The original Bonsai Tunic
When I first seamed up and tried on the Bonsai Tunic,
it was clear that something had gone Horribly Awry. It was huge on me.
The photos I took made it look like a very pretty green lace tent. (One
could imagine sitting inside it on a gorgeous forest slope, sheltering
from the intense mountain sunlight, munching on trail mix and humming a
few bars of Rocky Mountain High.) And it wasn't just that it was too
big...unlike the original sample garment (which I had in the office),
my tunic just fell from my shoulders and hung there, shapeless and
stretchy. When I saw the photos, I wanted to delete them, or to beg our
graphics people to spend hours photoshopping them—anything to avoid
having to post them As Is.
However, my role as Knitting Daily Gal is not to shirk from Knitting
Gone Bad, nor to pretend that everything that drops off my needles is
perfect and lovely beyond compare. My role is to instruct, inform, and
of course entertain. Well, surely here is an opportunity to do all
three. So. Let's look at Saving The Bonsai as a learning opportunity.
The Big, Bad, Bonsai Tent
when something goes very wrong in one's knitting, the best thing to do
is to set it aside for a bit. Distance is a great teacher; it is much
easier to see mistakes when you are not quite so grumpy-faced about
having made them. I banished the Bonsai to one of my plastic bins, and
only got it out after a week or so when I could bear to look at it
The first thing I checked was my old nemesis, Gauge. I measured
here, I measured there...and found out that my gauge swatch lied.
Things were fine on the back, which was the first piece I worked, but
when I got to the front, all gauge heck seemed to break loose,
especially from the ribbing upwards. I checked the instructions...and
had one of those Uh-Oh moments. You're supposed to switch to smaller
needles for the ribbing, and then keep using the smaller needles for
the top front part. I never switched. The entire front was done on the
This was particularly infuriating as I had been fairly clever about
the whole sizing thing, or so I thought at the time. I'm big across my
front, but not so big across the back, so in my Infinite Cleverness, I
planned to knit a smaller size for the back than for the front, and
thus have the whole garment fit better. I carefully measured across my
upper back at bust level, and decided I could knit the 38" size for the
back, and the 42" size for the front—since my full bust measures 43.5",
this would give a nice bit of negative ease overall, allowing it to
skim my curves attractively.
Or so I thought. All kinds of clever planning goes out the window if
one refuses to read the instructions carefully and do simple things
like "switch to smaller needles." The even more frustrating bit is that
I did the needle switching perfectly on the back. It's just the front
where, somehow, I got so caught up in Knitting Ecstasy, that I forgot
about following the instructions.
The back of the Big Bad Bonsai Tent
Lesson Number One: Prepare for bouts of brain-out-the-window knitting ahead of time. Read
through the instructions before you begin knitting, and HIGHLIGHT
anything you are likely to miss whilst in the throes of knitting
ecstasy, such as switching needle sizes. (Of course, then you do have
to actually LOOK at the instructions now and then.)
Now that I had found the problem, I was faced with what to do about
it. Ripping back and re-knitting the front on the proper-sized needles
seemed like the honorable thing to do. However...I had already sewn the
neckband and the side seams, and I just couldn't bear the dual-drudgery
of ripping out the seams, and then doing all those bobbles up the front
again. (I like bobbles, in general, I think it was just the thought of
re-doing Those Particular Bobbles that was giving me a bit of a
Did I have a large-sized friend I could bequeath this to? Perhaps I
could wear it at home, in the dark where no one could see, maybe over
long-johns as a night-gown?
As some of you suggested, I considered just taking in the side
seams, but when I pinned them in to see the effect, it pulled the front
V-neck over to the sides so much that it didn't provide "adequate
coverage," shall we say.
You see why this sat in The Knitting Meditation Bin for so long. It
needed LOTS of meditating. I finally found the answer—in form of a
Next time: The Swatch Saves The Day (And The Bonsai!)
Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.
What's on Sandi's needles? Never mind the needles: What's on
Sandi's FEET? Her nice warm newly finished pair of sockies, inside her
new boots. We had our first snow this weekend, so suddenly finishing my
sockly UFOs seems quite a bit more urgent that it did a few weeks back.