Friday, February 19, 2010

Sweater Story Hour

So, here it is: my cabled sweater vest.  All done, and quickly being broken in with wearing.  
One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was Elizabeth Zimmerman’s The Knitter’s Almanac.  Right out of the gates, she had me dreaming of cabled sweaters as I finished up my dad’s stockinette vest.  I knew I wanted my own sweater vest, as well as a sweater, and I couldn’t imagine either of them being plain stockinette.  I haven’t really been drawn to colorwork as much as textures and the beauty of the yarn.  At the same time, Yarndude shared about shawl collars, particularly in BoyMeetsPurl’s latest sweaters this winter.  Another bug planted under my skin.  I knew this sweater vest would have to have a shawl collar.  Looking at a bunch of the Patons Men’s sweaters only confirmed my vision.
I delved into my knitting pattern books (and added a couple in the process) to find cables that sparked my interest.  I finally settled on the Ensign’s Braid from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns (which, I must brag, I bought at a used book store for under seven bucks...and I must confess, didn’t think I would like much).  I also took the rope cables from the same page, leaving out the zig-zags that gave it the name “Framed Cable.”  Thanks, Stitchers, for your feedback and suggestions. 
Meanwhile, I found a woven cable in a Vogue Stitch-A-Day calendar called Crossroads.  A lightbulb went on as I checked to see if my plans for a wide rib pattern would flow naturally into this cable.  And it did.  

The Ensign’s Braid cable bands are each three stitches wide, the un-framed cables are six, and the Crossroads cable strips are three each.  So we have a 3x1 rib for the rest of the sweater.
With the stitch patterns decided, I swatched and crunched numbers.  Then, to my excitement, I cast on at last.  Through the process of knitting the sweater I used a few sweater construction experiences as guides, then added a dose of hope and educated guessing.  I was amazed at how long my torso is!  My previous sweater feels kinda short, and now I understand why.  What amazes me is that I can measure a commercial sweater and think I’m matching the measurements in my knitting, but when I try it on, I have miles to go before I sleep.  This was true not only of the torso, but also in the shoulders.  The above swatch picture is history, by the way.  I recycled the yarn to make the collar.   
As for the shawl collar, I compared the bits I gathered about shaping (thanks to the guys and girl on MenWhoKnit), and decided to first knit the back stitches, picking up two more each time I went back and forth, then eventually three, then four just before picking up the remainder and knitting the whole flap back and forth.  I sewed in the flaps, blocked and wove in the ends, and voila. Oh, I skipped right over this, but I tried my first time at steam blocking on this sucker, fearing that I might have a hunch over my already existing knot in the back.  It seems to be fine, so long as I don’t look up.  I love the shawl collar.  I always feel a bit like an ostrich anyway.

Oh.  And I have a couple yards of yarn left.  Haha.  This took away from my Olympics knitting, but it's pretty extreme for itself, and I'm pretty proud of it.  

Now, what to dub this sucker?  
“I’ve got a knot in my back and I don’t care who knows it.”
or perhaps "George Jetson gets in touch with his Norwegian roots."  
For now, I guess I'll just call it my Cabled Sweater Vest.   Very original.

Hang on to your hats.  More stories tonight.

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