Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review of Knit Swirl by Sandra McIver

I drove for an hour to a yarn shop that was hosting Sandra McIver author of Knit Swirl. She had most of the coats and jackets from the book available to try on. It was fascinating and wonderful to be able to see how each one fit and figure out which one was your own personal choice as a “first knit” since I can see that after knitting one you will want to knit more. I had a hard time choosing but I finally picked two and maybe three that I plan to make. Five years of work went into the development of creating the concept of the rounded jacket structured as Sandra McIver pictured it in her mind. Knit from the outside in and creating the shaping by decreases.

My dilemma is that I have two baby blankets, two shawls a coat and a Kimono and an almost finsih jacket on my needles right now and I really need to finish all of them before starting anything else. I wish I could knit faster and nothing else to do all day. So many projects and so little time, Sadly I won’t be starting my swirl just yet although I have picked out my yarn.

If you have been following my blog I made a similar type jacket a few years ago. That one was knit in two pieces, a circle and rectangle and then put together. This also had very little seaming but I have to admit that after trying on the Knit Swirl I think the fit and shaping is nicer. My original pattern came from a Korean company Zaol that is now out of business and the pattern was offered for free on the internet but is no longer available. The circle was knit using short rows which I find fun and easy but it took a while to knit the whole circle and the rectangle was simple and straight but a bit boring. I wasn’t entirely happy with the sleeves as the cuffs were a bit wide but after looking at the Swirls I have an idea of what to do to fix the problem.

The Swirl is knit all in one piece and has one seam to sew when you are finished. You cast on an enormous amount of stitches and work from the outside in. The beginning of the swirl is slow knitting because of all the stitches but as you decrease it goes faster and faster and then you get to the center where you bind off part of the circle leaving a center section knit the back and sleeves flat. The book diagrams and explains everything so that even a beginning knitter can handle this if they are okay with working so many stitches. The patterns are knit in a series of welts that you keep track of by just counting. You mark the beginning and end of the circle with a colored marker.

There are two basic shapes, a circle and an oval which are either centered or off center centered which means the opening is in the center which creates a larger collar and or off center (more near the top) which makes the collar and lapels more narrow. The off center oval makes a longer back and there is even a very short bolero style perfect for a summer jacket. The patterns are offered in 3 sizes, small medium and large. According to my measurements I would be a small but as I tried on the samples I quickly decided that I liked the slightly larger jackets with more overlap room so I will be knitting a size two. With each pattern she tells you what yarns were used for the samples and how much yardage. All are knit in worsted weight yarn on #8 needles but you will need a cord length of at least 40 inches to start in order to accommodate all the cast on stitches, over 600. She explains how to use two balls of yarn for your cast on. There were lots of women in the store all trying on the jackets and it was interesting to see that they looked good on everyone, short, tall, thin, heavy with large bust or small.

After trying them all I decided that I would either knit a longer coat called Silken Dreams, knit in Tilli Tomas yarn with beads that is a bit more dressy since the alternating welts are knit with a beaded yarn. or Copper Collage. I have some red merino/silk in my stash if I decide to make this one. The third one that I thought I might like called Silhouette In the Sun. I will be anxious to learn which ones you like the best.

I hope some of you get the book and knit a Swirl for yourself .

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I bought this book because it looked so interesting, and can't wait to get one started, but like you have many projects to finish first there's that Christmas thing you know before I can be selfish & start this for me