My first FO for the NaKniSweMoDo KAL is completed.
This was a very nice project, and the Tess Silk & Merino worked well for it. Although I was disappointed to discover subtle changes in the dying as I knit, I was able to balance out the variations so that they look ok for the sweater as a whole. The sweater took nearly 5 of my 6 skeins. (Someone special will end up with a lovely cowl, eventually.)
I used KnitPicks Options interchangeable needles in size 4 US for the body and 2 US for the garter edging.
I also modified the original pattern, Cable-wise Cashmere from A Knitter's Stash, by adding side shaping and knitting the body in the round to the armholes and then flat after that. I also added short-row shaping to the shoulders. I knitted the sleeves in the round until the caps, and then flat after that.
I love the way the sweater fits:
The sleeve length is perfect, perhaps helped by the cables at the forearms that make it "stick" to my arm, and I like the body shape. I'll be using this as a model for my next two sweaters, which will be self-designed.
Ed has managed to improve his picture-taking with my new camera. Now I have to learn to smile with a little more radiance (and get that dorky look off my face).
One reason I like to do my own designs is that it makes me
feel like Mistress of the Universe.I get to call the shots and get total control of every design
decision—there is no other area of life where I wield such absolute power.And so instead of browsing patterns and
thinking, “That looks nice.I
think I’ll knit it.”, I begin with what I want and then come up with a way to
Self-designs free me from complaining about the designer,
studying the printed pattern to see what I think will work and what won’t, and
coming up with ways to correct those shortcomings.It does not stop the bad language that accompanies mistakes,
however, or the actions of the knitting gods.
In thinking about Arbor Rose, I knew I wanted a warm
pullover to wear while working.I
wanted a crew neck because I wear mock-Ts in my office, and that is enough to
keep my neck warm.I also wanted
the sweater to be somewhat fitted, but not as shape-hugging as the Cable-wise
Cashmere.So I selected a ribbed
pattern that would cling comfortably.I’d manage the sweater shaping by using the cable pattern for the body
and just plain 2x2 ribbing (which is stretchier) for the part of the sweater
that falls below my waist.
I also decided to knit the sweater flat because I wanted to
work in my combined style of knitting rather than Continental in the round.It is the purl row that restores my
stitch mount when I knit flat.Although
knitting on the Cable-wise Cashmere is good, there is a nearly imperceptible
difference between the rounds with a cable cross and those that are plain
I know you have to look at this with a microscope to see the "problem", and the
fuzziness of the Tess Silk & Wool hides the difference, but I know it is
there.For Arbor Rose, I selected
the Aurora 8 yarn for its stitch definition, and I want it to be as perfect as
possible.I have beautiful even
stitches when I knit a true purl row in combined knitting, and I chose that
alternative over a seamless sweater body.
And so before even casting on for my swatch, I thought about
how I’d assemble the sweater.To
get the best of both worlds—a beautiful cable and an invisible seam—I set up
the side seam with an extra stitch so that seaming wouldn’t show.
Here is an unblocked sample of what that seam would look
like.This seam is crocheted, but
it would be invisible with careful mattress stitching too.
I have more trouble weaving in ends on a tubular piece than
on one that is knit flat, where the yarn ends can be worked easily and invisibly into
the seams.And for me, finishing a
sweater with seams and many yarn ends, as will be the case for Arbor Rose, is
less arduous than trying to weave in ends where there are no seams or graft
balls of yarn when knitting.
The next thing I considered was the schematic.In many ways, the Cable-wise Cashmere
has given me the best shape of any sweater I’ve knitted lately.The distance from the neck to the
armhole (the top of the shoulder) is narrow, which prevents the sleeve cap from
sinking below my shoulder (as was the unfortunate case for Liv—requiring me to
reknit the sleeve).And so I
planned for a narrow neck-to-armhole edge on Arbor Rose.I don’t plan everything out with
amazing precision.When I reached
the armhole and made the calculation, I found that I had to decrease every row
to manage the correct measurements, not the typical every right-side row.I’ve never seen this done in another
pattern, but it appears to work well for Arbor Rose:
The next challenge is to get one of the rosettes to fall at
the base of my neck, in the front.The back will be done tonight, and I’ll wet block it to be sure the
sizing is right, but for now it seems that that will work out.
At that point, it will be time to insert the sleeves on the
Cable-wise Cashmere sweater, which is still, unfortunately, a WIP because work
ate up all my free time this weekend.
This has been a taxing weekend (literally).I spent all my time gathering my tax
items and receipts, and organizing them, so I could happily visit my accountant
on Tuesday.And I should have made
up some work hours over the weekend, so I will not breathe my usual sigh of
relief that accompanies the conclusion of this annual ritual until this weekend.
It is not surprising that taxes and work have had a negative
effect on my knitting.Although
the knitting on the NaKniSweMoDo KAL Sweater #1 (aka Cable-wise Cashmere) is
done, I did not attach the sleeves to the armholes.That’s all I have left, except for weaving in ends.Everything is looking very good.
So to avoid knitless nights, I moved ahead on Sweater
By the end of tonight’s
knitting, I should be up to the armholes on the back.This is proceeding very quickly because it is basically just
ribbing, with cables positioned at wide intervals.I hope to have Sweaters #1 and #2 done by the first week in
March, getting me back on track for (almost) 12 sweaters by December 31.
I have been growing increasingly disappointed by my lack of
originality in naming my projects.Until now, I could blame this on others.I don’t think “Cable-wise Cashmere” is a particularly good
name for Sweater #1.It is dull,
and I am not using cashmere.Cable-wise Silk & Merino is hardly any better, so I stuck with the
designer’s name.On Sweater #2,
Barbara Abbey calls the stitch pattern “Fancy Cable”.This too is dull.I have knitted lots fancier cables, and this really is just glorified
2x2 ribbing—the main reason I’ve barreled along on it.It if were truly a fancy cable, I’d be
only a few inches over the bottom ribbing.
Saddled with such boring chores as finding and adding up
receipts and evaluating book reviews on my current work project, my mind leapt
to the more prosaic task of finding a better name for Sweater #2.I have decided to call it Arbor Rose.Why this name I hope you will
ask?Well, it is hard to get through
Valentine’s Day without seeing roses plastered everywhere, and so they no doubt
invaded my psyche.I don’t have
many decorative objects in my office, but every year I do get a pretty
calendar.This year I departed
from my backyard birds (I didn’t want Addi and Larry Bird to get jealous) and
garden scenes for one of artistic flower photos.This is February:
The calendar features photos of Christopher Gruver, and you
can see his others here.
After staring at the stitch pattern, it did remind me of the diamond-shaped lattice you’d find in an arbor, and the cables, which are made from a 5x5 cross
on stockinette, look quite like the shape of Gruver’s opening rosebud.
And so I have catapulted my sweater naming from pedestrian
to artistic in a single bound.
If I get requests for the pattern, as I have for Ed’s
sweater, I’m prepared to write it up in different sizes and offer it on
Ravelry.Will Arbor Rose be more
popular than Sweater #2?I guess a
rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I think Arbor Rose will be
My third sweater, knit in about 1967, was a cabled tennis
sweater.It was the first one that
really fit the way it ought to and the first that I was proud to say I
knit. It also ushered in a
lifetime of cable knitting.My
favorite kinds of knitting are cables and lace, and cables definitely have a
I’m also not the kind of knitter who cables without a
needle.Sure, I do simple twists
without a needle, but if I’m manipulating two or more stitches, I need a cable
hook or needle.And so, over the
time I’ve been knitting, I have acquired quite a few—and they’re all in use.
The top cable needle was my first, and I used that style for
at least 20 years.The aluminum
hook complemented my collection of hollow aluminum needles (Boye or Susan
Bates), that I eagerly put aside when I discovered the matte gray Milward
needles in England, and Inox needles shortly after that.But I never did get a matte gray cable
hook, and I don’t know if they existed.So I continued to use the aluminum cable hook, which is the size of a
U.S. 1 (2.25 mm) needle. And I still use it for knitting on fine yarn.
I like Clover accessories, and when I saw the plastic hooks (probably in the 1980s),
I snatched them up. The smallest hook (the green one) is 3 mm, the white is U.S. 6, and the pink is
U.S. 8 (5 mm).
When I tried the corresponding version that is straight with
the dip to hold the stitches, I liked them much better.Until that point, I’d put the stitches
on the hook and return them to my needles.With the straight version, I’d knit right off the cable
needle, speeding up my knitting.I
wish these came in a smaller size, but the green and white needles work for most
Having discovered the benefits of knitting right off the
cable needle, I wanted to try the cable needles that Knit Picks now
has to complement their Harmony needle line.I love the Harmony needles, and I hoped that the cable
needles would also be as satisfactory.They arrived yesterday along with a few additions to my knitting book
collection.The smallest size is a
U.S. 3 (3.25 mm), the next is 4 mm, and the big one is 10 U.S. (6 mm).I rarely knit with needles over size 8,
and so the big one won’t get much use (as is also the case for the biggest size
of the Clover cable hooks and needles).I’ll be trying out the middle size on Sweater #2, which should be my
main project by next week.I have
high hopes for these—the points are tapered beautifully and they have a nice
I am still on the lookout for cable needles that could
replace my aluminum hook for use on finer yarn, like that I’d use for socks.
Certain words amuse me.Because I spend much of my day trying to make academic prose
understandable to beginning students, I’m attuned to jargon.When possible, I try to use everyday
words instead, and in the realm of the book I’m working on, I can make convincing
arguments to replace such offensive expressions as “bottomlinewise”, “distributional
effect”, and “adolescent transitional status”.I don’t do as well in real life, although I wish I could
expunge grotesque terms that creep into popular speech.If I ever became dictator that
would be my first pronouncement—anyone who used “bottomlinewise”or any other word on the official
do-not-use list would be subject to capital punishment.Back in about 1971 when I lost my job,
I began to freelance.On a
subsequent job interview, my soon-to-be colleague asked me how I got the work,
and I said that I simply called everyone I knew and asked for assignments.It was only decades later that I
discovered this was “networking”—a word I never use.I frequently did two or more things at once, and only in
recent decades learned that this was “multitasking”.
I decided to start Sweater #2 before finishing Sweater
#1.This is not startitis, but
prudent use of my time (and definitely not multitasking). And I am not succumbing to second-sleeve syndrome (say that fast a few times). The Tess Silk & Wool takes about
two days to dry, and even though I have a way to go to finish Sleeve #2
I will be left with knitless nights if I don’t have
something to work on while it is blocking.So I started my original sweater design in the Aurora 8 yarn
that I recently acquired.
doesn’t look like much yet, but I thought it was impressive that I got this far
on the bottom ribbing one night’s knitting, in addition to planning out the
body with the help of my very large swatch.Well, things will require
some effort after I reach the armholes, but I know what it will look like until
I get there.
I am using the measurements and shape from Sweater #1 as a
guide, but I’m letting the pattern stitch do the shaping for me.The plain ribbing will extend about 5
inches below the waist, and then I’ll start the knot cables.This pattern pulls in a lot, and it
will give me a fitted bodice without any fuss.
There was another important second in our household this
weekend.My son has decided to
play competitive Scrabble, and he went to his first contest—coming in
second!Not bad for his first try.I always thought I was a pretty good
wordsmith, and I taught him all I knew when he was just a teen. Now I’m downgraded to a “living room player”, which is how the
competitive players view those of us who simply play a good, modestly friendly
game.Much to Will’s dismay,
I stubbornly stick to playing words I know and can use in a sentence, and not
those arcane words in the Scrabble Dictionary.He should know better than to think otherwise.
Despite my years of knitting, I have never made a sweater in
the round until Sweater #1.For
you purists, this isn’t quite “in the round” because I only knit the body that
way until the armholes and then back and forth to the neck.This was a good plan, although I didn’t
realize how good at the outset, because the Tess Silk & Merino is very soft
and a seam would add some very ugly bulk at the sides.When I tried on the body over the
unfashionably baggy jeans that I find so comfortable to work in, the belt loops
stuck out on the front.When I
finally model it, I will wear something with a smoother front.What is more worrisome are the blobs of
fat that stuck out on the back, confirming my hunch that loosing a few pounds
would be a great idea.
Because the body looked so smooth without a seam, I thought
I’d attempt a seamless sleeve—also a first for me.I don’t have circular KnitPicks Harmony needles in size US 4
in a small enough diameter to knit sleeves in the round, and I don’t have Harmony DPNs
in size 4 either. (That problem was fixed last night, when I added them to my 40%-off book purchases.) I substituted
my Brittany Birch needles instead, and used them for the forearm and biceps
Dumb luck entered my design decision (the knitting gods were
asleep at the switch here because everything worked out perfectly the first
time).Because there are 10-stitch
panels on the front separated by a column of purls, I mirrored that on the
underside of the sleeve, separating the panels with a column of purls where a
seam would be.This makes a nice
“mock” seam, and if I ever knit sleeves like this again, I will use a column of
purls in the same way.
These are fitted sleeves with a cap, and so the traditional
sleeve with a flat top that fits into a drop shoulder wouldn’t work for
me.When I got to the underarm, I
again started to knit flat.This
is a bit fiddly for the first bunch of decreases, and I worked with two
circular needles (back and forth, as you would for straight needles) to keep
the stitches from pulling.After
about an inch or so, I just used one circ.I am really pleased with this construction, which I haven’t
seen described anywhere else. My sleeve now looks like one that would have been knitted flat, except that the underarm seam is completed.
And now for the final “first”.I haven’t taken shots in the mirror until today.Because it is freezing outside,
and I didn’t want to torture Ed with instructions on how to use the camera as I
stood there shivering, I resorted to the quick-and-dirty bathroom pic.Here is the modeled, unblocked
It really seems to be exactly right.The sleeve will expand a little when
blocked, just as the body did, and the only seaming I’ll have left is to attach
the sleeves to the armholes.So
now it is on to Sleeve #2.