This is a tutorial for the Issara pattern, a coat with a dramatic reversible cable collar that can be worn in a multitude of ways and a back pleat, by Anne Kuo Lukito. Published in the Fall 2010 issue of Twist Collective.
What kinds of yarn can I substitute?
You don’t want to use any cotton (too heavy). As a coat, it’s already going to be a bit heavy. If you want to do blend yarns, make sure that it’s a lofty blend. I also would not recommend a blend that’s a 50/50 alpaca/wool for example, because the alpaca is going to be pretty drapey and your coat will stretch much more vertically.
I am having trouble finding bulky yarn in the color and/or fiber content that I want. Can I double a worsted weight yarn to get bulky?
For myself personally, I am having the same problem. I have sensitive skin prone to allergies, hives and eczema. Thus, many regular wools feel scratchy next to my skin and especially around my neck, and I really can’t wear less-breathable fibers like acrylic. I usually am limited to certain fibers, many of which are considered more luxury fibers (fine merino, cashmere, superfine alpaca, silk, cotton) and also more costly. Finding a bulky yarn in 100% fine merino is not easy, and finding one that fits your budget and in the color that you want is even more of a challenge.
Yes you can double strand a worsted weight yarn to get bulky, BUT not all worsted weight are the same thickness. You might end up with a bulkier gauge. A DK weight yarn held doubled can yield bulky too. If this is the route that you’re thinking of going, it’s best to buy 1 ball and swatch and see before you buy a whole coat’s worth. The other thing is that while double-stranding a worsted or DK yarn might be a good solution to ameliorate a limited color/fiber selection in a bulky yarn, doing so might be a challenge for this coat, especially when you start working the cables in the collar. . It’s possible, just be very careful when you do the crossings that you don’t drop a loop or count wrong, because afterall, you are going to have double the loops on your needles. I don’t recommend this for someone without courage, patience and experience with cables.
What is the construction of Issara?
Issara starts from the bottom up. It is worked in one piece up until the armhole shaping, where you have to work the back and fronts separately. Waist shaping is worked via decreases at the sides of the skirt and as well as in the folding of the pleat in the slightly raised waistline, roughly 1.5″/ 4cm from the natural waist. The sleeves are worked in the round and then worked flat for the sleeve cap shaping. The only seaming occurs at the shoulders and when setting in the sleeves. There is also no picking up of stitches at the collar. The collar is created from live stitches held on waste yarn.
Where can I find a KAL for Issara?
You can either be an active participant or just a lurker if you’d like, though it’s fun to share your works in progress or questions. I started a knit-along thread in the Crafty Diversions group on Ravelry.
This tutorial is a work-in-progress. If you have additional questions about the pattern, please feel free to post.
Where can I find the errata?
Unfortunately, despite all the many levels of reviews my the tech editor, the publishing team and myself in producing a pattern, errors still creep through. The errata for Issara can be found here. If you bought the earlier versions, you also should have received an email from Twist Collective with a link to the corrected version.
Issara Blog Posts
Working the Details
I really like the pleat, but I’ve never done one before and am afraid of it. How do I work the pleat?
A pleat is actually not that hard. It’s harder for the designer to figure out all the math and stitches in a pleat than to actually work one! I wanted the pleat to have crisp edges, so I incorporated slipped stitches into it, so that it’s more defined knife pleat. Furthermore, the slipped stitches serves as a natural guide for you because the form nice folding lines for the pleat. When you close the pleat at the waistline, it’s similar to working cables where you have to hold a cable needle in the front or the back, and the closure is like working a 3-needle bind off (except you’re not binding off, you’re just knitting the stitches together).
The pattern’s written instructions tell you how to fold and work your pleat, but I know that sometimes a nice visual aid helps quite a bit. Below are instructions on how to fold the pleat for Issara. Click here for a full tutorial on working pleats in knitting.
Place your stitches on the needles as the pattern instructs. Turn the second dpn (2) around 180 degrees clockwise. Maneuver dpn 1 towards the turned dpn 2 so that the wrong sides (nonpublic) of the fabric between dpn 1 and dpn 2 are facing each other. Dpn 1 should be in front, with dpn 2 sandwiched in the middle, and the left hand (LH) needle in the back. Finish and work this pleat as the pattern instructs. You have just worked the right pleat and are ready to work the left pleat.
Place your stitches on the needles as the pattern instructs. Turn dpn 2 around 180 degrees counter clockwise. Maneuver dpn 1 towards the turned dpn 2 so that the wrong sides (nonpublic) of the fabric between dpn 1 and dpn 2 are facing each other. The left hand (LH) needle should be in the front, followed by dpn 2 in the middle, and dpn 1 in the back.
Why did you put in shaping right before the pleat fold?
Because the coat is worked in a bulky yarn, Twist editor Kate Gilbert and I had some concerns that the pleat might be a little too thick and cumbersome in the back with all the layers. I really wanted to keep the pleat because I think it gives a nice balance to the dramatic and slightly flared collar; thus, I was determined to make it work. I experimented a little and I figured out a way to thin out some of the bulk in the pleat folding process: I bound off every other stitch in the center panel of each side of the pleat 2 rows prior the pleat fold. The photos below show the differences (click to enlarge) between a regular pleat fold and my thinned out version.
Is there a way to speed up the blocking process?
To shorten your blocking time by several days, I would put it in your washer on spin cycle. Do not actually run it through the washing machine or dryer. Once your dryer has done all the work of sucking off the excess water, you can block the coat as you would normally do. For more stubborn areas, such as the thickness in the pleat, you can help speed up the process with the help of your handy hair dryer or fan.
Customizations & Modifications
I have a really really ample rear and am afraid that the pleat will open up unattractively. What can I do?
A pleat can actually disguise a slightly robust bum, but if yours is much bigger, it can open up and sit on your rear in a less-than-desirable way. You can either widen the pleat if you really like the pleat, or remove the pleat altogether and incorporate those pleat stitches as extra stitches in the skirt of the coat to give you the extra room that you need. Don’t forget to decrease and made additional modifications as necessary when you get to the waistline.
I’d like to shorten the coat a bit. Where do you recommend those modifications?
If you’re a bit short, or would just like a shorter coat, the best way is to reduce the number of Stockinette stitch rows between the skirt shaping. The gauge works out to 4.5 rows per 1″/ 2.5cm. Thus, if you’d like your coat to be 2″/ 5cm shorter, then I would omit 8 or 10 St. st rows in the skirt. I would disperse throughout the skirt to maintain the gradual A-line shape.
If I had more ample assets in the hip area as well, I’d probably work the omissions closer to the top of the skirt. This way, I’m shorting the skirt, but also do so in a way that gives my hips more room. For example, if I was working size 39 3/4, instead of working the Decrease row every 10 rows in the 6th and 7th repeat, I’d work the Decrease row every 6 rows.
More tips on customizations/ modifications?
I wrote a blog post (click here) providing more thoughts and tips about modifications.