Sunday, 3 March 2013


Man's Aran cardigan after a good few wears
Rowan Pure Wool Family Collection
One day I will hopefully get to finish a sweater without there being something ever so slightly or ever so majorly flawed about the finished piece. Ever the optimist, each time it happens, I just think how much more experienced I am getting with every mistake.

Pictured in grey is the man cardigan I recently finished, from the Rowan Pure Wool Family Collection. The request was for 'one of these in merino'...

After too much time going google-eyed looking for a fine merino Aran weight wool with similar knitting tension gauge and suitable colour and price (the other twisted thing about flaws being the more expensive the raw ingredients, the more painful the flaw and the more temptation to shamefacedly throw it in the bin because looking at it is a constant reminder of profligacy and overestimation of one's crafting ability), I settled on Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in grey, which I found on sale.

I wish I had known about Ravelry back then, I might have checked out the properties of this wool before committing. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful wool, soft and warm and a pleasure to knit with. It does pill on wearing but nothing a bit of de-bobbling won't sort every so often. The tricky thing is the stretchiness of Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran on washing.

Determined at the outset to avoid disasters, I think I even did a tension gauge swatch before knitting (learning from the cape fiasco), and measured the subject and measured again after christmas mince pie season...So when a year later (I am easily distracted) it came to the sewing up, I was dismayed to find the jacket to be just a little too snug in the chest department, the subject not having expanded in any appreciable form.

Not to worry, Techknitter to the rescue. What we had was an emergency gusset situation.

Gussets using Techknitter technique
Gusset in situ
How gusset might appear when lifting arms aloft
A gusset  is a 'triangular or rhomboid piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add breadth or reduce stress from tight-fitting clothing'.

It was a bit fiddly sewing them in and I would have liked a neater finish but they certainly did the job and BEFORE WASHING (bw) this was a perfectly fitted man's cardigan.

After washing (aw) we seemed to have an entirely different beast. Thinking that wool is wool is wool and wool generally shrinks on drying, I washed and blocked and hand-dried flat.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered aw that the arms had increased in length by about a third (!!!) and the gussets were NO LONGER NECESSARY, the chest having 'relaxed' on washing. I wasn't relaxed. Absobloodylutely no way am I taking those gussets out.

At that point I discovered Ravelry and read a most interesting Debbie bliss Rialto Aran discussion
which had the following comments, 'This stuff blooms like crazy during blocking! It really spreads and becomes much more drapey', and my personal favourite, 'Nice to knit, but grows faster than a puppy after you wash it.' Someone recommended tumble drying which did work, though that encouraged pilling.

Buttons from TextileGarden
On the plus side, it must be comfy and warm because it has been worn lots this February but I admit I do get sad when I see the sleeves rolled up like a jam roly-poly. I did find the perfect buttons though, from TextileGarden.

I wonder if next time I should wash the pieces before making up, thus avoiding any unnecessary though not uninteresting forays into the world of gusseting....

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