This wasn't a particularly secret knit, since I took extensive measurements of my mom, my gauge, my mom again, and the finished object, necessitating some frogging, and an extra block for the most perfect fit I could manage. This took some major modifications. So:
Pattern: Dollar and a Half Cardigan by Veronik Avery from IK Spring 2007
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Italian Plum
Needles: US 6 and 8
Buttons: 4 - 1" from big box store
Mods: Um, here's where the disseration starts, so get yourself a cuppa or skip over this if you're not interested in actually knitting this sweater.
There are some pretty well documented problems with this pattern. Namely, the "finished size" and the blocking measurements don't match up (the blocking measurements are bigger), the reverse stockinette sections tend to be ripply and bubbly, and the overall length versus width of the pattern is pretty ridiculous (You will want to shorten everything. You will. Trust me.) Moral of the story for future knitters: I've seen some pretty hideous finished sweaters in this pattern, but if you're smart, you can churn out a beautiful and functional sweater. The version I knit for myself is my favorite sweater ever. Hands down.
I took all kinds of measurements from my mom. She did not have a sweater she liked for me to measure so I had to do a bit of guessing. Finished measurments: Bust - 36 or 37, Length - 22, Arms 17 3/4, Armholes 7 1/2. I don't have the pattern schematic measurements on hand, but I can tell you that those aren't them. I significantly shortened the body and sleeves, significantly lengthened the armholes, and blocked the sucker within an inch of its life. The lengthing of the armholes meant that I had to lengthen the sleeve caps too. I tried using the formula in one of the more recents IK to redo the shaping, but it didn't work out... possibly because of the stockinette/lace problem? Anyway, I ended up doing the bind off and initial decreasing as in the pattern, then I decreased on each end of every other row until the final shaping and bind off which I followed. This meant that I there was a plain row between each decrease row, whether the pattern said to or not. This way I achieved the desired extra 1 1/2 inches. They fit in the armholes very well, and everything worked out. Yay! I was quite concerned.
Because my mom couldn't give me an accurate gauge of how much ease she wanted, I tried for zero ease, which is how mine fits, and I love it. I knit the smallest size, thinking I could block it out a bit to get the size I wanted. It turns out that she likes more ease, so I went back and reblocked it out a few inches. The sweater held up very well to this abuse. Don't be afraid to manhandle it a bit. This actually worked out for the best, since then the lace pattern opened up beautifully.
Oh, and to combat the ripply, bubbly stockinette portions, I knit the reverse stockinette in a needle two sizes smaller. When knit, they still look ripply and bubbly, but the block nice and flat. Also, on this one, I knit all the edgings in the smaller needle, since my mom prefers a closer fit on the ribbed sections.
Wanna see the buttons?
Oh, how gloriously, adorably beautiful. I'm just IN LOVE with these buttons. They're maybe not entirely my mom's taste but they set off from the sweater beautifully with the silver and the bit of green while the purple thistle and the purple sweater create just the right amount of coordination. I couldn't pass them up.
All in all, I'm glad to have this one done. I'm heading back to Ithaca today where among many, many other things, I'll be visiting my favorite LYS. Full disclosure upon my return!