Here’s another recently-finished project, made from the Berroco Paulina pattern. This was by far the most complex and challenging thing I’ve knitted, and for the most part, I’m pleased with it. I’d have preferred it to be a bit longer, and also a bit larger width-wise. It’s supposed to be form-fitting, but it could have been an inch or two wider, and still fit well – it just wouldn’t be quite as “stretched”.
The original yarn specified (Smart Cotton) has been discontinued, and not ever having seen it, I had no idea what might be a good substitute. Smart Cotton was 68% Cotton, 29% Rayon, 3% Nylon with a gauge of 21 sts/28 rows to 4″. Based on a suggestion from Mayflower, I used “Sock it to Me!” by Esprit, which I purchased at Elann. It’s 98.3% cotton, and 1.7% elastic, but it has a very different gauge – 25 st/40 rows to 4″. I don’t know what I was thinking! This is definitely a pattern where row count matters, and I’m not that experienced in manipulating patterns. Between the ribbing and the elasticity of the yarn, my swatches were so stretchy that it was impossible to know for sure if my gauge was going to work out width-wise, so I just took my best guess. I was still off quite a bit on row count, but I decided to give it a go anyway, figuring out a few places where I could throw in some extra rows to make up the difference without messing up the pattern. Throughout the whole project, I was positive that it was going to be too small. After finishing the back, I pinned it to an existing tank top which fits snugly, and tried it on. At that point it looked like it might actually work! I figured that if it didn’t, it would be close enough that I could just knit some “gussets” for the sides if I had to make it slightly bigger. So onward I went.
I finally finished the front, pinned it together, held my breath, and tried it on. To my great surprise, it fit! Will wonders never cease! I must have had good karma that month. One thing bothered me though – the large “dip” in the front and back center. You can see it in the photo on the pattern, though the model is mostly hiding it with her hands. I didn’t think I’d mind it, but hmmm… once it was on, I decided it just wasn’t that flattering on me – maybe because it ended up shorter in length than what it looks like on the model (and let’s face it – anything would look great on her, even a burlap sack!). So after thinking about various options, I ended up filling them in a little with some rows of single crochet. I didn’t fill them in entirely, so there’s still a dip, just not quite what it was. I’m much happier with it now.
Would I knit Paulina again? Yes, I’d like to some day, and use a yarn that’s a closer match for the gauge. Perhaps Rowan Calmer? I haven’t knitted with that yet, but the yarn does seem nice and stretchy, and the gauge is much closer. The pattern was challenging to keep straight (yes, I did lots of frogging when I messed up), but it was fun to do, too. And it certainly wasn’t boring!
For those who want to know where I added length to compensate for my gauge, here’s where I added rows: For the back, I added 8 extra rows after the 1st Shaping Row (worked to row 50 instead of 42). That changed my row count from 62 to 70 for Row 4 of the Beg Diagonal Bands section, and from 76 to 84 on the 3rd Shaping Row. I knitted another two rows in the section right before Shape Armholes – where it says 106 rows, I went to 116 (the first 8 extra rows, plus 2 more rows = 10 more than the original pattern). This is a good place to throw in extra rows, but if possible, do them so your total number of increases ends up in a multiple of 10, so the cable pattern comes out correctly at the neckline. After shaping the armholes, where it said to work until the armholes measure 7″, I worked to row 173, which was a little more than 7″, but I didn’t write down what it was – 7.5″, I think. This is another good place to sneak in some extra rows – if the armhole ends up a bit lower than you’d like, you can always add some rows of single-crochet around the armhole after you’re done to make a smaller opening. The front of the tank was worked the same as the back, adding the extra 8 rows after the 1st Shaping Row, and then an extra two rows right before doing the armholes (to a total of 127 rows instead of 117). Then I worked until the armhole measured the same as the front, to row 173.