Sweaters

I usually knit for the extremities. Most often, I enjoy making hats, socks and mittens. Basically anything that covers the head, hands or feet and can be made with one skein.

But when I’m browsing through patterns online or in magazines, I get some serious sweater envy.  

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There are some spectacular sweater designs out there….from contemporary spins on  traditional fishermen and Scandinavian patterns, to cutting edge modern looks.

The February Lady Sweater has been in my Ravelry queue for a couple of years, and over the winter, I finally made one.  

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I love it, and I wear it everywhere. My friend, Danielle, loves it too so then I made one for her.

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We’re both really happy with our sweaters, but I have to say, I found knitting them a bit of a drag after a while. Even though the sweaters I made took only four skeins of Cascade 220, it seemed like I was knitting each project for an eternity.

In the case of Danielle’s sweater, double eternity, since I had an unravelling misadventure with that one.

I like the smaller projects so much because they are short-term. By the time I get bored with a pattern or a yarn or a colour, I am finished. Generally, an accessory takes about one skein of yarn. So if whatever I’m working on is not my jam, it’s a small investment.

I also still fret a bit over fit. Despite making gauge swatches, I’m still never sure if the sweater is the right size. And for a sweater to look good, the fit has to be good. Hats, mittens and socks can fit a wide range of sizes.

However, I think I have found a cardigan compromise.

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A few people I know have had babies recently. After mulling over what to knit, I found a one-skein sweater pattern that went well with some Berocco Vintage I had in my stash.

A fashion forward – and short-term – project.

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With my adventures in sweaterland, I have changed the way I look at all those super fashionable sweater patterns.

I now look at that edgy asymmetrical cardigan the way I look at a home decorating magazine – I may love that mid century modern dining room – but I have no illusions that I will recreate it in my house.

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Unravelling

There’s been a gap in my knitting blogging lately. Mostly because I’ve been spending a lot of time UN-knitting. I’ve been on a bit of an unravelling tear.

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Earlier this winter, I enthusiastically dug into my second February Lady Sweater project – this one for my friend.

I decided to make a small change – decreasing the number of stitches by seven under each armpit, thinking that this would provide a better fit.

Then, about halfway down the body of the sweater,I knit a round of the four-row pattern backwards.

I  kept knitting. By the time I was working on the right arm sleeve I noticed I had a LOT of yarn left over. So I laid the sweater out for a look.  

Even my husband, who is usually oblivious to the subtleties of knitwear design, looked at it and said “uh oh.”

I had to unravel. The entire arm. The body up to the yoke.

It’s a good thing I like to knit.

My knitting spidey sense has developed to a point where within a few stitches or a couple of rows max, I sense a mistake, stop and look, and backtrack.  

For me, to unravel or not to unravel is about risk management. How much damage will I do unravelling then picking up stitches to start again? If I knit past the mistake, will anyone notice? How obvious is the unravelling?

When I started knitting, I simply plowed ahead regardless, Hence, the first hat that I made. I accidentally started knitting in the wrong direction at one point. I call that garter stitch row a “design feature.”

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I can’t live any more with accidental design features. It’s a good thing I like to knit.  

So while I was knitting that sweater again, I got bored and looked for a short term project to mix things up.  I took out a skein of purple hand dyed wool, bought on last year’s trip to Portugal, with a mind to knitting a beret to spruce up my spring wardrobe.

I did a gauge swatch and got to work.

First off, I accidentally twisted the ribbing. Then, I realized the hat was about the size of a dinner plate. Then, attempting to try it on too soon, I ripped some stitches out.  

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I had to unravel that beret three times before it worked.

Eventually the sweater got finished – a month behind schedule.

What did I learn from all this?

Even with gauge swatches, I don’t have a good sense of fit.

However, I have a stronger sense of quality control  

Most importantly, do not fear the unravel.