Sunday, January 18, 2015

HSF '14: #21: Re-Do: Tri-colour Knitted Sontag

I kind of really love the Re-Do challenges. They give me a chance to look back on what I've done and be re-inspired by previous challenges. Sometimes, quite literally.

I decided to Re-Do the Inspiration challenge -- Or rather, I started making something, and then realized that it was perfect for the Inspiration challenge, because the item I was making was inspired by another participant's item.

I'd never heard of a sontag (or bosom-friend) before, but it was so intriguing when Danielle of Stepping Into History posted hers for the HSF '13: Outerwear challenge. What a strange and interesting item! The pattern seemed easy enough, but I hadn't given it much serious thought until this past month or so. My cousin and I want to meet up some time soon and flounce around the mountains of British Columbia in Civil War-era gowns, and since I live in a place where winter can last 6 months and the air sometimes hurts my face, a torso wrap seemed like an awfully good idea. So when I finished my Christmas knitting, I started on the sontag.

I hadn't planned on submitting it as a challenge item at first, of course, until I remembered the moment when I first saw one. I don't think I ever would have made one without that inspiration, so it's only fitting that I should do so anyway. So I've Re-Do(ne) the Inspiration challenge: A knitted sontag.

I mashed up a couple of patterns, using the majority of instructions from this Peterson's 1862 Magazine as the basis. And for one of the first times ever, I kept detailed notes from when I started, partially because the instructions seemed awfully vague. These historic patterns were of course written in a time of different language patterns and when a person might reasonably be expected to know what the directions meant.

I started with 232 grams (including the bag and wrapper) of a 454 gram ball of Red Heart Comfort acrylic worsted-weight yarn. I used 5mm (US Size 8) needles, partly because that's what I have multiple needles, especially cabled needles, of, and thus that's what I had in my knitting bag the day I started. Now I'm going to get a bit confusing in measurements -- I also used about 4oz of copper worsted acrylic yarn. It was easier to read the ounces weight on my scale, whereas I weighed the blue on a postal meter, and the copper at home (lol). I also had roughly half of a 50g skein of white acrylic worsted yarn. I went with a dual-colour edging because the three colours are the same as the local hockey team's official colours (ahem, why no, I haven't been a fan since Gretzky played with them in the 80s... And also, the blue is not the same shade, but no one but us needs to know that, right?) I ended up with 51 grams of blue, and the leftovers of the white and copper barely weighed 4 grams together.

I did start with the Peterson's instructions, casting on 31 stitches. They go on to tell you to "widen and narrow" for one row, which the best approximation I could find was a Ravelry post that the poster took to mean yarn over and then knit 2 together, which would create a series of holes along the bottom. I quite like this design element as it leave a space for the waist cord to be threaded through. Doing this somehow created an extra stitch too, which made a great base for the pattern. I did like the row of purling every fifth row, sometimes I needed it to remember where I was in the pattern.

Perhaps a different weight of yarn and smaller needles would change the size somewhat, but I went with the Godey's instructions of widening the body every row until I had 18 blocks before separating one side, binding off the middle, and continuing with the other side. I went back to the Peterson's instructions then, narrowing every other row when I started the row on the inside edge. At first I worried this wouldn't narrow the "wings" fast enough, but they turned out fine. You need fairly long wings to wrap over the shoulder and around the body anyway. I went with a crocheted border instead of a knitted one, and then made some twisted ties and tassels. The result is a delightfully warm bosom friend :)

The Challenge: #21 Re-do (re-did #19 Inspiration)
Fabric: 100% Acrylic yarn
Pattern: A mash-up of Peterson's and Godey's magazines
Year: 1860-1862
Notions: a button for the back (not attached yet)
How historically accurate is it?: Pattern is 100% authentic! Acrylic yarn most certainly is not.
Hours to complete: 30 or so
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: new yarn would run $8-$16, but it all came from stash, so free-to-me

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