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Moldova Musings
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Moldova Musings

Earlier this summer, I read The Geography of Bliss.  The author, a foreign correspondent for public radio, sets out to find the happiest places on earth.  While traveling he meets and interviews people in those countries and learns what makes their lives so happy.  After traveling to several countries with high happiness quotients (Bhutan, Switzerland, Iceland, UAE)  he realizes that he needs a base line – an opposite – to completely understand why the citizens of these countries are SO happy.  Working with researchers, he pinpoints a few countries that are the unhappiest in the world.  Topping the list is the former Soviet republic of Moldova – landlocked, small, and supposedly a very hard place to live and to find work. 

I want to give Moldova the benefit of a doubt:  is it really that bad?  The way the author describes it, it sure sounds like the nation has had a rocky time since the Collapse.  I guess that is one of the main reasons that the people at Peace Fleece yarns wanted to reach out to Moldova – naming one of their lovely yarns after the country.  “Warm Wool from a Cold War” it says right on the label

So, it is because of the yarn name that I call this coat “Moldova”, not because I am unhappy with it.

 Moldova Coat

Moldova Coat 

Moldova Coat
Pattern: Crotona from Berroco #281 (pamphlet)
Yarn: Peace Fleece Worsted in Moldova Burgundy
Source: Maryland Sheep and Wool, 2007
Needles: Size US 6 and US 9

I made a few modifications on this coat; the most obvious being a cropped version.  Mine skims the hips while the model version goes to the knee.  I probably had enough yarn to do the longer version, but the longer it was, the less likely I was to wear it… so, I cut off about 9 inches of seed stitch. 

Side View

Side View

In order to do this, I started with less stitches – if my memory serves me, it was about 40 less, and I cut out 3 sets of decreases.  The coat still has a flare to it at the bottom, and it suits me fine this way. 

Instead of knitting the coat piece by piece, I cast on the full number of stitches for the back and the left and right panels.  With markers at the sides to indicate where to decrease, I worked the garment back and forth.  It seemed to save a lot of time, but most importantly, it saved me the seaming headache!  Once I got to the armhole decreases up top, I then put the panels on waste yarn and worked each piece separately.  The sleeves are short, and only took a few hours to knit.  Once they were complete, I was able to sew the raglan seams and attach at the underarm.  In the end, I picked up stitches around the neckline and worked 8 rows of stockinette in a smaller needle.  This gathered the top, and created the little roll.  I did the same for the sleeves.  Very simple construction! 

Once I put it on, I could tell that it was a little bigger than I would have liked – it’s not a dealbreaker per se, but if I were to do it again, I would have chosen the smaller size or played around with needle size to get a smaller gauge.  I chose the 40″ because it is a coat and ideally, I would wear things underneath.  However, the seed stitch stretches quite a bit. 

Considering the wool, it is not as heavy as I would have thought.  It is comfortable to wear.  The only challenge is finding clothes to wear with it, specifically tops.  The scoop neckline is lovely, but it seems disruptive to wear a top with a higher neckline.  V-necks are out.  So, that leave more scoop necks or camisoles, like I am wearing here.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but you have to plan how to wear it. 

Up until the last minute, I had my mind made up on the wooden buttons I picked up in California.    

Moose antler buttons

Moose antler buttons

I thought that they would be a perfect complement.  THEN, I remembered the beautiful antler buttons from Nova Scotia… and once I put them alongside the seed stitch and the yarn color, I liked that combination even better.  I attached the buttons and made small crochet loops for the button holes.  I have to say, my crochet is getting better!  The button placement was a little difficult.  I didn’t want the garment to pull across the bust too much.  I settled on this, and it is satisfactory, although I am not exactly thrilled about how it looks.

So, I am considering how to “shrink” the coat a little bit.  Should I take in some of the seams inside to create more of an hourglass shape?  should I throw it in some hot water and ever-so-slightly felt it?  (I don’t want to lose seed stitch definition!) or should I just leave it alone all together and wear it as is?  Any ideas you have would be very welcome!

Even if I do nothing to it,  I will wear it.  As autumn creeps up – the crisp breeze this morning! – it seems like a perfect addition to the wardrobe. 


I must admit, I was completely shocked by the number of comments on yesterday’s post!  Thank you for your overwhelming response!  Because of the response, I decided that one prize was really not enough… and truthfully, two prizes isn’t either, but that is what I offer.  I have a hank of Peace Fleece from this coat that I would love to give away too.  Hopefully the winner will like working with it as much as I did – it will be perfect for winter accessories or for felting.

Winner #1  (Malabrigo and River John DPNs) is Wendy at Musings from a Knucklehead

Winner #2 (Peace Fleece hank in Moldova Burgundy) is Rachel at RachelKnits

If you are a winner, please email me with your address! 


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63 Responses

  1. Heidi

    Wowzers, that was a LOT of comments yesterday!!

    Your coat is so rich looking, and the length is perfect. Putting those buttons on that coat was a good decision. Everything you make looks lovely!

  2. Andrea

    So beautiful. I think if I were in your situation I would try adding seams at the side to heighten the hourglass shape. You might be able to use your fab. crochet skills to add those. Ciao -A

  3. Leslie

    The finished version is very pretty! I actually think that you COULD wear a v-neck with this coat or other necklines. Depending on the fabric, a shirt peeking out could be very pretty… Great job! :)

  4. mick

    This turned out so pretty. I love the color, and it does look great with the buttons. I think that, if you wear a cowl or shawl around your neck and tucked in to the neckline of the coat, you can then wear any shirt you want with it. Just another layer when you go outside!

  5. Kelly

    I agree with Andrea…I was imagining a little crochet seam on the inside to cinch it in a bit. It is a beautiful coat, and the color looks lovely on you!

  6. Hilary

    I think it’s beautiful as is! And even though it’s so scoopy, I think you could get away with a turtleneck underneath or a long sleeved tee, especially if you add a scarf or a cowl as mick suggests above.

  7. Josiane

    This is beautiful on you! Once again, the colour is perfect! The seed stitch gives that coat a wonderful texture.

  8. stacey

    Beautiful!!!! The color looks amazing on you!

  9. patty

    Could you take some thread like elastic and thread it through to pull it in? Just a thought.

  10. Becky

    You know, Moldova was named after a dog. Not sure if the book mentioned that, but I took a Soviet Successors class once and this was one of the tidbits I remember from it.

  11. Heather

    In writing about the book to a friend, I described the chapters as dim sum of the human condition, tasty and not too filling, but that no amount of soy could make Moldova palatable. Your knit proves me wrong.

  12. Gudrun

    That looks gorgeous Lolly….and your photos are so beautiful too…..I’m going to buy that book now!

  13. Victoria

    I love the jacket, especially the colour.
    For a different perspective on Moldova you might like to read Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony Hawks. He is a British comedic travel writer and is very funny. However he is also a very sympathetic writer and writes warmly about his experiences and the people he meets. Anyway, it’s good if you are looking for for a book to tickle and interest you at the same time. Let me know if you do end up reading it!

  14. Heidi

    Eeeeeek!! Please don’t try to shrink/felt it! It’s far too pretty to take that risk. I like the idea of taking in the sides just a smidge, as long as the seams don’t get too bulky.

    I would wear it over a turtleneck, but then, my neck is always cold!

  15. Carole

    It looks good to me as is. I definitely wouldn’t try to shrink it as you never know what the results could be and it would be tragic to see all your beautiful stitches disappear!

  16. ami

    It looks incredible on you!

  17. heather

    It looks gorgeous to me as is too. Love the color and design!

  18. Leslie

    very nice…my gosh you knit fast!!!

  19. Phoebe

    You’re crazy! This looks fabulous as is. It is completely flattering and the seed stitch looks so defined and Ah-mazing. All of your edges have a professional quality finish to them. Leave it be, woman!

  20. Anna

    It’s funny how we can pick on things that others would never even notice – I thought your button placement looked great, in the way that something that looks right does not actually grab one’s attention. Regarding the size, if it was me, I think I’d be tempted to wait until the weather was colder to make a decision about shrinking it. It might be the case that you do want to wear something underneath it, or it might be the case that, at that time of year, something a little oversized and snuggly is just what you are looking for.

    Anyway, it looks fabulous on you, the colour and the style are great, and I like the length on you.

  21. Nonnahs

    It’s just gorgeous, Lolly! Makes me want to knit a coat…and I never thought I would say that!

  22. viktoria

    It looks great! I love the color on you…. but don’t try to felt it! It looks absolutely lovely as it is and it would be horrible it the beautifully defined seed stitch disapeared

  23. Kelly

    The colour looks wonderful on you, blond hair and that purple are a pair!!
    I love how you shortened it but it still flares out a bit! It will be a great fall piece.

  24. Jewel

    I love the way it turned out, it looks really nice on you. I’m glad you decided on the antler buttons.

  25. jillian

    It’s beautiful! That color is a stunner with your pale complexion and the buttons are amazing. Just in time for fall!

  26. Phoe

    That looks great! And I love the color.

  27. Sarah G

    Very beautiful! I admire your patience for all that seed stitch. How about wearing it with a button-down shirt?

  28. tiennie

    It’s just gorgeous! Just the right length too.

  29. Jenna

    Musings indeed! I like how you gave us a little story to accompany this coat. And what a coat it is! It’s simple yet very stylish, and made in a really lovely color. Very cute and very wearable!

    As for the fit, it looks fine. You might like having the extra ease to wear it over other layers as the weather cools. I can totally see you wearing this in October or November as your outer layer, taking the girls for a walk, going to the farmer’s market. It might just be perfect :)

  30. Kirsten

    What a wonderful coat!! Those buttons and the Peace Fleece are the perfect combo and the color is beautiful on you!

  31. Moni

    Lolly, it’s gorgeous! I think I would leave it as it is. You’ll probably appreciate the roominess this winter when you want to layer. I love it!

  32. melissa

    wow, you look great in those purple shades. i think it’s a lovely knit, so please don’t felt it!. i would turn it inside out and take in the sides a little with a sewing machine. i’m thinking of doing that to a few of my sweaters that are now a bit too big for me.
    or, like moni suggested, it would really be a great layering piece if you left the extra room.

  33. Steph

    It looks so beautiful, that color is lovely on you! After thinking about it some more, I wouldn’t wash the coat on hot unless you know how the yarns reacts from a previous experience. In the picture it looks fine to me, but I know when you wear your own garment it’s always different compared to how your audience sees it. I used a sewing machine once on the seams of a knit top and really liked the way it came out, very clean and neat looking. You could always give it a try with a large basting stitch on your machine, if you don’t like it, it’ll be easy to take out again.

  34. Bells

    it’s beautiful! Thank you for the description of how you knit it partly in one piece. I adore knitting cardigans but after three in a row I’m a bit over the seaming. I’ll try this.

    The colour is fabulous on you.

  35. Bells

    And the link to moldova is quite poignant!

  36. amisha

    what a beautiful coat, lolly! that color is absolutely stunning on you!
    and i just read an excerpt from that book, the iceland portion, and it was so fascinating. so interesting to think about what makes societies overall more or less happy.

  37. whitney

    Oh, Lolly, that color is so gorgeous on you! I wouldn’t try to shrink the coat if I were you…I’d be so paranoid about losing that gorgeous seed stitch. I like the idea of crocheting seams to take it in on the sides, although I actually think it looks nice as is…and would work well for layering.

  38. gleek

    oh wow, this looks gorgeous on you lolly! i especially love the rich color :)

  39. Jolynn

    What a beautiful color! You look just lovely in rich tones.

  40. Nicole

    Pretty, pretty, pretty! I don’t know if I’d risk shrinking it. I did the same to a seed stitch sweater that was too big and it did work, but the SS got fuzzy and lost its beautiful crisp definition.

  41. Lisa

    Wow…I really like the shortened version a lot! And the color is really beautiful. I’ve got two sweater lots of Peace Fleece in my stash, waiting to be turned into something lovely…your finished coat is a good inspiration! As for it being too big, no good solutions come to mind. Felting it wouldn’t be my inclination. If you can reseam to get it a little more fitted, I think that would be our best bet.

    Historically, my knitted garments have ended up a little on the large side, as I always thought it better to err in that direction, but I’ve been trying to go the other way lately, as I’m learning how so many garments tend to grow once they’re done, either due to the yarn or the pattern design or what have you. Of course, that doesn’t really help with the already finished pieces! :}

  42. Ingrid

    When I saw the coat on flickr I didn’t even notice you used the antler buttons from Yarmouth! That is super-cool. I’ll have to tell the ladies at the yarn shop!

  43. Vickie

    I think it looks great. Please do not change a thing.

  44. nova

    The more I look at this coat, the more I think that it’s the color that I am drawn to. Honeatly, I notice little else (immediately) about the coat besides the richness of color and the nice visual contrast with the buttons. It’s really quite nice!

  45. Mome-rath

    It looks great on you! Hopefully it makes you happier than living in Moldova would!

  46. Beverly

    I must give you credit for making such a simple ( boring) stitch look fabulous! I would have been bored to tears after about 3 inches and would have never finished it. WTG!

  47. Erin

    It really is very beautiful and that color looks absolutely stunning on you. Nice job!

  48. Jillian

    I really like this length! The off-center closure is very flattering. It looks wonderful!

  49. Hoxton

    Fantastic colour, it looks great!
    Hope you don’t mind but I’ve tagged you for a ’6 random things’ meme on my blog.

  50. Lola LB

    Yep – life really is tough in Moldova. Their economy simply isn’t that great, and it’s very rural in most part of the country. Many young women leave the country thinking that they’ll get better jobs only to find themselves caught up in sex trafficking. I watched a travel show where the host traveled through Moldova with a guide who took him to her home town. That ay there was an acting group who put on a play about what happened to these women who left, and those who were able to return, and those who lured these women away. The goal was to have people in the town participate in the play and hopefully learn to resist such temptations. Very sad. I think I saw this show on Travel Channel, but I’m not sure. The guy was traveling through several countries in Eastern Europe, and I believe he was from Great Britan himself.

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