My Tegna certainly had a rough start (and middle) but now she’s here and beautiful.
The popular Tegna pattern by Caitlin Hunter has been in my sight since it was first published. I fell in love with the delicate lace, the simple body, and the dropped shoulders. It was the perfect pattern to cast on early in the summer. I’m glad it’s finished so I can enjoy wearing it while the sun blazes and my skin fries – except I’ll be wearing sunscreen and a hat so this hopefully won’t happen.
While all my newly finished projects feel special, my Tegna has a little more oomph. The yarn I chose to work with was unraveled from a cotton/silk blend J Crew cardigan. When I found the cardigan at the thrift store, it was originally cream, but that next weekend I went to another amazing dye session at Alpaca’s of Troy, an alpaca farm outside of St. Louis, MO, and dropped the sweater, pre-unravelled, into the indigo bath. Then, I left it for eight months.
When I pulled out the cream-machine-knit-now-indigo sweater and unraveled the pieces – I was delighted with the results. I imagined that dying a sweater in its knit form wouldn’t affect the dye process – and the dyed sweater looked thoroughly soaked. However, while unraveling I noticed that each knit stitch created a unique resistance technique. The resistance of the knit stitches created a speckled like appearance on the yarn. This was aided by the fact that the cotton/silk blend was unplied and shifted during the unraveling process.
I ended up with a beautiful teal speckled yarn that blew all my previous expectations of the effects natural dyes can give. That said, maybe if I had ever knit from a sock blank I might have figured this out sooner. Hand-dyed sock blanks seem to have the same closely speckled effect.
I adjusted the pattern to fit my tighter gauge. In my original gauge swatch, my yarn in the pattern recommended gauge (22 sts and 26 rows) appeared loose and unorganized. So I swatched on smaller needles and landed on a gauge of 27 stitches and 36 rows per 4 inches. I’ve noticed that I prefer tighter gauges in my recent projects – like my Featherweight – which have all used non-wooly yarns. Clearly, when knitting garments, slippery, non-fluffy silks, linens, and cottons benefit from a tighter gauge than their fluffier yarn counterparts. If I followed the pattern for size M (43.75″ bust) then my Tegna would come out around a size S (38″). Gauge math is by far one of my favorite knitting techniques I have ever learned. Nothing has made me happier than adjusting the pattern to fit my gauge so I can have the pattern I want in the fabric I want.
I made one other tiny mod: I only knit my Tegna body to 12 inches instead of the 14 recommended in the pattern. I always like to shorten patterns a tad because I’m 5’3″ and I wanted my Tegna to be cropped (more than slightly cropped as intended in the pattern). The result is a little stomach-bearing, but I’m cool with that.
I had some hiccups in the knitting process – all of my skeins were noticeably different shades of teal-indigo. I tried to blend the yarn by alternating skeins, but the striping effect was quite apparent – and something I wanted to avoid. So I chose to apply the “fade” technique and slowly transition from one skein to another when my current skein was nearing it’s end. Overall, I think this blended the different shades of blue in a much more palatable way and one that I’m happy with.
It was difficult to decide to unravel my almost completed Tegna to correct the striping effect. I put up a poll on Instagram stories to crowd source some advice – and I found the votes were split evenly: 50% knit again and 50% leave it as is. But, to be honest, I didn’t even wait for the results of the poll to unravel it – I determined that the striping would prevent me from feeling proud about my color management in this sweater – something which I’ve been learning about and working on with a surprising amount of effort since I began to knit. I feel like I’ve finally hit some sort of stride with color management and I don’t want to settle for something that doesn’t feel right to me. So, in a double effort not to cut corners and to trust my gut, I unravelled half of my little baby Tegna and started again.
The extra work always pays off. I have said this in previous blog posts, but every time I decide to unravel something and try again, I always feel like it’s worth the effort. I think I’ve built up enough rapport with myself to trust my opinion regarding the knitting process, what looks good, and the artistic qualities of my pieces. Basically, I’m feeling like a knitting bad-ass that can’t be stopped.
My Tegna is going to serve me well this summer, and for summers to come.