My sweater is done! After a false start with this yarn, I was really, really pleased to have it worked into a sweater that I love. The pattern here is Empire, with some modifications.
I loved knitting this sweater. It’s exactly what I wanted, and the construction was a bit novel to me, which made it a fun knit. (Basically, you knit the whole body as a vest, and then pick up stitches at each armhole and work shortrow shaping to create the set-in sleeves, so the whole thing is seamless.) I was worried that I would run out of yarn while working the sleeves, so I did the button bands and collar before starting them – which you can do because of the way the body comes together – but I ended up being fine on yardage in the end.
The yarn is epic. It’s Indigodragonfly Octobaa, in “Is The Money Okay? Did They Hurt The Money? (Anya),” one of their Buffy-inspired colourways. I love the colour because it is a really excellent blue-green, and I love it because Anya remains one of my favourite genre characters ever. This base is amazing, and was so good for the textured stitch pattern in this sweater. It’s an eight-ply superwash merino, and what that means is that it’s super round and bouncy and great for anything involving twisted stitches or cables or texture. It was such a pleasure to knit with.
I modified this sweater from the original pattern in a few ways – first, I added 3″ to the length to bring it from a cropped sweater to a hip-length sweater that I could wear with jeans. This makes it a much more practical piece for me, both for work as well as for casualwear. I also added full sleeves, instead of cropped sleeves. This meant extending the length, but also adding some extra decreases at the arm so that they weren’t too baggy at my wrists.
Doing the finishing, I got super, super intense about the button bands for this sweater. This is hilarious if you understand how many sweaters I have finished that have gone buttonless for – I am not kidding – years.
Anyway. The weekend I finished blocking this sweater, I got my button act together. I was worried about the button bands stretching and getting that scalloped look that nobody loves. One of the ways to combat this is by knitting with either zero or positive ease, so that the sweater isn’t stretching too much. I did this, by choosing a size that gave me 1″ positive ease.
The other way is by reinforcing the button bands with something woven that won’t let them stretch. This is the first sweater where I’ve done that, and I have to say, it is completely worth the extra effort.
I used some plain ribbon (this prettiness, left over from a sewing project) and whipstitched it by hand to each band. A good tutorial to illustrate what this looks like is this one at Lladybird. Instead of doing buttonholes in the ribbon by machine, like Lauren suggested, I decided to do them by hand.
I don’t know why I, Ms Buttons Are Too Much Work, suddenly felt inspired to do ten hand-bound buttonholes, but whatever. It happened. I am very proud of learning how to make them, and they were surprisingly easy and pretty. I will talk about them to anyone I meet, now. Hand-bound buttonholes: the best. I used bright purple perle cotton thread and this excellent tutorial from By Gum By Golly for the technique. I tacked the buttonhole band halfway to the sweater, cut buttonholes and bound them all, then tacked the other side down.
This took a lot of extra time, but wasn’t too labour-intensive – I think the span of a couple movies on a weekend, give or take. And the result is glorious. I keep buttoning up this sweater just so I can quietly revel in how much the button bands don’t pull – it’s amazing!
I’m pleased with this project both as a technical piece and also as a wardrobe addition – I don’t have many cardigans I can wear buttoned up
because I haven’t put the buttons on don’t judge me, so this fills a gap, and will get a ton of use this winter.