Back when the somewhat cowl was a viral pattern in the knitting world, I bought myself a bunch of Blue Sky Alpaca Alpaca and Silk yarn in a lovely plum color. It was delicious to touch, and I couldn't wait to knit with it. I wound it up into balls with my recently acquired ball winder and swift, and took loving photographs of it.
So shiny! So plummy! So deliciously silky and alpaca-y!
Then I cast on. Now, something you should know is that when I cast on for this project back in 2006, I had only made a few sweaters. They were all either baby sweaters or tank tops. That means that this was my very first attempt at an adult sweater with sleeves. It was also my very first attempt at an adult raglan. That sense of impending doom you are now feeling? Completely appropriate.
I managed somehow to pick up on the excitement when everyone was casting on to knit the somewhat cowl. What I failed to notice was the mass frustration when everyone seemed to run into this particular problem:
Yup. That's the Baggy Sleeve of Doom.
It turns out that, if you understand raglan construction, then you know that the depth of the raglan diagonal is a measurement that you need to customize to your own body. I am sure there are a few somewhat cowl knitters out there for whom the Extremely Baggy Armhole was size appropriate. But for most of us, it wasn't.
Several years ago, when I encountered the armhole of doom, I wasn't wise enough to know exactly how to fix the problem. I was, instead, frustrated, angry, and uninterested in touching the sweater for a very, very long time. After all, this is a top-down raglan sweater. So I had knit the entire body of the sweater before I picked up stitches for the first sleeve, knit it, tried the sweater on, and discovered the problem.
The only solution was to rip it all out and start again from the top. I couldn't stomach the idea of destroying so much of my knitting (remember, I was still a relatively new knitter at the time - these days, I have less emtional commitment to my work). So, the somewhat cowl sat in a dark corner of the stash for several years, awaiting its froggy demise.
Sometime in 2008, I finally took the plunge, and turned the sweater with unusually large armholes into many tiny balls of rumpled yarn. I had gone from 6 beautiful, neat, tidy balls of beautiful Alapaca Silk to an almost complete sweater, which required cutting and rejoining balls of yarn from time to time. The fact that I now had more balls of yarn, and messier and uglier balls of yarn than I had begun with only discouraged me more. They sat in my stash for at least another year.
Then, last spring I pulled them out again for NaKniSweMoDo. I read up on raglan sizing, and worked my way through years' worth of forums of somewhat cowl knitters voicing their anger, frustration, and clever techniques for working around the Baggy Armhole Problem. I measured once, twice, three, maybe about fifteen times. And then I cast on.
I am not sure what happened, but sometime in 2009 I hit a wall with my knitting. I was completely and utterly uninterested in knitting, and it all came to a complete standstill. I've rediscovered my love of fiber, and things are going great now. But what this means is that earlier this week, digging through my basket of WIPs abandoned during my knitting funk, I discovered the somewhat cowl in a state of almost completion. By this, I mean that I had knit both sleeves, I had made the cowl, I had seamed the cowl to itself. I had even begun weaving in ends. And then, mysteriously, inexplicably, I had stopped. The darning needle was even there, attached to a piece of yarn mid-weave.
It took me all of half an hour to finish weaving in the ends Wednesday night. Then, the sweater took a dunk in the bath, and blocked for a few days. I have to say it didn't come out too bad.
Curvy, plungey, soft, drapey, and just a little bit scratchy.
Ooh - and here's the neckline. Not quite as cowley as I would like, but then again - this is the somewhat cowl.
But, of course, the armholes are still a bit more baggy than I would like. I don't know that this is avoidable, since it does fit awfully nice. I just don't like a lot of extra bunching around the arms:
And that's the story of the first project of the year. May the rest of them be as easy to finish and as pleasant to wear.