Friday, March 16, 2007

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  • Zippers I Have Known

    As the poet said, "Only God can make a tree,"
    probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.
    - Woody Allen

    So, you know how I love my UFO Resurrection, right? Well, March is that month of bitter struggles, cold wind, and the fierce determination of . . . something. I don't live in New England anymore, and while I really missed October, did I tell you how I went swimming and rollerblading and engaged on the beach last weekend and didn't freeze at all? It's nice. At any rate, March is the month when I will face my UFO demons - Zippers. Both my Rogue and my Ribby Cardi have been languishing for 10 and 3 months, respectively, lacking nothing by a zipper. And today I will pull the skeleton out of my closet and explain it all. Zippers have haunted me since I started knitting sweaters.

    I was talking to a friend's younger sister the other day, and apparently I am out of style. And here I try so hard to keep up with all of the trends . . . Zip-front hooded sweatshirts are no longer the obligatory college dorm item. Now all the cool kids are wearing pullovers. I love my zip-front hoodies. Throw them on over anything.

    So I like my cardigans. And while buttons have their place, nothing beats a zippered cardigan for a certain devil-may-care-je-ne-sais-quoi, a little panache, if you will. (You will, right? Because my friend's sister won't.)

    Now in my life I've owned many zip-front cardigans, but I've only knit two (that have zippers already). After knitting and wearing and loving the first one - that would be Rosedale from Knitty, with a few mods, on your left - I realized one major fundamental difference between my zipper and the other zippers.

    The zipper lining. Or whatever the piece of knitted fabric behind the zipper is called. All of my commercially knitted cardis have what looks like a second button (ok, zipper) band behind the zipper in either the same yarn or a very similar but lighter weight yarn. The other major difference? The fact that they sew their zippers on well enough so that they don't start coming undone after two years of careful wearing.

    Witness my previous attempt:

    Note how this sweater (from a recent FCEK in Lionbrand Cotton Ease) has a crocheted border up the middle. I tried to crochet a second, inner border and place the zipper between the two. (And excuse the bad photos. I think my camera battery was dead.)I don't know if my tension was off, or if using the same yarn (a heavy worsted weight) made it too bulky, but you can see from the photos above that the zipper doesn't lie perfectly flat. It looks OK on, but still not perfect. Clearly, those kinds of zipper linings don't work. Or at least with my rudimentary crochet skills. I've recently seen Grumperina's grosgrain ribbons, but I'm not sure that's the look for either Rogue or Ribby Cardi. And that just strikes me as one more thing to sew on crookedly.

    I've actually started sewing to Rogue, and it's going OK. Slow, but steady. Ribby, on the other hand, I can't decide on the length. How much do I stretch the band to fit the zipper, or how much do I let it bunch up, or when do I give up and take it to a tailor to do? More drastic photos to follow. I told you this was a process.

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    Blogger Leah said...

    OK, maybe their zippers don't come out after two years, but they sew zippers for a living.

    You save lives!

    We all have our callings!

    3/16/2007 2:52 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    When it comes to sweatshirts - zippers RULE! What happens when you get hot? You have to pull that sucker off and get static in your hair and risk showing off your boobs - it's a mess.

    Now on sweaters, well, then I love buttons. But I think that has to do more with the fact that buttons are like jewelry to me - or the perfect stamp on an envelope. They just FINISH it for me.

    3/16/2007 2:59 PM  
    Blogger Jenn said...

    I love the zippered hoodie - they'll probably have to pry it off of my cold dead body - trendy or not, I'll keep wearing mine!
    Good luck with the zippers - I still haven't fixed the crooked zipper in my ribby since I sewed it in 11 months ago. I still wear it and pretend that no one can tell it's crooked.

    3/16/2007 3:06 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hi T, You have the perfect family member (your Grandmom)to guide you through your zipper questions. She's a pro when it comes to all of your sewing questions. Good Luck! Love, Mom

    3/16/2007 4:01 PM  
    Blogger JayJay said...

    Trendiness is for people who can't come up with their own style, that's my motto. ;)

    Did I ever tell you that my mom used to make thrift store pullovers into cardigans? All it takes is a little grosgrain ribbon and a sewing machine. Good luck with your zipper quest!

    3/16/2007 6:16 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I do have a knitted in technique for zippers as you are describing. Maybe I'll try to pull it together and post it! I have knitted backings for zippers in lightweight wool, and purchased this stretchy knitted stuff that works really well, too. One important thing is to wash and dry the zipper first. Those suckers shrink when the knitting doesn't.

    3/17/2007 6:18 AM  
    Blogger Tracy Batchelder said...

    After a certain age you tend to not care what's in fashion and just wear what you want. I've been at that age for some time now.

    3/17/2007 6:31 AM  
    Blogger Janet said...

    I am positively irrationally afraid of putting zippers in anything. I got a sewing machine for Christmas, but I'm still so bad at it that I'm afraid of ruining an otherwise perfectly good piece of knitting!

    Good luck!

    3/17/2007 7:13 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Really? Zippers are out of style? Kids today. They just don't know what's good.

    3/18/2007 6:52 AM  

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