FO: Manon



Pattern: Manon by Norah Gaughan, in Norah Gaughan Vol 1
Yarn: worsted-weight no-name wool purchased in Florence, then dyed using Jacquard Acid dyes. I had two big skeins of this, and ended up using just over one, so I've got plenty left for something else.
Needles: US 9/ mm
Gauge: 18 st/24 rows = 4 in
Comments/mods: To start off with, I think this is the best sweater I've knit for myself so far. I loved the construction - the peplum gives a lot of visual interest, but the upper body isn't to busy - and the way the pattern fits together. The dyeing worked out incredibly well; there some varigation to the yarn, but it doesn't pool or stripe or do anything terribly funky.

Thankfully, IM took some other shots

I did a number of modifications, so I'll try to remember them all.

1. I knit the fronts and backs together, splitting at the armholes and then finishing each section separately.
2. I left off the daisy chain stitch on the lower seams.
3. I completely ignored the directions for the sleeves and knit them as set-in top down sleeves a la Barbara Walker. Since my arms are somewhat generous for the size of the rest of me, I can avoid having too tight sleeves this way. I did knit the cuffs separately as in the directions and then mattress stitched them on.


Now I have to decide on some kind of closure. I've been wearing it open, which is fine for this time of year in Houston (or the weather last week in Houston, since it was 80 degrees today!), but I suspect I'll need something to keep it shut next winter.


One last self-portrait...ooops!

Manon issues

So waaaaay back in September, Devil and I dyed some Eye-talian wool that had been marinating in the stash (and hopefully spreading around some wonderful Firenze cooties to the rest of the gang) for a couple of years. And then I blithely cast on for a sweater by one of my favorite designers.

Manon peplum

I'm afraid my brain seems to have been permenantly damaged by motherhood, because I have now knit the peplum for this sweater approximately 42 bazillion times. The first part (center triangle) went just fine.


Then came the sides of the peplum. Having made a previous NG sweater, I didn't have any problems with the construction. I happily picked up stitches and went on my merry way. One side finished, I went to cast on for the second side and realized something.

Manon - the problem area

Click for notes

While the center triangle has three garter stitch ridges at the base, the peplum sides only had two ridges. I went back to the pattern repeatedly, checked the errata, checked Ravelry threads, hemmed and hawed, but could not convince myself that I was misreading the pattern.

In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal, right? But somehow I fixated on this as a huge problem. So I figured I would cast on for the other side and work three ridges, just to compare.

Before I knew it, I'd knitted the entire other side of the peplum, without pausing to check and see if I liked three ridges better. I think I subconsciously decided that I was going to rip out the first side, and I didn't want to give myself a chance to change my mind, since why knit two sides when you can knit three? Or four? Or x+infinity?


In any event, I now have completed the peplum. The trauma of repeated reknitting notwithstanding, I have gone on to work the fronts and back all together. I made it up to the armholes before my brains melted and poured out my ears, and that's where things stand now.

Manon and stitch markers

I've been enjoying my new stitch markers though - from a swap for a skein of Essential on Ravelry. I definitely got the better end of that deal! And I'm loving the way the variegation on the dye job is playing out. So far, so good, but now I've got to get back to the Christmas presents. The list hasn't gotten any shorter.

The dreaded "S" word

Last week at WHMU(WHSKAL), I swatched. Which is something that happens pretty rarely around here, so I thought I'd babble about it a little bit.

Usually I don't swatch. My gauge is usually pretty close to the recommended gauge on ball bands, so for things like socks I don't swatch. I don't swatch lace. I don't swatch for scarves or mittens or hats. In fact the only thing I do swatch for occasionally is a sweater.

Typically I'll start with a sleeve if I'm worried about the gauge and check that after a few inches. But if it's something that for which gauge is really important, I'll do a swatch. Or a yarn that I have no information on for appropriate gauge. Or if I'm not sure how the yarn and the pattern will work together, I'll do a swatch.

I've been wanting to do Manon for a while now (Rav link). And since it's another Norah Gaughan funky construction type of thing, I figured swatching would be in my best interests. So I threw the newly dyed Italian yarn into a bag along with three needle sizes and headed for Whole Foods.

Three needles sizes you ask? Yup, three sizes. Because nothing pisses me off more then knitting a gauge swatch with a particular size and then finding out that it's wrong. So I use multiple sizes on the same swatch and then pick the one that works best after washing/drying.

Manon swatch

For this sweater the pattern calls for US size 9 needles. Usually I would try to bookmark the needle size (i.e. use one size smaller and one size larger), but I couldn't imagine that I would need a US 10 for this, so I took US 7/8/9 as my needle range.
Recommended gauge for this project is 18 st/24 rows for 4 inches. I cast on 26 stitches with the 7s, knit about 4 rows in garter stitch and then started working in stockinette stitch, keeping 3 stitches on each edge in garter. After a while, on a wrong side row, I knit 7 stitches. After a while more, I figured I had enough to be able to check the gauge, so I knit one entire wrong side row, and then switched to the 8s.

Manon swatch
click for notes

The process proceeded as above except that instead of knitting 7 stitches in the middle of that stretch, I knit 8, and so on (9 stitches with the size 9s). This makes it very easy later on to figure out what needle size I used for which section of the swatch, without having to rely on an easily lost piece of paper. The swatch is finished with several more rows of garter stitch. I finished this one easily that night, and tossed it into a cold bath when I got home (although I did start the sweater before measuring the blocked swatch - thankfully the gauge didn't change!).

Manon swatch
click for more notes

I'm happy to say that, not only was my gauge spot on with the US 9s, but the swatch didn't bleed at all, proving that my improvised solar dyeing/steam setting of the dye worked pretty well. It is slightly variegated, which looks just gorgeous when knitted up. And I've got a gauge swatch that tells me how the yarn works on 7s and 8s too, just for future reference.