Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Paper Kimono

Nikki's kimono jacket is done.

I used Habu's item #A-62, which is 1/10 paper moire, and 50% each linen and nylon, on size #3 (USA) aluminum straight needles.  It was a heck of a fiber to knit with.  It was very slippery on the needles and it was easy to drop stitches.  The fabric is very stiff and has a mind of its own when it comes to drape.  On the plus side, because of the tiny paper flags (and I mean tiny), it was tough to see uneven stitches or mistakes like knit stitches where a purl was required.  The fabric is a bit scratchy to the touch, but I suspect that it will become softer if I wash the kimono and use a bit of fabric softener in the rinse water.

I knit a swatch from #A-62 several weeks ago as part of a Spring fiber display for my office, but the swatch was so unruly, I nixed the plan to make a garment for myself out of it.  However, after seeing how cute Nikki looks in the jacket, I'm revising my thoughts. I bought just one skein of this fiber at Stitches East this past Fall, with the idea to try some alternative fibers and maybe update my wardrobe to include some "now" fashion looks.  I showed the swatch to a few coworkers, one of whom said that I could use it to patch a bare spot in my lawn.   So maybe I'm just too short and round to carry off an alternative fiber that could make me look like a mobile marijuana plant.  Then again, a jacket in #A-62 could be quite a conversation piece if not a wacky fashion statement for a woman my age.

I've looked over the five garments that are now completed for Nikki and this challenge.  I'm trying to figure out how I developed ideas for each piece of clothing.  I'd say that the style of the clothing was dictated by my past knitting experience with human-sized garments.  I did a lot of improvising and I measured the garments against Nikki every few rows.   It was liberating to look at the pieces as they evolved and not be constrained by counting stitches or ripping work because I had not followed someone else's directions perfectly.  I think more of my sweaters would turn out as I had planned them if I followed this course of action for human-sized projects - constantly measuring the knitted piece against a piece of clothing that fits me the way I'd like the knitted garment to fit.

Choice of fiber also has heavily influenced the evolution of the Nikki's garments.  For example, when I chose the Habu fiber for the jacket, I pretty much locked myself into the style and fiber for the wrap skirt.

The fact that a 3-year-old will eventually inherit the completed project definitely played a role in the clothing design.  The garments had to be relatively easy to get on and off the doll, and she had to be able to secure the garments on Nikki without adult help.  Hence my choice of velcro closures.

Finally, mistakes caused me to make changes in the originally conceived designs.  The first sweater I knit was too small in the back, for example, so that dictated a corrective action if I wanted to salvage the sweater; the color of the sweater locked me into the magenta skirt, and the weight of the fiber made me choose an A-line design.

I'd like to say that I planned all the clothing out on paper, but in truth I just grabbed a fiber I wanted to work with from the palette I was limited to, and, using the stitch counts I researched on the Web, just started knitting.  I've learned from this project that if you know how to knit, purl, increase, and decrease, you can make anything if you just follow your intuition.

Now, I'm off to complete a turtleneck sweater to go with the drawstring skirt.  Sorry, dear Tulsa sister, but I cracked the Kidsilk Haze last night (I couldn't resist the temptation any longer) because the green color was perfect.  I promise I'll make it up to you somehow.

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