My friend Casey and I were roommates for several years in college, starting from sophomore year in the co-ops. She later moved to Europe and I didn’t see her for a few years, moved back to San Francisco for a summer, back to Europe again, and then flew back to California last month to get married.
She asked me to be a bridesmaid, but unfortunately, I couldn’t make it out there for her wedding. I was really honored, though, and wanted to be there in spirit if not in flesh and blood, so I offered to make her a shrug to wear.
We emailed back and forth for a while about what she wanted. She was getting married by the sea, where the breezes off the Pacific could get quite chilly, so she wanted something warm and cozy and chunky, with a high neck or mandarin collar. She mailed me a swatch of the blue sash she was wearing and the ribbon she was using for her ribbon roses, and her inspiration board, and I set to work shopping and swatching.
The best yarn I ended up finding was Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Stone Blue, a sort of medium cool denim shade, but the color wasn’t quite right. I decided to hold it along with a strand of Kidsilk Haze in Hurricane, which is a darker blue, and would also add a bit of bulk, softness, and depth of color. Here’s a picture of the Malabrigo beside her fabric swatches.
She loved the Drops A-Line Jacket that everyone was going crazy about last year, but wanted it short (shrug-length), so I swatched, got a ton of measurements from her, and modified it to be worked top-down, at a gauge between the worsted and super-bulky weights the pattern lists, with top-down seamless set-in sleeves. And, of course, I shortened it, and curved the fronts a little bit.
Size made: custom
Needles used: US size 11/8.0 mm circular needles (sleeves were knit magic loop style)
Date started: Not sure what date I started originally, but I had to rip and restart the project on May 1, 2009
Date finished: May 5, 2009. The wedding was on May 9!
Mods: too many to count, really; the only things that stayed the same were the double moss stitch lapel fronts and the collar.
- worked top-down following the formula in Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the Top: seamless CO at shoulders, short-row a bit for shoulder slope, work back down to armhole, increase a few stitches; then pick up the other side of the CO at shoulders and work the fronts downwards the same way, curving inwards a bit for front neck, then casting on a lot of stitches for the double-breasted overlap area in the front; join under the arms and work till end; pick up sts around each armhole and short-row sleeve caps
- gauge changed for size 11 needles
- measurements changed to fit the bride
- shortened to shrug length
Notes: This one was a real nail-biter–I was down to the wire on finishing it in time, and so worried I’d let her down. I was doing fine and on track until a few days before, when I decided I’d better put the shrug on some longer needles and check it out, and discovered that I had done the math wrong and her requested high neck (from which I was to pick up a mandarin collar) was a fetching scoop neck instead, and I had to rip back pretty much the entire thing.
As if that weren’t enough, I then started running dangerously low on the main yarn, Malabrigo worsted. “No problem,” I said to myself, “That’s why I bought the yarn locally–I can just go down to the Knitting Tree and buy another skein.” But, of course, when I went down to the Knitting Tree, five days before her wedding, they had sold out of all of that color of yarn.
Panic set in after I called the other yarn stores and found that they didn’t have any Malabrigo worsted either. I went to Plan B, and bought some Malabrigo Silky Merino in a nearly-matching shade of blue, and turned the yarn shortage into a design feature, using the silk blend to knit the cuffs and collar. Phew.
I was up late into the night weaving in ends, sewing on the little pearly buttons, and panicking, but finally I finished it and mailed it to her just in time, a day before the deadline.
And she wore it at her wedding, it kept her warm, and she got lots of compliments and questions about it! She had just dropped me a quick note from her honeymoon, but I am looking forward to the full report and pictures when she’s back in business, and happily ensconced in her new married life.
In the meantime, the only pictures I have are the ones where I modeled it before sending it off…
Cuffs… the match between Silky and Worsted isn’t bad, right?
And lying flat, ready to head off to its new home.