So, I still haven’t frogged my Edith yet (working up the nerve, and trying to pick a day when I’m in the mood to wind and wash a whole lot of skeins) but I have been doing a lot of playing with wool.
I’ve got another sweater on the needles which has maybe been on the needles since March, but I thought I’d share.
This is Clarke,, a sweater knit from a really lovely, basic sweater pattern by Jane Richmond. It’s worked in one piece, which means no seaming, but also means that it’s mostly a blue-ish, greenish yarny blob. I’ve tried it on and I promise it’s sweater-shaped, but I realize it’s not the most glamorous thing to photograph right now.
I picked this pattern specifically to create a hand knit version of a RTW sweater I bought this winter. I bought a machine-knit, wool pullover with a high-low hem on a whim over the holidays, and it has turned out to be the wardrobe staple I didn’t know I needed. I wore it pretty much daily through the winter – around the house over pyjamas on cold days, as a top with leggings or jeans when I was feeling lazy about picking an outfit – and on cold spring days I did my best to keep wearing it, basically all. The. Time.
I wanted to make a hand knit sweater that would supplement that niche, in a different colour. The pattern is written for stripes, but I decided I wanted to work it in a solid sweater. This was partly because it makes for a more versatile wardrobe addition, and also because I wasn’t 100% on the pattern I was going to use. I was worried that if I decided to frog or go with a different pattern, I’d be stuck with a SQ of yarn that had to be worked in stripes, and didn’t want to get limited if I swatched and couldn’t match gauge.
I’ve made my way through the end of the sweater body and am actually well into the second sleeve, and I’m pretty happy with it so far. I’m working it in Madelinetosh DK in Cove, which is knitting up into a lovely semisolid fabric, and am generally very excited to have this in my closet.
The big limitation to working on this is how big it is. It basically lives on my couch now, and because I’ve been travelling a lot over the past couple months, this hasn’t received as much knitting time as it should have. Currently, I’m pushing to get it done – partly just because it should be done, and also because I’ve got yarn picked out for a more summer-appropriate knit, and this needs to be off the needles first!
So I want to talk about this sweater, and how I don’t like it, and how maybe I dislike it so much that I’m planning on ripping it out and knitting it again.
First, some context. So, way back in the fall, I went on a trip back to Ontario to visit friends and family. I had lots of things that needed to get done, but one personal errand that was really important: I was going to go to Romni Wools, and treat myself to a sweater quantity of Yorkshire Spinners’ Aran, and knit myself the Best Sweater Ever.
(I’d been in love with this yarn for some time before this. It’s a gorgeous millspun BFL with lots of loft and squish, but also fairly pricey because it’s imported from the UK, so: treat.)
My initial plan was to knit Georgetown, but after several swatches, I realized that it wasn’t meant to be. The pattern gauge was much, much denser than I could comfortably achieve with that particular yarn, and so I had three options: knit a super-dense sweater at a painfully tight gauge, recalculate the entire sweater based on my swatch, or knit a different pattern.
I chose Option #3, and (using the search-by-gauge feature in the Ravelry Advanced Search, which has saved my butt on more than one occasion) decided on Edith. I wanted to make a few modifications – mostly length, as I wouldn’t have had enough yarn to knit it as written – but not very many.
So, it’s done.
It’s actually been done for a while, but after trying it on for the first time post-blocking, I realized that it wasn’t quite the sweater that I wanted, and needed some time to think. See, the sweater I wanted was big, and cozy, and squishy. It had lots of ease in the shoulders and arms, both for practical reasons (this yarn gets a bit prickly if it’s skin-tight) and also because my Best Sweater Ever was cuddly and a bit oversized and wear-with-everything. There’s a term in the sewing community, for clothes that look good but are shockingly comfortable: Secret Pyjamas. I was hoping for the sweater equivalent of that.
The sweater that I got is totally adequate, but not quite right. There’s lots of good things about it! Namely: Perfect, flowy boxiness in the body. That garter rib stitch along the collar and upper back, which is perfectly squashy and works beautifully with the yarn. The way this wool blocks out with a nice, gentle BFL halo.
There are some things I don’t like quite as much, though. I’d never knit a sweater with this construction before, and so I didn’t really realize these things were going to bug me like they did. First off, it’s got drop sleeves. This lends a super adorable, slouchy feel to the sweater body, but also means that there’s a sleeve seam right at the widest part of my arm. The sleeves are just a little tighter than I want them to be, and that seam right at the widest part of my upper arm doesn’t help. The other issue is the length, which I miscalculated – I want the body to be, like, four inches longer, and didn’t realize that until the sweater was already knit. The other issue for me is the neckline – it makes sort of a “point” at the back neck, which bugs me when I move my arms during wearing.
Now, I want to stress that none of these issues are related to the pattern itself. Rather, they’re problems with the way my body shape and fit preferences and the body shape the pattern is written for don’t quite line up.
I’ve spent a good chunk of the past few months trying to decide what to do about this sweater. I don’t think I’ll wear it in its current iteration, but I want the sweater that it almost became, the sweater that I want this yarn to be. I’ve thought about maybe just reuniting the sleeves to a bigger size, but the armhole seams and the collar and the length are still going to bug me, and ultimately, if I’m frogging to alter that many things about the sweater, I might as well knit a new one. (I also have two and a half skeins of yarn left over – clearly I knit a much smaller sweater than I was planning, which means I’ve got lots of “wiggle room” to reknit something with extra length or bigger sleeves.)
I haven’t frogged this sweater yet, but I’m planning to set aside a day in the next week to take it apart and reskein all the yarn. I’ve got a few options in mind for its second iteration (Tinder is currently the front-runner). The only other decision left to make is whether I should reknit this over the summer, or to wait until fall when it’s better weather for working on something quite this heavy.
One of the knitting projects that has been consuming most of my time since moving has been this wrap, and I’m very excited to be able to share it. This project also has the distinction of being the first knit that I started and finished in our new city.
(Which is also why I get to take photos next to a river, because we have one of those right by our new apartment!)
I made this as a gift for my future mother-in-law, who did a stupendous amount of work in helping us pack for our move, and then generously offered to help us unpack, as well. She didn’t ask for anything in return, but it was such a huge help that I couldn’t not do anything for her. She’s also one of those people who’s almost always too cold, so I knew that a shawl or a wrap would be a good choice.
The pattern is Cardinia, which I first saw knitted up as a sample at my old LYS. I chose it both because it’s a nice, basic knit that doesn’t require a lot of thought, and because it’s constructed in an interesting way.
The shawl is knit from edged to edge, rather than point to point, which means there aren’t that many rows, but each one is LONG. It also uses a deceptively large quantity of yarn, which I didn’t totally realize until I was in the middle of knitting it. Early on in the grey section, I actually said, “Oh, this isn’t using much yarn, maybe I can use the leftovers to make another for myself.”
The finished shawl is nearly three full skeins of sock yarn. Because you cast on 280+ stitches at the beginning, it looks like you’ve started knitting the full width of the shawl, but the increases go up to a 300-400 st width by the widest part, and yarn starts to disappear pretty quickly.
It makes a big, cuddly, generously-sized wrap, though, which I think will make it a really wearable gift.
I was a little constrained in what was available to me (I’m still learning about the yarn shops here in Calgary!) so the only way to get the colours I wanted was to knit this in three different bases, with different fiber content, from three different dyers. I must admit, this gave me a bit of an eye twitch. You can sort of tell, but I think only as a knitter – the grey and brown sections have cashmere content, and the pink is a merino/silk blend, so the pink feels a bit rougher by comparison, but it’s not bad.
If I had to knit this again (and I might, I’m a sucker for yarnovers on stockinette), I think I’d leave one marker in the center for the stockinette portion, to help me keep track of the center again for the middle lace portion. Otherwise, I think this pattern is a total winner, and I’m really pleased with the finished product – I almost like it too much to give away!