Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tunisian Panels: The Marco Jacket

This one's fresh off the hook because I wanted to wear it to the Portland CGOA conference two weeks ago. It's really 4 experiments in one!

1. I used an obscure stash yarn that worked out great for tunisian crochet. It's Austermann Marco Stretch in "Winterberry" (a warm heathered rose). I've never used a bulky wool with a lot of lycra in it for a sweater so I didn't know what kind of drape I could expect, and whether I'd even be able to block it to my measurements. (Not much info on the 'net from users of this yarn, not even in Ravelry.)

2. The yarn is discontinued so I had a finite amount: would 10 skeins be enough for a jacket? To be on the safe side I went with cropped and shaped sleeves, cropped length, and minimal collar and front overlap. The yarn seemed sporty to me so I pictured a zip-front hoodie style, and would add pockets and a hood with leftover yarn. It ended up reminiscent of a boxy Chanel jacket style when I edged it. That's Yvette trying it on backstage after the conference fashion show.

3. The yarn was like felted spaghetti to work with and looked lumpy in every crochet swatch I tried except tunisian simple stitch (tss). The tunisian fabric came out stretchy, smooth, and soft & spongy enough for my kitten! I was not in the mood for long or cabled tunisian hooks, so....panels, right? I haven't seen many sweaters done this way lately. Making the panels was great fun, but how did I want to join them? I decided to make the seams a decorative element, so more swatching! (But check out ARNie's join-as-you-go tutorial) Correction added 9/30: See ARNie's comment on this entry; this link is part of Cindy's Crochet Pages. Great job Cindy! Thank you.

4. The last experiment concerned shaping. I wanted to do it all--tapered set-in sleeves, back neck drop, shoulder slope, waist. I knew it would help streamline the yarn's bouncy bulk, but this amount of shaping and shortrowing in tunisian was new to me. Using a 12mm hook and big yarn made it fun because some shaping was accomplished with merely adding or subtracting a few jumbo stitches.

I'm very pleased with the results, although I wish the yarn blocked better. There's a pic of me wearing it on Margaret's blog--scroll down to the 2nd photo. At the conference people especially liked the contrasting stitch textures, and some thought the seams were cables :-)

I would definitely construct a garment with tunisian panels again. I created a way to make "panel maps" in Garment Designer, which should simplify writing the pattern for many sizes. (Here's a hazy pic of the map I worked from.)

I had about 1 ball's worth of yarn left over. I paid $3.19/ball for this yarn about 4 years ago at, so not bad for a $30 sweater, huh?