Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gauge The Situation: The Inaugural Sweater

You may recall that my original, worsted-gauge sweater choice, as part of the Gauge the Situation series, was this chic cardigan:

Inaugural Sweater by Mary Annarella
I deferred the project for this pullover (also worsted-weight), but now I'm back with the program.

I'm knitting The Inaugural in soot-grey Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran:

About the Yarn: For starters, let me tell you that I may actually be done with this stuff. I've dealt with so many knots in this batch of skeins, it's ridiculous. And the texture of the fibre is such that it's visible where you weave in the ends mid-row. Add to this the fact that I've got only just the right amount of yarn (just) and I've got numerous woven-in ends in the middles of rows.

Furthermore, I feel there's a slight halo on the face of the fabric - not something I can get with. I'm not giving up on Debbie Bliss, but I sense I'll be sticking to Rialto from now on. The Cashmerino is a pain in the ass.  OK, to its credit, it's very soft and it has beautiful drape. And the colour is rich. But I'm starting to wonder if its drape is optimal with the structured design of the Inaugural sweater. I guess time will tell.

About the Sizing - and Modified Gauge:  Mary, the pattern designer, has been so available and helpful in working with me  to determine my optimal size. I chose to make the 34" at the shoulders and waist/hips and a 36" at the bust. Having said this, note that I also deliberately chose to use a larger needle size (US7) that gives me an extra .25" every 4 inches, or a total of 2 inches of extra width in horizontal circumference.

What this means is that I a) maximized the size I believe I will require while b) minimizing the amount of yarn I'll need (by knitting slightly more loosely than the pattern instructs). FYI, I did get gauge horizontal gauge in a US6 needle. And on the US7, the size I eventually chose to use, I got vertical gauge (7 rows per inch).

Effectively, on the US 7, I'm making the size 36"* in the shoulders/waist/hips and a 38" in the bust - using a minimal amount of yarn to retain the basic shape. At 38" circumference, the bust works with 0" of ease (which is how Mary designed the pattern to fit). In the modified 36" size, on me, the shoulders are on the roomy size of fitted. Likely, were I to make this again, using the same (modified) gauge, I'd knit the 32" in the shoulders, 36" in the bust and 34" in the rest of the pattern. That would make the actual shoulder circumference 34" (very fitted for me), and the bust 38" (what I need to well-fit a double breasted cardigan having 0" to 1" of positive ease). The modified 34" fits well in the waist and opens, per the design of the sweater, at the hip.

There's a point to be made that I could have improvised short-row bust darts into the sides of this (largely) stockinette pattern. But I'm not feeling adventuresome at the moment so I opted to alter size based on modified gauge instead. Having now knitted much of the body of the sweater, I feel that I should have begun the side decreases sooner than I did. The bust fits and the waist fits, but the span between the two is a bit more shapeless than I would like. I did try it on as I went in an effort to avoid this. But sometimes it's hard to see what's going on when your stitches are mushed together on a circular needle.

One other thing I'll mention - and I may have misinterpreted the pattern instructions - the directions to slip last stitch at the end of the moss-stitch pattern need to happen on the SAME side as the buttonholes because that's the side of the double-breasted moss stitch that's going to sit on the top. As far as I can tell, that's the last stitch of the wrong side, not the last stitch of the right side (what's instructed), so my raggedy moss stitch edge is visible on the outside of the garment. I wonder how much this will torment me.

By the time I figured this out, I was already a significant number of rows down the moss stitch section and I didn't have the stomach to frog back numerous inches. I think the key, in this situation, is to go on as you've started. If you start slipping stitches 4 inches down, the unslipped section will that much more observable by contrast. Sure, the slipped stitch side looks much lovelier than the other one, but will you really notice that the other one looks bad if you have nothing with which to contrast it?

About the Moss Stitch Panel: Certain knitters have misinterpreted the moss stitch pattern, or so Ravelry reviews advise. The single moss stitch (what this pattern calls for) is well described in this post.

About Knitting Buttonholes: One other thing, I knit in horizontal buttonholes for the first time, over 2 rows. I can't imagine myself doing this again. I see that everything's going to stretch all to hell sooner rather than later. Had I gone with my preferred method (hand sewing in a petersham button band and then machine sewing in vertical buttonholes), this would not be an issue. But I wanted to see once and for all whether it's necessary to use the petersham to obviate stretching. (The button band, machine buttonholes thing is labour-intensive plus, after all.) Although the double breasted front has snaps on the inner panel, to mitigate sagging and pulling, that's not going to be enough in the long run, I suspect. Not with this soft yarn.

I'm giving this a slightly fussy preliminary review, I sense, which isn't fair because it's a terrific design, a clear pattern and a relatively simple project. I'd say you could confidently give it a go after having made 2 or 3 other sweaters. And I don't think I can extrapolate the end result from the experience I've had so far.

*Note that the sizes of this pattern correlate with bust size, not shoulder or waist/hip size. My modified size 34" (akin to the size 36") actually has a shoulder circumference of 29"- 30".


  1. It's a pain to do, but I regularly put my knitting onto scrap yarn (i.e. off the needles) to try it on. This avoids having to try it on with stitches mushed together on a circular needle (not to mention removing the risk of the stitches falling off the needle as I do so).

    I also plan to do a petersham button band, but given that I've never used the buttonhole function on my sewing machine, it should be exciting.

    So there's my twopennyworth. I really enjoy your knitting posts and find them very helfpul. I suspect that were are at a similar place in terms of adult garment knitting skills and willingness to do a bit of maths.


    I'm about to start improvising a bit of short row bust shaping but it makes my brain hurt. I'm trying to get my head round whether short row shaping gives additional width to acommodate big boobs well as additional length. I've decided that the answer is 'no' so am planning to add stitches to the width. This may all go horribly wrong and result in a cardigan designed for someone far more pneumatic.

    The pattern I'm working on at the moment (Garter Yoke Cardigan - that everyone and their dog has made) suggests slipping the first stitch of each row (both right and wrong side) and then knitting into the back of the final stitch of each row, which gives a nice edge (when I remember to do it). I think that this works if the last stitch is always a knit stitch which it is (as it's got garter button bands).

    1. Sorry about putting my intended final paragraph as the third one!

    2. I agree that putting stitches on waste yarn is the smart way to go. I've just been profoundly low-energy about this project. Not my usual way.

      BTW, the short row bust darts should give you the width AND length you require because, in knitting, bust darts are created by adding a section of short row fabric between the two "darts", over the centre of the sweater. This creates extra fabric to produce the intended length of the sweater. The Craftsy Fit Your Knits course has a chapter that goes into this in detail. I know that it sounds counter intuitive, but it works.

      When you determine the "size" of your darts, you're really figuring out the degree of extra length you require.

    3. Thanks, that's helpful. Perhaps I should look at the Craftsy Course. Given the time and money involved in knitting a jumper (am British), it's worth getting the fitting spot on. I'm a little in denial about the upcoming short row fun (especially as it's a cardigan so I'll need to divide the short rows in half.

      I HATE putting stitches onto yarn too, but I'm frogged enough stuff to grin and bear it.


    4. See, that's what I've never done before, and what I don't have the stomach for right now. I seem to remember that the Craftsy course makes reference to this but it's been a while since I've watched the full tutorial so you might need to review a few other sources too, such as:

    5. I have a top where only the middle inch is original (had to frog the bottom and the top!)

      Thanks for the link which looks pretty good. This evening will be dedicated to a bit of measuring and maths. Luckily, I'm a mathematician, so that doesn't scare the living daylights out of me. It'll make a change from learning to sew with knits which is definitely scary.

    6. Oh, and I love the reference in that article to another 'titorial'.

    7. And here's one I found.

      And that's all from me. Thanks so much for your thoughts on all this.


    8. Yes, I've got this post booked too. It's very useful!

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