Friday, July 24, 2015

Complete: An Imperfect & Loved Sombra

According to my usual practice, this is a make that should never see the light of day. This really is one of my shoddier projects, and you know what? I actually don't care :)

This is Sombra, by Elanor King, and my goodness I made a bit of mess of it!( I'll explain later) It's knitted with Patons Embrace 2 ply (lace weight).

This was published in last summer's edition of Pom Pom magazine, and it's the first summer weight jumper I've ever been interested in knitting; to me knitting is a winter sport, thank you very much. But this one swayed me for a few reasons. Firstly, a dolman silhouette is my new favourite for tops. Secondly, Having knitted a few bulky sweaters recently  I'd been wondering about attempting a whole jumper using a lace weight yarn. Finally, I found the construction of this really intriguing.

It's knitted from the bottom up, beginning with one strand of yarn. When you get as far as the beginning of the first "V", you pull in a second strand of another colour, knitting more stitches with both colours the further up you go. Once you get to the second "V", you start using a third colour/strand. Not only does this give you a great marle effect, but it means that the thickest part of the jumper is at the neckline and shoulders, so it sits beautifully and means the lightest-weight section isn't taking any strain.

The sleeves are knitted from the top down in the round, using double pointed needles, and with just the one strand. The pattern recommends a cotton yarn, but I'm a bit fed up with cotton doing its diva-stretching-out-thing, so chose wool instead. Embrace is really, really lightweight to wear, but surprisingly warm. I'm wearing this a lot lately, and apart from the very coldest days, it's been ample to counter winter weather.

 Here's something I didn't know - lace weight yarn goes a long way. I used two 50g balls of cream and one each of the light and dark pinks. Actually, no - two balls of the dark pink, but only because I used lt pink + dk pink + dk pink for the neckband, rather than one of each colour as per the pattern. But there's almost a full ball left, and the second cream ball could have covered it easily.

 The back has the same pattern as the front, which I liked both in aesthetics and in terms of knitting interest. And yes, there are two different days of photo taking here. I forgot I'd already taken some. (it'd been a while...) In the newer (sunnier) shots you can that I finally took the plunge and got my hair cut - really cut. I've always secretly wanted a pixie cut and have never been brave enough. (Although strictly speaking this is slightly too long to be a genuine pixie...) Response: 98% positive, except for my youngest son who didn't speak to me for two days, and a woman at work who immediately reassured me "at least you know it'll all grow back..." :D

 The neckband, like the waistband and cuffs, are done in reverse stockingette. I like the way the neckband curls under itself.

So, I love the structure, the scooped neckline, the dolman shape, the lightness of it, the colourwork, and perhaps most of all, the way it's one of those garments you wear and kind of forget you're wearing because it sits just right and never needs fiddling with or adjusting. It really is one of my favourite things I've ever made. And yet... the workmanship is pretty dreadful, actually. I don't know if all lace weight yarn is hard to keep even, but I really struggled. It used 4mm needles, which are quite thick for such a fine weight, but is supposed to make for a really airy, almost mesh-like fabric. But there's mesh, and then there's just mess, and this teetered on the edge of that line. Blocking helped a bit, but didn't fix it completely. It's worst on the sleeves where, in addition, my decreases actually left gapey holes. (you can see them in the second photo from the top, too). And my double pointed needle technique definitely needs some refining - you can tell exactly where each needle started and ended. Maybe it is partly the yarn's fault - the two and three strand knitting doesn't look uneven at all. C'est la vie, I suppose...

But overall for me the positives more than outweigh the negatives. I guess it's a bit like the story of the Velveteen Rabbit...except that he started perfect and became less so. But the bit about loving something despite imperfections holds true, anyway!

How about you? Do you have any Perfectly Imperfect makes? And what are your thoughts about the pursuit of perfection in sewing/knitting?


  1. Ooh so firstly I love the hair! Here's to being fearless with haircuts (although your sons reaction reminds me of my husbands when I got a fringe without warning - he still spoke to me but wasn't impressed at all). Secondly such a beautiful knit. I used that yarn for a cardi last year, 2 strands together and it was lovely. When you use dpns do you move the joins at all? I always knit an extra stitch onto the needle from the next one to avoid those ladders.... But like you I am very zen about my knitting imperfections!

    1. That's such a great solution - thank you! I never thought of that... no more ladders! I remember that beautiful cardi of yours - that's what got me wanting to try lace weight yarn in the first place :D

  2. LOVE your hair! It really suits you! I think the sweater looms lovely too. I am clueless about knitting, so can't help, but I do like the marl effect on the V. And if you like wearing it, does it matter? i thnk there are some errors you forgive yourself, and some that just seem to grow in annoyance. I hope this sweater stays in the former camp for you!