I finally finished it up today!
As of this morning, I had completed all the large pieces, sewn the shoulder seams together, and added the collar. All I had left to do was add the button bands, sew on the buttons, and seam everything together.
One of the things I'm not used to doing with patterns is knowing that when it says to make the button band a certain length, the pattern expects it to fit in a certain place and way -- and I should check that. I made the button band and the buttonhole band the requisite 8.25", but when I held them up, I could see they were an inch short. So I added an inch to the button band, and totally remade the buttonhole band, since the old one had holes in all the wrong places. This set me back a bit.
Once fixed, the afternoon was devoted to sewing. Because Shelter is a fragile yarn when pulled, it doesn't work well for sewing seams (ask me how I know this), so I found some old chocolate brown sport weight yarn that I'd used to make some gloves several year ago. Perhaps not an ideal match, but it doesn't show anywhere, so it did the job.
This pattern doesn't lend itself well to invisible seaming -- which, as the programmers say, is a feature rather than a bug. However, it's interesting to note that none of the model photographs in the pattern show any of the seams on the sides or on the sleeves. I can't remember who it was that pointed this aspect of pattern marketing out to me years ago. Flaws -- or at least details that some might find off-putting, don't make it into photos. I get it -- we all have a good side. And the seams don't bother me -- I only really noticed when I referred to the pattern to see what they were supposed to look like.
Another takeaway that I didn't catch onto in the pattern photographs was that one of the models had the cuffs rolled back. You may recall that I'd added an inch to the body and the sleeves to accommodate my anatomy. Didn't need it in the sleeves, it turns out. They go all the way to my knuckles -- which wouldn't be a bad thing on frosty mornings -- but not what I'd planned for. I did hold them up to my arms before sewing things together and saw that they looked a bit long, but I've been burned before and ended up with short sleeves. This time, it seemed I overcompensated. But I can live with turned back cuffs.
The buttons turned out great. They are a bit of a tight squeeze for the holes I made, but they work. They are also a little heavy, being metal, and tend to make the collar sag a bit when not in use. But I still like them. I'm not entirely sure I got the bands anchored at the bottom of the Henly opening quite right, but they're secure. If there's one aspect of sweater making that makes me feel like a fraud, it's sewing on buttons. I never quite feel like I know what I'm doing. I watch videos of HongKong and Saville Row tailors whip through it in a minute and think, "how hard can this be?" And 30 minutes and wads of snarled thread later, I know just how hard. Let's just say you won't be seeing photos of the back of the button band.
In the final assessment, though, I love it. It's the tiniest bit big, but that's okay. I was always thinking of this as an outer garment. The sleeves are a bit long, like I said. But looking at the photos Jeff took this afternoon, I have to admit it turned out pretty good, despite my tendency to sweat the small stuff. Thanks to my knitter pals who gave me the birthday gift of this yarn. I'm going to treasure this for quite a while. And now, I think I'll go walk the dogs in it before summer arrives tomorrow.