On the other side of the tracks

First-time test-knitter is an interesting position to find myself in. You know I’m a perfectionist, and as far as I’m concerned, “perfection” is the lowest common denominator when it comes to patterns. As I knit the “Mia” shrug, I often found myself thinking, is this little thing or that one important enough to point out and comment on? I think by the number of e-mails Karen and I exchanged, I couldn’t stop myself from blabbing about everything ;). Thanks for putting up with me, Karen! I think the pattern took shape as we chatted back and forth, so I hope I was helpful.

Well, here she is, in all her glory. I model her with a sundress (which still smells like Jamaica), the type of outfit I assume needs a shrug (my hot self needs to be told these things):

My biggest concern was framing for that, “here I am!” look. However, I don’t think that’s the case here (for an alternate view, click here to look down my dress, PG-13 rated). Maybe because the shrug matches my skin (and my background) and my dress doesn’t at all, the shrug is almost unnoticeable? What do you think it would look like if it were black or dark red, and I was wearing a light peach or pink dress?

Overall, I’m happy with how this shrug turned out. Continue onto the extended entry (edited to include “bustier” photos) to read more details.

Before moving to the shrug’s back, here are some photos of the shrug paired with jeans and a t-shirt:


I really like the more casual combination, and I don’t think I look any more busty with the shrug than I do without it, right?

And here’s my backside:

I always thought shrugs should cover my shoulder blades entirely, and you can see that this is the case for Karen’s own shrug. However, in this pattern the width of the shrug is exactly the circumference of the upper arm. Since my upper arms aren’t very big (unless I’m flexing my monster biceps, in which case, you know, watch out, they’re going to burst through the seams and hit nearby objects), the shrug width is not very big either. I think I can work with it, though, it matches the 3/4-length sleeves.

The bottom flares out a little bit. Well, a lot if I stand up very straight, arching my back, and a little bit if I stand up “normally,” as I am in this photo. I think that’s simply caused by the difference between how much the fabric has to travel around my shoulders versus straight across my back. The fact that there isn’t a lot of fabric to weigh the edge down doesn’t help.

Also, the pattern specifies to slip the edge stitches, and that’s immediately followed or preceded by a yarnover – while the resulting edge is very neat, I don’t think the slipped stitches followed by a yarnovers give it enough substance, so the result is a little curling and flaring. I may thread some very thin elastic through the edge, that should be simple enough to do.

However, I must point out that Karen’s own shrug seems to cradle her back quite nicely, probably because she used a heavier cotton blend, and her shrug is wider in the back.

The lace pattern is very attractive. However, it tends to draw in a bit, so while I cast on 11 inches worth of stitches in stockinette, as specified in the pattern, it’s only 9.5 inches in this lace pattern, adding to the shortness in the back.

As I mentioned before, the lace of my shrug differs from Karen’s because she twisted her stitches. The stitches are also twisted in her ribbing, and not in mine. She intends to give instructions for both shrug versions in her pattern.

The rosettes are called Ruffle Roses from Nicky Epstein’s Knitted Embellishments. I worked each over 19 sts, omitted the last 4 rows, and beaded by hand as I assembled. They are small, about 1.5” in diameter, so that four can comfortably fit around my not-so-big shoulders (click here for a close-up).

The beaded cuffs are of my own design, and are about 2.5” long. On the minus side, they aren’t easily incorporated into the pattern because they need to be worked in the round, while the rest of the shrug is worked flat. On the plus side, they can be worked in either direction: cast on and make cuff, or make cuff and bind off (click here for a close-up).

The pattern itself: I know how long it takes to write a pattern – I shake my head with understanding and appreciation. I wish they only took a week or two to conceive, sketch, knit, correctly work out the details, and test-knit! Karen has gone through a huge number of revisions with her “Mia” Shrug pattern, and it has gotten better, more complete and thorough with each one. She has incorporated details of my shrug and hers, and the pattern should be available shortly. For now, congratulations, Karen!

The knitty gritty: US 6, KFI Cashmereno (color #01, 22 sts/30 rows per 4” square in stockinette, 55% merino wool, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere, 135 m per 50 g ball), 3 balls plus a little bit of the fourth for the rosettes (450 yards total), 112 beads (48 per cuff, 4 per rosette). Shrug is 9.5” wide, 50” long (the whole length, including the cuffs).

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57 thoughts on “On the other side of the tracks

  1. Amanda

    The shrug is beautiful. And it looks great on you and no it doesn’t draw attention to the sisters but more to your nape because of the Victorian detail.

  2. yuvee

    The shrug looks wonderful!! I really like the lace pattern and the embellishments. I think I’d prefer a longer back though.

  3. Joelene

    Wow, it really turn out FAB! And not much framing to speak of. As usual it is perfect.

    Have you hemmed your jeans yet, I follow the tutorial that was posted in your comments and it turned out well, let me know if you want to see the results.

  4. KarenB

    I love it! And it is uniquely you, with the beading and all the little touches. It really works.

    I can’t thank you enough for your invaluable assistance and critical eye as test knitter. I suppose it was time for turnabout 😉

    You’re the best!

  5. Zarah

    I like it better with the dress than with jeans — maybe the flowers make it seem “dressy”?

    I really enjoyed watching this project progress. I am looking forward to seeing the finished pattern.

  6. Kim

    Hm.. I don’t think it goes well with such a dark dress.. but I can’t picture what color it would go well with (Maybe brown? Burgundy?).. and I think if you make another one the back should be a little longer.. (It looks a little.. un-finished to me?)

    Not that I’m a shrug expert.. I’m so not.. I’ve never even worn one.. lol. Yours is very pretty though.. I think it’s one of the best ones I’ve seen..

  7. Carolyn

    You look fabulous! I didn’t think a shrug would work for myself…busty and all…but after seeing yours, I will be giving a shrug a try!

  8. gleek

    gorgeous! i think that the beads in the cuffs turned out great. understated, you know? not too garish or anything. nice touch.

  9. Laura

    This is certainly one of the best cuff-to-cuff tube shrugs that I’ve seen. I like the way it looks in the front, but the flaring in the back would drive me batty. The elastic is a good idea.

    Dress smelling like Jamaica, huh? I had such a bad time in Jamaica that I don’t think I want any of my clothes smelling like that.

  10. Jen

    absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait for the pattern to try it myself. I agree that it seems to go better with the dress as it seems pretty dressy with the lace and rosettes.

    And are you smiling in these pictures? That’s not very grumpy of you. Could it be that you enjoyed this project?

  11. Judy

    I like the pattern in the shrug, but like almost everyone else I think the back could be longer. But it really does look good on you, and no unneccessary framing or emphasizing of the front porch. 🙂

  12. Cara

    Not a big shrug fan (I can’t see myself ever wearing one) but that is awfully pretty. Love the details – flowers, cuffs. Very nice.

  13. Danielle

    I love the details of the finished project, and I like how it looks over the sundress. I think I would like to see it come down further in back, to touch or overlap the edge of the dress in the back. I could never see myself wearing a shrug, but I do admire this one.

  14. becks

    that’s beautiful!! i love it!! i actually think it looks brillest with the jeans and t shirt, i gives a casual outfit a really special touch. lovely!

  15. Colleen

    That shrug looks awfully nice with that dress. When you’re wearing the shrug, the lace looks more transparent than it did when I saw it before.

    I agree: I’d want to make it longer in the back, too.

    If I were to knit this, I’d knit the twisted stitches version.

  16. Christie

    It looks fabuolus on you. HUBBA HUBBA! You’re one hot grumpy girl! You must love it because you have the same serene and pleased look on your face that you had with the wrap sweater. 🙂

  17. Emily

    It sounds to me like you did a great job test knitting. And you ended up with something really nice for all of your efforts. I hope you end up being cold enough to wear it sometime. Maybe in the middle of winter?

  18. laurie

    Well, you are about the cutest thing on the planet! And um, hello cleavage! LOL. Seriously, though, I’m kind of jealous, you are so photogenic!

    I am still out on the shrug jury. I just don’t think my shoulders and arms ever get cold to a point where they would need covering more than, say, my headlights. And I fear framing, since I’m already a walking boob. However, the casual look you posted (pink t-shirt and shrug) is WAY adorable.

    I love that you are test knitting!

  19. sheree

    I really like this shrug- I think the rosettes are wonderful for drawing attention away from the “girls”. Just plain lovely!

  20. Rosemary

    Today must be the day for PG-13 shots of the girls. The shrug looks fantastic. I’ve never been a shrug fan, either, but it may be just the thing for my perpetually chilly office and server room. A shawl is usually too fussy, or I need my hands free because I’m installing servers. Thanks for sharing your test knitting process thoughts.

  21. Agnes

    I like it with the dark-coloured dress … and I think together they would even more gorgeous if the shrug is in black or burgundy red. The rosettes are cute. But I have to say the shot of the back showing how short the shrug was is a bit of a shock to me.

  22. MJ

    I’m trying to write up a pattern and I know how it feels. It’s HARD! Karen made a beautiful pattern. And it looks great on you!

  23. Karma

    So pretty! I take back everything I said before about shrugs. I do. I especially like it with your sundress. I think that outfit is very flattering, and maybe it’s because the dress doesn’t have any horizonal breaks (like the waistline between your tshirt and jeans), which makes you look slim and curvy at the same time. Finally, I’m so glad you put the rosettes on; they totally finish the shrug. A+

  24. Wanda

    What a great test knitter you are! And the adjustments you made were great. The shrug looks fantastic. I love it and it doesn’t make your boobies go “hello, I’m here”, not at all.

  25. sara

    Wow, it’s really beautiful and flattering. I just love the roses added – I think it helps draw the eye to your face, rather than the sisters. Love the cuff detail, too. Hmm. Must try knitting with beads.

  26. Jennifer

    I think the shrug is lovely, but I like my shrugs to cover more of the back. I really like the addition of the beads though. Nicely done!

  27. lauray

    wow! I agree, if the shrug is longer at the back it would be wonderful. Nevertheless, it turn out great! I’m normally not a fan of too much lace but this one so just right, it tempts me. 🙂

  28. Susanne

    that is gorgeous, congrats yourself!! I think that possibly the other reason that the shrug doesn’t shout, “Here’s me and the girls”…is that the small flowers frame your face and show off the best parts, rather than drawing attention to your b00bs!

  29. Lou

    The shrug looks beautiful! I love the roses at the neck. So feminine. I think you avoided the dreaded “framing” because you kept the arm hole shallow. But that caused the back to be short. If you want to lengthen the back just make sure you do all your increasing after the underarm. If you deepen the arm hole you may create a “frame”.

  30. claudia

    The cuffs are a lovely addition to the shrug. Perhaps the reality is that this shrug construction won’t fit all backs. Unlike, say, the OSW which knits on ribbing after the main shrug part is done — that construction is huggier.

  31. Erin

    That shrug looks fantastic. I’ve been a lurker for a little while and I just couldn’t help myself on this on. I love it and it looks wonderful. I especially love the sleeve detail.

  32. Laura

    So pretty Kathy! It looks fabulous! I really like it with that dress. Congratulations on a big success as a first time test knitter!

  33. paula

    I’ve never been a huge fan of the shrug, but I have to say, this one is quite nice! I think, paired with a dress, they make more sense and look “right.”

    Of course, it goes without saying (even though, technically I AM saying it) that you look very much “The Bomb” in that outfit. Hehehe!

    Male knitters beware!

    Anyway, yes, I agree that

  34. Jess

    That is GORGEOUS! I have to say, the cuffs are my favorite part. If Karen doesn’t include them in the pattern, would you post them?

  35. randi

    WOW!! what a gorgeous shrug!! am stun!! And i wont to congratulate you for the best technical knitting blog!!!i link you too my blog and the picture of the shrug. I write in English but am not sgood.Hope you understand some of it.

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