The Big Lebowski…..and the zipper…….

I know many of you have seen the movie, kind of a cult classic, starring Jeff Bridges as the mistaken “Dude” (he was mistaken for a millionaire).  You don’t?  Well, this might jog your memory…..

And it is THAT picture that got this whole thing rolling.  My husband does not have many hand knitted sweaters.  This fact alone is rather surprising, if you knew how much I knit! (rarely a day goes by…..)  But he is always concerned he is going to wreck a sweater, and he knows how much work goes into one of those babies.  But he saw this picture, which got us talking about that sweater, when he suddenly said, “Deb, I want one.

Exactly like that one.” And so the journey started……

He even made me watch part of the movie to get all the details. There are some patterns around (Andrea Rangel, on Ravelry, has a couple).  One you pay for, and one is free.  The free one, however, is knit in 1 x 1 rib ALL OVER, including the patterned bits. And a zipper. The paid one has a buttoned front, and stocking stitch body.  Guess which one he wanted, that he felt was more in keeping with the original? Oh yeah.  The 1 x 1 rib with the zipper.  In extra large. Yeah me.

Which brings us to that zipper.  I have found a few tips.  One- make sure it says “separating” somewhere.  You want the zipper to come apart at the bottom.   Two-if you can’t get the zipper to be the exact length, get it slightly shorter.  “They” will tell you that you can shorten zippers, but I have had zero luck with it.   Three-match the weight of the zipper to the garment (even though we are seeing heavy brass zippers in fashion tops and dresses these days).  Play it safe with your knits.  And now for hint Number Four:  the best tip I have ever gotten is here on this blog  In this entry, the author says to use blocking wires to stabilize the edges of the sweater.  Amazing! Inspiring! And it works!!!!!!

You know how stretchy and wiggly a sweater can be.  You have to stabilize those sides somehow in order to hand stitch that zipper (and yes, “they” say you can use a sewing machine. Again, I have had no luck with that, as it bunched and squirmed).   USE YOUR BLOCKING WIRES!!!!!!!!   Yes, another reason to own a set of blocking wires (other than they make blocking lace something you look forward to).  Running a blocking wire close to the edge, and then another one about 4 or 5 stitches away allows you to work with a STABLE FABRIC. She tends to slide her rotary cutting board inside the sweater so as not to catch stitches from the back.  That is also helpful.

But this idea with the blocking wires? Unbelievable. Best hint ever.

Sewing the zipper in by hand takes some time.  First you pin it to the sweater.  When you sew it,remember that your thread (or buttontwist, as some people use) should not show on the front.  You can achieve this by sewing “in the ditch”, that is to say, between the stitches, so you are catching the vertical bars, not the stitches themselves. Since there are so many videos on hand stitching a zipper, go find a couple of them and follow along.  When you are all done, if the inside of the zipper looks a bit, well,”amateurish”, you can always get some matching grosgrain ribbon, and whip stitch it over your sewing on the back of the zipper.  Then no one will see it.

And how is my Dude sweater coming along? I’ve got the back almost done, ready to start the fronts.  In the meantime, my husband has been replaying the movie, trying to see if the Dude is wearing a sweater with a brass zipper or a chunky plastic one? Is there a ring on the end of the pull or a flat tab? Hmmm.  If this keeps up, I just might make a matching sweater for the dog, and make them walk around the neighbourhood together……………


Keep on Knitting…….

Deb White


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