Project Swapway: The Steampunk Swap

Over in the “Odd Ducks” group on Ravelry, knitters get together and have swaps akin to secret santa.  You get someone’s name, answer some crazy questions, research your “spoilee’s” likes and dislikes and make them something wonderful that they will hopefully really enjoy.  Presumably you get the same treatment in return, and craft exchanging occurs.  The Odd Ducks pick crazy themes on which to have these swaps, and I recently joined their “Steampunk Swap”.  What a fun group of Ravelers lives on that forum!

I hesitate to divulge too much information here, just on the odd chance that my spoiler peeks at my blog and happens to also be my spoilee.  But there’s only one such pairing apparently, so I am going to risk sharing a teeny bit of info here, because  I desperately want to share my excitement over the design challenge that I have created for myself.

I have reason to believe that my spoilee would look favorably on a cape.  In an early-on post, one of the swappers shared a very inspiring picture of a Victorian cape asking everyone if they liked capes, and my spoilee seemed very enthusiastic about them.

Victorian Cape

Victorian Cape

Now I’m taking this idea and running with it, it won’t be a fur cape but a knitted one.

I’m planning to knit it in Knit Pick’s Gloss DK, with a dash of Swish DK for some of the edgings, just because of a color that my spoilee expressed an interest in that I think would be overwhelming if it were the whole cape.

The first challenge, of course, is the over-all design.  Thanks to my “Project Runway design education”, I now value the glorious creation of “a muslin” to mock-up and perfect my designs.  Making a muslin was great for my steampunk jacket.  All these years of costuming, I never had the patience to try making a mock-up before, but having done it now I’m a true believer!  So I’m going to rock out the muslin for the cape this weekend.

Then it’s time to swatch.  I’m not sure yet if I’m going to rely on sturdy stitches to get that neck height, doubled yarn, good-ole interfacing, or what.  I have this image in my head of having at least the very top part be a bit of lace.  So maybe I need to wire it!

I’m going to bust out the main body of the cape on my knitting machine in basic stockinette.  I’m hopeful that the Gloss will have a great drape, but still feel sturdy knit up at a tight gauge.  I will probably do a moss-stitch button band for stability and for fighting the inevitable curl factor of massive quantities of stockinette.  I will knit lace around the bottom edging, probably in a contrast color, and probably lace at the neck also.

I have a lot of design problems to ponder, especially around the neck area.  This might be a very strange hybrid of techniques:  machine knitting, hand knitting, machine sewing, hand sewing… maybe a dash of beading or other embellishment for good measure.  I want this to look really cool.  Dramatic, but not so costumey that a reasonably bold person would hesitate to wear it out for a night on the town.

So that’s my design challenge of the moment, possibly the biggest design challenge I have set for myself ever!  What was your biggest design challenge ever?

Until next time, keep those needles (and needle-beds) clicking…

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