Finished in a frenzy of end-weaving and last-minute spot blocking (spritz with water, stick in pins as needed and set the blow drier on cool...), Samantha by Kate Gilbert is finally, finally, FINALLY finished.
While by and large I am pleased with the finished product, this was far from a joy to knit for several reasons. The main issue was problems with neck shaping: after much fiddling and some cursing, I took the mess over to a local yarn store where the staff confirmed that I wasn't crazy but the neck shaping was. I set the project aside for a while in part because I was mad at it and in part because I had other pressing knitting deadlines, but eventually I picked it up and took it to Portugal, where I would have made more progress on it had the *&^%$ security personnel at the Lisbon airport not confiscated my needles just before the 8 hour flight home. Hate. hate.
Back home, I waited and waited for Kate to write me back with pattern corrections, and eventually, fearing that winter break (read: vital knitting time) would pass before I heard from her, I wrote to a fellow Samantha knitter who had noted on her Ravelry account that Kate had sent her the corrected pattern. Said knitter responded quickly and heroically, sending me the corrected pattern (and I did send her my pdf of the old, incorrect pattern as proof that I had bought the original pattern so, knitting copyright police, there's no reason to think that there was anything unethical about this heroic intervention). For the record, Kate did eventually respond to my email, but much later than was useful. Kate is a very talented and popular designer and so, despite the name of this blog, I hesitate to say anything too critical; still, I do think that if a designer has a website and they know that they've been selling a pattern with critical errors, it would be appropriate to post errata on the website, particularly if the designer has difficulty responding to email in timely manner.
Besides the annoyances of the neck shaping errors, it seems that the corrected pattern (at least the one sent to me by the heroic helpful Samantha knitter) also has an error in collar instructions: basically, picking up an odd number of stitches (as the pattern suggests for all sizes) will not work; the easiest fix is just to add one stitch to the suggested number of stitches (e.g., for the size I knit, the pattern suggested picking up 71 stitches for the collar, so I picked up 72).
The final annoying thing may be more of a function of the yarn that I chose (Zara 100% merino) rather than the pattern itself, but the picot edges simply wouldn't lie flat no matter how much I blocked them. This is minor and actually not nearly as annoying as finishing the picot edge itself (it made me want to gouge out my eyes with knitting needles), but still. I'd say that knitting this yarn a bit more loosely than I did might have made the problem less pronounced (I had to knit it a bit tightly to get gauge). On the bright side, I chose Zara because I knew that it has great stitch definition, and sure enough, the smocking and eyelet really did come out nicely.
The buttons were a singular triumph - I'm normally horribly indecisive, but I always immediately know whether or not buttons are right for a project. If only I could somehow transfer this vital clarity to other areas of my life. In this case, even with the assistance of a disconcertingly handsome and helpful salesman at M and J Trimmings, I failed to locate anything that I liked, but then another knitter who was looking for cute kid buttons for a another cute little knit dress (and one that was blissfully devoid of picot edging) came over to me to ask about a box of buttons I had disregarded, and I happened to see a box of buttons that she had disregarded, and the rest, as they say, is history.