Thursday 22 January 2015

Manteau: A Knitter's Poncho

As I have been playing catch up on my projects, it's quite nice to be able to say what I really like or dislike about a project once it's been finished and used. Sometimes the projects you enjoy knitting the most, aren't necessarily the ones that you use the most and vice versa. I suppose this is where being a product vs a process knitter comes into play. I have decided over the last few years that I am both a product and process knitter. I love having all sorts of projects on the needles at any one time. I have mindless easy projects and complex and challenging ones. Some projects have that magical balance of product and process that make them fly off the needles and into your wardrobe. This project is one of those.

In October, Tangled Yarn had a great discount on their stock of Malabrigo Worsted yarn. I love Malabrigo, and saw my opportunity to get hold of a reasonable amount of this yarn and actually use it for something other than a hat or cowl. Normally a garment's worth of this yarn is well outside my yarn budget. This discount was so good I was able to buy 5 skeins of the SFO Sky colourway. A wonderfully interesting variegated colourway, that my other half calls Winter Camo!

This was one of those incredibly rare occasions where I planned the project before I hit the Pay Now button. I found the colourway I liked in a reasonable quantity and spent a few hours researching Ravelry for the right pattern. When I saw the Manteau: A Knitter's Poncho by Shannon Squire, I knew I had found the right match. Once I knew the yarn requirements I took a gulp and paid for my skeins. They were worth every penny!

This colourway works brilliantly in a simple stocking stitch pattern, which most of this project is made up of. I loved the little props of dark and light as I knit each row and the yarn, is of course, a dream to knit with. I loved every mindless stitch of this garment. It was comfort knitting on a grand scale. I did alternate the skeins though to make sure there was little pooling of colours and I think it worked well.

In addition to the miles of stocking stitch there was some nice slipped stitch work on the collar and the hem, which livened the project up and added a fun detail to the poncho. It also added a little bit of extra firmness to the fabric where it was done. I happen to like the reverse of this slipped stitch pattern, which is just as well, as the collar is often left open and it folds over to show the wrong side of the fabric.

The collar sits so nicely when it is left open. It breaks up the smooth expanse that covers my ample bosom. I normally don't like high rounded neck garments because it makes my bust look bigger than it is. This pattern breaks up the depth of the bust when the collar is worn open and it is much more flattering than when it is closed, in the same way that a v-neck garment would. However, if I'm cold enough to wear the neck closed, I really don't care very much about how flattering it is!

When the collar is closed, it shows off these lovely buttons I bought. I bought them online from Textile Garden. They are hammered aluminium and they are quite heavy. I might not have bought them if I'd seen them in person but they have actually worked out really well, and I love how they look. If I'm wearing the collar closed, the buttons tinkle when I move. It's like wearing small bells!

The shaping of the poncho is clever. The the way the increases on the raglans are performed means that the poncho does not flare out massively once it is past the shoulders. I means that the sides of the poncho pull in a bit where the arms are and keeps the heat trapped inside even when you raise your arms.

The poncho ends at the hips, which I thought would annoy me, and leave me with a cold back, if I wore the poncho as a jacket, and I wanted to extend the length a bit, but didn't really have enough yarn to do so. After wearing the poncho for a while, however, I really like the length. I did wear the garment as a jacket in the Autumn, but I usually wore a fleece underneath, that fit snugly and gave me an extra layer around my lower back and that meant I was fine outside. Inside, I wear it a lot on cold mornings as the house warms up. It's great for sitting on the couch with as I don't sit on the hem when I sit down, because of it's length. It also doesn't scrunch up on my lap when I sit down, which is good.

Essentially I love this poncho and wear it all the time. It is warm and cosy and I like that it looks different from all the ponchos and capes you see available on the high street. I was worth taking the time before buying the yarn to find a great pattern. It's not surprising that from when I ordered the yarn to wearing the finished garment, took less than 4 weeks. That has to be a record for me! Normally yarn has to marinate for months in my stash before it reveals what it wants to be.

I really do recommend both the yarn and the pattern, especially when put together. I do hope that there are more skeins of Malabrigo Worsted yarn on sale in the future, it really is lovely stuff. Maybe next time I can save up enough to buy a enough for a sweater!


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