Monday, February 6, 2012

ruffle sweater dress (a pattern... sort of)

I am not a very experienced knitter. Sure, I've undertaken some pretty advanced projects, but I had no idea what I was doing or why - I simply followed the pattern. (Granted it's quite possible I am alone in my knitting theory ignorance.) But the insight I've gained via many projects has been ever so helpful in modifying knitting patterns, or even creating my own pattern. In case there are others out there who look at a pattern like a recipe to be followed exactly, perhaps my explanations of what I did and why will be helpful.

I made up this pattern as I went along. There were a few things I would change about it were I to knit it over again. This pattern is for the dress as I knit it, but I've included some suggestions for potential ways to improve it, as well as resize it.

Size: 2 (my daughter just turned 3 and she can still wear this). Her chest measurement is 20 inches and this dress is about mid-thigh - I designed it to be worn over pants or a skirt. Knit yours longer if you'd like.
Yarn: An unraveled wool sweater from Goodwill. Sorry I can't provide a specific source for the yarn.
Gauge: 15 sts/4 inches
Needle Size: I think I used a size 8, but you should simply use the needles and yarn that will yield the correct gauge.

I knit this in the round. When I finally finish knitting something, it pains me to have to sew the pieces together before it is useable. However, you could definitely knit it in two pieces (front and back) and then join the pieces together. The cast on is brutal, as you'll be casting on four times as many stitches as you'll be knitting with after the first two rows, but it will quickly become a much more manageable number of stitches.

Cast on 496 stitches (You see? Brutal.)

First note: This dress ended up a bit wider than an A line, so the sides ended up hanging down further than the middle. If you like the way it looks, great! If not, you could reduce the number of stitches you cast on. If I were to try for a more traditional A line, I would probably cast on about 384. Your cast on number should be divisible by 8.

bottom ruffle - to create this we will rapidly decrease the number of stitches, like gathering a longer length of material onto a shorter amount.

Row 1: Knit (remember, I knit this in the round, so all the stitches were knits. If you knit a front and a back separately, you'll alternate with knits and purls in order to achieve a stockinette stitch.)
Row 2: k2tog (all stitches). Now you'll have 248 sts.
Row 3: k2tog (all stitches). Now you'll have 124 sts.

A-line body of the dress - to create the A-line, you will use the measurement of the bottom of the dress, the chase measurement, and the length of the dress to determine how often you will decrease.

After my first 3 rows, I had 124 sts. (or 62 sts for the front and 62 sts for the back). My daughter's chest measurement is 20 inches, so according to my gauge (15 sts/4 inches) I would want to end up with 76 sts (20 * 15/4 - I rounded up to a number divisible by 4) at the armpit (or 38 sts for the front and 38 sts for the back). I wanted the length of dress from the armpit to be 13". So, I needed to decrease one stitch on each side of the front and on each side of the back about every inch.

124 - 76 = 48 (number of sts to be decreased)
48 / 2 = 24 (number of sts to be decreased each on the front and the back)
24 / 2 = 12 (number of sts to be decreased on each side of the front and on each side of the back)
12 sts / 13" = about 1 stitch per inch

Row 4: k all stitches
continue knitting for 1 inch.
next row: ssk, k58, k2tog, ssk, k58, k2tog (120 sts)
continue knitting for 1 inch
next row: ssk, k56, k2tog, ssk, k56, k2tog (116 sts)
continue knitting in this pattern until you have 76 sts and about 13" of length.

armholes and keyhole opening at back
next row:  bind off 3, k32, bind off 6, k32, bind off 3
You will have to stop knitting in the round at this point. Place half of the sts on a holder. Continue knitting the other half - these will form the back of the dress.
next row: k all sts. Continue knitting all sts until it measures 3" from the bottom of the armhole.
next row: k14, bind off 4, k14
Place half of these sts on holder.
next row: k all sts. Continue knitting all sts until it measures 2 1/2" from bottom of the keyhole opening.
Repeat with the other 14 sts that you placed on the holder.

front upper bodice
k all sts until it measures 5 1/2 " from the bottom of the armhole.

shoulder seams
Using the kitchener stitch, join the last 7 sts of the back to the first 7 sts of the front bodice.
Do the same to join the first 7 sts of the back to the last 7 sts of the front bodice.

buttonhole and ruffle neck
Starting with the 7 sts on the back to the left of the keyhole opening, k2tog, YO, k5, pick up 1 or 2 sts at the left shoulder seam, k32, pick up 1 or 2 sts at the right shoulder seam, k7
next row: p1, M1p, p1, M1p ... continue for all sts
next row: k1, M1, k1, M1, ... continue for all sts
next row: bind off all sts

Attach a shank button opposite the buttonhole created by the yarn over.

The end.

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