Twillish jacket, revisited

From knits

Ain’t it just the way it goes that when you finally do something right you don’t take good notes?? When I made my “Not Alpaca but Twillish” (rav link) jacket a year and a half ago (blog link), I made a lot of modifications to the pattern (a Norah Gaughan pattern “Alpaca Twill,” from Knitter’s Magazine 84, Fall 2006). I started out making good notes for myself, but by the time I got through my fourth and final version, I was just riffing and I can’t really tell you what I did. I’m still not sure how much help this post will be to anyone who wants to try something like it, but it’s the best I’ve got!

Three sets of notes, upside down, backwards…and totally useless. I didn’t mark which ones I ended up using, or even which ones didn’t work!

From knits

At that point, I started getting requests via Ravelry for my mods. Doh! But I’m actually grateful for those requests, because I started to put down my thoughts when they were still somewhat fresh in my head, or at least more so than now. So I’m going to do my best for those of you who have asked for help, and ask you for patience in return. I’ll be happy to clarify whatever points I can, just drop me a line.

First let me say I take great pleasure in wearing this coat. I wore it to my field’s big society meeting in Nashville (go AMS!) this November, and it was perfect for both the beautiful southern fall weather and the unpredictable climes of hotel conference centers. I could wear it running back and forth from the hotel, and even in the chillier conference rooms, without looking like I was in fact running around the city like crazy. I like that I can wear it with jeans or dressier pants, and layer it over simple knit shirts. I guess that, like all my favorite clothes, the point is that it is easy to wear.

Ok, on to some initial thoughts in no particular order…

1: Beware of hip ease. This note is for me as much as everyone else: be generous with hip ease! I’m used to using negative or sparse positive ease in sweaters, but that doesn’t fly for hips. Anyone know what kind of rules there are for ease in jackets?

My  jacket closes at the hip but doesn’t hang there naturally, a circumstance I’ve convinced myself is the look I wanted–but really? if I were making this again I’d add much more ease, please. Part of my mistake was that I changed the way the fronts of the original jacket met, without compensating for the loss of inches at the hips. I didn’t follow the schematics for this hardly at all, and this was one place I should have at least noted the measurements.

From knits

2: Reduced sleeve puff. This is a personal preference, since I just can’t bring myself to do QB-sized sleeves. So I just skipped the last four increases of the sleeves (I made the smallest size, so I had eight less sts in the middle section to be bound off), and that was a really easy way to solve the problem of the puff.

the magazine photo, check out those sleeves!

From knits

3: Knit from the top down. The best thing I did was to make the fronts and back from the top down–which I recommend purely so you can determine a happy finished length, but also because then you can try on the collar section as you go, and rip out from the beginning if you need to do so. I personally abhor trying to figure out where I should be in the pattern when I have to rip a lot. Then again, looking at my revised schematic (below), you might think better going the other way!!

To knit it top down, I just reversed the instructions- CO where it said to BO, increased where it said to decrease, etc. For the sides, I cast on 3 sts and did increases when the pattern called for decreases, and vice versa (see specific notes section below). Oh, and if it matters to you, I did my M1 increases two stitches in from the edge–just where I thought it looked best.

4: Major collar reduction. Here was my major change: I made the collar about one third of the original size, and I also skipped the “work even” rows on the collar sides to make a sharper angle at the front. The original pattern shows a pretty good overlap and a tie under the bust, but I made mine to just meet at the front, and since my Ravelry pictures I’ve added a decorative clasp in the front center.

I also slipped the first st. of the collar side on each WS row to give it a nice defined edge. (See below for some of my specific measurements on the collar, if you think that will help you out!)

collar knitted as written (you have GOT to be kidding, I say!!), plus an initial attempt to understand how to fix it, and finally the finished result:

From knits
From knits
From knits

5: Made both front panels at the same time, in exactly the same way. I did this because then when I turned one around the rib pattern spiraled in opposite directions on the front. (Ok, and because by the fourth time I knit this collar I wasn’t being as careful with notes as I should have been and knitting two at a time takes care of that laziness!) This is just a personal preference, though. It made seaming a bit harder on one side, but I really like the effect on the front when the sides swirl away from each other rather than going in the same direction.

From knits
From knits

6: A question for you: I’m curious about yarn choice for this coat. I used a chunky wool single (not doubled), and although I’ve gotten some pillage under the arms it turned out to be a great choice. It has enough body to it that it doesn’t hang or cling too much, an important consideration for me in the rear view with a longer coat like this. I’m sure the alpaca blend recommended (Berroco Ultra Alpaca) has a great drape, but alpaca is so heavy and hot I can’t imagine it in a full coat–not to mention doubled. So I’m interested to know what thoughts people are having about yarn.

On to some specifics:

Just for your own guidelines, my bust is about 32″, and I wanted less ease than I would have had with the XS of 37″ given in the pattern. So my jacket is about 34″ at the bust.

Here’s a schematic I drew off of the original pattern piece to show you how simple my collar mod ended up being. The red line is about where I think my collar ended up, with the mark “collar point” where I stopped increasing and started decreasing on that side.

The 9″ mark is at the collar point, and the 10″ mark is at the fold line.

From knits

Here are some other shots to try and show the shape:

From knits
From knits

Good luck! As my dissertation adviser is wont to say as I leave his office, “Couragio!”


1 comment so far

  1. Kara on

    It can be hard to be a knitting genius. Everyone wants a piece of your wisdom. But who can blame them? You did an amazing job.

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