With the big Fall knitalong each year (Amanda, Cowichan and now Top-Down) I always interview the panelists about their finished sweaters — and I have this silly tradition of including myself in that. But with my top-down sweaters generally, I always give you guys all of my numbers and details. Which means you’re getting two posts from me about this sweater: the q&a today and the details in a week or two. [UPDATE: Here are those details] In the interest of full disclosure, I still have one side seam to finish, the neckband to sew down, and the ends to weave in, but I’ll take proper modeled photos and have those along with the detail post soon. Cool?
Of the four panelists, your sweater is the most unlike what you were planning at the outset, which was an ivory cable sweater. What happened there?
I wrote about how I got from the one plan to the other in I’m joining the start-over club, but the short version is no matter how great that ivory sweater was going to be, it wasn’t the right addition to my closet. So I scrapped it and started over.
And how are you feeling about that decision in retrospect?
It was probably the smartest decision of my knitting life so far. Especially after doing that whole wardrobe planning week recently — where I looked at what I have in my closet, what’s missing, and what I could make for myself that would have a real impact — I feel really great about adding this striped sweater to the mix. Stripes are a minimalist/introvert’s version of color and pattern, and I love how bold I went with these stripes. It’s a sweater you’ll see coming a mile away, and yet it still feels like me. And it will really jazz up my outfit options in the same way my Cowichan-ish vest does. They’re the two things I’ve made that light me up the most — and that light up my closet.
How does the yarn feel about that decision in retrospect?
The yarn couldn’t be happier! It was making really beautiful cabled fabric — a little bit to my surprise, honestly. When I was thinking about sweater concepts for this knitalong, I started from the question of what yarn would I like to use, and I’ve been wanting to knit with Pebble since its inception. When I swatched for the cable sweater idea, I was thrilled that the Pebble seemed to lend itself to that so nicely. But when I switched to stockinette, I could really appreciate the character of this yarn. It is just so light and soft and fascinating, really, and in stockinette it gets to be just that. The sweater is a dream — it’s the thinnest and nicest sweater I’ve ever made, but warm and cozy. Every time I tried it on along the way, I couldn’t stand having to take it off. And it couldn’t be more perfect for this stripe concept — it’s a beautiful (read: non-yellow) shade of ivory and the most gorgeous soft black, both with some depth due to the heatheriness that comes from the different fibers taking the dye slightly differently. Together they are just heaven. And I love that it’s partially recycled fiber. So enormous thanks to Shibui for providing me with this yarn and also for donating one of the prizes for the knitalong.
It looks like an extremely straightforward top-down raglan sweater — like, textbook example. Are there ways in which you diverted from the basic top-down recipe?
Of course! I didn’t do anything tricky with the raglans themselves because I wanted a really clean miter on the stripes, so I just increased at all points every other row for a straight 45° raglan. But of course I did baste them — so I just worked one basting stitch at each raglan, with a kfb in the stitch on either side of the basting stitch. And because those increases were going to meet at the seam when I sewed it up, I didn’t want to risk any looseness or sloppiness at all in switching from a purl to a kfb — so I did the basting stitch in stockinette rather than my usual reverse stockinette stitch. That meant (especially in the black parts!) it was harder to see that stitch to seam it up, but I think it was worth it.
I also took advantage of the basting stitch and did my color change on that stitch, so it disappeared into the raglan seam and I didn’t have to worry about “jogless stripes” or anything. And I did a folded neckband, which I love — it looks so polished, especially in this yarn.
I did a basting stitch (reverse stockinette this time) at each side seam. And I worked the sleeves flat, which was especially great in this case! The stripes made for the perfect opportunity to go back and forth between the two sleeves, since I was breaking the yarn anyway. So I’d work an ivory stripe on each sleeve, then a black one on each sleeve, etc. Two-at-a-time sleeves mean less need to keep track of what you did because you’re just going to go do it on the other sleeve a minute later. And with that and the stripes, they felt like they went super fast!
So why did it take so long? Didn’t you cast on for this in mid-September?
I think so, yeah. I was making really fast progress on it initially, and then with Slow Fashion October and extreme holiday-prep madness (I’m a retailer, you know) it got very little attention between mid-Oct and early December, at which point it really picked up steam. But also, this is the most stitches I’ve ever committed to one sweater for myself. It’s a lot of knitting at that gauge and my size. (5.75 sts/8.5 rows per inch — I know that seems huge to some of you.) I definitely had major project fatigue after three-ish months of dinky stockinette, but it was totally worth it. This sweater is magnificent. Now if only I had the patience to do it again in all black …
I’ll be back soon with all of the top-down stitch count specifics and so on, and Jen is still knitting! So we’ve got one more FO to go. Keep sharing your own progress on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed, and if you’re using my tutorial, make sure to link your project notes to the Improv pattern page on Ravelry!
PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: The WIPs of the Week that became FOs