April 1, 2008
Hey look, I made a sweater. It even has arms that are of somewhat appropriate dimensions and thus I do not have to wear rubber bands on the wrists like I do with my Weasley. I got the idea to do a sweater with Fibonacci striping using Andean Silk Twist and coordinating colors of Andean Silk from a pattern in the KnitPicks catalog. When the twist yarn was discontinued and went on clearance I bought a bunch, but the pattern was no longer available (it was called the Fairfax Fibonacci Sweater; you can see it made up here and here). Searching for a replacement, I found a cardigan by Alexandra Virgiel in MagKnits and though I’d make that; I wear more cardigans than pullovers anyway. Then I was poking around in Ravelry once day and came across another Fibonacci cardigan (also from MagKnits), this one by Rachael Switalski. I thought the shaping on that one would be more flattering for my figure, so I put it in my queue instead.
I swatched in mid-January to see how the colors would work together. I decided not to use the red since I only needed four colors for the stripe pattern and of the two that contrast the most with the twist, the cream is more agreeable with my skin tone. I liked the striping pattern from the Alexandra Virgiel cardigan (2-2-4-6-10), so I chose to use that. The pattern starts with the sleeves, worked in the round. I decided I’d do them both at once on two circulars, figuring I’d liked doing socks that way and sleeves are just big socks without toes or heels. Except I wasn’t sure how to get started without having the ends of the sleeves closed up like sock toes. Google to the rescue; I found this tutorial and got going on my sleeves. I finished them when we were out in Steamboat at the beginning of February and got started on the body.
By the end of February, I was ready to join the sleeves and the body. The body had gone pretty well, although the waist shaping increases and decreases didn’t always end up exactly where they belonged; I need to find a better way to keep track and remind myself when it’s time. I also had to rip back about 15 rows when I messed up the stripe colors while I was home sick and knitting while doped up on cold medicine. I ended the body on a right side row and took the needle tips off the cable before I noticed that the pattern said to end on a wrong side row. I decided that was okay since I had ended the sleeves on a right side row (the pattern didn’t say not to), so this way I’d be at the same place in both sleeves and body. I had to think hard about how the sleeves needed to be oriented versus the body when joining (I’d never done this before) but got them the right way ’round on my first try. I was well into the raglan shaping and neckline decreases by mid-March, at which point I realized it was looking like I was going to run out of stitches between the front raglan markers and the neckline before I reduced to the number of stitches between the raglan markers that the pattern called for. Grumble, grumble. I ended up making a spreadsheet showing stitch counts between markers after each decrease row and compared that to my actual counts and found I was not that far off (I had missed some raglan decreases along the way) so was able to get back on track.
I’d never done a button band before, or a collar shaped with short rows, but I breezed through them with just a little help from Knitting in Plain English, this buttonhole spacing calculator, and this tutorial on knitting buttonholes. Easter weekend I finished all the knitting and cast off, decided the cast off I used wasn’t stretchy enough to allow the collar to lie nicely, undid it and redid it using the crochet cast off from the Queen Kahuna book, and sewed on the buttons. This past weekend I washed and blocked it and regretted not washing my swatch back in January, as the sweater grew somewhat during the process. Fortunately, I’d made a smaller size than called for based on my actual body measurements, figuring it would take me a long time and I was working on losing weight and I didn’t want to make it too big. So it’s only a little too big now. When I lose enough weight to make the fit a problem, maybe I’ll try felting it a little.
This morning I decided it would be a good idea to stabilize the back of the neck with a line of crochet like the Yarn Harlot taught me, so I did. It was fast and easy, and I think it is helping keep the shoulders of the sweater in closer proximity to my own shoulders. So that’s yet another new thing I did for this project, in addition to the waist and raglan shaping, the button band and buttonholes, and the short row collar. Overall, I liked the pattern and found it pretty easy to follow (my confusion when managing the striping pattern at the same time as the shaping is not the pattern’s fault). If I do it again, I’ll probably add edge stitches to the body so the rib pattern is maintained right up to the button band, and I might do an even rib so the collar turn back matches the button band and cuffs. I made a wider button band (to match the ribbing at the bottom) and used more buttons than the pattern calls for (to try and prevent gapping); I’d do the former again but probably would start the neckline shaping sooner instead of using the additional buttons. I’m also pretty happy with the Andean Silk; it’s soft and warm and fuzzy and not to blame for me not washing my swatch. I think I’ll drop down a needle size if I make another sweater with it; I used a US7 (4.5mm) and the fabric’s a tiny bit floppier than I’d like. I could have done a better job weaving in the ends, but I assume that will come with more practice. I’m pondering changing the buttons; the ones I chose were the prettiest of the four best options in the store, but they’re a little heavy for the knitted fabric to support (though maybe there’s a better way to sew them on than what I did; I’ll have to research that). So, not a perfect project, but I learned some stuff and have a new garment I can wear to work to ward off the chill, so I’m good with that.