In my fantasy life, I’m a woman of leisure living in the Victorian/ Romantic era, attending balls in dresses made of yards of silk and lace, with flounces and ruffles galore. In real life I’m a scientist, trying to keep my hair and garments out of solutions ranging from icky to toxic. My Polonaise sweater design, published in the Winter 2015 issue of Holla Knits, is my attempt to reconcile my real life with my fantasy world.
The design started with the idea of Gigot (or leg-of-mutton) sleeves. I love interesting sleeve treatments, but as most of my favorite variations (e.g. bells, flounces, ruffles) are incompatible with handling the above-mentioned solutions, there aren’t a whole lot of options left. Gigot sleeves, however, fit the bill, as all the interesting detail is in the upper half of the sleeve rather than at the wrist.
A bit of fashion research revealed that Gigot sleeves were often paired with deep V-neck bodices, which I was excited to incorporate in this design, as that’s my favorite neckline. I made the neckline a bit more modest, to prevent it from slipping off the shoulders. Recalling (probably inaccurately) a historically-inaccurate costume I’d worn for performing a solo from the ballet Les Sylphides 20 years ago (we had limited costumes, and used anything that looked plausible enough), I decided on a lace pattern for the bodice that would echo the lines of the V-neck.
Picking a lace pattern turned out to be tricky. I love laces. I also love worsted weight yarn, as the primary season here is winter. Unfortunately, most lace patterns in worsted weight yarn end up looking like a bunch of holes. After swatching several lace patterns, I knew I’d found a winner with the Spider Stitch pattern from Barbara Walker’s 2nd treasury. It’s crisp and clear in worsted-weight yarn, and has a small stitch and row repeat, making it easily scalable vertically and horizontally. I decided to put a single vertical pattern repeat at the body and sleeve hems, and was surprised to find that one repeat as written looked to me more like lollipops, rather than the diamonds that appear after working multiple repeats. I kept the lollipops!
The final result combines my fantasy of listening to Chopin’s polonaises in a French salon, with the reality doing practical work while temperatures are freezing.
The Polonaise pattern is available on Ravelry or through the Holla Knits! website.
For a chance to win a free copy of the pattern, post a comment below by Saturday, Nov. 14. One poster will be randomly selected on Nov. 15 to win a free copy.