Amanda neck shaping, part 1: Karen plots a shawl collar

Amanda neck shaping, part 1: Karen ponders a shawl collar

When I’d been knitting for about three months, I signed up for a full weekend of classes at Stitches West, ranging from one-hour workshops on fixing mistakes, knitting backwards and continental knitting, to a half-day class on Tunisian crochet and a full-day class on the top-down sweater method. I’m pretty sure it was the fixing mistakes teacher I’m remembering having opened up the floor to questions at the end. Someone asked, “What do you think it’s really important to get good at?” Which was an interesting question, I thought. And the teacher responded, “Neck shaping.” Which seemed completely out of left field to me, being a total newb in a room full of newbs. I couldn’t imagine why I would ever need to know how to do that myself, and had no clue how one would go about learning it. OMG. Of course, I wound up inadvertently learning the basics of it in that top-down sweater class, and I’ve drawn on that ever since. I’m comfortable calculating the rate of increase on a top-down sweater, based on whether I want a crewneck or V-neck or whatever, and can turn that around for a bottom-up. Which is about to come in handy.

I mentioned back in our Meet the Panel post that I was concerned about the neck shaping on Amanda. There is only one photo of the sweater in the book (!) and the model’s hair is obscuring the neckline, but it still gave me pause. I looked at the project photos on Ravelry and it does seem to be a case where the neck doesn’t sit quite right on some people, with the tops of the button bands wanting to flap forward and outward. It’s because the neck shape is high, wide and shallow — almost like high boatneck. Buttoned all the way up, it sits the way a high boatneck would. But split open into a cardigan, those high fronts have nothing to anchor them.

We’ll get into more detail about this tomorrow, in part 2. But meanwhile, I’m here to tell you that it won’t be an issue for me after all, as I’ve decided to make my Amanda into a shawl-collar cardigan instead! Reader Callie C asked in the comments recently whether it would be “easy” to make this alteration — specifically, to give Amanda a Bellows collar — noting that she has not knitted a cardigan before. Easy is in the eye of the beholder, but I responded as follows:

I wouldn’t say it would be “easy” but it could certainly be done. The biggest trick is you’d have to change the neck shaping. If you look at the shape of the main fabric on Bellows, it’s a v-neck shape, with the fronts gradually sloping away from each other. You’d have to create that curved edge in order to do a Bellows-style band. For a shawl collar like that, you pick up stitches all the way up one front, around the neck, and back down the other front, and work your ribbing outward from there, and the shawl-collar part itself is created with short rows.

Given that they’re both worsted-weight sweaters, I would buy the Bellows pattern and compare the row gauges (its, Amanda’s, yours) to see if you could just use the neck-shaping numbers from Bellows and then work the collar from that pattern, too. But even if it’s not a perfect 1:1, you could see how Bellows is done and then apply that same thinking to Amanda.

… I should note that you’d be applying that shape to a raglan yoke (Amanda is raglan; Bellows is set-in sleeves), so it wouldn’t be worked exactly the same way as the Bellows fronts. …

Once she got me started, I couldn’t stop thinking about how great a shawl collar would be. Of course, no two shawl collars are alike: There are deep-V, narrow, professorial types, and high-V, super-round Peter Pan-ish types. I’m doing this despite the fact that the other two sweaters I currently have in progress — Channel and Slade (the poor thing) — are both shawl collars, but they’ll all be quite different. I think the shaping on Bellows is pretty perfect, but bought the pattern and the gauge is drastically different than mine/Amanda’s. I hadn’t realized it’s two strands of Shelter (worsted) held together and knitted at bulky gauge. Still useful for seeing the rate of the slant and where it begins and ends. (And I imagine I’ll be knitting Bellows one day anyway — especially knowing it’s bulky!) So I’m on the hunt for other patterns with good shawl shaping and a more similar row gauge — e.g. The Shepherd Cardigan! — but I’ll probably wind up just winging it, and redoing if need be. (Why row gauge, you ask? Because to make this mod, we need to concern ourselves with how many rows are worked within the yoke section, and figure out how many decreases to distribute at what rate amongst those rows. Plus picking up stitches along the selvage is about how many stitches you’ll pick up into the ends of how many rows.)

It’ll be awhile before I get to the neck shaping — I still have half my sleeves plus my back to do — but once I get to it, assuming it works out, I promise to share my notes.

Tomorrow I’m talking to Kate about her many mods, how they led to her set-in sleeve alteration, and what she suggests for tweaking Amanda’s neck shape.

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: WIP of the Week, week 6

17 thoughts on “Amanda neck shaping, part 1: Karen plots a shawl collar

  1. It’s amazing what you can learn in a class at Stitches (or other places) I attended Madrona a few years back and took a one day class with Sivia Harding and still remember some of the points she made during that class. I love knitters, so willing to share tips and techniques to make our knitting better.

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  2. Yes Yes YES! I had the same concerns with the neckline of Amanda, which is why I decided to go with Aidez for my knitalong sweater. But a shawl collar on Amanda? That’s right up my alley. I can’t wait to see the fabulous sweater that emerges from your needles.

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  3. What about Burrard? It’s a dk weight 32 rows for 4 inches. Amanda’s 28 rows in worsted might be compatible in the different weight. It’s still not raglan shaping.

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  4. I’ve been working on a cardigan for what seems like a million years now. All that’s left is the collar and I really want to do a shawl collar instead of the original. The neckline is a V-neck like you described so I think it’ll be easy to modify! Once again, great post!

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  5. Pingback: Amanda neck shaping, part 2: Kate reworks the crewneck | Fringe Association

  6. As of now I think I’m planning on doing the Shepard, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-shepherd-cardigan for my neckline and tweak as needed. Question for those of us to put on the button bands and now are changing the pattern. What are the different or best ways to remove the button band tabs! Anyone who has any ideas or thoughts on what they might do would be awesome! Shout out to dxlcarson, wendlandcd & Karen for all your help so far on this endeavor! I’m getting anxious just thinking about the possibility of maybe cutting those off! :)

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  7. Pingback: New Favorites: BT’s best shawl collars | Fringe Association

  8. Pingback: Giving thanks … for Meg’s mod | Fringe Association

  9. Pingback: Knitalong FO No. 4: Karen Templer | Fringe Association

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