After many false starts, gauge woes and visits to the frog pond, I finally present to you the delightful Ogee Tunic from Norah Gaughan’s Knitting Nature book:
I have much to say about this pattern, but before I do any of that, just look at the central motif – Gaughan adapted the Ogee fractal in ever increasing sizes from the centre bottom to the top shoulders. Quite apart from the ingenuity of the cables and openwork, which move almost snake-like across the fabric, I also like it because the motif resembles so many kurta yokes in Indian clothing. I feel like I knit myself a woollen kurti!
Source: Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan, I made the 3rd size, 40 inches.
Yarn: Elann Highland Silk in Raspberry, just over 10 skeins, so approx. 1250-1300 yards?
Needles: Size 3 Susan Bates metal throughout.
Gauge: Spot on with the pattern, 23 stitches and 32 rows to 4 inches.
1. I added extra waist shaping. The pattern is designed as an A-line tunic, with graduated decreases from the billowy bottom to the bust. I sped up the decreases to the waist, added a couple extra, then knit straight for two inches and increased back those extra stitches towards the bust.
2. I made the sleeves shorter. I wanted to make them 3/4 to make it more like a dressy top, but I think they grew a bit in the wash, and I might have made them unintentionally a bit longer than I’d wanted.
Additional Pattern Notes: The pattern is ingenious, but oddly worded. I don’t know if I’m the only one who misread some of it and ended up frogging a couple of times. But if you’re planning on making this, some of the following notes might be helpful.
1) Directions are given first for the back, but it recommends that you may want to knit the motif-heavy front first, to make sure the back length matches it. I did so, but it keeps referring to “work as for back” while detailing the front instructions, so you have to keep going back and forth. Writing out the exact instructions separately for the front might help, especially about the waist shaping, and the final length of the piece up to the armhole, and that of the armhole itself.
2) The reason for this is that the chart of the front motif does not indicate where you should stop for each size. It gives the exact start positions for each size, but not what the final row ought to be – you have to figure that out by looking at the inches measurement, which is given only in the instructions for the back. I did the front by doing the motif all the way to the last row of the chart, and then the back, thereby making the piece at least two inches too deep in the armhole. I figured this out only while setting in the sleeves (more on this below), and realised, that rather like yogurt in winter, the sleeves weren’t going to set. I frogged a couple of inches off both the front and back, reknit the shoulders and neck, and then all was fine.
3) The finishing instructions ask you to pick up and knit stitches for the neckband beginning at the “left shoulder seam”. That can’t be right, because the normal way to pick up and knit is to go clockwise – if that makes sense – and this means you have to begin at the right neck edge.
4) Setting in sleeves is a right royal pain in the ass – it is the knitting equivalent of grading. You spend a wonderful semester teaching and end up with the grief that is bluebooks; so it is that you knit these lovely pieces that you have to seam, and the trauma of getting a non-puckering, elegant seam at the sleeves is the most nerve-wracking. Do you think I managed, finally?
Oh, and finally, a yarn review for Elann Highland Silk. I have to resort to a teaching simile for this too, because this yarn is like a lot of students: lots of promise, good early performance, you know they have it in them to take the pressure, but the final paper and overall grade leaves, um, lots of room for improvement.
- Stitch detail, check. Beware the split stitch, it will show!
- Price, ($4 for 122 yards), sweet. Even makes you overlook the obligatory knot in each and every skein.
- Range of colours, yeah! Lovely shades, actually.
- Softness, wait a minute. If many yarns improve after washing, this one is a rebel. Frogging and some rough handling make it angry and resentful.
- Silk blends shine, you say? This one gleams, a bit too much in photos, actually, but also tends to leave a fuzz on the fabric that is not entirely pleasing.
- Long term prognosis? Good, but could be much better. A final grade of B (but as all my evaluations say, I *am* a tough grader). The pattern, however, is top-notch. I might even consider an A for it!