I finished my poncho commission today! It’s blocked, seamed, and waiting for its owner to pick it up. I think it turned out well.
Pattern: Easy Folded Poncho by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.
Yarn: Just shy of a thousand yards of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in pale blue. It’s a 50% alpaca, 50% wool blend. I found it very nice to work with.
Size made: A bit larger than the pattern calls for (at the buyer’s request). I think the finished measurements before folding and sewing it were something like 28″ x 57″ instead of 20″ x 52″. I did not knit the optional cowl at the neck opening.
Needles: US8s. I used my new Addi Clicks. Of note, I found that when using the larger needles, the yarn slipped over the join much more easily.
Techniques used: Provisional cast on (I used this crochet chain cast on), spit splicing, mattress stitch, lots and lots (and lots) of stockinette.
Modifications: The size, as noted above. Also, the pattern calls for DK but the Ultra Alpaca is worsted, so I knit it at a slightly looser gauge.
Difficulty: Easy, but it’s important to keep consistent tension as any variations are easy to spot in the finished item.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a true modeled pic, but I think this gives a pretty good idea of it:
I “borrowed” a mannequin at my LYS to model it for photos. The color in the pics is actually pretty accurate.
I ended up blocking this puppy twice. The first time, I used my old method, which is to use long circular needles like blocking wires. Since they’re more flexible, I have to use a lot of pins in order to avoid rippled edges. I wasn’t completely satisfied after the first go round so when I got my new blocking wires, I did it again. I didn’t wash and soak the piece as I often do when blocking because I didn’t want the knitting to open up any more–the poncho was already big enough. Instead, I pinned it in place first and then used a spray bottle to wet down the areas I wanted to address. After the second time, I was happy with the results.
Initially I wasn’t sure about the blue, but by the end I decided I really did like it. It’s probably not what I would choose for myself, but then again, I’m not really sure I’d wear a poncho anyway (I think they look nice on people; they’re just not my personal style*). If I made another one, I would consider doing it in color blocks or adding a stripe or two. There are some awesome examples of both in the finished projects on ravelry.
While this pattern is easy, there are a few details that I think really bring it to the next level. One is the use of the provisional cast on. This is done so that you can go back, pick up those stitches, and bind them off the same way as the bound off edge. That way the two edges match, which I think looks very nice. Another detail is in the shoulder seam. When you fold the poncho width-wise, the direction of knitting on the two ends is different. So, when you’re seaming them together, it’s important to leave a one stitch allowance on one side and a one and a half stitch allowance on the other. That makes the two edges appear to line up, and the seam is then nearly invisible. It’s also important to block it very precisely so that the size and shape will be just right.
So, I’m feeling good about getting another big project finished! Now to knit a sword…
*I use that word loosely when referring to myself!