Quite some time ago, I sat myself down and tried to make sense of Olga Buraya-Kefelian's "Francis" top: I read through all the instructions x 5, carefully selected a substitute yarn (Berrocco Remix) for the Shibui Heichi I couldn't find anywhere, and followed the damn pattern to the letter. To the letter people! Not a single smart-ass modification did I make, and yet...it was sucking. Hard. After only one sleeve and a few inches of the sideways-knit body, I could tell it was going to be an exercise in frustration followed by every knitter's worst nightmare: The Un-wearable Garment.
So, knitting trooper that I am, I tried to figure out a way to combine the elements of Francis that I liked (the front garter stitch panel, the cap sleeves, the a-line shape) with a pattern that made sense for my yarn and brain. I dug out my much-written on copy of Ririko's "Relax" sweater, a notebook, a pen, and set to work adding exactly the kinds of smart-ass modifications I had diligently avoided with my disaster "Francis". And a month later, I have "Francis Relaxed"!
Now, obviously this wasn't the right yarn for a straight-up version of "Relax" either: I had to change the number of stitches cast on, alter the neckline, and change pretty much everything about the short rows (dear lord, the short rows...*shudders*). I also added a couple of decreases to the body, thus achieving the a-line shape I liked about Francis (although I now think it would have looked equally fine with the original boxy shape). And I left off the sleeves and used reverse stockinette for the middle panel instead of garter stitch, to avoid any weird flaring at the neckline. Phew!
All things considered (the math, the notes, the original abject failure), I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out. I still have *feelings* about the yarn: what exactly is the ideal use for an aran weight yarn that contains not one single warmth-providing fiber? I do like the rustic, tweedy look of it though...there's something a little medieval about it, especially on the purl-side. And it did lose some bulk and gain some drape after blocking, but that might be because I took a rolling pin to it, lol.
It's good to have this finished and wearable (I'm even wearing it as I type this, like a nerd!). If anyone is interested, I can type up the extremely detailed notes I made while making this, so if you want to whip up your own Relaxed Francis, let me know!