Saturday, August 10, 2013

Francis Relaxed

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!

28 comments:

  1. Love your mods! It looks great on you. I have plans to knit Relax but I like your spin on it better.

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  2. Hey thanks! I loooooove the Relax pattern! It's so great to have a really basic, flattering pattern that you can endlessly alter and play around with. I'm sure I'll make it several times over :)

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  3. Superb, superb, superb! The colour, the yarn, the pattern's version, absolutely beautiful! Bravooooooooo

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  4. I'd love to see those notes! This is beautiful.

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  5. Holy Smokes... that is a total winner!! I'd love to read those notes as well. The more detailed the better... I love reading knitting minutiae.

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    1. Thanks! I'll be going over my notes in the next few days to make sure they'll make sense to other people (and not just me!). I'll try to have some version of them up here asap :)

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    2. So would I. Looking forward to it. And thanks fo your willingness to share!

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  6. Yes, please! I'd love to see your notes ~ Relaxed is in my queue for the fall but this version of Francis is close behind.

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  7. The thought of all those mods makes me want to weep...I am in awe of your skill. This is a gorgeous sweater. Well worth the maths!

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  8. Sooooo lovely! I really love the way the stockinette drapes in over the purls in front.

    They do have the Shibui yarn for sale at Kollabora: http://www.kollabora.com/store/products/heichi-yarn

    Looks like it comes in beautiful colours, so I'll have to keep this sweater in mind!

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  9. I would be extremely interested in getting a copy of your notes. I love your sweater.

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  10. I love your sweater and i am interested for your notes.
    Love from Greece

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  11. Absolutely adore your aesthetic. I also love the simplicity of the Relax pattern and would also love to know how to knit this version.

    Krista

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  12. Thanks a lot, that's a great compliment! I'm mostly finished writing up the pattern, I just have to go over it and make sure everything is as simply and clearly written as possible before I put it up here. I'm hoping to have it up very soon!

    And it's great to see a fellow British Columbian here :)

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  13. Oh it is absolutely perfect! Count me in for the pattern...greetings from Berlin! Julia

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  14. I am sorry to hear that you couldn't understand the Francis pattern, I know I think differently and with being constructed the way I did, I tried to avoid the seams and minimize finishing. If the seams were made, for example, and since the sweater has open back, those seams would ride out towards the front and be rather visible and interfering. However, I did post a tutorial last year on the most tricky part that people found hard to understand.
    http://olgajazzzy.blogspot.com/2012/03/decyphering-francis.html

    I am glad that you found a version of the sweater to make work for you in this beautiful yarn. I really like the color you chose and it looks great on! Olga

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  15. Thanks! You know what, I think the fault was entirely mine, and not the pattern's (or the designer's!). I simply couldn't find the right yarn and the substitute I chose proved to be totally unsuitable (it's much heavier and has far less drape than the Shibui yarn). I would love to tackle the "real" Francis again some day with a yarn that's closer to the original :)

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  16. Hi, your hardwork paid off ! You've designed a handknit that is beautiful.

    Have fun in creating more of your own designs and I hope you dont mind me popping in often :)

    Warmly,
    jackie

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  17. I want to knit a top in this shape and am finding it surprisingly (not to you) hard to find a pattern. So far I'm going with Jules from the recent BT collection, although I want to use a drapier yarn, which I haven't yet discovered. So, shorter answer is YES please share your notes! I like this even better than Jules. Great for winter layering, office wear, weekend slouching. And it's a flattering shape. Well done powering through the frustration. All best, Kay

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  18. Thanks! I'm almost done writing up the pattern, just have to work through a couple of inconsistencies in my notes. In hindsight, I think if I were to make another sleeveless version of this top, I think I would use a yarn with the same gauge as the original pattern (in which case, you would simply leave off the sleeves and add the reverse stockinette panel to achieve the same effect). All the notes and fuss were mainly the result of trying to make the yarn I'd originally purchased to make "Francis" work for a sleeveless version of "Relax". So if you want a more elegant top with some drape, I would suggest doing just that (although my notes will show up here some day, I promise!).

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  19. Love the pattern - would appreciate a copy of it when available
    Kate

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  20. Hello,
    I would also love to know how to knit this version.
    And i am very interested on your notes, if it's still possible.
    All the best from Portugal
    Cleopatra (oelc at ravelry)

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  21. Could I please have a copy of your notes? I love this sweater!

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  22. I didn't see where the notes were posted here. I love this and would love the notes too.

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  23. LOVE! I would love to have a copy of your notes. This is beautiful.

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  24. Like so many other admirers ... I love what you've done to combine these two patterns. I too would appreciate your pattern notes so that I can make a hybrid of my very own. Thank you in advance.
    You have a lovely aesthetic and I look forward to more of your design work!

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