Beth writes, "Another crazy busy week - I'm only just finishing up the second sleeve. Then on to the real business, I'm going to tackle the back."
As for me, I finished knitting on Thursday night, and started sewing up on Friday!
I actually have not had much experience in putting together a fitted garment -- in fact, I'm wondering if this is my first one -- have done drop-shoulders before, and the raglan-like sleeves of the top-down style, but nothing like these beautifully rounded ones. I was a bit apprehensive, and so I got out my old Vogue Knitting reference for reassurance.
I found it much easier to sew in the sleeve cap before sewing up the sleeve and side seams, rather than sewing the sleeve and side seams first as the pattern says. I speak from experience, having done the first sleeve cap first (the way that VK recommends), and the second cap after the straight seams just now -- it was considerably less awkward doing that curved seam with the sleeve flat, so that I could hold the two pieces together more comfortably and smoothly.
While I doubt that sewing up will ever be my favorite part of knitting a garment, I must admit that I am more interested in it than I ever was. I took a great deal of pleasure in watching the way that the mattress stitches went from loose ...
to snug with a single smooth pull on the working yarn. (It's almost like the way an invisible zipper pulls the two sides together.) I did have a lot of trouble with matching the lengths, and frequently ended up with about half an inch more on one side at the end of a seam -- on average, I think I did each seam three times -- and so I started putting in markers to match up as I went along, usually four on each long seam, so that any extra length would be distributed more evenly.
I also used a safety-pin version of Vogue's and Knitty's marker method of picking up stitches along the curved neckline, dividing the length fairly evenly by 10 (for the 97 stitches -- a.k.a. almost-100 -- to be picked up).
For those who, like me, are still fairly new to mattress stitch, I found myself dropping into this hypodermic position -- oddly enough, it was quite natural, even though I have never actually inserted a hypodermic needle. It felt much easier on my wrist than holding the needle in the usual manner, since I could aim and scoop up a stitch simply by moving my thumb, instead of my whole wrist. It wasn't always possible to do it like this, because of the way that some of the pieces fitted together, but it was helpful, and so I pass it along.
I sewed in the twenty-seven ends -- would have been twenty-nine, but I knitted in two of them along with the collar -- last night while watching "Jericho" and "Rosemary & Thyme", two, er, rather disparate mystery series, the one grim and hard-boiled and the other a more typical English "cozy" mystery, light-hearted and not terribly demanding.
Pictures, as they say, to follow!