You might recall that back in December I posted a list of what was next in the knitting queue. I am sticking roughly with that plan except that the gorgeous blue Stacy Charles cashmere has been pulled until next winter. I just didn't anticipate that it would take me two months to finish the striped cardigan, and I thought the cashmere would be a quickie winter project. Now I feel it is too late to begin it and actually enjoy wearing it, so I am putting it on hold.
I started knitting my swatches right after I finished the previous sweater, but it took me a couple of tries to get the cocoon stitch, which you see on the yoke and the sleeve cuffs right. The first time I was too tight and was having a terrible time with those repeated "p5 tog" stitches. Now that is not that unusual, that I knit tighter in the gauge swatch than I do when actually knitting the garment, so having one run through the pattern one time, when I went to larger needles and tried again, the whole thing was too loose and floppy, but at least my fingers got used to the pattern.
On gauge and ready to go, I decided to approach this pattern a little differently than usual.
I've been working with a shirt muslin and doing so has made me think about fit more. Now I know knits are different than wovens, and the stretchiness of the knitted fabric makes up for a lot of things, but I wanted to really think about the shape of this garment, the size, and how it would really fit me. I decided to use the information I have learned in my sewing experiments and see if I could knit an even better sweater. After measuring, thinking about it, and marking all my changes to the pattern, there were so many cross-outs, starred passages telling me to go to the back of the page, and general rewrites that I figured I just might as well rewrite the pattern the way I was going to knit it. The whole process, fitting, marking, and rewriting took me the better part of two days. I don't yet know if it was worth the effort. The worst thing that can happen? It doesn't work and I learn a lot.
I started with my usual adjustments, which were confirmed as necessary in my fitting class last November: namely I took out about 3/4 of an inch at the center back, just below the waist, tapering to nothing at the side seams, I do this with short rows. I also add 3/4 of an inch in length at the center front over the bust, again tapering to nothing at the side seams.
When working on blouses, I also learned that I needed to add 1 inch at the center back above the shoulder blades so the neckline of my shirt would sit at the proper place. Since taking that class I have noticed that many of my sweaters dip to the back in the same way, so I added that dart to the center of my back after I had begun the armhole shaping, at about the level of the scapulas.
After all this I looked at the actual dimensions of the sweater, and compared them to my actual dimensions. Inspired by "Mother Daughter Knits" and my pattern experiments, I checked the shoulder width, the sleeve length, and where the waist shaping occurs in the pattern compared to where it occurs on me. This led to another series of changes in the pattern, including making the sweater bigger at the hem in back, to cover my bum, which also meant increasing the number of decreased stitches before reaching the waist, and making the fronts comparatively smaller at the hips.
Now that all the math is done I am finally knitting. I'm in the middle of the back waist shaping and have just finished the short rows for that scooping-out at the center back. So far, it is going well.
Will it all yield a better sweater? I honestly don't know, but I hope so. Call it a grand experiment.