Knitalong FO No. 4: Karen Templer

Knitalong FO No. 4: Karen Templer

This is pretty silly, but since I’ve been doing all of the other #fringeandfriendsknitalong panelist FO posts as interviews — and to help me organize my copious thoughts on this — I’ve interviewed myself for today’s post! Please forgive me—

Your sweater looks a lot like the pattern photo but you actually made several modifications. Can you summarize them?

– Minor details: tubular cast-on, and I worked the diamond cables so they twist toward each other instead of all one direction
– Knitted it at a tighter gauge, so I knitted a larger size to get the finished dimensions I wanted
– Added a pair of reverse-stockinette stitches flanking each diamond panel (in other words, one stitch to the outside of each of those slipped-stitch borders) to give me a little more wiggle room in my final measurements
– Also added extra stitches in the lower back, to give me the extra width I need across the hips
– Because my row gauge was also smaller, I re-charted the yoke to give me more rows (to meet the schematic’s yoke depth) and re-charted the neck shaping while I was at it
– And I did not cast on the button bands along with the waist ribbing — I left that out and did picked-up button bands instead

Weren’t you hell-bent on doing vertical button bands with a ribbon backing and all that?

I was. Then I knitted this sweater — and nothing but this sweater — for four straight months, and to be honest, I wanted to be done. And specifically I wanted to wear it to TNNA, the trade show, and the only way that was going to happen in the time allotted was to pick up the bands rather than seaming them on. I can always pull them out and change them, but I’m actually really happy with how they turned out.

With all the stitch patterning, I thought it would be nice for the bands to have a distinctive edge, so instead of binding off in pattern, I bound off all stitches knitwise from the wrong side, so what you see is just the edge of that row of bound-off stitches. I love it.

What happened to that whole shawl-collar idea?

I’m super jealous of all the shawl-collar versions that came out of this knitalong — Meg really should lock hers up when I visit. But it became clear that this sweater was going to be somewhere between fitted and too small, and I think a shawl-collar sweater wants to be a little slouchy. Plus I thought back to the impetus for all of this and what I wanted was an ivory crewneck cardigan to replace a retired one, so that’s what I did.

You were knitting for Team Seam, yeah? Are you happy you chose that path?

Yes, I knitted the five separate pieces (two fronts, two sleeves, one back) and then, as written in the pattern, joined them at the underarm and worked the yoke seamlessly. Like Kate, I’m a little puzzled at this approach, since the raglan seams are maybe the most important ones, structurally. And if you’re seaming, why not seam the whole thing? But I was planning to rewrite the neck shaping and, if I didn’t get it right on the first try, it was going to be a million times easier to rip back and adjust if it was one seamless piece. So I went ahead and did that. But then I did something I’ve never done before (although surely someone, somewhere has) — I went back in and seamed the seamless raglan.

Sorry, you did what now?

The raglan “seam” for this sweater is just one stitch in reverse stockinette, which seems really vulnerable to me. It looks nice as you’re knitting it, but I could just imagine it stretching out and looking, um, less good over time. I think it’s more a concern with my fabric than for those who used light, fluffy wools at pattern gauge. Rather than go any further into how or why I did that, I’ll save it for a separate post, because it’s a concept I’m really excited about and will be doing some pontificating about.

But meanwhile, yes, I’m very happy the sweater is fully seamed because I want it to last and keep its shape as long as it possibly can, especially given the time I’ve invested. Like, I hope my great-nieces wear it someday.

You mentioned your fabric — you opted to knit this is in a wool-cotton blend, O-Wool Balance. Are you happy with that choice?

Totally! I wanted this to be a 3-season sweater, and I’m so glad I did that because I would hate to be limited to wearing this only in the depths of winter. It’s too good to be packed away! Cotton is weightier and less elastic than wool, and because I also knitted it at finer gauge, my sweater looks really different from the wooly ones. I might need a wooly one someday. But I love the Balance and how it turned out — the fabric is cozy and lovely without being dense or hot. Exactly what I wanted.

So is there anything you’d change?

If I had it to do over again, I would have been less impatient by the time I got to the neck. I specifically charted the neck shaping (see below) in such a way that the slant of the decreases could be maintained beyond the fronts and into the sleeve tops. So if I felt like the neck needed to be higher and smaller, I could just keep knitting and decreasing. I don’t like it when the back neck of a sweater is too wide — I think that’s when it slides around while you’re wearing it. I’m happy with my neck shaping — the actual curve of it — I just wish I had kept going for a few more rows to keep raising and narrowing it at the back. But it’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of how happy I am with this sweater.

I learned to knit so I could make this sweater — this is what I wanted to be able to do. The fact that it was knitted in the virtual company of so many good friends and readers is icing on the cake. As I was binding off the neck in a hotel room in Phoenix, I became aware of the fact that the sweater started with Anna and me accosting a stranger at Midway last summer on our way to Squam, and ended with me knitting the neck while at TNNA again with Anna, with lots else in between. So I really don’t have words for what all is knitted into this sweater. The difference between it and some anonymous factory-made sweater is genuinely indescribable.

Knitalong FO No. 4: Karen Templer

There are more photos on my Ravelry project page. And Anna and Rebekka are still knitting, so stay tuned! (I can’t believe I’m not last!)

Bleached horn buttons and Knitters Graph Paper Journal from Fringe Supply Co., of course. Photos by my darling husband.

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: A different way to shape a sweater

58 thoughts on “Knitalong FO No. 4: Karen Templer

  1. Awesome finished sweater Karen.

    I also learned to knit so I could knit a cardigan, like one that I used to wear almost daily when I was in my teens. In fact I learned to knit by knitting the cardigan. Learning how to knit and purl on 2×2 ribbing was interesting, but I did end up with a perfect sweater…albeit a little too scratchy for my preference.

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  2. Your sweater looks wonderful. I know it is going to see lots of wear. Thanks for explaining your mods because I learned things I never would have even thought of. The bind off for the button band is a real jewel. I don’t know how you thought of it, but thanks for sharing.

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    • I don’t either, really. I happened to have taken notice at some point recently (must have been a Bellows swatch, since that’s all I’ve knitted in ages) that the bind-off leans toward the side of the fabric it’s worked from, and that it looked nice from the other side. When I was working my first band, I was thinking about the unfortunate stretchiness of a band like this and wondering if an all-knit or all-purl edge would be firmer and more stable. But I don’t like the way it looks. But oh, remember, it does look good if worked from the wrong side, and seemed to make sense aesthetically with the sweater. So I tried it and liked it!

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  3. Hi Karen, Potential Thought #7: I notice the way the sweater hangs in the back from the shoulders that it needs more space across and more length. The reason I notice this is because I have a slight hump back and had to account for it when I made sweaters. You can see that the sweater is pulling and causing the bottom back to rise higher than the bottom front. Did I miss you adding short rows here too? Otherwise, the sweater is stunning and you can never go wrong with Jocelyn’s O-wool choices.

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    • I appreciate the feedback, Lynn. I didn’t put in any short rows, but I did put in extra width across the lower back, as mentioned, and it’s actually too wide, if anything. It’s a bit swingy, so rather than riding up, as you’re perceiving it in that photo, it’s swinging outward.

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    • P.S. I have seamed seamless sweaters, too. I love knitting in the round, but I also find seams to be a good thing, so I combine them. It is especially a good practice for less elastic yarns. I will be interested to see your follow-up on that subject.

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  4. Nice work, beautifully finished. And it looks so good on you. Mine is drying, stills needs seaming. I hope it looks as good as yours. You continue to inspire me.

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  5. I started my “knit-along” a few weeks after everyone else with a completely different pattern. I am encouraged that you are just now done (beautiful results, too!) since it doesn’t make me feel so far behind. I finished last night with the sleeves, so all that’s left is the sewing and the band. A two day drive (up and back) from Central California to Spokane really gave the knitting time a boost! And now I’m almost done…the new yarn I ordered for the “Uniform” sweater which you posted and I fell in love with arrived yesterday–perfect!

    This has been a big deal for me. It’s the first full sweater I have done that looks like I will be able to wear (sizing has always been such an issue.) I used a less expensive but good quality yarn, and my success has inspired me to buy a beautiful merino/alpaca yarn for my next project. And it might still be cool enough to wear the one I am just finishing!

    Thank you for the virtual encouragement!

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  6. That’s a beautiful sweater, you must be so happy to have finished it! I’m working on my first sweater right now, and have been reading all of your sweater construction posts. Thanks for offering so much helpful and sensible advice! I’d love to hear how you seamed the seamless raglan shoulders. I’m now looking critically at my sweater and wondering how strong they will be…

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  7. Wow, beautifully done, Karen! I love that you interviewed yourself (and shared all that precious info). It makes a lot of sense to give your seamless “seam” a little extra reinforcement – I’m curious, did it draw-in the seam any? Your neck and button band cast-off looks really lovely. In case you might ever like to try something new, I have also had much success with my own (un-vented, and probably completely unoriginal) cast off version of 1×1 ribbing bands by knitting the purl and the knit stitches together (in that order from right to left on the left needle so that the knit stitch visually dominates the two stitches knit together) as I work the stitches to be cast off, making sure the new stitch made on the right hand needle stays loose enough so that the cast off edge of the band lies flat. It can take a bit of fiddling at first to get the tension just right, but I find casting off this way keeps the ribbing nice and flat and stable so that it doesn’t stretch and open with wear, something that really annoys me. It also gives a nice clean edge, like yours, always a definite bonus:)
    Thank you for sharing the progress of this KAL, it was really enjoyable to watch these sweaters come to life.

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  8. I am in awe. I, too, learned to knit so I could knit a sweater like that. I’m a long way from being there yet, but you inspire me every day. Keep up the great work.

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  9. Wow, Karen. Really nice job! I learned so much from this KAL and I didn’t even knit this sweater. Mostly I learned that, as in cooking, the pattern, or “recipe,” can be a jumping off point to make the finished object your own and that it really is OK to take risks. I am grateful for all that you and your panelists have shared with us.

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  10. It’s fantastic. You should be so proud (clearly you are) and if you’re not wearing this every second day I’d be shocked. Not only is it beautifully knit, but it’s such a classic piece that it’s the kind of gorgeous piece your grand nieces will probably fight over the right to wear!

    (I’m also looking forward to your seamless/seamed raglan post. I tend to like the way raglan shoulders fit, but I hate the way they stretch, so I am intrigued.)

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  11. Oh wow! This is the first of the FOs that I have thought “oooh, I could use one of those!” (Not because the others weren’t beautiful mind, just because where I am it would probably only be cold enough to wear them one day a year.) Love this iteration.

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  14. It’s gorgeous! Love how it looks on you and how you’ve styled it. Great choice of yarn, also. I will be taking a page out of your book and will be making a three seasons cardigan with that yarn. I think that the crew neck works beautifully with the proportions of the cardigan (that’s why I chose to not work the shawl collar even though I absolutely love Meg’s version).

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