subtitle: finding sweater mojo
For several years now I’ve struggled to find sweater mojo. Where’s my groove? I cast on sweaters. I frog sweaters. Sometimes I frog them before they get very far and sometimes they are near completion before I finally toss in the towel.
Back in May 2010 I cast on the Nonpareil from the fine folks at Berroco. I bought a full bag of neutral colored lush yarn, Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed (85% Wool, 10% Silk, 5% Cashmere) because I wanted this sweater to be my go-to sweater on crisp fall and winter days. The yarn is just what I wanted it to be. The pattern was interesting and the band was entertaining to knit. There were very few finished sweaters in Ravelry when I began mine because the pattern was fairly new. Because the sweater is knit flat I couldn’t try it on until I’d knit 3/4 of the garment. The band hit entirely too high on my ribs and the arm hole was very small. I fussed and growled then decided to add a little saddle across the shoulders which would both drop the band from just below the bust to near the waist and lengthen the armhole opening. I tried it on again and then stuffed it deep in the basket below several other projects that were hibernating.
In April 2012 I stumbled upon the Stasis Pullover from Brooklyn Tweed and again I was sweater-smitten. Knowing that the Nonpareil was still hiding out in the bottom of a basket I thought I’d try not to get too emotionally attached to the Stasis before I knew if it would work for me. I called it a sleeve, not a sweater, just to lessen my degree of commitment. The Stasis is knit sleeves first then bottom up in the round. Our local alpaca llama yarn gave me good gauge and I liked the idea of knitting with yarn from animals I’d met. It’s soft and supple yarn and would make a great sweater. The sleeve of Stasis went fairly quickly. So quickly in fact that I knit most of it without trying it on until I was ready to set it aside and begin the second. That’s when I realized that the sleeve was about four inches longer than needed. The circumference was fine but when pulled up to where it would join the body the ribbed cuff dangled near my fingertips. I ripped it back and began again…then quickly lost steam. What if I knit the sleeves then the body and the body was too long? The first sleeve was stuffed in its project bag. Alone.
For several weeks my friend Linda had been asking if I had a deep red yarn that she could use for the Vitamin D cardigan. I looked and for some reason I hadn’t yet dyed the Spring Valley VFD colorway in PathWays. I suggested she swatch with some leftover yarn from socks and see if the gauge was close enough. Vitamin D calls for a sport weight yarn and PathWays is a heavy fingering weight, just a bit shy of sport on WIP (wraps per inch). Since I happened to have a small ball of leftover yarn on my desk from a pair of recently finished socks I did the same, just out of curiosity. My gauge was spot on with a size 4US needle. Linda got gauge with PathWays as well.
Vitamin D is a modern-style cardigan with raglan sleeves and short rows that give a nice cascading front. What really grabbed my attention was that the garment was constructed top down with sleeves attached. All in one piece! I could try it on as I knit and make any necessary modifications as I went along.
Ding, ding, ding!
Maybe this is what I needed! I wound one ball of PathWays yarn in colorway Rumplestilskin (because I just LOVE the warm gold color) but pulled three more from the same dyelot and put them in a big project bag. While I was willing to give the pattern a try and felt pretty sure that I had found a good solution to the fitting problems I’d been having with previous sweaters I was going to play it safe.
There is a ton of stockinette in Vitamin D, all knit flat. I cast on September 22nd. That was a week ago yesterday. The pattern is well-written and easy enough to follow as long as you highlight your size (there are seven sizes) throughout the pattern before you begin. I did that but discovered I also needed to mark out the sizes that weren’t mine just to guide my eyes to the right place.
As you can see from the photo below I’ve already separated for the sleeves and am maybe halfway through that first sleeve. Because I was able to try the sleeve on while it is attached to the shoulder join I could see how it falls. It fits great around the upper arm. My very narrow wrists would look scrawny if they dangled out of a wide sleeve, so I’ll modify the decreases as it approaches the wrist to make it narrower. Being able to solve this problem in advance makes me pretty happy and I know it would save time and frustration later.
Day before yesterday I wound all of the yarn for Vitamin D.
I think I may have finally found my sweater mojo.