It took a lot longer than I would have predicted. but the backs, fronts and sleeves are all seamed. After all that ripping and re-knitting, the sleeve caps went in without much trouble — it actually took more ripping and re-seaming to get the saddles to sit straight across the stair-stepped shoulder decreases. the whole thing looks like a depressingly rumpled and shrunken mess, but until it is washed and blocked, that is to be expected. I really like the way the saddles look, but I guess they will be lost underneath the collar.
Lots and lots of ripping and re-knitting, both of the transition between the cuff and sleeve body pattern, and the sleeve caps (along with the saddles). It took a couple of tries before I felt I had a good match between the cap and the armhole, but I think I’m finally there — seaming will tell.
With my fronts and backs knitted, this month’s meeting focused on planning for my sleeves, including the shoulder saddles.
We reviewed swatches for the pattern to run up the sleeve and across the saddle. I had decided on pairing the slip-stitch cable used on my fronts and backs as a center sleeve motif to continue through the saddles, and had a few options for side motifs. Kirsten agreed that the scaled-down flag motif worked best.
I had started calculations for stitch counts and rows between the sleeve increases, and it seemed I was going to need increases less than an inch apart, which seemed off to me. We talked about ease allowances, and Kirsten suggested that I would probably want more ease through the wrist — increasing that measurement puts my increases at 8 row intervals, or just over an inch apart.
I’ve been back and forth worrying how to construct the planned side-entry pockets without breaking the line of the front pattern or interrupting the fabric drape with the bulk of additional layers. I was planning to get matching fingering weight and leave the inner pockets hanging free, but they need to be above the line of the side vents or they might fold back and show in the vent opening if they were set too low. If the pocket opening was set too close the the vent, the fronts might be unstable and stretch oddly, given the relative thinness of the fabric.
I knit up ~3 inches above the side vent join, ready to start the pocket opening, and realized it would be set awkwardly high. Given the planned length of the sweater and the length of my arms, the side vents and side-entry pockets just don’t work together. The side entry pockets were perfect for my old favorite sweater given the coat length and and full side seam, but the proportions are different for the sweater I am knitting.
I’m happy with the vent detail and slightly dropped tail — the side entry pockets will, reluctantly, have to go. I still have the option of a standard top-entry afterthought pocket, which would definitely break up the line of the front cables, or I’m considering a hidden inner patch pocket. Or maybe no pockets — I think about it as I continue kbutting the fronts.
The textured panel along the center front compressed vertically relative to the rest of the pattern and stockinette — the difference in my blocked swatch is at least 1/4 -3/8 inch per 3.25″ pattern repeat, which translates to 2-3 inches down the front of the sweater (plus the collar).
I might be able to block out the difference, but that risks flattening out the broken garter rib texture, and maybe make the button bands ripple if I increase my pickup rate to compensate. A springier merino yarn might absorb the blocking we’ll, but the high BFL and longwool fiber content in this yarn doesn’t have that much give. I could loosen my gauge over the broken garter rib portion of the fabric, but that could encourage even more horizontal spread and leave the center fronts looking shapeless and messy.
The solution I came up with is to add a pair of short rows once per zig zag repeat, adding two rows at the narrowest point of the 24-row repeat, tucking the wrapped stitch behind the zigzag crossover.
I’ll have to watch my progress carefully for the broken garter rib, as it has an 8- row repeat, and the short rows alter my zig-zag pattern repeat to 26 rows from 24. With all four patterns taken into account, my overall pattern repeat is now 104 rows instead of 24.
The back is done!
Well, almost done — luckily this mid-crossed rope twist is near the top, and an easy fix.
My stockinette gauge is is on target, my swatches tell me this will all come out in the wash and block phase, but for now, looking at the lower half of the back of my sweater is giving me palpitations over fit. It doesn’t look anywhere near wide enough, and especially with saddle shoulder construction, I won’t know for sure how it will fit until it’s too late to do anything but start over.
I know some knitters block pieces before seaming, but the argument that this risks stretching edge areas (like armholes) out of alignment, and setting them that way, has always made more sense to me.
It’s cables, cables bunch, and my swatches relaxed and spread out after washing with no effort pin or block them, but still, I worry. Since the hem is vented, I think I’ll dip the portion below the seam in water tonight and make sure the fabric relaxes as expected.
Today I had my swatch review with Kirsten, and we talked through the last few design detail quandaries that needed to be resolved before I cast on and start knitting my sweater back. The takeaways:
- My tubular cast-on has the right number of preliminary rows, and the slight ridge at the base of my ribbing is normal.
- The i-cord bind off on my button bands is a better solution than the sewn tubular bind off I had originally planned, given the continuous length of yarn I would need up the whole front and through the collar.
- I need to Standardize my technique on the right-slanting side of the zig-zag cables — it looks consistent on my back swatch, but the quicker method I tried on my front swatch looks loose and a bit messy compared to the leftward slants.
- As much as I love the look if that braided twist cable from my first back swatch, I shouldn’t try to add it to the tail edge or sleeve just to include it somewhere — I left it out for a reason. Repeating the three-stitch cable on the tails and sleeves will give the overall design a more cohesive look.
- We talked saddle width for the shoulders — narrow works here likely two inches.
- I’m ready to cast on an start knitting my sweater!