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Bell-Sleeved Jacket

I’m pretty deeply depressed right now and not able to grapple with regular blogging, but here’s some knitting I’ve been doing to pass the time and prove to myself I can accomplish things.

Rose wearing her bell-sleeved jacketPattern: #15 Bell Sleeve Jacket, from Vogue Knitting International, designed by Daniel Adamczyk.
Yarn: Naturelle Aran 10-Ply, 100% wool
Gauge: 16 sts/24 rows = 4 inches or 10 cm on US size 6 needles
Size: XS (at my gauge, this gave the Medium width indicated in the pattern)
Knitting Dates: 21 October 2006 - 22 November 2006

Modifications: Many!
I knew from the start that I didn’t want to close the sweater with a belt and decided on hook-and-eye tape instead (although I have to resew it so that the edges fit more tightly than in the photo above). With the yarn I’d chosen, I was more comfortable with the fabric I got at 4 stitches/inch than 5, so I was able to follow the XS instructions to get a Medium width sweater, following the Medium or my own directions for how long to make various pieces.

I quickly decided not to make a collar once it became clear that the collar would be 13 inches long in the back, which seemed excessive. Instead I carried the inner cable up the front and attached it to the back neck, which I made about an inch lower than the pattern called for. I used short rows to shape the back cable part and left an open section to transition from right-curving to left-curving cables. I also changed the way the decreases toward the shoulder worked on the front so I’d end up with the same number of stitches as the back. The picture in the magazine shows a second line of knits with reverse stockinette separating the two, but this is not what the pattern specifies. I also used short rows for the shoulders on front and back, as well as for the back collar opening.

Since I wasn’t attaching the collar, the extra rows on the front edges to which the collar gets attached seemed superfluous and I didn’t much like the idea of matching reverse stockinette to orthogonal stockinette at the bottom. For a bottom edging to the garment, I used a provisional cast-on so I would have free stitches at the end once my seaming was done. I then knitted up the pattern at the bottom of the sleeve, though without the decreases for added bell effect; I just cast on the closest number of stitches to my live stitches that was a multiple of 8 (plus two selvedges for the front edges). I kitchener stitched this bottom flare to the live stitches. This added 2 inches in length, where the pattern-specified reverse stockinette (in my gauge at least) would have been about 0.5 inches.

Last, I worked an edging in double knitting with a garter stitch selvedge (Cast on 8 sts. or other even number. Row one: K1, *k1, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in back,* repeat from * to end. Row 2: *Slip 1 purlwise with yarn in back, k1* repeat from * to end.) I attached it to the garter selvedge on the inside edge of the sweater by alternating mattress stitching one stitch of the sweater to one of the edging and one of the sweater to two of the edging, going in under two stitch bars before coming up for the next stitch on the sweater side. This gave me a tension that didn’t buckle in but also wasn’t floppy. There may be better ways to do this, but it was my first experience with an edging like this.

Thoughts: I really like the changes I made, but I’m not sure they’re enough. I love the way it’s fitted through the bust and at the waist, but after that it flares and flares and flares, which I just don’t think is a great look for me. If I’d been able to add a few inches of fairly straight knitting, maybe another diamond’s worth (and I’m honestly tempted to make another version in which I do that) and then the flare would be down sort of camouflaging my thighs rather than uncomfortably close to my waist. I’m getting better at figuring out what sort of things I should wear, but maybe how to wear them is a bit beyond me. My sweater currently retracts to about 22 inches in length, which is shorter than suggested in the pattern. I’m hoping I can block it aggressively to get out the few extra inches I want. I just have very springy yarn and I’d hoped all the weight at the bottom would hold it down more. I’m frustrated by the how excessive the bottom flare can be but I still love the sweater and what I did with it. I’m hoping blocking will move me into total swooning territory, but I’m proud and it’s warm and perhaps that’s enough. Or maybe I’ll learn from my mistakes and make a second, which could be a lot of fun!