There’s Always More to Learn

I just finished my cousin Marie’s cardigan sweater. It’s from a book called Botanical Knits by Alana Dakos, called Twigs and Willows:

image For a change I actually used the yarn that was indicated in the pattern – Brooklyn Tweeds fabulous Shelter yarn – which is light and airy because it is woolen spun, and has great depth of color.

There have been many sweaters that have come off my needles over the years – I don’t know how many, in fact. You’d think by now that I would have learned all there is to know about knitting a sweater, and that would be incorrect.

What the Pattern Said

The pattern for this sweater calls for the fronts and backs and sleeves to be knit separately and then sewn together. I do have a preference for side and shoulder seams in sweaters – they give a better fit, and the sweater is less likely to go askew. The sleeves are set-in, and before now, I have mostly stuck to knitting the sleeve (either flat or in the round), and then sewn them in. I don’t find it hard, but it does sometimes require gymnastics. It also called for a simple horizontonally-knit button hole.

What I Modified

  1. Moved the Shaping: I Spread the shaping of the sweater from the side seams to “princess seams” on the fronts and the backs. There are a couple of schools of thought about this, but my cousin has a lovely waist, and accenting it with the shaping seemed like a good idea. It came out well:image
  2. Short Rows on Upper Back: Often just one inch’s worth of short rows spread an inch apart will really help the sweater sit better on the body. I remembered to do this!
  3. Top-down Sleeves: Since I had just taken a top-down sweater knitting class that taught me how to do top-down set-in sleeves, it was the perfect moment to tackle this maneuver. Vera Sanon has an amazing trick that I will be using from now on – using a Size 0 needle to pick up the stitches! Do it, and you’ll see that basically a needle this size mimics the tight fit that a sewn in sleeve gets. You can use this wherever you are picking up stitches. Never thought or heard of this before, and it is brilliant. See how good that   looks?image
  4. Bigger Sleeves: I also had to modify the sleeves, because the directions are not written for women who have “real” arms. I increased after the sleevecap  a bit, and then did the decreases, and generally made the sleeves bigger overall, which you can see a bit in the photo above. I actually knit most of the sleeves twice to get them the right size.
  5. Button and neck bands: I also used the Size 0 needle to pick up stitches here, and put more stitches into the band, a la Sally Melville’s Knitting Pattern Essentials. Most patterns will assume a 3 stitches to 4 rows proportion for a stockinette background, but Sally Melville has refined this ratio significantly, and they come out better. Then, when I was binding off the button bands (in 2×2 ribbing), I knit the knit stitches, but did a purl 2 together for the purls – why? In order to make that edge firm. I always think the bind-offs there look messy, and I think you’ll agree I got a clean line (that isn’t too tight).image
  6. TULIPS buttonhole: The pattern called for a simple horizontal buttonhole – which I think is not stable and likely to grow, so I did the TECH Knitting tulips better buttonhole. It is firm, completely stable and looks like “two lips” in the photo above.  Check out the video tutorial on this one as well!

A Sentimental Touch

The last bit that makes this sweater special is that I recycled some buttons from an older sweater. It was the last sweater that I knit for my mom –


Victoria adapted 1g
Before it was thrown in the washer and felted.

and an aide for her took this beautiful sweater and had it go through the washer, and ruined it (not bitter, really not bitter). Since my mom was a second mom to Marie, I thought it only right that she get these special buttons on her sweater.

It was fun to try some new and older techniques and materials into a new sweater. I wonder what I’ll learn on the next one?

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