Sunday, September 23, 2012

Getting Somewhere

I may have had a lot of trouble establishing the centre cable panel, but once I figured it out, this sweater really picked up speed:

It isn't blocked yet - nor is it finished - so it looks wonky...
Here it is, as yet without sleeves, modified as follows:
  • Size small with 6 extra stitches (1.3") backwards loop cast on at the base of the armhole
  • An extra vertical cable (those diamond shaped things in the centre of the sweater are the ones of which I write)
Were I to make this again, and I probably will, I will include the following additional modifications:
  • Depending on how this blocks, I might add 2 more stitches at the base of the armhole.
  • I'll knit the ribbing through the back loop to give the kind of tension and profile I achieved on this sweater.
  • I'll add another 5 rows to the ribbing (for extra length and to highlight the rib).
Of course, I'm about to start the sleeves now, which are knit with short rows (a technique I've grown to appreciate rather than to fear), to give sleeve cap shaping.

My interim thoughts are these:
  • The pattern is very nicely constructed, though I would not recommend it for new-to-cable knitters. I had a couple of (simple) cable projects under my belt and I was very stymied for quite some time. BTW, if you are a newish knitter and you need some support in establishing the panels, email me. Lord knows, I've considered them in just about every conceivable way.
  • Other than the cables and the short rows, it is a fairly simple sweater. And with ready guidance, it's probably within the ability of a newish knitter (one who's made a few other sweaters).
  • It's got a very modern shape. No question, it's the sexiest cable knit sweater I have ever seen. The waist shaping is extensive, which is to say, you shave 8 inches between the bust and waist. I LOVE that. But if you are straighter in the waist, I'd suggest modifying those decreases.
  • Most notably, this sweater is very short. Um, how often do you hear me say that? I take a minimum of an inch out of the waist on practically every pattern. I needed an extra vertical cable repeat i.e. 30 rows and I still think my version could be longer. I did get vertical gauge, 6 rows to an inch, so this means I added 5 inches to its length. I think I could add one more inch and that would just take the sweater to my high hip. Important note: I haven't blocked this thing yet so that could really relax the knit and add the extra length I'm looking for. Other note: My gauge swatch didn't really change when I blocked it, but I didn't try to alter it...
  • It's key to keep in mind that my bust most definitely ate up a lot of the sweater's length so, if you're busty, consider that you will likely need to an additional cable repeat.
I'm very pleased that I took the time to figure out the shaping. A medium would most certainly have been too big and the small, not big enough. In truth, I might move more in the direction of the medium (depending on blocking), when next I make this sweater, but only by a few additional stitches.

 About Finished (Post Blocked) Sizing

This is a good place for me to mention that I have struggled repeatedly to attain the right size on hand knit garments because yarn is so unpredictable when you a) knit a large volume of it and b) then proceed to wash it. I have only made one sweater that is too small. The rest have been varying versions of too big. Of the six full sweaters I've made (I'm not counting shrugs), which come from different eras and designers and with very different styles, that's not a great track record. And I always do the math! (This is why I make sweaters twice with the same yarn. It gives me a workable muslin, aka gift for a friend, and then on the second try, I am able to "perfect" the fit on me.)

I also generally make what aligns with the second smallest size (usually a small), although I alter bust and waist shaping as necessary. My challenge has nothing to do with proportion (my math and sense of my size and shape appear to be standing me in good stead on this account), it's about the ease that develops after blocking.

Indeed, my knowledge of yarn is not extensive. These outcomes could be a factor of the types of yarn or brands I've come across to date. For sure, Debbie Bliss yarn (my apparent fave) is the grow-iest yarn in the land. And definitely, Cascade 220 keeps its shape pretty well. But, just on sweaters, I've used six different yarns, of different composition, weight and from different manufacturers, and I've observed the same tendency in all of them.

So, today's questions:
  • What yarns truly do not grow? Which are the worst offenders?
  • Do you have this problem too?
  • Are you making this sweater and, if yes, how's it going?
  • What do you think of my version with its extra cable? Does it change the vibe of the sweater, as far as you're concerned?
  • Oh, and please do check out my recent post wherein I ask for your feedback on the sport-weight sweater I intend to make soon. I'd love to know which sweater you like best!


  1. -I know nothing about yarn sorry! I only hope my current WIP grows lengthwise cos I'm worried about it turning out too short as well!

    -I really want to make this sweater too but maybe next year.. too much to do :)

    -The extra cable looks fine to me! Try it onnnn :)

    1. You should see it. It's crazy sexy for a cable knit sweater :-)

  2. I'd say the best memory is in 100% wool, the kind that hasn't been treated to be machine washable/dryable. Stuff that's a bit more au naturel than is your normal preference anyway, right? Some of the Rowan yarns, in my experience. . .

    1. Damn. Why does the world work this way?? I'll have to look into the Rowan yarns in more detail. They are on the "real" end of the spectrum which is why I haven't experimented much with them.

  3. Knit a much larger swatch than you think you need and wash and block it as you will the finished garment. I usually start on the bottom half of a sleeve, as this will (usually) contain an example of all the stitches used. Adjust the pattern to fit the post blocking measurements.

    1. That's a very good suggestion Teris, thank you!

  4. I just cast on this sweater last week! I'm not nearly as far as long as you are, though - still working on the back stockinette. I haven't even picked up the front yet :) Of course, now you have me all terrified about the cables so I might be emailing you later down the line haha! Yours is looking gorgeous.

    I've knit up 2 sweaters with Cascade 220 (and working on a third!), and I can confidentially say that yarn does not grow after you've blocked it. My cardigans get worn quite frequently and they still fit as perfectly as they did post-block.

    1. OK - DO NOT BE AFRAID. You're more than capable of doing this. I encountered a serious mental block and then I got over it. If you have a mental block, email me and maybe I can save you a few hours. Mind you, either way you're going to end up with a great sweater.

  5. Wow, you've managed to knit an entire sweater body in the time I've knit one half of one sock. LOL I don't think the extra cable really alters the vibe - I think it will just pull it into proportion with the length.

    Hmmm, I don't have enough experience with fitted garments yet to really answer. And I'm still at the point where I feel like yarn is a big mystery. I keep hoping for that "aha" moment.

    1. Well, I did ignore everyone for the better part of the weekend. :-)

  6. it is absolutely beautiful! and i think it will look lovely on you!!!!!!

  7. Lovely sweater, I'm amazed at your speed knitting. I'm wondering what it means when you say you added six extra stitches picked up at the base of the armhole? Did you add six stitches to each side? Picked up to me always meant you picked up stitches previously knit so I'm confused. I think I'll have to knit this beautiful sweater, if I start now I may be able to wear it in January!

    1. I've updated the post to explain this more clearly. I'm sorry I used poor wording there. What I mean is that I backwards loop cast on 3 extra stitches on each side at the underarm. Because of the way the instructions direct you to cast on stitches at the underarm, it's not quite as simple as doing 3 stitches on either side all in one pass. But it's not complicated once you read through everything.

      I'm not that fast a knitter. I just put in a lot of hours. :-)

  8. Cascade 220 does not grow because it is a pure wool and it is not treated to be machine washable. There is a superwash Cascade which does grow. Rowan makes lovely yarns that for the most part do not grow (but certain blends do). A larger swatch helps in terms of predictability, but then you have to buy extra yarn.

    I am amazed at your focus and speed, but then I have admittedly spent very little time knitting lately, so my problem is obviously a question of priorities.

    1. OK, since you and Frances both recommend Rowan, I really have to make that my next yarn purchase.

      And thanks M! I'm focused more than speedy. I would love to knit like Stephanie McPhee from that video you posted a couple of years ago. :-)