Tagged cardigan

Of Hallows and Horcruxes

I wrote a while back about my eldest being a big Harry Potter fan, and that I’d found a fantastic pattern for the sweater Hermione wears in Deathly Hallows Part I… the post is here, if you want to refresh your memory. I bought the recommended yarn from Knit Picks and it sat for a couple of months, until I decided it was time to knit the sweater.

This sweater was certainly an adventure. First of all, to be fair, the designer, while she has several patterns on Ravelry, only has the one garment pattern. Of her 13 patterns, 10 are crochet patterns. This should have been a warning that this wasn’t going to be smooth sailing. I was smart, and went through other projects and read the notes, and felt an impending sense of doom. So many comments about things that were wrong, or needed to be modified! It was discouraging, and I hadn’t even cast on yet! I’m not so easily dissuaded though. I did my gauge swatch, measured the kid, and started knitting. I figured I’d use the experience of other knitters who’d already made one to make the process easier.

Problem 1: The yoke is designed badly. The original sweater from the movie was apparently purchased at H&M, and is seamed, rather than having a yoke. Knitting in one piece is easier though, so I can see why the designer chose to make it this way. Also, nobody is going to tell you that you’re sweater is wrong because it is a yoke rather than being seamed.

The problem here is that the increases are weird the way they’re written, which skews the colourwork pattern. Many knitters who have made this cardigan used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s method. This preserved the colourwork pattern.

Problem 2: The yarn requirements were way off. I’d only knitted the hood and had not quite finished the body, and only had 2.5 balls of yarn left. I knew there was no way I would be able to knit pockets and two sleeves with that much yarn, so I had to hunt for more, because Knit Picks was sold out. I eventually found someone who was destashing two skeins.

Problem 3: Lots of people complained that the sleeves were too big. I had to decrease them considerably. I also chose to knit them in the round, inside out, because I didn’t want to have to seam them and I also didn’t fancy purling them.

DSC_4837 The sweater, in the end, turned out nicely, and the kid is happy with it (though it was too warm to wear by the time it was finished). I did have a request for another one from my best friend, but I told her I’d never knit this sweater again. I didn’t keep detailed notes, and didn’t want to have to fight my way through it a second time. I’d be happy to knit her something else though!

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The cabled button band was knit as the sweater was knit. The whole thing, aside from the pockets, is one piece. I had expected to have to pick up stitches, but the only picked up stitches were at the underarms.

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I do quite like the pointy hood. Hopefully the kid gets a lot of wear out of this sweater. And there’s already dibs on it if/when they decide they’re not into it anymore… My best friend wants it when the kiddo is done with it!

My Ravelry page is here.

Snowflake Sweater

I don’t often post about knits that just don’t work out, but I’m going to do so today. Some time ago, I fell in love with the Snowflake sweater pattern from Tin Can Knits (they’re local, woo!) It’s a fantastic pullover, with a nice lace yoke. I never wear pullovers, because I get too hot, but ever since I saw the sample in person at Knit City, I was obsessed with it.

Back in November, Knit Picks had a too-good-to-pass-up sale on some of their yarns. Specifically, Capra, which is normally one of their most expensive yarns. It’s a soft, squishy merino cashmere blend, and has a beautiful, subtle halo after blocking. Only the tumeric colour was on sale, but since I love Autumn colours, I snapped up eight balls of it, along with the wine colour, since I decided this was the perfect yarn for the Snowflake sweater. The funny thing about my colour selection is that I accidentally picked Gryffindor colours, which is the Harry Potter house I was sorted into when I joined Pottermore. It would be my accidental Gryffindor sweater!

As soon as my yarn arrived, I swatched and started knitting. The yoke lace is a little confusing, but I found the help I needed on the Tin Can Knits forum on Ravelry, in this thread.

Once the lace was done, it was time to work out my bust shaping. I tried short row bust shaping, but the picked up wraps were incredibly ugly. Maybe a dark yarn would be okay, but on such a light colour, any imperfections show up and are obvious. I ripped back my bust shaping and tossed the sweater in time-out, until I could find a better way to accomplish my bust shaping.

I re-read Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter, but her instructions are typically for bottom up, seamed sweaters. It made my head hurt trying to work out the shaping on my top down, knit in the round sweater. I re-read Ysolda Teague’s Little Red in the City, and it was easier to work with, because she typically writes top down, knit in the round patterns, but I wasn’t really feeling the love on how she suggests that you work bust darts.

Off to the internet I went. Read the post from the Knitty Professors again, but it uses short row shaping as well as darts, and as I said before, I wanted to avoid that. After spending way too long searching, I came across a tutorial written by a Ravelry member named strickauszeit. In the tutorial, she discusses different methods of shaping a sweater bust, using darts, specifically in top down sweaters. Eureka! I did the math, and came up with my bust shaping. I posted the calculations on my Ravelry project page, if you’re interested.

DSC_4617Guess what? It worked like a charm.

Now for the bad news. I’ve come to accept that there’s a very good reason I don’t wear pullovers. They’re hot, and I can’t just take it off like I can if a cardigan gets too warm. We don’t want the decency police coming after me! Granted, I’d probably tell them where to go and how to get there, but that’s another topic. After all of the work I did to make the sweater work, I started having serious doubts about whether I’d ever even wear it. The more I thought about it, the more I came to accept that I wouldn’t. The sweater would sit in a drawer, with its nearly perfect bust shaping, and that would be that.

The other bad news is that I bought far too much of the wine coloured yarn, and not nearly enough of the tumeric. I could buy more, except Knit Picks is out of stock until April, which would mean that even if I did manage to wear my sweater, it wouldn’t be until October, at the earliest. The yarn would also be a different dye lot, which may or may not end up being a big deal. At this point, I completely lost my mojo and decided to frog it.

Is that the end of the story? Nope. A frogged knitting project, while not something I often write about, is not a failure by any means. I learned a lot on this sweater! I now have a bust shaping technique for top down sweaters that works! And I like the results! I also learned that if I have to do shaping on a field of stockinette, I should use a darker colour. Granted, blocking would have helped, but while blocking is magic, it doesn’t remedy everything. I also learned that my reality is that I overheat easily, and pullovers aren’t my thing. I do have a few pullover patterns in my Ravelry queue, but most of the ones I’m likely to knit can be modified using a steek, and voila, I’ll have an awesome cardigan!

Also, this yarn isn’t going into my stash, to be forgotten until I eventually find something to knit with it. Once I’ve gotten all of the kinks out of it, I’ll be knitting Caramel, which is a free pattern, and will be amazing in Capra. I guess buying too much of the wine colour was a lucky accident. It’s also a very forgiving sweater, because it’s draped, so no bust shaping!

As for the Snowflake pattern, if anyone I know produces offspring and I feel the desire to knit for the little one, I’ll reach for this pattern. I’m also really interested in modifying the yoke to make it a cardigan…Just give me some time, okay?

 

Sweaters and skirts, oh my!

I haven’t been posting much lately, because I’ve been busy with job interviews, holiday stuff, and making things. I did say I’d be posting a few projects though, and here they are!

Rock the Lobster is the first project I’ll show you, because it was a milestone. I finally made a steeked sweater! If you’re not a knitter, you probably don’t know what steeking is. If you are a knitter, you may have been avoiding steeking, because it involves cutting your knitting! Tackling this technique was a game changer for me. I love colourwork, but most colourwork sweaters are knit in the round and steeked, so I avoided them like the plague.

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Steeking looks scary, right? The trick is to use a yarn that will felt, so that the stitches stick to each other. You can also run a line of machine or hand stitches along the steek so that you prevent raveling, which is what I did. Knits generally don’t unravel side to side, so steeking is pretty safe, believe it or not.

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The finished sweater. I really love it – the yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes sport, so it’s warm but not too warm. The buttons are fantastic – they’re made of wood with a little bronze  wire accent. I bought extra buttons because I liked them so much. I didn’t bother doing any bust shaping, and probably should have. This sweater doesn’t have any waist shaping, but it doesn’t really need it. My Ravelry project page is here.

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The first time I wore my new sweater was out to brunch with my husband’s hiking friends. I wore it with a chocolate brown wool pencil skirt. Yes, it’s the pleated pencil skirt again, and I skipped the lining. I don’t really think it needs the lining, if you use good fabric.

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Sorry this one is so poor quality, but it was the best photo I got that day, and ran out of time, because I was dressed for an interview and had to leave! It’s another pleated pencil skirt, this time in an olive green wool. Now I have three pencil skirts, which is pretty reasonable, I think. The brown and olive wool were both purchased at Dressew. I still want to make my poppy skirt, but haven’t started yet.

Owligan

A while back, while attempting to use up stash, I came across Kate Davies’ Owligan pattern. I was looking to use up some Knit Picks Swish bulky, and this pattern was suggested by Ravelry. Sadly, the yarn wasn’t quite bulky enough, nor did I have sufficient yardage, but the pattern was perfect in every way. Fast knit, since the gauge is so chunky. No fussy fitting. Perfect for fall weather. Owls. How could I just queue it?

Since I didn’t have any suitable yarn, I ran out right away to buy some. So much for stashbusting! I went to Urban Yarns, a shop I’d never visited before, so it was a fun adventure. I was so pleased with myself too, because I only bought yarn for my cardigan.

The yarn I chose was Cascade Eco+, in the Turtle colourway. It’s a beautiful, neutral heathered green, perfect for Autumn. The cardigan calls for a bulky 12 ply yarn, which is what Eco+ is, but the lady at Urban Yarns looked up the suggested yarns and told me I’d be best off holding the Eco+ doubled. I swatched on size 13 needles and got perfect gauge the first time. This isn’t the softest yarn, but it does soften quite a lot after blocking.

I started this sweater in July, because doesn’t everyone love having a lap full of chunky wool in the heat of summer? No? I must have been crazy then. It took a month to finish, which is longer than I thought it would take, but in the meantime, I knit a couple of other things and finished my rainbow shawl, as well as doing some traveling, so I didn’t work on this constantly. I probably could have finished it in two weeks if I’d focused on it. My sister in law was rather disgusted with me, because I visited her and while visiting, I cast on a sleeve, which I had nearly finished by the time I said good bye to her. If you’re looking for a fast, easy, fun, satisfying knit, this cardigan definitely fits the bill.

DSC_4356The pattern suggests button eyes for the owls, but I prefer them without. I liked the rustic look of the sweater, so I chose wood buttons from Dressew. The sweater construction is interesting, and not difficult. It’s knit from the bottom up – you knit up to the underarm, set the body aside, knit the sleeves (flat or in the round, I chose flat), attach them to the body, then you knit the yoke. The cables are simple enough, just left and right crosses, so there are no difficult stitches to learn. I knit the yoke in an evening.

DSC_4371-001I made two minor modifications to the pattern. I didn’t want a long cardigan, so I shortened it. This meant that I had to figure out the button band myself, because the number of stitches the pattern said to pick up would have been far too many. The other modification I made was to add short row bust shaping. Because of the large gauge, it ended up being only two short rows on each side, but the sweater doesn’t ride up in front, so I call that a success.

This photo doesn’t accurately show the colour of the sweater, but the closeup of the yoke does. I probably could have made the sleeves an inch shorter, but I’m not fussed about that (the sweater is meant to be worn with the cuffs folded up). I’m very pleased with my new sweater, and it’s getting a lot of use so far. I’d love to knit another, but with a different cable motif next time. My Ravelry project page is here.