I know I've been leading up to this post for quite some time - there's been more than a few mentions of the knitting of the tea leaves.
I started out by asking you all for pattern recommendations after I determined that I really wanted, what I would really wear and what would look good on me. I also had some pretty clear ideas about how best to use the luscious soft, warm and slightly fuzzy possum and merino yarn I had stashed.
Next came a rather traumatic dyeing session. It ended up OK, but it took a very long time over a dye pot and a very conscious decision to be happy with something I hadn't planned on.
And then bit by bit I've worked away at something that I really hoped would work out well. I've said before I don't knit a lot of adult garments and my success rate hasn't been good and this was a project in which I set out with the determination to do everything I could to put the odds in my favour.
I even blocked it in a totally anal fashion.
Now I have the irrefutable evidence that putting in the effort pays off. The fit is, dare I say it, perfect. As perfect as something I had sewn and cut and then altered to make it exactly right. It's warm, it's comfy, it looks great from a design and finish sense. There isn't anything I would change about it and that is most definitely a first.
So here is all the vital stats.
Pattern is Tea Leaves Cardigan, size 46"
Yarn is 450gms of posmerino 8ply/DK weight from the now closed Knittery.
Dyed tomato, then plum (=burgundy) then black (=goth purple).
It took exactly six weeks to knit, including swatching - which for me is very quick. I give big praise to swatching this one (and washing the swatch too), I very nearly knit the size down because it was closer to my actual size and I hadn't read the pattern that this was the actual garment size, not the garment for a person that size (ie with built in ease). When I swatched and did the maths I realised I should do the bigger size and again, whew disaster averted!
Modifications: As did quite a few others, I added some short rows to raise the back a bit. I did about half the stitches for one short row in each of the garter stitch bands except the cast on one. I think that was exactly right.
I also added some waist shaping - three rounds of decreases and four of increases at the centre of each front and the same in back (where you would put waist darts if you were sewing) to make the hips slightly bigger than the bust. Again, this was exactly right. It was an enormous help to be able to try it on as I went and make sure I had the placement of the shaping right - taking the stitches off onto waste yarn was a bore, but in hindsight absolutely worth it.
I had to go up a needle size to 5mm for the sleeves after I realised my gauge in the round was tighter than in the straight of the body. Apparently not uncommon, though I didn't know about it till I started trawling the rav boards to see if anyone else thought the sleeves were a bit tight. Again, ripping back was a bore, but again totally worth it.
I made the garter bands on the sleeves, bottom and button bands slightly wider. Like lots of designers, some of the finer details are thought about much in the resizing and it seemed more like the proportions of the original garment. I am also slightly concerned about the button bands sagging where the buttonholes are - since this happens all the time with knitwear. I haven't done it yet but I bought some black cotton tape and I intend to try sewing it on the wrong side of the button band is it does start to sag.
I did less decreases on the sleeves and I did them later too - again a product of the trying on as you go. I found this kind of modifying really easy to work out with this pattern and can see endless variations on the basic pattern in the future!
So yeah, I'm well pleased with myself. I will be wearing it on Sunday for my birthday (and the rest of today and no doubt tomorrow as well and basically showing it off every chance I get for quite a while yet. I would heartily recommend the pattern as an all round winner - especially to those who want something that is essentially very simple, but which offers the opportunity to tweak easily and with lots of trying on as you go. Just make sure you swatch and swatch well!