Hot mess at the end of my rainbow

Pattern: based on Brilliant Retro by Teva Durham, Interweave Knits Winter 2005.

Yarn: Classic Silk by Classic Elite, 50% cotton, 30% silk, 20% nylon, in #6947/cobalt. I used only 7 skeins! The yardage of this stuff is incredible!

Extras: some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock for seaming, 20″ zipper, grosgrain ribbon for zipper backing.

Needles: Addi Turbo circs, US 6.

Finished dimensions: bust 38″, waist 34″, hip 38″, length to armhole 16″, depth of armhole 7.5″, sleeve length 19″.

Gauge: about 4.5 stitches and 7 rows per inch.

I’m very pleased with the way this sweater turned out – it’s nice and fitted, but long enough to cover my belly. As always, I paid extra attention to the armholes and sleeve caps – bat wings, or lack thereof, are my personal pet peeve.

Putting in a zipper took a bit more effort than buttons, but it’s so nice to not have a gaping button band. SO nice. I think the zipper went in relatively smoothly, without obvious bulges.


(click for bigger)

What more can I tell you about this sweater? I feel like I’ve already written a tome!

  1. My mods and the reasons behind them.
  2. The prospect of following a design rather than a pattern (with a brief note about Annie’s edging).
  3. Blocking and seaming: is there a logical order?
  4. Installing the zipper.
  5. The technicalities of seaming.

Oh, right, right… there is this one itty bitty last detail I have to share. Eeeetey beeeetey….

But first you have to promise me two things: (1) that you are sitting down as you read this, and (2) that you have your sedative of choice nearby (wine, benzodiazepines, whatever). Because I have already freaked out for the both of us.

Okay, ready?

Brilliant Retro needs a new zipper.

As I readied my sweater for its reveal, I fired up the iron to give it a quick once-over. Specifically, I wanted to go over the grosgrain ribbons to smooth them out, which worked spectacularly! But while ironing the ribbons, I somehow managed to go over the plastic zipper, melting its teeth. It took a lot of effort to close the disfigured zipper for the photos, and it’s a miracle the cardi didn’t pop open while I took and processed the pictures. And now… well, now the zipper has no intentions of opening. Ever again.


I take this as a sign from the Heavens (and Claudia) that I should upgrade to a matching zipper from Zipperstop. Though I kind of liked the contrasting cream… Anyway, several blue-ish zippers have been ordered, along with a color card for future reference.

Why all this trouble? I think this is the most wearable sweater I’ve ever knit.


119 thoughts on “Hot mess at the end of my rainbow

  1. Ashley

    It’s gorgeous–congratulations on another beautiful job! But the zipper–oh, the zipper. That is just sad. I’m sorry you’ll have to go through the installation process all over again!

  2. melissa

    i guess bad things sometimes happen for a reason! or at least we’d like to convince ourselves of that to make us feel better. πŸ™‚

    melted zipper or not, the sweater looks smashing on you! i’m sure it will all be worthwhile in the end!

  3. Laura

    It’s beautiful, of course. I never liked the sweater in the magazine and I think it was because of the button closures. It’s much more tidy looking with a zipper. The matching zipper will look much better, I think.

  4. Sylvia

    Very flattering fit and will look like a million dollars with a zipper that more closely matches.

    Great color for you. Your blog is always inspirational!

  5. JJ

    I love this sweater! It’s going to be DY-NO-MITE(!!!) with the matching zipper. It looks so much better than in the magazine ( I couldn’t stand those gaping holes either). Good job!

  6. ann

    holy cow. I sort of felt like I’d been kicked in the gut when I read about the zipper — what an awful way to learn that irons melt zippers! But I agree – it’s worth the trouble for a new zipper. That cardi fits you like a dream — and I totally love the ribbing detail on the back shoulders. I missed that earlier. Once again — fantastique!

  7. Rosemary

    Such a wonderful piece. I can see why you’d call it your most wearable. I would love a sweater like yours. I am certainly making note of the gross grain backing for the zipper. Very smart.

  8. Jenn

    Definitely go with a matching zipper. You did a fantastic job installing that zipper, and a matching one will really be the finishing touch. Or a super contrasting zipper, because the white one doesn’t really contrast so much as look like a generic zipper.

  9. Helen

    It’s gorgeous.

    And as much as I hate to admit it, I’m glad that the contrasting zipper is being evicted. I think will be incomparable with a matching one.

    But then… I rarely like contrasting zippers, so what do I know

  10. Laura

    Love the sweater! Bummer about the zipper, though. That said, glad you’re going with blue this time. First thing I thought when I saw your pictures was that you need a blue zipper to match the yarn. LOL Hard way to go about it, though. Don’t do that again!

  11. Karma

    You did a great job of making this cardi your own! It’s a great fit… I know what you mean about bat wings. πŸ™‚ I really like the picture where you’re wearing it unzipped a bit; that’s probably how I would wear it, too. I agree with others that a more matchy zipper will give this cardi a little upgrade from fabulous to super-fabulous.

  12. Heide

    Woeful tragedy with the zipper and iron… but perhaps all will be better in the long run when the new zipper is installed. I’ve made a note on my Ribby Cardi pattern to refer back to your tutorial for when my dreaded turn at the zipper mounting arises.

  13. Debi

    I have to say, viva serendipity!! That mismatched zipper was ruining what is a gorgeous sweater, imo.

    Zipperstop is amazing – actually Jeff Feibush is the “zipper dude” there and if you send him a snip of your yarn and tell him what you’re putting the zipper in, he will match it perfectly! I installed a zip for a friend in a unique shade of scarlet and Jeff sent back a perfectly matched, custom 21″ length heavy plastic seperating zipper in less than a week for $6.35 including shipping! You can’t beat that!

    Can’t wait to see how beautiful you look in this sweater with a *perfect* zipper.

  14. Brenda

    The fit is beautiful! Congratulations! I do agree with Claudia on the matching zipper. Bummer that you have to do it over though. Thanks for providing the link to Zipperstop! I’ve been wondering where knitters get their zippers.

  15. joy

    You look great in the new sweater! Shame about having to redo the zipper, but it’ll be easier the second time, yes? I’ll be crossing fingers for you. πŸ™‚

  16. dharma

    Personally I think the contrasting zipper detracts from the whole of the sweater so while it terrible you have to go through all that trouble I think it will be worth it in the end.

  17. Lauren

    Scary postscript, but nice use of Classic Silk. On your recommendation, I just washed my cabled sweater (which also took 7 skeins) and it is looking great.

  18. jody

    what a pain, but it sounds like you don’t have a choice. the fit on that sweater is fantastic. the armholes look great and the sleeve cap fits wonderfully.

    i really need to try that yarn. i’ve looked at it several times now. do you think it’s appropriate for spring? or is the silk too insulating?

  19. Eclair

    I agree with all the above, it looks fabulous and your modifications have certainly made it fit like it was made for you (which, of course, it was!)

    I think that the matching zip will make it look more ‘finished’ than the pale one. It’s the one detail that wasn’t as perfect as the rest. Are you going to blog the extraction and insertion of the replacement? It does feel like we’ve been with you every step of the way on this one, only we didn’t have to do all the hard work!

  20. Denise

    The sweater looks great, I’m sorry to hear about the zipper. That sounds like the sort of thing I would do.

  21. Angelika

    Great sweater. I’m sorry to hear about the zipper, but since you already have practice this should be a breeze for you. After all, you want to wear it, right? Buttons might have ended up in a problem in your case anyway πŸ™‚

  22. kelly

    Awww, too bad about the zipper. But the sweater around it looks just fantastic! The blue is just so pretty! At least the next incarnation of the zipper should be easy-peasy πŸ™‚

  23. Becky

    I would have sat down and just cried. To have such a gorgeous sweater and then to melt the zupper would have been too much. heh

    Congrats on another job well done. Too bad about the zipper.

  24. Lola LB

    ZipperStop looks really useful – got it bookmarked! Although I find it a bit strange that such a commercial website would have music that automatically loads . . .

  25. Barb in Sudbury

    I just found Zipperstop through Silvia–love it! I agree with the comment above that wearing unzipped to below the bust looks absolutely perfect on you! And the fit is so great–I have narrowish shoulders and really admire the shoulder seam on that.

    It is interesting that changing from buttons to a zipper makes such a difference in its appearance, from kind of ‘girly’ to more everyday (if I’m making myself clear?!)

  26. AmyP

    Great job on the sweater. But look at it this way – you’ve gained experience sewing in a zip so the second should be easy – right?

  27. Judy

    Fate, or the gods…. this time I agree with them, the blue ziper is going to really close the gap on a very beautiful sweater. The light one is dividing you in half. It looks terrific on you!

  28. lauragayle

    What a lovely sweater! So sorry about the zipper, but as AmyP said, putting in the replacement should be easy by comparison. Or at least I hope so. It does fit you — you’ll have to wear it a lot to show off your work!

  29. Kelly

    Wow, nice job. The sweater looks like it fits you like a glove. Bummer about the zipper, though! I give you credit for already planning to fix it. I would probably just deal with not using the zipper with intentions of fixing it, but never following through.

  30. margaux

    it looks lovely and has such a great fit.. thanks for the research report on it too, will keep this bookmarked for a designer’s reference!! πŸ™‚

  31. mari

    amazing! When I first saw this sweater, I dismissed it as not being versatile enough to make. But your version has me totally convinced what a great sweater it is! Of course, thanks again for such detailed notes on the project – I will probably make it now. πŸ™‚ Wonderful job!

  32. Suzanne

    Really lovely work. While I am largely angostic, I do believe in receiveing “signs.” You have a chance to change the look of the sweater for the better.

  33. v.j.

    Things happen for a reason. I can tell you now, I didn’t like the light colored zipper to begin with. I thought it would kill the sweater. I would never have told you that, I don’t know you that well. Other than that, you look very nice in the sweater. It fits like a glove.

  34. Rita

    In my humble opinion, I think the sweater is beautifully knit, the size is too tight on you. And why a white zipper, making it the focul point?

  35. Quill

    I think the sweater is beautiful and fits you perfectly. I envy it, even. And as a former seamstress whose obsession has turned to knitting, I have done that to zippers before. I second all thoughts about the preferableness of a matching zipper. And the other silver lining is that you get to do the zipper fitting techinique again, thus perfecting it!

  36. Heather

    Wow – I like your version even better than the original! I think a blue zipper will look nice – haven’t had bad melting experiences myself other than when living overseas. Ironing laundry is mandatory for line-dried items to reduce, erm, bugs, but let’s say that it’s not a great idea for nylon undies…

  37. April

    I think the sweater looks great. I have been following your progress closely since I’m working on the Cambridge Jacket from Interweave Spring 2006 for my dear husband. I’m almost done seaming and dreading that zipper input. Thanks for all the advice and really detailed information!

  38. Carrie

    Oh MAN! I think the new blue-ish zippers will be just the right touch, though.

    Once I bought iron-on letters for my stepdaughter’s new backpack, but I didn’t feel like putting them on and she was anxious. I let her do it, and she managed to hit the nylon webbing that covers the seams in the backpack and melt the black stuff everywhere. The backpack was okay, but the iron and board cover were beyond repair. I could only laugh.

  39. Maritza

    That looks fantastic! You’ve done such an amazing job on this sweater, and it is absolutely gorgeous. That sucks about the zipper. Perhaps you were just “destined” for that matching zipper. That sweater is definitely worth every ounce of energy you expend on it. It fits you beautifully.

  40. Val

    Actually, your cardi is beautiful and it suits you so well. You’re gorgeous. Thanks for the time and details your gave us. Well, what next ?

  41. Leslie

    What a bummer about the melted zipper, but I’ve got to tell you, it fits you perfectly. So worth the effort, and much nicer without the buttons. BTW, I just finished Shifting Sands if you’d like to see it on my blog.

  42. Loriticajane

    Wow!! That came out beautiful! Okay okay, the bit about the zipper is just a itty bitty goof *cough* but it looks great!

    Oh, I LOVE Zipperstop! I’ve got that bad boy bookmarked now! I have to admit the music scared the crap out of me but then I left the page up so I could listen to it. *heh* =)

  43. amberpixie

    it’s so gorgeous! i was also totally unmoved by the original photo, but have since decided i may add it to the list after seeing your design. great job!

  44. Carrie

    What a great sweater! I think that a matching zipper will look even better than the cream zipper, although its very sad that the zipper melted after you did such a beautiful job on it.

  45. Jayne

    That sweater is delish! I am working on a Ribby Cardi these days, and I see similarities. I like the neckline and rib details of yours.

    I uttered a howl of dismay when I got to the point where you said you had to re-do the zipper. Vanity! All is vanity! I just installed a zipper in a knitted jacket last week, and I was glad when it was OVER. The thought of having to do it again…shiver.

  46. pennie

    Another great project. The sweater looks stunning on you. I agree with Claudia about the matching zipper. Sorry you have to go through the trouble of installing another zipper, though.

  47. Shannon

    Bravo!! Just awesome! all of the mods you made were perfect! Love the zipper–i thought the button band on the original looked horrible. Great job!

  48. BzzLaraBzz

    Beautiful sweater! It looks fantastic on you. I love it with the zipper. SO much better than those gaping tiny buttons.

    I’ve bookmarked Zipperstop! I have so many issues with finding the proper zipper.

  49. Janine

    Congratulations on a job well done! I do admit that I like the idea of a matching (or coloured contrasting) zipper better. As there are no other touches of cream in the sweater, it does end up looking unfortunately generic, which belies the incredible job you did in knitting it.

  50. Angie

    It’s not my sweater, but when I saw the pic I thought, “why did she put that contrasting zipper in that beautiful sweater, couldn’t she find one that matched?” Made it look a little too “store bought” for my taste. It is beautiful. I’m still stalking the ellusive Classic Silk on sale…Cobalt is my color as well.

  51. Carol

    Fabulous job, fabulous sweater. I think I’ll be putting this on my to-do list (once I’ve learned enough to knit a sweater!) Good luck finding a matching zipper – be sure to check the color under different lights so you aren’t surprised when you walk into a store and see your reflection – and see a mismatched zipper glaring at you right in the middle of that beautiful knitting.

  52. Cheri

    Its beautiful, sorry about the zipper but since you have all of this zipper experience you should have no problem putting a new one in.

  53. Janice in GA

    Yeah, another person here who thinks that a cream zipper looks “meh” in the sweater. I also don’t like things that close-fitting (I think they tend to make curvy people look heavy), but that’s a personal taste issue.

  54. Samina

    Bravo! The finished product is beautiful & fits you splendidly. The zipper fiasco is pretty funny, though. Or at least, it will be after you get it fixed.

  55. Kat

    The sweater looks great and fits you very well!

    But the zipper! Some of us can’t take sedatives and had to see it in all its unmedicated glory. I admire your ability to not give up when things go wrong. I usually have to put the project on hold for a few weeks before I can forgive it. That said, I think a matching zipper will be great the cream isn’t working for me.

  56. Steph

    Gospodi pomilui!! That poor zipper! THAT POOR YOU!! You are a strong woman, Grumperina! I would have to put it away for a couple of days before I could bear to repair that beautiful, hard work.

  57. Sandy

    Lovely sweater and maybe a blessing in the long run because I was thinking you needed a better color for the zipper, a matching fine one for so fine a sweater! It is so beautiful it will be that much better!

  58. Amy

    Wonderful sweater! So lovely, fits great. I was so impressed with the forethought in installing the (first) zipper. Came out great. I think I will like the matching zipper better, as well, and hope that the installation will be (even) easier the second time around!

  59. Hanna

    No one tells a knitting saga like you do!

    Beautiful, beautiful sweater. My heart dropped to hear about the zipper – how ARE you keeping such good spirits?! – but I do agree with some of the other comments that a matching zipper might be more pleasing anyways.

  60. Trico

    Oh I nearly fainted….it is a shame that zipper didn’t be made up expecting ironing…aw.

    Best wishes to you, from the bottom of my heart. Love the color of the sweater.

  61. Amy

    I had to have a little lie-down before commenting. It surely does look beautiful enough to warrant the work, but you poor thing.

  62. Melissa

    this is THE MOST amazing sweater!!! OK, I’ve knitted tons of socks and scarves, but have not been brave enough to tackle a sweater, and this one gives me inspiration to try one!

  63. Sheila

    I really like that you talk about all your design decisions. I enjoy talking with other knitters about design, color, etc. This is one of the things I really like about reading your blog. Sorry about the zipper. I hate when I make mistakes like that. The fit is good and I love the sleeves.

  64. Teresa C

    Gorgeous job!

    I have zipper woes of my own to tell, but not like that. Even with a color card, getting a matching zipper from zipperstop is not as easy as it sounds. The last time I ordered (last week) they told me they had the three I ordered, from my color card, and then sent me one of the ones I ordered, and two that were in their minds, “close”. This isn’t the first time they have done this to me. It is the best way to get a zipper, I think, I have had a run of bad luck. I’ll be blogging the previous bad luck soon, I hope.

  65. Amanda

    Ugggghhhhh… a melted zipper. Important note about… my mom is a sewing goddess (she used to be a designer in NYC), and she owns a YKK zipper color sample book. The colors on the website are not accurate to real life. Just keep that in mind when ordering… and good luck!

  66. aj

    Wow! Amazing sweater. Too bad about the zipper though. I’m sure in the future you won’t make the same mistake, so the next sweater won’t be such a PIA (pain in the ass)! All the same, it’s an absolutely gorgeous sweater! Good luck with the new zippers!

  67. Carolyn

    ARRGHHHH zippers! I need to order that colour card from zipper stop…that will also solve my problems. I also hate the plastic teeth zippers…not ironable…another reason to hate them!

  68. marjorie

    A zipper that is closer to the color of the yarn will look better. Consider using a pressing cloth when you press the new zipper in. You can use an old piece of muslin for this–don’t buy anything special.

    Every sewer does something like this once. On my first dress of synthethic “Ban-lon” (a nylon fabric popular in the 70s), my iron was too hot, and the fabric stuck to the iron plate. I was about done with the entire thing when this happened. Be satisfied that your whole garment isn’t ruined, like mine was!

  69. Teresa C

    Hi Kath, Did you get your zippers yet? And did they send you the colors that you actually ordered? I’m curious to know. I can’t wait to see the sweater re-done with a blue zip-it will make it.

  70. knittingiris

    Luckily, I already did have a glass of wine on hand while reading this one. After gasping, I just had to laugh. Sorry. It’s just that it sounds so much like something I might do. I’m sorry again, but you with all your careful attention to detail in your handknits, I have to say that I find it a bit comforting that even you can do something like that.

    It’ll be so worth the repairs.

    Why is it that we knittters take the time and make the effort to knit so many things that really aren’t all that wearable and that, in the end, spend most of their lives on a shelf rather than on our bodies?

  71. Morgen

    Traditionally the edges of the opening are lapped over the zipper so that they meet exactly at the center front and hide the zipper teeth completely. That way, if you can’t find a zipper that’s an exact match for your color of garment, you still get a professional-looking finish. Look at zip hoodies or jackets you may have to see examples of this. The zipper teeth are not supposed to show when the garment is closed. Also, try finding a zipper with metal teeth and cotton twill backing for a more neutral complement to your blue fiber. Cheers!

  72. Michele

    The sweater rocks! The zipper, however, does not. A matching blue zipper would be the icing on the cake πŸ™‚

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