Sunday, September 14, 2008

Annie and ATLAS

This past week the Large Hadron Collider at CERN went on-line, which means it's about time I blogged about that Annie Modesitt jacket I made last winter. Yes, that is a coherent, single-topic sentence. Read on and find out why.

One of the parts of the Large Hadron Collider is ATLAS. And ATLAS has a very interesting shape at each end. Check out this diagram:


See how the ends look like broadly ribbed knit fabric radiating out from the centre? That was the first thing I thought of, anyhow.

I sketched out a few sweater patterns based on the circular broad rib, but kept coming up with stuff that would make the wearer look like they had made a sweater out of a craft-fair pillow from the 1960s. Then I picked up the anniversary copy of Vogue and found my answer in Annie Modesitt's Twisted Float Shrug. The original is designed to make the most of the interesting colour blips that happen from striping garter stitch (as the photos on the link show), but I took the same shape and did the wide ribs of the ATLAS equipment in a single colour. I used a heathery green/black/brown shade of Galway, using garter stitch at the very centre to represent the hole in the middle of the machinery:


(Note: No matter what I do, the yarn always photographs darker and more boring-looking than it is in real life. In real life it changes subtly with the light and shows off the texture of the ribs swimmingly.)

The back/fronts are a single circle that gets knitted from the centre out, much as you would for a beret or a doily. When the width is equal to the width you want for the back, you knit onto waste yarn where the sleeves will be, then knit over the waste yarn. When it's time to knit the sleeves, you pull out the waste yarn and knit down. I kept the texture of the wide ribs going, and decided to make slightly belled sleeves instead of the tapered sleeves called for in the original pattern:


I like how the sleeves maintain the overall pattern even as they leave the geometric plane of the jacket body — it seems appropriate for something inspired by a physics experiment. I also like how easily this pattern adapted itself from being based on colour (okay, and texture) to texture and a monochrome colour. The main caveat is that you have to use a stitch that looks good on both the right and wrong sides of the fabric.*

There seems to be a lot of discussion about this pattern regarding yarn amounts. I used almost every last centimetre of ten balls of Galway, which has excellent yardage. On the other hand, I made outer part of the circle (after the sleeve slits were knitted) extra-generous because I wanted to have a nice length and lots of overlap at the front.

I wore this over a black long-sleeved V-neck all last winter, and it's great — comfy but dressy, perfect for my business-casual office. The big shawl collar keeps the draughts off, which is nice since my cubicle is under a vent. I'm sure it will be a wardrobe staple again this winter.

* So! Who's up for making this work in reversible cables?

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