My birthday present to myself: A new sweater!
Posted by Amber on December 30, 2008
I guess doing the same thing for two years in a row makes a tradition, right? So my new tradition is to have a new sweater for my birthday!
It still needs a good name. I have it in ravelry as “Lucy planted firmly on the ground” (there’s a story, there’s always a story)
The yarn is Shelridge Farms W4 in “Pink Lemonade” – I’m worried it’s a little too pink, in the “I’m 5 and I love princesses and I want a pony for my birthday!” sort of way. But Judy says that with my new haircut [hair: here/here; I couldn't turn 27 with bad hair] it just looks very preppy). I like preppy. I’m not usually preppy, but I’m also not 5 and I don’t love princesses (but a pony would rock). I thought about trying to overdye to get a darker raspberry, but I don’t have enough yarn to really make test swatches. Prep wins.
Needles: US 7; gauge 4.75 st/inch, 6 rows/inch.
The name story: I LOVE Laura Chau’s (CosmicPluto) “Lucy in the Sky” – I’m simply too stupid to knit it. I’ve tried several times. I can’t keep track of when I need to do a knit stitch on the wrong side. I even tried doing it in the round with the intent to steek (looked much too big after about 3 inches). There’s not a single thing wrong with the pattern, I just can’t count to save my life and couldn’t get the diamonds right. So the yarn went back in the yarn closet for a while.
So then, I was knitting a pair “Diagonal Cross Rib Socks” [ravlink] in “Favorite Socks” and it had a twist stitch pattern, which had me thinking how if I did twist stitches going in two ways I could get diamonds.
And then, while looking for a motif for a hat in Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns I found Knit-Twist Lattice” (page 149, original hardback printing), which is for a multiple of 16+2 (which, by the way, different from multiple of 18. I’m a dumbass whether or not I’m following a pattern it seems!) So I could do 16*11+2=178 (divide by 4.75 = 37.5 inches) or 16*12+2=194 divided by 4.75=40.8 inches. I decided to do a little more ease than I’d originally planned, and went with 194.
I sort of followed the Elizabeth Zimmermann Percentage system … only not really, since I’ve never actually read anything beyond the picture with the percentages. But it’s sort of intuitive. I wanted little to no ease, so I went with a number very close to my bust.
Actually, I had wanted to make it all Barbara Walker, all the way – I was worried about running out of yarn and was going to do the sweater top down, so that I could make the sleeves shorter, if necessary. But I couldn’t figure out how to start the pattern at the neck/shoulder edge, and have it expand out to where the edge of the lattice would be at the edge of the seed stitch button band. So to get around this, I did a provisional cast on for the number of stitches to fit my bicep, and worked about one inch, then put those on a holder. (In my case, 14″*4.75=66.5, and I rounded down to 66.)
(As close as I have to a picture of the sleeve – this was post join, pre-sleeve-down knitting)
Okay, so I cast on for the body (194 stitches), and working flat — worked seed stitch for one inch, then work the body until it’s as long as I want the sweater to be. Even though it’s a cardigan, I can think of there being a front and a back – 97 stitches on each side. 97/2 = 48.5 – so 49 stitches for each of the fronts and 96 for the back. I wanted 10 stitches at the underarm where the sleeve joins the body (I find this reduced bulk in the armpit – but I’ve seen lots of other patterns that have you just join straight across), so I knit over the first 44 stitches, put the next 10 on a holder, joined the sleeve, working 56 sleeve stitches and putting 10 sleeve stitches on a holder. Worked 86 stitches on the back, next 10 on a holder, join the second sleeve, and then work the last 44 front stitches.
Now I had to decrease the sleeves and front neckline (I like deep, wide v-neck sweaters). I had 44 front stitches and 56 sleeve stitches. For a raglan you take away two sleeve stitches at a time, and I wanted them to be about 1.5 to 2 inches wide at the top (so, 8 to 10 stitches) – 46 stitches eliminated, or 23 decrease rows. But every row will also eat one front stitch, and I want a few stitches at the neck edge when I finish, so I can’t decrease at the same rate on the neck edge and the sleeve edge. I sat down with some graph paper and plotted a few different rates of decreasing, before settling on decrease every RS row 5 times, then do a plain (no neck-edge decrease) on the 6th RS row. This way I’d decrease 20 stitches on the neck-edge, 23 stitches on the sleeve-edge, ending with 3 front stitches. (3 front stitches, 10 sleeve stitches and 40 back stitches; 66 stitches total, for 13.9 inches).
(As an aside – has I been a better planner, I’d have figured out a way to get the lattice to run along the very edge of the neck better. Wasn’t worth ripping again.)
I could have easily decreased the sleeves and front at the same rate, and done 22 rows of decreases instead of 23 – the yoke would be a little shorter, and I’d have had 2 front stitches, 12 sleeve stitches and 42 back stitches — or 70 stitches total, which would be 14.7 inches).
(Also, the first time I was knitting the yoke, I realized I had cast on 66 stitches for one sleeve, and only 56 for the other sleeve. I realized this after about 12 decreases in the yoke. There was much cursing.)
So then I picked up stitches from the front edge, around the neck, and down the other edge, with 8 3-stitch button holes. On the one hand, 8 button holes over 15 inches was probably too much. On the other hand, it sort of pulls as it is, so fewer button holes would probably make that worse. And I love the buttons I found (at G Street Fabrics; but I also found some awesome ones at ButtonDrawer.com)
This is where I feel so clever. After finishing the button bands, I weighed my remaining yarn, split it into two equal balls, and unpicked my provisional cast on from the sleeve, and knit the sleeves until I was almost out of yarn, ending with another one inch (6 rows) of seed stitch to match the cast on and button band. I had already knit one inch of plain stockinette, so I knit one more inch, then I began decreasing about every 6 rows (one inch) on either side of a center maker. I did that 5 times (10 stitches decreased) which was just about right for a comfortable fit around my elbow (neither too tight and constricting nor too loose and breezy). They ended up a very nice elbow length. Which is sort of silly for a wool sweater, on the other hand I push my sleeves up all the time anyway, so now I just won’t have fabric bunches around my sleeves.