resembles lilies of the valley. The top is knit in one piece to the armholes and then the back and front pieces are worked separately. Shoulders are seamed. Wear it over a pretty camisole on those sultry summer days or over long-sleeve tops for cooler nights.

Cardi is worked in one piece to the armholes.

XS (28), S (32), M (36), L (40), 1X (44), 2X (48), & 3X (52)

Lengths: 20 - 23 inches

I made a size Medium (36"). Normally, I will knit a size Small. This time, I went with the finished full bust size of 36" as this was closer to my measurement. I looked at the other Ophelia projects posted on Ravelry and decided I personally didn't like having more than 2" of opening across the bust area. Personal preference.

Yarns Used:
Lion Brand Cotton Ease - used less than 3 skeins in Cactus color. This yarn is 50% cotton and 50% acrylic.

I am getting familiar with this yarn. After producing two garments, I am noticing that this yarn has some elasticity because of the acrylic. This yarn produces really nice stitch definitions and so far, I've had an enjoyable knitting experience. I'll be back to add the results of my wash test.

Washing and drying: I've washed Ophelia. I placed it in a lingerie bag and threw it in the washing machine, gentle cycle, cold water wash. I also, put it in my dryer, gentle cycle. The end result? My garment softened quite a bit and shrunk in length slightly, which I don't mind. The yarn held up well. I will measure the garment and post the results later.

16 sts = 4 inches

Knitting Tools Used:
- Circular needles: 40" in size 9
- DPNs: size 8 were used to do a 3-needle BO at the shoulders. (Note: I didn't have size 9s in my stash)
- Waste yarn for stitch holders
- Tapestry needle to weave in the waste yarn
- Stitch markers (used several to mark the fronts, sides, back and also the 3-repeat lace pattern for the back). Used two unique stitch markers to mark the side seams of the garment.

Techniques I used/Things I learned:
This is my first garment where I knitted in one piece from the bottom up. It seemed like forever knitting and purling (ribbing) the 146 stitches. Along the way I kept reminding myself, no seams to sew! This was well worth the experience and in the end I have a nicely fitted garment.

I could easily get use to knitting this way

The Bind offs at the armholes:

As I was knitting and separating the fronts from the back (RS) and putting the right front on stitch holder, I did a two stitch bind off on the back right, knitted the lace pattern and then placed the back on stitch holders. I also did a 2 stitch bind off on the left front before continuing with the lace pattern. This is the decrease for the armholes as I was separating the sections.

When I started to knit the right front, I did a 2-stitch bind off on the WS. I also did the same 2-stitch bind off when I got the back piece (WS).

When I did the BOs for the armhole areas, this eliminated the garter stitches that were established above the ribbing and prior to separation.

Showing the armhole BOs

Decreases used for the front edges:

For the front left and RS, I ended up following the pattern and then left 4 stitches on the left needle to do a K2tog and then a K2. I did this 4 times on the RS, consecutive rows. For the right front and RS, I started a K2 and then an SSK and continued in pattern. I also did this 4 times on the RS, consecutive rows.

This created a nice curve in the front edges and helped narrow the pieces along the neckline

The Ribbing at the Shoulders:

I spent some time trying to figure out how I was going to knit this area. The instructions assumed I was going to knit this project verbatim. I had already integrated my own changes including the 4 stitch decreases along the front edge and a 2-stitch BO in the armhole areas. I ended up with 30 stitches on my needle. The instructions have you do a 2-stitch decrease in the shoulder. This would through off my K2,P2...P2,K2 sequence that I needed to end up with. Doing a quick math, I had the "Aha!" moment.

If I had done the recommended 2-stitch decrease, I would have ended up with 28 stitches on my needle. Divide that by 2 and that gives me 14 stitches or an even number. I would have started with a K2 and ended with a P2. I needed to end up with an odd number. So, I ignored the 2-stitch decrease in the pattern and kept my 30 stitches. I took 30 divide by 2 and came up with 15 stitches, an odd number. That would produce the K2 at the start and a K2 at the end of the row.

Shoulder seams:

I did a 3 needle BO at the shoulders instead of doing the mattress stitch and slightly gathering the shoulders (seaming the knit stitches). As a result of this BO, my shoulder seams are flat.

I did a continuous BO along the upper back incorporating both shoulders. Here's what I did:

Basically, I started with the right side of the garment and matched the right front shoulder with the right back shoulder, right sides together (wrong sides facing out). I did a 3 needle BO using my DPNs.

Placed right front shoulder (23 sts) on a DPN

Placed 23 stitches of the right shoulder of the back piece on a DPN

Starting my 3 needle bind off

I ended up with a single BO stitch left on my DPN. I went ahead and continued the BO along the back neckline until I had 23 stitches left on the back left shoulder. I stopped the BO and placed my left front shoulder (23 sts) on a DPN and with right sides together, continued to BO the left shoulder.

On the DPN is the left shoulder (23 sts). To the right of the needle is the bind off edge of the back neckline

Knitting i-cord: I am currently knitting my first i-cord to be used as a tie belt. This will give me two alternative looks for this cardi, i-cord or ribbon.

Single crochet edging: I crocheted an edging around the fronts and back neckline edges. I ended up doing this twice as I crocheted too many stitches on the first try and had to rip it out. On the second try, I skipped a stitch here and there to reduce the wavy-ness of the edge.

Changes I Made to the Pattern:
Narrowed the front pieces. Did 2 stitch BO for the armholes (front and back pieces). Did 4 stitch decrease along the front edges of the front pieces. In essence, I did a K2tog on the left front edge on the RS in 4 consecutive rows. For the right front edge, I did an SSK on the RS in 4 consecutive rows.

As a result of doing 2 stitch BOs at the beginning of the lower armhole areas, that removed the 4 garter stitches (area under the separation of fronts from back). By the time I got up to the shoulder area (ribbing), I had to ignore the instructions for one of the edges. The instructions assumed the garter stitch was maintained up along the armhole edges. I ended up not doing a 2-stitch decrease before the shoulder ribbing. If I did that my K2, P2 ribbing would have been off.

For the back section, I did the 2 stitch BOs at the armholes. I decided not to match the decreases that I made for the front pieces. One, I did not want to disturb the lace pattern. Two, I have a broad back.

What I Like About this Pattern:
I love the lace pattern. It does remind me of lilies of the valley. The P2tog knitted on the RS rows creates the little nubs or lily flowers.

Close up of lace pattern

What I Dislike About this Pattern:
Nothing to dislike. This is a well written pattern. I found no mistakes.

My Pattern Rating (Beginner, Easy, Intermediate, Hard):
I would rate this pattern as Intermediate. I know I would not have been able to tackle this project without all the knitting experience I had on my previous garments.

Conclusion/Additional Comments:
While this started out as a slow knitting project, it quickly picked up once I started to knit the lace pattern. I am guessing that is typical with any lace patterns. So far, it is with my experience.

I personally believe the changes I made makes the top more wearable. I don't care to have the bulkiness around the armhole and neckline areas especially in warmer weather.

I carefully selected this color as I wanted to wear these garments through several seasons. I'm not too concerned about wearing a bit of lace in the Fall. I think it will be my own fashion statement. :)

Based on my sewing experience and knitting with the Lion Brand Cotton Ease yarn, I could tell that the style and length of Ophelia would be fine on me. No bodice length adjustments were needed as the eyelet area sits well below my full bust area.


Trina said...

Another stunning garment! I love the alterations you made to the pattern; the garter stitch under the arms is effective. Your tips for the BO were very helpful! I'm sure you'll get lots of wear out of it (and many compliments to match!) :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is amazing! You are a crazy fast knitter! I love how I could watch your work 'grow' from cast on to cast off. Very inspiring. I feel this is another one to add to my ever growing queue. Very stunning, have fun wearing it!

Rachel said...

That is beautiful and the color look great on you!!!

Jasmine's Mommy said...

Another beautiful project. Love the color. I like yours a lot more than the one in the pattern! I have to make one of these soon :)