Here’s the thing about unconventional construction: if, like me, you’re used to heavily modifying patterns, you land in bewilderingly unfamiliar territory. This piece goes where?? If I want to adjust length, I need to cast on more stitches? How does that work?
Consider Nanook. Gorgeous, stylish pattern. The reversibility of the Bear Track pattern, coupled with the garter fronts, means it can be worn with various degrees of closure, and still look good and not wrong side out. With 300+ people who have made this and posted pictures on Ravelry, I’ve been able to minutely analyse how the garment hangs on many kinds of body shapes. I love the way it looks completely high-necked and closed, and also when it is closed just below the bust, with the fronts furled open. Thanks to my unwitting guinea pigs (and I mean that in the nicest way!) I also know I want to avoid the fronts hanging down too low since that creates large, floppy undulations of fabric around the midriff.
And here’s where the unusual construction whacks you on the head. Normally, a basic cardigan would be created and stitches picked up along the front bands and neck – continuously – to work the Bear Track pattern. In Nanook, however, the front pieces are made wide enough that their tops (which would normally be perpendicular to the front opening) can hang down and create a long, vertical front-band/collar effect. And when that happens, the actual fronts are pushed into a horizontal position. So if the front pieces are very wide, their tops will form long, vertical ‘front-bands’ when worn open, and their logically vertical edges (now pushed into a horizontal position) will create all those unwanted folds of fabric around the waist. If this is clear as mud, look through the project pages, you’ll see what I mean where some people have made loose, wide, front pieces.
I want a Nanook that looks good closed (high necked) and open (folded collar). Like these ones! But my gauge was 20.5sts per 4 inches, instead of the 18 in the pattern. So I did a simple ratio calculation, and figured I would need to make the L1 size to get a garment between XS and S. Worked till body and sleeve separation. Perfect fit across back and sleeves. Except that the front collar hung down to my waist! Shriek!
Nothing to be done – I ripped it out. Before reducing it to a tangle of yarn, though, I wore the half finished garment with the needles removed, and figured out that I would need seven Bear Paws instead of nine.
And here I am, re-knitting. I started with the stitch count for XS (to get seven Paws), but made increases according to size L1 (since the body and sleeves fit well in the first iteration, for my adjusted gauge). Meaning, my front garter sections are shorter than the pattern would have them be, but that’s ok, I can always throw in a few increases.
I’m planning to add pockets as well, because what use is a snuggly cardigan without anywhere to tuck in hands?!