At long last, cool weather is here and I am cozying up in what may be my favourite knitted garment yet.
I made this back in May (with some more recent re-knitting when I decided to make alterations). It was a bad time of year to knit a warm sweater, but I was doing a lot of travelling and wanted a substantial project. I have good memories of the 10-hour flight, parked in front of a little movie screen with my knitting. Similarly, I remember the train ride from Kalamazoo to Chicago on a sunny spring morning, with needles clicking away and happy thoughts in my head about going home again.
The yarn is by Donegal Yarns, and has the flecks of colour in it which make it (I have learned) Donegal tweed. I have been learning about wool as I try to improve my knitting, and one thing I have learned is that the softer the wool against the skin, the more likely it will pill. Conversely the tougher wools that don’t pill tend to be more scratchy. In a good yarn shop you can see swatches knit from different yarns which will demonstrate this. I chose this Donegal yarn because I hoped it would hit a nice spot between softness and sturdiness, which indeed it does. Wool also softens with gentle washing, and I’ve noticed this as well. This kind of nuance fascinates me – the idea of fibres responding to different treatment, of coaxing them into the shape and texture you want.
I mentioned that I did some re-knitting on this, which is pretty characteristic of my knitting style. I.e., I either botch things the first time or I simply try one way before deciding I don’t like it and trying another. The great thing about this sweater is that it’s knit from the top downwards, or upside-down if you like. It’s also knit in the round, so instead of sewing everything together at the end (a front piece, a back piece, sleeves), you knit everything together at once. That means three things: A., you can fit the shoulder area first before dealing with anything else, because you knit the shoulders first. And I like to fit this part first both because it’s the hardest, but also because you can focus on it without being distracted by things like the length of the sweater. B., you can try the thing on as you go! C., the issue of overall length, and fit at the waist, is the last thing you deal with, and you can eyeball and adjust this as your final design choice, even unravel and knit it over if it doesn’t work.
Which is what I did. The first version I did was much shorter (which was the version indicated by the pattern). It was intended to be a good length to wear with skirts, but I found I didn’t like the way it fitted in wearing it. For one thing, it was quite nipped-in at the waist, which meant that it rode up when I moved and didn’t slide back down again – you know what I mean? It was also reeeeely short if I wore it with jeans. I don’t mind a layer hanging out below a sweater, but at the short length the sweater didn’t even meet the top of my jeans, and because it already tended to ride up and stay – well.
I unraveled it from the bottom up to the bust area, and then re-knit it downwards again. I changed the way the waist was shaped and added a third diamond cable to lengthen it. I’m very, very happy with the result, and it hits a happy length for wearing with skirts or jeans. I think it may even be kinda fashionable…at least, as I was walking around Oasis the other day, they had 6-gore dark denim skirts and sweater combos that were nearly identical to what I was wearing!