Pattern: Fern, by Ann Shayne. From Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines
Size: I knitted the size small, but blocked it to the dimensions of the size large. I did this on purpose as alpaca relaxes a lot in water, and I wanted the finished fabric to be quite drapey.
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, 50% wool, 20% alpaca, 30% nylon. Colours 1277, 1279, 1275, 1284, 1294, from Village Yarns, Cumberland, BC. Fiddlehead embroidery was done in Kauni Effektgarn 8/2, 100% wool, colour EK from Fun Knits yarn shop, Quadra Island BC.
Needle: 2.75mm and 3mm Addi Turbo circular, and Susan Bates steel circular
Tension: 32 sts and 32 rows over 10 cm (I blocked it hard to add length)
Cast on: February 10, 2009
Finished: May 27, 2009
Modifications: Used four buttons instead of the eight shown. Substituted yarn, including using a brown and a purple instead of two unavailable greens.
Notes: The fiddleheads were extremely -- well, fiddly. The designer's instructions for this part of the process were limited: "Chain-stitch fiddleheads at the hem of the coat as shown in the picture." A template would have been nice, but I managed to free-hand them well enough. It was trial and error - I ripped out about seven of them all told, and redid them - they looked wonky the first time around.
Click photos for a much better view.
There are meant to be buttons all down the length of the coat. The sample in the book has eight, and it looks wonderful (although in the book photos, all the buttons below the chest are undone to allow the lower 2/3 of the sweater to open up). I did try using eight buttons, but found in the end that simply using four at the top looked much sweeter.
The buttons are not identical. There are two of one style, and two of another. This ups the cuteness factor considerably.
Here is a view of the sleeve, set in with the stripes matching up. Don't think this didn't take careful sewing and clever easing - it really, really did. Thank T-Fal for upright-steaming irons.
You can't get an idea of the beautiful drape of this fabric from pictures, but here you can see it a little bit. It's light, smooth, and almost silky-feeling.
The coat is very long on my model - she is a year younger than Ruby.
Her mum was there for this photoshoot, and for a minute it was looking like I wasn't getting this sweater back. I said "You can't afford it".
Actually I said "I can teach you how to knit if you like."
Again with the matchy stripes on the sleeve seams.
Thanks to the darling little girl for modelling, and to her wonderful mum for giving me the sweater back.
And thanks to my Uncles Joe and Dave for commissioning this garment - it was a beautiful thing to create - maybe my favourite knitted item ever. It really kicked my butt at times, and in the watches of the night I often wondered if I'd ever finish, or if I'd end up hanging myself with my circular needle out of frustration...but I made it to the end and I'm glad I did.