Paper Dolls

Let’s take a break from hats, I want to show you a To Be Ripped. After much deliberation I’ve decided to part with what was supposed to be my first adult garment. It’s just not working out, but I’ve invested too much love and effort into it to just let it go without a proper tribute. The pattern is Paper Dolls by Kate Davies.

Kate is a very thoughtful blogger who walks, knits, sews and writes about it with great love. Reading her blog, you are bound to be transported to the stunning Scottish vistas she walks in and learn loads about the history and culture of all things yarny and fabricky. She has been a huge source of inspiration and education for me. One of her most famous patterns is Owls, which was completely free until recently, when she had to give it a symbolic price because her copyrights were continually being violated. But back to the sweater at hand. Apart from Kate’s, I particularly like Saz’s and Nasseknits’ versions of Paper Dolls.

– photos belong to the ladies, click on each photo to go to the respective Ravelry project page –

I had to make one for myself! Well, it turns out that, for now, I had to try to make one for myself, but I do not regret it – I learned so much in the process and that’s what I’d like to share with you today. I love projects that make you learn new skills and this one was just brimming with it, from start to end. You start off using an I-cord cast-on. In the pattern, Kate explains how to do it, I had a little trouble conceptualizing it at first, but I got the hang of it soon enough. It’s tiresome and slow, but the result is oh-so-beautiful.

After you’re done with that, here comes a new challenge: corrugated rib. Oooh it took me a long time to figure this one out! After a while, my Rav page notes: “I was doing it like an idiot :)” Basically, I tried doing it by continually dropping one yarn and picking up the other one. Since corrugated rib consists of k1 in color A, p1 in color B, you can imagine how slow this was! After a while I decided to look it up online and found two methods I liked:

  • by stell66 – which seemed like it would be a bit tricky at first but quite easy once you get the hang of it
  • by Wendy Knits – which is just so clever :)

Actually, I ended up doing it a third way – holding one yarn in my left hand and knitting continental, holding the other yarn in my right hand and knitting English style. So after some troubles in the beginning, making the corrugated rib became very fast and enjoyable – at some point I had to rip a few rounds of the sleevecaps because I had got carried away – I was loving the process of making it that much. :)

The main body of the sweater is plain knitting in the round, which I really enjoyed! It was extremely pleasurable and great to take along to meet-ups with friends. While I was working on Paper Dolls, they got used to me knitting while we chatted away… One day we were having coffee with a friend I don’t see that often and when I took out my needles, she said “Oh, don’t knit now, you won’t be able to talk,” but another friend happily explained that I could multitask (she had seen me do it before). I think they also got used to the weird looks we would get. :) I followed the pattern very consistently, but after a while it seemed to me that the body would be a bit too long. As this was my first sweater, however, I was scared of tampering with the pattern, and I tried it on far too late. It was indeed incredibly long.

There was a moment of crisis when I tried the sweater on and a quarter of my stitches fell off the needle in the process. There were many sad faces on my Ravelry project page that day. :(((((( I had been taking such good care with this project, looking after every little detail so thoroughly and then 2 mins of being careless “ruins it all.” Well, of course, I managed to pick up the stitches, no great damage was done, and a huge lesson was learned – get a long enough circular needle!

Connecting the sleeve caps with the body took a few attempts with some unravelling, apparently due to my inability to imagine in my head how material objects will fit together in the real world (that is why I’m not an architect). That got me thinking about how hard it must be to design and write up a good pattern – so many details to think of… And then finally, finally, the moment came! The dolls. As I worked on their legs, their rich dark red against the undyed background made me feel like I was painting rather than knitting – wonderful… I was so eager to do the next row of colorwork and have the girls emerge that I couldn’t put down the knitting. In the end, the colorwork came out somewhat puckered, but hey, it was my first attempt at it ever, and anyway it had been long ago that I decided to call any imperfections on this sweater ‘charming’… :)

The real troubles came, however, at the back decreases. They are supposed to be done with short rows, with which I had no experience, and which I really should have practiced before trying to do them on this. Also, I ran into problems with the decrease round: I kept ending up with 9 stitches less than I should have, and even if I tried doing the math it just seemed like there was something wrong in the pattern. This was a deal-breaker. On top of the length issues, disliking the fit of the body, realizing my i-cord and corrugated rib could’ve been better executed, I decided to let this one down in history and give it another try some other time.

But my Paper Dolls, which I named “A Norwegian Summer,” still have a wonderful story to tell. Started in Slovenia, worked on in Croatia, Kosovo and Norway – not many sweaters get to travel that much even before they’re finished. I enjoyed every aspect of it and loved every minute of my time devoted to it. And I look forward to making another one, to finish and to wear, loving it double for the knowledge of its predecessor.