When I first saw this sweater on the magazine, it didn't do anything for me. Then I saw Tiennie's gorgeous FOs (1, 2), I added it to my to-knit list right away. This sweater is knit from bottom up in circular fashion, stops at the chest to knit the sleeves, and then connect the body to the sleeves and continue to knit the yoke. The only seaming is at the underarm. The construction is simple, but I did struggle with the gauge. Having worked with mostly DK weight yarn, this is my first time knitting with aran weight and tweedy yarn. As usual, I knitted a swatch, measured for gauge, recalculated the stitch counts, and cast on.
Since my gauge was different from the pattern, I had to recalculate all the stitch counts. Plus the size I want (chest circumference 46") falls between the 2nd and 3rd sizes from the pattern, I couldn't follow the pattern as is. After about 5" into the body, I stopped because it just looked so big. I couldn't get an accurate measurement with all the stitches scrunched together on the circular needles. So I moved about half of the stitches to waste yarn, flatten it out and measured - and it was a good thing that I stopped to measure, the circumference was 52"! I frogged the whole thing and started over. This time I recalculated based on the total number of stitches and the circumference of the sweater. But I still don't quite understand why my first attempt was off by so much, the gauge went from 17 to 16.67, it is different, but shouldn't be that big a deal.
After I restarted, it was smooth sailing through the main body. The circumference remained a perfect 45.5". The trouble came again when I started the first sleeve. Four inches into the first sleeve, I had to stop and re-evaluate. The sleeve looked big again, and it measured big. Not sure why my gauge failed me again, I frogged the sleeve, recalculated based on my latest sleeve gauge, and restarted. Why does something seemed so simple be so difficult to grasp?
When I first cast on this sweater in early May, it was still cool in the mornings and evenings. Still good weather for knitting wool. But the weather took a dramatic turn after a few weeks. While working on this sweater, I was sweating through 80-90 degree weather, with a fan directly blowing at me. With the oil prices sky high, and the prices of everything going up, I try to conserve and not indulge in air conditioning when possible. I just didn't anticipate having so many problems with this sweater, that it would take so long, and the weather would heat up so quickly. I really hated knitting wool in this kind of weather. But I also knew if I put it aside, it would probably remain an UFO for a long long time.
And so, I finished it, after too many scorching hot afternoons. After a good soaking bath, I laid it flat to dry. And now it's picture time, I took out the ruler and measured again, @#$&%！ It went from the perfect 45.5" to the oh-too-big 48"! What happened? The strange thing is, the main body became wider and longer, but the sleeves were okay. Sigh... I don't want to reknit it again, at least not now. I have been knitting for four years now, this is the first sweater for my husband. I thought this would be a quick and easy knit, given that I have tackled more difficult projects, never thought that this would be a failure. The body is too wide, makes the perfect sleeves look too skinny almost.
1. The main body and the sleeves were knit in different fashions, sort of. They were all knit in the round, I used a 32" circular for the main body, and used a 12" and a 24" (two circular needles) for the sleeves. I think I tend to pull the yarn tighter when working two circular needles and maybe that's why the tension on the sleeves is tighter?
2. The sweater might have been pulled out of shape as I took it out of the water? I also wet blocked my test swatch, but obviously weight doesn't play a factor in a 4.5" square swatch. I was being really careful taking the sweater out of the water, but with nearly 13 balls of soaked wool, it was very difficult not to pull it at all. Maybe next time I should just spray it instead of soak it?
3. I should have made a larger swatch. With a heavier yarn, every bit of differences counts.
I used to love this kind of construction, knitting in the round with minimal sewing, easy and simple. Now I realized how cumbersome it could be, when the entire garment sat on my lap, it was heavy and difficult to maneuver. It was cumbersome to carry around the house, impossible for on-the-go car-knitting. I had to lift up the entire sweater and repositioned to continue knitting in the round for each turn.
The yarn was also quite annoying, with so many twigs (?) embedded in the yarn strand. I had to stop so often and used a tweezer to pull out these twigs. If they were poking at me while I knit, they would be poking at my husband when he wears the sweater, and that's not a good thing. I thought about switching yarn, but given the price of these guys and the fact that I really do love the compositions (wool, silk, and cashmere), I decided to stick with it. The good thing is the yarn became softer and easy to the touch after a good soak, it really is very nice, once all the twigs are gone.