My Sloper mods: Longer linen V-neck

My Sloper mods: Longer linen V-neck

If you’ve read through the Sloper pattern and notes and the posts about resizing and reshaping it (congratulations! phew), you’ll see that what I’ve charted above, for my #sloperKAL sweater, is a combination of all of that. Knitting with two strands of Kestrel* on US13 needles, my gauge is 2.75 sts/inch instead of 2.25, plus I want this one to be more like 40″ circumference at the chest, so for both of those reasons I’ll need a few more stitches than the pattern calls for. (Here’s my swatch.)

My row gauge is actually more like 4 sts/inch (based on my blocked swatch) than the pattern’s 3.75, but I know from my striped tank that this Kestrel fabric will grow as I’m wearing it. So for my calculations, I’m sticking with the pattern’s 3.75. Which means I only have to recalculate the stitches (widths) and not the rows (depths).

20″ x 2.75 sts per inch = 54 sts

Technically that’s 55, but I’m rounding down to 54 stitches each, front and back, because I want an even number of stitches. I also want this version to be A-line, more like 42″ at the hem, so I’ll cast on 58 stitches (which conveniently works with the multiple for the [2×2]+2 ribbing) and decrease twice (2 sts per decrease row) on my way to the underarms. I’m also planning to knit 15″ (56 rows) from cast-on to underarm, for a somewhat longer sweater. (The pattern is 11.5″ to the underarm.)

I want the armholes to be even narrower — the shoulders even wider — than the original version, so I’m sticking with 3 armhole stitches, which at this gauge will amount to just under an inch difference between the side and the armhole edge after seaming. And I also want the neck width to remain somewhere around 7″, which at my gauge of 2.75 sts/inch means 18 sts (rounded down from 19.25). So when you subtract my 6 (3+3) armhole stitches and 18 neck stitches from my 54 sts, that leaves 30 for the shoulders — 15 each. As you can see in my chart above—

3 armhole | 15 shoulder | 18 neck | 15 shoulder | 3 armhole

All of which I’ll match on the back piece. I still have a little more thinking to do about the decreases and edge treatment for my neckline (I’ll report back about that) but the above is all I needed to know to cast on!


I hope you’ve found this series of Sloper posts informative and inspiring, whether or not you plan to cast on a sweater for the #sloperKAL. But of course what I really hope is that you’ll take a leap and cast on!

(Fashionary sketch template and Knitters Graph Paper Journal from Fringe Supply Co.)


*I have no idea if doubled Kestrel is a good idea or not! I’m basically making chunky linen, which is a weird concept, on its face, and might result in a tank that turns into a dress over the course of a day — who knows! But I’m excited to find out. And I have no idea how much yarn it will require. I’ll let you know when I’m done with the first piece.

PREVIOUSLY: Sloper mods, part 2: Reshaping the pattern

Sloper mods, part 2: Reshaping the pattern

Sloper mods, part 2: Reshaping the pattern

As I mentioned on Monday, there are lots of variables you can toy with within the existing parameters of the Sloper pattern to change the look of it in many ways — from playing around with the fabric and the seams to choosing between the crewneck and turtleneck options given in the pattern. And yesterday we talked about ways to resize the pattern without really changing the look of it. So today, let’s talk about how to actually make changes to the shaping of the pattern in order to change the style of the finished garment. (Download the side-by-side comparison of these diagrams in PDF form.)


Sloper contains no waist shaping — it’s a straight-sided, boxy little number.

• For a more curvaceous, form-fitting sweater, add traditional hourglass shaping at the waist. That is, decrease as you approach the waist, then increase again as you head toward the bustline. (For how the math on this works, see Improv.)

• For A-line shaping, cast on more stitches — being mindful of the multiple for the ribbing — and decrease out the extra stitches gradually as you approach the underarms. (Again, see Improv for how to calculate the spacing.)

Sloper mods, part 2: Reshaping the pattern


Sloper has quite narrow armhole shaping — it’s designed such that the fabric reaches out fairly far on your shoulders, with armholes that just slightly nip in from the side seams.

Fig. A: For an even boxier look, you could leave out the armhole shaping altogether — just work the sides of the garment straight all the way up to the shoulder, leaving an 8.75″ gap for the armholes when you seam the sides together. (Note the corresponding adjustment at the shoulder, since the original 3 armhole sts and 10 shoulder sts are now all 13 shoulder sts.)

Fig. B: For a funkier look, mimic the camel version and make a squared-off armhole by binding off all three underarm stitches at once, rather than gradually.

Fig. C: For an armhole that cuts in farther, bind off more underarm stitches. You could bind off 2-3 on the first BO row(s), and/or work one or two additional bind-off rows, instead of just 3 per side. What you’re doing is taking stitches away from the shoulder, moving the armhole edge inward, so you’ll be left with equivalently fewer shoulder stitches to bind off. However many you’re left with, bind them off in halves. (So for example, the pattern has 3 armhole stitches and 10 shoulder stitches on each side. You could shift that, e.g., to 5 armhole stitches and 8 shoulder stitches, bound off 4 and 4.) Do the math to determine how wide your changes will leave your armhole and your shoulder, based on your gauge. (See yesterday’s post for more on all of that.)

Fig. D: If rather than the clean slipped-stitch armhole edge Sloper is designed with, you’d prefer to add ribbing or another picked-up edge treatment, you’ll need an equivalent amount of room for it. For example, if you want to add 1″-wide ribbing around the armhole, you’ll need to start the shaping 1″ sooner (3 or 4 rows at pattern gauge) and move it inward an inch, as we did in Figure C.

Sloper mods, part 2: Reshaping the pattern


Sloper is written with a basic round neck for a picked-up neck treatment that can be finished as either a crewneck or a turtleneck.

Fig. E: For a V-neck, pinpoint how low you want the V to be (by calculating desired depth and your row gauge) and mark the tip of the V on the chart at the dead center of the garment, counting downward the appropriate distance from the top. Then rather than binding off stitches gradually as for a round neck, simply work that separation row [marked (D) on the pattern front] to the center stitch, place that first half of the stitches on hold, then work to the end of the row. To create the V, decrease 1 stitch at the neck edge every other row until your desired neck width, then work even to the shoulders. Repeat the process in reverse for the left front.

Fig. F: For a scoop neck, begin the neck shaping sooner (based on how deep you want it to be, calculated by your desired depth and your row gauge), so the front neck edge sits lower.

What you do with your neck edge is also up to you — pick up stitches and work ribbing or garter, or work a few rounds and bind off for more of a rolled edge. Or work a sloped bind-off and slipped-stitch selvage, same as the armhole edge, for a clean edge with no further treatment.


By combining different variations of armholes and necklines, along with changing up the neck edging, you can create a wide variety of garments. For instance, if you combine a scoop neck (Fig. E) with Fig C-style carved out armholes, you’ll have turned it into a tank top, whereas Fig A boxy armholes and a deep V-neck would give you a completely different look. Or what if you did square armholes and a low square neck! (I.e., just bind off all the neck stitches at once rather than gradually.) And when you factor in making it longer or shorter, hourglass or A-line, the possibilities really are endless.

As noted yesterday, just make sure any changes you make to the front are matched identically on the back, so everything matches up properly (same number of armhole rows, same number of shoulder stitches) when it comes to seaming the pieces together.

So once again, I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Link your Ravelry projects to the Sloper pattern listing, and use the hashtag #sloperKAL to share your plans and progress on Instagram in the coming weeks.


PREVIOUSLY: Sloper mods, part 1: Resizing the pattern

Sloper mods, part 1: Resizing the pattern

Sloper mods, part 1: Resizing the pattern

Today I want to talk about how to resize the Sloper sweater, which is also in some sense how to resize anything. Stitches are building blocks: The dimensions of any piece of knitted fabric are a function of [stitch size x number of stitches], plain and simple. The width or circumference of the fabric is determined by [stitch width (aka “stitch gauge”) x number of stitches]; length is determined by [stitch height (aka “row gauge) x number of rows].

• If you want a garment to be larger than the pattern size, you either need larger stitches or more of them.

• If you want a garment to be smaller than the pattern size, you either need smaller stitches or fewer of them.

Those are your two options: change the gauge or change the stitch count. Both require some math and some thoughtfulness.


Again: smaller stitches and/or rows will create a smaller sweater. Larger stitches and/or rows will create a larger sweater. Keep in mind these two things are interdependent: smaller stitches will make a fabric that’s shorter as well as narrower; larger stitches will make a fabric that’s taller as well as wider. How much smaller/larger depends on the specifics. So if you want to knit at a slightly different gauge, you’ll need to do the math to determine the outcome—

• Width/circumference: Divide the pattern’s stitch count by your stitch gauge to find out how large it will turn out. [stitch count ÷ sts per inch = width]

• Height: For any stretch of knitting that’s given as a specific number of rows, divide the row count by your row gauge to find the measurement, and adjust as needed. [row count ÷ rows per inch = height] On the other hand, for any stretch of the pattern that is given in inches instead of rows, you’ll simply knit as many rows as it takes at your gauge to reach that height.

For example, if you’re knitting Sloper at 2 stitches/inch (instead of 2.25), the pattern’s 84 stitches (42 front and 42 back) will yield a circumference of 42″ (instead of 37.5″)*, but if your row gauge is correspondingly larger, you’re changing the height at the same time, which will affect the neck depth and armhole depth. So do the math to see if you need to make adjustments there, as noted in yesterday’s post.

If you just flat out want to knit at a totally different gauge, do the math to determine how many stitches and rows it will take to meet the dimensions, and remap the placement of the shaping accordingly. (Get out your graph paper!) One fairly simple thought is that if you were to knit at 4.5 sts per inch — exactly double the pattern gauge — all of the stitch counts would likewise be doubled. But you’d need to pay attention to your row gauge, again as above — do the math and see if you’d need to make adjustments, since your row gauge is not likely to be as neatly doubled.


The more refined option — and the better one if you want to change the size more than a little — is to knit at pattern gauge but manipulate the stitch counts to affect the finished size. In this case, the stitch and row counts are not interdependent: You can add width (stitches) without adding height (rows), and vice versa.

Row counts change height

If you simply want the garment to be longer or shorter, all you need to do is add or subtract rows. The only question is where. Generally, you want to adjust rows during a work-even portion (a straight-sided stretch) of the garment.

• To change the total garment length without affecting the armhole depth, work more/fewer rows between the hem and the underarms.

• To change the armhole depth without changing the neck depth, work more/fewer rows between the underarm shaping and the neck shaping. Changing the armhole depth will change the total length, so make sure the two component lengths — cast-on-to-underarm + underarm-to-shoulder — add up to your desired total.

• To change the neck depth without changing the armhole depth, shift where the neck shaping begins (moving it up or down however many rows) while keeping the total row count from underarm to shoulders the same.

Remember to make sure your front and back armholes are the same depth, and that your side seams also match up unless you’re deliberately making an uneven hemline. But the armholes must match, no matter what.

Stitch counts change width/circumference

The sweater is two pieces — a front and a back — and whatever you do to one, you’ll also do to the other. At 2.25 sts/inch, each stitch is .44″, so that’s how much extra width you get for every stitch you add.

If you want the garment to be just a couple of inches bigger than written, adding 4 stitches — one at each edge — will give you an additional 1.8″ in total circumference, and that’s super easy to do in Sloper’s case. Simply increase the cast-on by one stitch at each edge — CO 44 sts per piece instead of 42 — and then you’ll bind off two stitches instead of one on the initial underarm BO row(s). But you do need to think about what happens to the ribbing at the side seams as a result of those extra stitches. If you’re leaving a split hem, I would just work 3 knits instead of 2 at each end, working the edge stitch as a slipped-stitch selvage. If you’re seaming all the way to the hem, though, you’d wind up with 4 knits together at the side seams instead of 2. (Note that knitting in the round to the underarms would have the same effect, since you’d retain the 4 selvage stitches that would otherwise be lost into the seam allowance at the end.)

If you need to size up any farther than that, it requires a bit more effort—

Say you want the front and back to each be 22″ across. You’d need to cast on 50 sts per piece instead of the 42 the pattern calls for. [22 inches x 2.25 per inch = 49.5, round to 50] That means you’re working with 8 extra stitches for the front and 8 extra for the back, so you need to figure out where you’ll put them.

From the cast-on edge to the underarms, all that matters is how your additional stitches factor into the ribbing. The pattern calls for 2×2 ribbing, which requires [(a multiple of 4 sts) + 2 to keep it symmetrical] — so it starts and ends with two knits. Adding 8 stitches doesn’t change anything in that regard, because you’re adding a multiple of 4. But if your new count doesn’t divide equally into that equation, you need to either round to a number that does or adjust the ribbing to something that works with your count — could be 1×1 ribbing or 3×2, or not ribbing at all but garter stitch or something else. Whatever works for you and your stitch count.

Once you reach the underarms, however, the stitch distribution requires some thought. As shown above (click to enlarge), the 42 pattern stitches are divvied up as follows:

3 underarm | 10 shoulder | 16 neck | 10 shoulder | 3 underarm

To maintain the proportions of the pattern, you’d want to add your stitches proportionally, so in our 50-stitch (8 added stitches) example, perhaps they’d get distributed like this:

4 underarm | 12 shoulder | 18 neck | 12 shoulder | 4 underarm

In this way, you can add as many stitches as you need in order to make the garment pieces as wide as you want them to be. Do the math on each section to understand how wide your adjustment means your neck, shoulders and armholes will be. As you go larger, you’ll probably want to add more to the shoulders than the neck, so the neck doesn’t get overly wide. Note that changing the neck width and/or depth might affect how many stitches you pick up for your neck treatment, so compare those numbers (under Finishing on the pattern) to see where you might need to adjust.

If you specifically want to change the neck or armhole shaping a bit, you can distribute your stitches to accomplish that, and we’ll get into that in tomorrow’s post.

MOST IMPORTANT: Remember that your front and back pieces have to match when it comes time to seam them together, so any changes you make to the front stitch count and distribution need to be repeated identically for the back.

Again, I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Link your Ravelry projects to the Sloper pattern listing, and use the hashtag #sloperKAL to share your plans and progress on Instagram in the coming weeks.


*Again, bear in mind the seam allowance. Traditionally, mattress stitch is worked such that you lose one stitch at each edge (two stitches per seam) into the seam allowance. At this gauge, some people will work into the center of each edge stitch instead, so you only lose half a stitch per edge (or a total of one stitch per seam). You can do whatever you like, but I do it the traditional way, regardless of gauge, which means 4 body stitches total disappear into the seams. But really, what you lose in seaming can also be made up for in blocking. Numbers are squishy!

PREVIOUSLY: Sloper: Basic pattern for a sleeveless sweater

Sloper: Basic pattern (and knitalong!) for a sleeveless sweater

Sloper: Basic pattern for a sleeveless sweater - free pattern

The pattern: Sloper by Karen Templer (free pattern)
The knitalong schedule: Start now or whenever. Knit at your own pace!
The hashtag: #sloperKAL

Ok, today’s the day a bunch of you have been waiting for — the day I tell you how to knit my little sleeveless turtleneck sweater — but this is unlike the patterns you’re accustomed to. More like a Japanese knitting pattern, what I’m giving you (this is a free pattern, friends, ungraded) is a stitches-by-rows chart of the garment, which you can use to either knit the exact same sweater or resize/modify it into whatever sort of sleeveless sweater you might like. I’m calling it Sloper, which is a term from the sewing world for a set of raw, bare-bones pattern pieces that might be sized to fit a particular person precisely but that can be used as the building blocks or jumping-off point for any number of variations and adaptations. (Click to download.)

– – – – – – – – – –
How to work a slipped-stitch selvage
How to work the sloped bind-off
Sloper pattern at Ravelry
– – – – – – – – – –

I’m presenting it to you literally as a scan of pencil marks on knitters graph paper, because I want you to understand that’s how simple this is. And I hope what you’ll take away from it, the ensuing posts and knitalong is the underlying process for modifying just about anything. The garment is two pieces of fabric — a front a back — each 42 stitches by about 74 rows, and in chart form you can see what happens to each and every stitch as you knit your way up through the rectangle of the body into the shaping for the arm and neck holes. So you can knit it exactly as charted (working RS rows from right to left; WS rows from left to right, as with any flat chart), or you can literally print it out, grab a pencil and some whiteout (or your own Knitters Graph Paper Journal), and move those stitches around in the grid however you like.

This will make a lot more sense to you if you’ve knitted a (flat/seamed) sweater before and have a basic grasp on how shaping happens. If you have not knitted a garment before and you want to give this a go as written, I think it’s quite doable. (I wouldn’t advise trying to modify it in any way if you’ve never knitted a sweater before — knit it once as is, then attempt changes after seeing how it works.)


Over the next couple of days, we’ll talk about doing just that — how to change the sizing (through gauge, or by adding/subtracting stitches and/or rows), and ideas for tweaking the armhole and neck shaping and neck treatment to achieve different results. But even simply working from the pattern exactly as it is, you can still change it up in any number of ways through your choices with regard to these details:

Fabric: The versions pictured are solid colored. You could add stripes, colorblocking, stranded colorwork or intarsia, or even a stitch pattern so long as it’s in keeping with the pattern gauge. (We’ll talk about playing around with the gauge later.) Also, these samples are knitted with worsted-weight yarn held triple for a very dense fabric; you might opt to knit lighter yarn at the same gauge, for a looser, drapier fabric.

Seams: Just by playing around with the seams, you can have an impact on the look of the garment. The black version has a 3″ split hem and traditional seams, meaning the seam allowance is on the inside of the garment. The camel version has fully seamed sides (no split hem) and exposed seams at the shoulders. You could easily also make your back piece a few inches longer from cast-on to underarm for a high-low effect, paired with a split hem.

Neck: The pattern includes instructions for either a crewneck or a turtleneck, so those are two different looks right there. We’ll talk about more drastic changes to the neckline in an upcoming post.


So step one is to knit and block a swatch and find a fabric you like that matches the pattern gauge. You could try a superbulky yarn; a strand of bulky with a strand of DK or worsted; or three strands of DK or worsted held together. (This could be a good stash-buster!) Suggested needle size is US15/10mm, but as with any knitting project, you’ll need to swatch to find the right needle size for you to match gauge. Always measure your gauge over at least 4 inches on a blocked swatch.

In reality, your gauge might not be an exact match for mine, and that might be ok. For one thing, I’ve rounded to the nearest quarter inch and the stitch gauge is technically more like 2.3333. At this scale, rounding to 2.25 versus 2.5 has a big impact on the resulting size info. As does blocking the finished garment, where manipulation is possible. (There is always that wiggle room.) So the measurements in the pattern are all given as approximations. Whatever your gauge is, multiply it by 42 stitches (the width of the front piece), double that for total circumference, and subtract for seam allowance*, and that’s how big around your sweater will be at your gauge. If that’s not a measurement that will work for you, we’ll talk tomorrow about how to manipulate it.

The same goes for row gauge. If your row gauge is bigger than mine (fewer rows per inch), your armhole depth will be longer. Divide the number of rows (31) from armhole to bind-off by your row gauge to see what your depth will be, and adjust as needed. For example, if your gauge is 3.5 rows per inch: 31 ÷ 3.5 = 8.9″. Subtract a row or two (between the armhole and neck shaping) if that’s too long for you. Same with the neck depth.


How much yarn? That’s harder to say, as it depends on what you’re using and what kind of changes you might make. The black Lark sample used 9 (50g/134-yard) skeins (technically 411g, not the full 450). Since it was held triple, you could think of it as three 400-yard strands of worsted, so if you were just using one strand of superbulky, it would be more like just 400 yards. For the pattern size. If you make it 10% or 30% or 50% bigger, you’ll need that much more yarn. My advice is always, always to buy more yarn than you think you might need. As long as it hasn’t been opened and wound, you can almost always return any unused skeins (but inquire wherever you’re purchasing.)


This is a super casual knitalong — no prizes or deadlines or anything. Just knit! Ask questions here and I (or anyone else) will answer as best I can. And share your progress on Instagram using hashtag #sloperKAL and on Ravelry by linking your project page to the Sloper pattern listing. I’ll be monitoring that tag fairly religiously for the next couple of weeks (more loosely after that) and can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

. . .

So tomorrow and Wednesday we’ll talk about resizing and modifying. If the existing pattern size (37-38″) works for you (or you don’t need no steenking advice to alter it!), feel free to dive right in! Please also favorite or queue the Sloper pattern on Ravelry.

For a glimpse at what I’m planning for my knitalong sweater, see my last Queue Check. I’ll talk more about how I’m accomplishing those changes in the next couple of days.

OK, let’s do this—


*Traditionally, mattress stitch is worked such that you lose one stitch at each edge (two stitches per seam) into the seam allowance. At this gauge, some people will work into the center of each edge stitch instead, so you only lose half a stitch per edge (a total of one stitch per seam). You can do whatever you like, but I do it the traditional way, regardless of gauge, which means 4 body stitches total disappear into the seams. But really, what you lose in seaming can also be made up for in blocking. Numbers are squishy!


Photos by Kathy Cadigan

Queue Check — April 2017 (and a correction!)

Queue Check — April 2017 (and a correction!)

Queue Check — April 2017 (and a correction!)

After very little knitting time on the big trip, and no knitting of any kind during Fever Week, I’ve finally made some further progress on my (painfully) mindless grey cardigan. I still believe I’ll be happy to have this sweater when it’s done, but this is one of those projects that I’m so apathetic about picking up at night that it makes me wonder if I’ve fallen out of love with knitting. (I haven’t — I’m just bored by this. That’s how it is sometimes!) What is lighting me up, though, is my swatch for the upcoming Sloper Knitalong! Which I’m knitting with two strands of Kestrel on US13s.

I’m really excited about this little summer sweater. As you can see in my sketches, I’m making a few key diversions from the pattern: lengthening it a bit, adding a slight bit of texture (thinking chunky Andalusian stitch could be interesting), making it a V-neck instead of a turtleneck (all of which we’ll go over!) … and knitting at a slightly different gauge.

Speaking of Sloper gauge, though, MAJOR MEA CULPA: I gave out bad intel in that Sloper KAL intro post. I knew it sounded wrong when I was typing it, but that’s what my notes said — except I was looking in the wrong place, and realized it when I was working on my own swatch here the other night. The pattern gauge is 2.25 sts per inch, not 2.5, and that was achieved on US15 (10mm) needles, not US11 (8mm) as originally stated. The 11s were the ribbing needle, not the main fabric. To anyone who’s been swatching ahead and trying to get gauge, I am so deeply sorry for the error. It’s been corrected in that post and will be correct when I post the “pattern” on Monday. But we’ll also be talking about how to adjust for gauge differences, so hopefully I haven’t made anyone too totally crazy with this! Sorry sorry sorry.

Regardless, I hope a lot of you are excited about the whole Sloper thing, which will kick off on Monday! I’m so excited to see what everyone will make. And I’m wishing you a magnificent weekend in the meantime …

Cardigan pattern: Improv
Yarn: Balance by O-Wool in Talc

(Lykke needles from Fringe Supply Co.)


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: March 2017, a whole new queue

And then a “Summer of Basics” make-along?

And then how about a #summerofbasics?

On the heels of the Sloper mini-knitalong I proposed for May yesterday, I have a make-along idea for the summer I’m hoping to get you excited about. There are serious basics my closet is lacking, both knitted and sewn, at least one of which is a bit of mental hurdle and skill stretcher for me (see below). I made a pact with myself to devote my summer to filling some of these key gaps and naturally thought I’d rope you in, too! So what I’m proposing today is the #summerofbasics — wherein we each make three basics in three months! Starting June 1st and running through the end of August.

They can be whatever garments you want or need, and by whatever your definition of a “basic” is. My Make Your Own Basics series makes a great jumping-off point (you can also see the whole thing at a glance on Pinterest), and you might find all the patterns you need there. Or you might be inspired to pick your archetypes from there but pick totally different patterns. Or go entirely your own way — whatever works for you! Your three can be all knitting, all sewing, or a combination of the two.

The only parameter is three basics in three months.

I’ve got a few of my favorite friend-brands on board — including Kelbourne Woolens, Grainline Studio and Fancy Tiger Crafts — so I’ll have some prizes to talk about as the date draws near. And I know there are other sewalongs and knitalongs that tend to happen in summer than you can very likely double-dip into. But the point, as always, is the camaraderie and support — and winding up with three great garments that you can be proud of and that will make your closet work harder than it currently does!

I’m not locking myself into this yet, but I think my three will be the following:

TOP: the grey half-textured pullover from my Queue Check the other day

BOTTOM LEFT: an Archer Button-Up shirt! This is the mental hurdle/skill stretcher one

BOTTOM RIGHT: a simple black linen dress of some kind, possibly a modified Fen

I have till June 1 to rethink that a hundred times! What will yours be?

Happy weekend, everyone! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on all this—


PREVIOUSLYHow about a mini sleeveless turtleneck knitalong?

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 4: Jen Beeman

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 4: Jen Beeman

The day has come when all of the Top-Down Knitalong panelists have completed their sweaters! I’m kind of sad to see it wrapping up — this whole event was so awesome — but I’m also thrilled to finally see and show you this handsome pullover that Jen Beeman of Grainline Studio knitted for her husband, Jon.

. . .

Your sweater is such an interesting case. It looks like you knitted exactly the sweater you set out to knit, easy peasy, but in fact it was a circuitous journey. Most notably, you ripped out your first version (when you were just past the sleeve/body divide) and started over. Remind us all what happened there.

Originally Jon wanted a fisherman’s rib sweater, so I swatched in full fisherman’s rib, figured out my gauge, then got to work. I took the very early yoke out a few times to make small adjustments to the stitch counts but as I was only a few rounds in it wasn’t a big deal. Once I got that settled and the knitting began in earnest I had Jon try the sweater on every inch or two to make sure I was headed in the right direction. Everything seemed alright at first, but a few inches before the split I realized that the stitch pattern was obliterating my yardage and I also calculated that it was taking me approximately 45 minutes to knit one round of the sweater. I was knitting something like 350 sts in fisherman’s rib (did I mention that Jon has extremely broad shoulders yet? He does) and was starting to get a pretty bad feeling when he would try the sweater on for me. I decided to knit beyond the split about 1″ into the body before making any final decisions. When he finally tried it on, the sweater was extremely heavy, the knit pattern had way too much drape, and I was almost out of yarn. After a bit of texting with my knit crew, it was obvious I needed to start over in half fisherman’s rib.

After I switched rib patterns I actually did take the pattern back from after the split one more time. Since Jon has quite broad shoulders compared to the rest of his body he often has the problem where he has to go up at least a size to accommodate them, leaving him swimming in the rest of the garment. I was having that problem here and decided to adjust the increases a bit towards the bottom of the raglans which did the trick nicely.

I definitely think the switch in stitch was a great call.

Apart from the stitch pattern, this is a really straightforward top-down raglan, right? Did you ultimately stick pretty close to the basic top-down method — did you do any basting stitches, flat sleeves, any other diversions from the norm?

Other than the stitch pattern, I think it’s pretty straightforward! I did knit the sleeves flat, then seam because Jon is VERY hard on his clothes. I also left a basting stitch in each raglan to help keep the shape. That’s another weird story. When I tried to close the basting stitches I realized the mattress stitch was pulling apart the stitches next to it leaving a not so beautiful raglan seam in it’s wake. This is probably not the right thing to do, but I ended up joining the two stitches using a sort of duplicate stitch, which I think ended up doing the same thing. Sometimes I kind of just wing it when I’m knitting so I hope you by-the-book knitters aren’t cringing too hard right now!

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 4: Jen Beeman

Whatever works, I say! It pains me that your first top-down wasn’t just a total breeze. Between the starting over and the slowness of the stitch, the scale of the men’s sweater, the overall time it took … I worry it left you thinking top-down is onerous! Do you? Are you eager to try it again? I feel like I want you to cast on something your size and 3.5 sts/in, and have a quick fun win!

Umm … so I don’t think I’m the biggest fan of top down? I totally understand why it’s so popular, I’ve just never really been a knit-in-the-round person. I do think a lot of that is because [as a sewing pattern designer] I’ve been trained to think of 3D forms in 2D, so knitting in pieces just makes more sense to me. That said, I might try it again but I’m going to knit some sweaters flat to cleanse my palate first ;)

There was also one other delay, alluded to above, which is that you ran out of yarn. The stitch pattern just ate way more yarn than you’d estimated, right?

Yes, that was a downer for a bit. I originally calculated by taking my gauge, yarn weight and Jon’s measurements, and comparing them to a brioche sweater that matched these numbers, then ordering an extra skein on top of that yardage. Apparently either my math was bad or brioche and fisherman’s rib don’t quite translate because I ran out of yarn about ¼ of the way into the second sleeve.

The yarn for your sweater (and one of the WIP of the Week prizes) was generously provided by Jocelyn of O-Wool — thank you, Jocelyn! I’m on record as being a huge fan of Balance, this yarn, having knitted three sweaters and a vest out of it. There is one thing people need to know about it — and lots of yarns that are a blend of different fibers, organic cotton and wool in this case — which is that the fibers take the dyes differently, which is what gives the yarn its lovely heathered quality. But that also means dye lots really matter, as does alternating skeins as you knit. And O-Wool does a great job of emphasizing that on their site. But I think the importance of dye lots (and buying more than you think you might need) is a really important lesson for knitters to learn, and there’s also a great tale here about the knitting community, so I wanted to bring this up.

By the time you realized you needed more, the dye lot was sold out. So how did your yarn shortage get resolved?

Unfortunately, I realized too late that I was going to run out of yarn — although honestly, I knew it was going to happen; I just think I was in denial about it after everything else that happened with this sweater. I emailed Jocelyn as soon as I, let’s say, came to terms with the fact that I was short on yarn and sadly my lot had sold out. Since O-Wool is direct-to-customer only there wasn’t a lot that could be done. So I did what any knitter in this situation would do, harassed people on Ravelry till a kind soul with 5 skeins took pity on me. I traded her 5 skeins of the new dye lot for her 5 of the old dye lot and I was back in business! Thank you again, Summer!!

I love knitters. I’ve been contacted a few times by someone who had a yarn emergency and knew I had yarn in my stash that might help, and I’m always happy to help if I can. So I also want to say thank-you to the kind knitter traded with you! 

So after all of that, the sweater is done! (With plenty of winter left in Chicago.) How do you feel about the finished sweater, and more important, how does Jon feel about it?

After everything was said and done, I’m happy with the sweater. The blend of wool and cotton is perfect for guys who are always overheating in wool, and the sweater fits Jon pretty well. I’m really glad I stuck it out and got it done because, as you can probably tell from the photos, Jon hasn’t taken the sweater off since it dried. One nice thing about knitting, or really making anything, for Jon is that he’s one of the most appreciative people I’ve ever met. He guards everything I’ve made him like it’s worth its weight in gold, so despite the long journey to the end of this sweater, I’m so glad I stuck with it!

Thanks so much to Jocelyn for providing me the yarn for this sweater, and thanks to you, Karen, for signing me up for this, even though at times you might have thought I wanted out. You ladies gave me the ability to give Jon this sweater that he absolutely loves!

. . .

Thanks so much for playing along, Jen! So that’s a wrap. If you missed any of it or want to revisit it, you can scroll through the complete knitalong posts or scan the directory of them all here. Don’t forget to follow Jen, Brandi and Jess on Instagram for more of what they’re up to. And thanks again to everyone who participated for making this such a phenomenal event, with so many amazing sweaters having come out of it. I’m in awe.


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: FO No. 3: Karen Templer