Nutcracker Sweet, Part 9 – the happy ending

OK, here we are, finally.  It’s done!  And, I’m pretty darned happy with it.  Although admittedly, I picked a real lulu for the first set of Playing Lessons!

(I didn’t do it on purpose, I swear.  Really, I’m usually more lazy than this.)

"Lulu" is the perfect term to describe this project, it turns out, because it has several meanings, and all of them fit:

  • noun:  "something extraordinary" — this was definitely an extraordinary knitting project
  • adjective:  "beautiful" or "attractive"
  • noun:  "a winner" nutcracker completed

The Fair Isle panel looks really good, and the MOHAIR in it pleases me inordinately.  I’m extremely glad I tipped the sleeves as well as the bodice.  The angora trim turned out completely fab, I think — everyone wants to touch it.

Here’s the nitty-gritty on the rest of the finishing:

1)  No pockets — many, many people thought that it looked better without any pockets.  One woman put it very succinctly when she said that the version sans pockets "doesn’t look as juvenile".  I have to agree.original nutcracker

And, since I am nearer the end of my 4th decade than my 2nd or 3rd, it seems like "juvenile" is not really a look I ought to strive for — unless what I really am aiming for is "pathetic".

(At least, not unless I ever go to Japan, in which case I’m totally going Loli-Goth and to hell with good taste and appropriateness.  It looks like so much fun!)

2)  No chain necessary for weighting the hem.  It hangs very nicely on its own.

3)  The front closure of choice turned out to be a lightweight separating zipper (** see footnote), together with three hooks-and-eyes:  one at the top of the zipper, one at the bottom of the zipper, and one hooking together the edges of the angora trim.

I confess, I’ve never sewn a zipper in a sweater before, but I was smart enough to ask Sandi’s advice.  She gave me what I think is an essential piece of info for sewing a zipper in a sweater, and I’ve never seen it anywhere else before, so here it is:

When you put a zipper into any knitted garment, you want to sew it such that it lies flat:  but more specifically, to lie flat when the garment is worn, and not necessarily flat when the garment is lying on a table.

That’s something to think about, isn’t it?  You have to sew the zip such that the garment is in the same state of stretch as when it is worn. 

In an oversized garment with plenty of ease, these states are one and the same.  But when you are putting a zipper in a garment that is at all fitted, you have to remember that as the garment stretches width-wise around the body, it will shorten — but the zipper won’t.

nutcracker completed from the back

Of course, this means the zipper will not necessarily lie flat when the garment is off the body, but who cares about that?

And the simplest way to accomplish this is to baste the zip in place while the garment is on a mannequin, which is what I did.  Mind you, I did have to do it a couple of times to get it right.

BTW, there was an unexpected bonus to the knit-in bias facings:  not only do they keep the front edges from rolling (as intended), but also they were perfect for attaching the zipper.

I’m very pleased with the fit, overall.  The sleeves are good; the bodice is great.  And look, Ma!  No wad of extra fabric in the back!!

I haven’t yet made the Swarovski crystal necklace (or matching earrings) that I threatened to do in the previous post — but I did think the zipper pull could use a bit of sparkle, so I was planning on adding some crystals to it, too.  Because can you ever have too many crystals?  I think not.

However, after hearing the same wisecrack suggestion independently from two different well-loved smart-alecks in my life, I bowed to the inevitable, and did what must be done.

Yes, that is a Chococat charm hanging on the zipper pull.chococat!

Absolutely perfect.


** Footnote:  after wearing the sweater a couple of times in the past few days, I realized that the zipper (and all that work that went into it) is actually superfluous.  I am really never going to wear this sweater hanging open — it would look like crap that way, after all — and I have found that, thanks to the wide neckline and the open bottom half, it goes on and off as a pullover very easily.

But then of course, I’d have nowhere to hang Chococat.


  9 comments for “Nutcracker Sweet, Part 9 – the happy ending

  1. 03/24/2008 at 11:01 AM

    Well Tessie, all I can say is that when I saw you in this sweater, I almost fainted. I’ve never seen a handknitted garment made so beautifully, fit so well or finished with such precision. Your journey through this project is a real eye opener for us “intermediate” knitters.
    As I have said many, many times in my former career, a novel idea is exciting, but execution is EVERYTHING.
    I am truly in awe.

  2. TessM
    03/24/2008 at 11:20 AM

    Now, THAT is a compliment!! Thanks so much!

    I love that statement: “a novel idea is exciting, but execution is EVERYTHING.” I’m definitely going to use that one…!


  3. Trish C
    03/25/2008 at 11:38 AM

    Tess, I enjoyed every detail of your experience with this pattern. As a person not very attentive to detail, it was a journey into foreign territory and to an entirely different mindset from my own. Quite a trip!

    Your version of this sweater is a huge improvement on the original VK pattern. Losing the pockets was definitely the right move. The zipper in place of the buttons pretty cool, and I love the zipper pull. Mainly, though, I really like your interpretation of the Fair Isle panel. Yours is much more visible, yet entirely within the subtle color scheme that the original design intended. Everything comes together with your implementation. Nice work! Nice sweater!



  4. TessM
    03/25/2008 at 11:55 AM

    Wow, a compliment from Trish on my Fair Isle? Thank you, oh zen master! Mark this day on the calendar!

    I can’t believe it when you say you are not attentive to detail, tho’, because you nailed that Oregon Live thing the other day before I even got past the purse stitch. What book did you choose?


  5. lunabug
    04/05/2012 at 9:57 AM

    All I can say is, Wow! That sweater looks completely amazing, and is a huge improvement on the VK version. I would very much knit your version (and I might, still, thanks to your precise notes here…) but I wouldn’t have looked twice at the VK version. The VK version t looks so awkward and square on the model , and busy on that pink background. Your version is elegant, shapely, and beautiful.

    Thank you for the inspiration…I am on the cusp of beginning my first knitted garment, and your methods, calculations, and considerations give me the confidence and some ideas on methods to make sure it is successful!

    • 04/05/2012 at 10:19 AM

      Oh, that’s so nice to hear! 🙂 The compliments are great, but also I love to know that this info is helpful or inspiring to other knitters. That sweater is still probably my biggest knitting triumph. 🙂 I would love to see how your first garment comes out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *