FO-2016.21 : Striped pullover

Striped Pebble sweater (2016 FO 21)

All of my thoughts and knitting process notes for this fantastic pullover (my last finish of 2016) are covered in my Q&A post about it, but for those of you who want all of the stitch counts and other nitty-gritty details, those are below. And in addition to “modeled” shots for FOs this year, I’m making an effort to do outfit ideas for them too — so here’s the first round of that (below)! For these photos, though, I opted to throw it on with my oldest and dearest.

The only thing not noted previously, I think, is that my starting point was that I wanted the neck and cuffs and hopefully the waist band to be black. Ideally, the underarms would also have been black, but there was no way for that to work without some less acceptable compromise on another factor, so I just kept the armholes deep enough that the fabric is not up against my underarms at all. Also, technically, I should have been switching to an ivory stripe at the point where the cuffs happen, but decided to just extend them in the black, and I love the way that worked out. I wish I had gone a tiny bit longer on the final waist/hem stripe to lend a little more visual weight there, but it’s all good!

I want to say thank-you one more time to Shibui for giving me this yarn for the Top-Down Knitalong (plus one of the WIP of the Week prizes). This fabric is just incredible — light and thin and soft and warm all at the same time — and I am thrilled to have this sweater in my closet.

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater here, Instagram posts here, and fave it on Ravelry if you’re so inclined. Again, process notes are here, and stitch counts and other blow-by-blow details are below.

Pattern: Improv (top-down tutorial)
Yarn: Pebble from Shibui, held double; approx 6 skeins Ivory and 6 skeins Abyss
Cost: free pattern + complimentary yarn = $0
(yarn would have been $228 had I paid for it; the most expensive sweater in my closet, and I would consider it money very well spent)

Striped Pebble sweater (2016 FO 21)

GAUGE

5.75 sts and 8.5 rows = 1 inch (measured over 4″ = 23/34) knitted on US6/4mm

TARGET MEASUREMENTS

42″ chest = 242 sts
13″ upper arm circumference = 74 sts
9″ yoke/armhole depth (76 rows)
12-stitch underarms
13.5″ body length (includes 2″ hem ribbing)
22.5″ total length
16.5″ sleeve length from underarm (includes 2″ cuff ribbing)
8″ cuff circumference

DETAILS

— Co 68 sts divided thusly: 1 | 14 | 38 | 14 | 1

— On row 1, increased one stitch at each raglan marker for a basting stitch

Increased (kfb) at front neck and in pairs at each raglan on every other row

Worked neck shaping until 2″ of depth, cast on to bridge the gap and join, then worked a few more rounds so first stripe was 2.5″ at the back (and neckband would be fully enclosed in a black stripe)

Continued increasing sleeve and body sections to 12 sts short of target counts, worked even to intended yoke depth, then cast on the 12 sts at each underarm

— Each yoke/body stripe (in the round) is 21 rows; but sleeve stripes are 22 rows each — to add some length and because sleeves were knitted flat

— Increased a few times along the side seams for A-line shape (and included basting stitch at each side seam)

Decreased sleeves gradually from 74 to 68 sts, then on final row before starting the cuff ribbing decreased to 50 sts

— Picked up 88 sts for neckband (approx 3 out of 4) on US5/3.75mm, worked to double length for foldover band; to ensure no tightness due to fairly small neck hole, worked final two rib rounds on US9/5.5mm then did sewn BO, before loosely whipstitching to the cast-on edge on the inside

Striped Pebble sweater (2016 FO 21)

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: My sewing year in review

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 3: Karen Templer

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 3: Karen Templer

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. 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 …

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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!

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: The WIPs of the Week that became FOs

 

 

 

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

When I first started doing these Queue Check posts a couple of years ago, it was at least partly to try to get myself to focus, but in the earlier posts I was still ping-ponging around between projects, with new ideas about what to cast on every month. Lately, I’ve been so disciplined and, well let’s face it, so slooow that the posts have been more WIP status than queue planning. Honestly, I’ve been scared to distract myself from the sweaters at hand because I want them so badly. But after this week of Winter ’16 Wardrobe Planning posts, I feel like I can safely start projecting into the future again.

DECEMBER PLANS: I swore to myself I would have my striped sweater finished before it came around to Queue Check again. I was convinced I’d be finishing it last weekend, but I wound up (happily) with houseguests, so that didn’t happen. But after the Oct-Nov slow spell while I had so much else going on, I’ve been making headway on the sleeves lately. It’s amazing how quickly things can go when you actually work on them! So I’m hoping ol’ stripey will be done by the end of this weekend, and the next time you see it will be a FO post. (That’s Shibui Pebble, and an improvised top-down raglan.)

After that, all attention and energy will be in seeing how quickly I can move my Channel Cardigan along (yarn is Clever Camel, undyed). Even though the first sleeve went very quickly, I know this sweater is a lot of knitting — the collar alone with take some serious time. But I want to see how far I can get with it before Christmas, because …

Then I have a road trip, and I’m thinking of seeing if I can knit a Carrowkeel within the space of that trip. I’m pondering using Arranmore in Cronan but haven’t seen the color in person yet, so can’t be sure.

And then it’s a question of next priorities heading into January. These three of the six sweaters I proposed on Monday are what’s elbowing their way to the front of my brain:

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

ABOVE LEFT: I am really stuck on this idea of a big cardigan-coat. I’m haunted by Jenny Gordy’s, and also obsessing over this Lauren Manoogian number. I’m considering the possibility of using my Sawkill Farm trove for it, held double, and will swatch soon and see what I think about that. It could actually be a really quick project at bulky gauge, and extremely useful.

ABOVE MIDDLE: I’ve never been anything but serious about St. Brendan, but last night I went so far as to order the yarn.

ABOVE RIGHT: is the simple pullover I’m needing and dreaming of, and there’s nothing I want more than to have Junegrass on my needles. But as I said Monday (and so many of you have said in the meantime!) I can solve the pullover problem more quickly by sewing a Linden or two. So that’s high priority and this Junegrass pullover will likely be in line right behind St. Brendan. And then I also eventually want the same sweater in a nice rich camel.

This week has been amazing for me in terms of really getting my head around what’s in my closet, how to wear it, and what I need and want to do next. In fact, it’s opened my eyes to the fact that I have what I’ve always wanted: a small collection of highly combinable pieces. (I.e., Garanimals for grown-ups.) So my challenge now is to keep adding very thoughtfully, keeping it reined in while still indulging in and enjoying the process of making clothes and augmenting a wardrobe.

In addition to the above adjustments/additions to my knitting queue, here are the other to-do’s that came out of it all—

SEW:
– nice “sweatshirt” or two
– denim shirt?? or light-blue shirting (or buy?)
– black/ivory striped sleeveless tee
– white underlayer top of some kind

FIX:
– re-sew buttons on grey vest
– block black sleeveless turtleneck out a bit larger
– mend the mended jeans
– mend light-blue sleeveless chambray top

BUY:
– new jeans
– black silk band-collar top?
– tan/cognac shoes, clogs or ankle boots

Also: Do another clean-out of the things that aren’t getting worn and find them happy new homes.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: October 2016

Queue Check — October 2016

Queue Check — October 2016

The only thing that’s changed since my last Queue Check is there are a whole lot more stripes to my striped sweater than there were a month ago. I’ve got just a few inches of body left, then neckband and sleeves. I haven’t touched my Channel cardigan in the meantime, so it’s still just the one part-sleeve, but it won’t be long before I’m wearing the stripes and knitting the Channel. And I continue to believe these will be the two best sweaters I’ve ever owned, handmade or otherwise.

I made a point on Instagram the other day about listening to the knits I’m able to neglect. That’s not this cardigan — it is patiently waiting and I can hardly stand not knitting it — but the grey sweater I started with my Sawkill Farm last Nov does fall into this category, compounded by my trio of gorgeous grey yarns for which I need to come up with just the right long-term uses. So between now and next check, while I knit away on Channel, that’s what I’ll be pondering.

YARNS: top is Pebble held double (given to me by Shibui, part of the Top-Down Knitalong); bottom is Clever Camel

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: September 2016

Queue Check — September 2016

Queue Check — September 2016

Since last month’s Queue Check, I’ve finished the black Linen Quill cardigan, sidelined the purple tutorial sweater until winter weather warrants its completion, and decided to scrap my Pebble cable sweater in favor of stripes! In the time between putting the cable sweater on hold and eventually deciding what to do instead, I worked on the first sleeve of my Channel Cardigan (top, in Clever Camel*), which is just absolute heaven. The yarn is heaven in the palm of your hand; the fabric is magical to watch develop; the knitting looks as if it’s already been blocked, it is so perfect and gorgeous; the stitch pattern was easily memorized long ago, so it’s easy to pick up and put down at any time. I mean, every stitch of it is paradise — to the point that I briefly considered starting over in the lighter shade of camel, but Jen talked me out of it last weekend. As much as I want to be wearing it, I could happily knit this sweater forever.

Which is part of how I came to realize I had a problem with the ivory cable sweater. Every time I got a few minutes to knit at night, I reached for the Channel. Obviously it’s incredibly hard to compete with, right?, as end-o-day knitting experiences go. But I felt like my knitalong sweater should be something I wanted badly enough that it did compete for my attention. Well, I’m happy to report that this striped Improv sweater (bottom, in Pebble) is every bit as satisfying. This yarn, in stockinette? How many is too many times to use the word paradise in one post? Watching the stripes develop is just as fun as the cables. It’s going faster because of the difference in gauge. And I am SO HOT TO WEAR IT. I cannot wait to have this one, and am definitely reaching for it over Channel, so I’m feeling very very good about that decision to start over. Even if it did put me in jeopardy of being the last panelist to finish!

As much as I’m trying to not to think beyond these two sweaters right now — since it will likely be Thanksgiving before Channel is done — I’ve had an advance look at a collection coming out very soon that makes my brain hurt it’s so good. There is one cardigan in particular that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about for weeks, since I saw a snapshot from the photoshoot. In the final images, I can see it’s not the same shape I guessed it was from that glimpse, but it will be when I make it! I’ll be able to tell you more about it soon. But if my unwavering fixation is any evidence, that would seem to be next in my queue.

*By the way, Clever Camel is back in stock and Jones and Vandermeer have renewed the discount offer. Use code FRINGE at checkout on their site for 10% off Clever Camel through October 15, 2016.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: August 2016

I’m joining the start-over club!

I'm joining the start-over club!

It’s funny what a photo can show you. When I took the pic for last week’s blog post of my yoke laying flat, it was to accompany my paragraph about how I was chugging along exactly as planned. But what I noticed as I was posting it was (despite all my planning about how to get the stitch pattern to align correctly at the front neck) I had completely neglected to worry about how the stitch pattern aligned at the raglan seams. As a person who struggles with perfectionist tendencies, it’s funny that I didn’t notice or think to worry about it sooner, and it’s impossible to ignore now that I’ve seen it. So all last week I struggled with it. You’ve all made an incredible impression on me — all of the fearlessness and determination and good-natured ripping that’s been going on in the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 — and so there’s no way I was going to leave it. I didn’t even mind the idea of ripping back and restarting, in principle, but what was bothering me all last week as I thought about it was that I didn’t want to start this sweater over.

For me to knit an ivory cable sweater that isn’t the Aran sweater I’ve been talking about for the last five years is just silly. (I’ve already knitted a cardigan instead of that longed-for pullover.) And I also don’t think it’s the very best use of the Pebble, which is too good to waste on the wrong stitch for it. But with Slow Fashion October upon us, I’m more mindful than ever about not knitting a sweater just to knit it, or because it might be a cute sweater, or because there’s a knitalong going on. I’m determined to only to make garments that both A) I desperately want to exist an B) will have a distinct impact on my overall wardrobe. This ivory cable sweater was meeting neither of those criteria. So I listened to my apathy and decided to scrap it — and it truly felt like a #rippingforjoy decision, as Felicia calls it. The question was: What to do instead?

I spent several days pondering it, going back to my original thought of a light-colored, lightweight, lightly textured pullover, looking through the blog and Pinterest and stitch dictionaries seeking inspiration for what to do with this ivory yarn, and coming up empty. I kept finding myself wanting to incorporate a second color — a pinstripe? Mosaic stitch pattern? Stranding of some kind? Saturday night I found myself pawing through my stash bin, and my hand kept going to the two skeins of black Pebble in there. Karen, focus! Ivory Pebble, not black. Frustrated, I literally laid down on the floor of my little workroom, stared at the blank ceiling, and asked myself what my closet was really missing. Again my mind went to that black yarn and the idea of stripes. STRIPES! Not just any stripes — black and ivory awning stripes, à la Debbie Harry. I hopped up and pulled up the Fall ’16 Mood board I’d recently made to look for that photo I’ve loved for ages, and found it and a Jenni Kayne striped tee sharing space on the inspiration board I’d been neglecting to consult. The answer was right there the whole time.

And I have to tell you, the instant I settled on it, I could not wind that yarn and cast on fast enough. (I even already had a swatch!) The yarn is so happy now — the fabric is amazing! — and this is a sweater I cannot wait to be wearing.

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Speaking of things photos show us, Jen also made a decision prompted by her photo for last week’s post. Fisherman’s rib in-the-round is sort of like garter stitch — it leaves a mark where you switch from knitting on one round to purling on the next. She hadn’t noticed it was causing two of the ribs to sit awkwardly close together until she took that pic of Jon wearing it. So after some discussion and deliberation and swatching, she’s settled on “half-brioche” which is a version of fisherman’s rib that includes a resting row, which should obviate the issue. I love her new swatch even more than what she had going — and the hope is it will also eat less yarn, be less onerous knitting, and lead to a less heavy garment. So we’re both starting over!

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Panelist check-in