Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I sometimes joke that I knit this sweater five times. That's an exaggeration to be sure, but not a complete exaggeration. Disclaimer: the following is a peek at one man's descent into sweater-knitting-induced madness! Thanks to Steven for taking these pictures, and for allowing his lovely apartment to serve as a backdrop for the photos.

Pattern: Seamless Hybrid Pullover with Shirt Yoke Back by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Cascade 220 Peruvian Highland Wool in RUBY
Needles: Addi Turbo circulars in sizes US4 and US7

As is usual for me, I started out with a very clear idea of what I wanted. I had become enamored of this shade of red from Cascade 220 and wanted a sweater made from it. It would be a Seamless Hybrid with a Shirt Yoke back, and I would use tubular cast-ons and bind-offs for the edging. The fit I wanted was pretty clear to me, but I didn't have any other sweaters that fit the way I wanted, so I couldn't measure one of those (as Liz Z. recommends). Armed with my actual chest measurement and info from a few different sources on how sweaters "should" fit, I did my calculations and cast on.

The ribbing got ripped out a couple of times, and after I'd knit it (30 rounds, as Liz Z suggests) and a couple of inches of the body. First I was doing a 1x1 rib, then I decided that didn't look right, then I switched to 2x2 and decided I liked the way it looked, but wanted to go down a needle size for the ribbing, even though I was already using a needle a couple of sizes smaller than what I'd use for the body (as is customary). I also discovered that using a year-old hat as a gauge swatch was not a good idea, as my gauge had changed. Once I got that sorted out, I knit almost the full length of the body, tried it on, and decided there was way too much ease in it for me. I think I had 1" or 2" of positive ease. I ripped back to the first row after the ribbing and decreased until I had 1" of negative ease. Just right!

The sleeves & shoulder shaping were pretty straightforward, but when I tried on the fully-knit sweater, I noticed an issue with the ribbing at the hem (see pic above). I had knit the 30 rounds that Liz Z recommends, though I discovered an unflattering effect of doing so. Since her sweaters fit a bit differently than mine, she probably never saw this issue. The ribbing (I think it was 4" wide....or see the issue) accentuated my tummy as it stretched over the lower edge of it. Not flattering. Not even a little! My solution was to cut the ribbing off, unravel it to about 2", and knit in plain stockinette up from there. Once that was done, I grafted the ribbing back to the body of the sweater, as you can see below.

For the initial sleeve/body decreases (the ones you make in the armscye before you make the "saddles" across the shoulders) I used the one that Elizabeth notes as a sort of alternate double decrease in Knitting Without Tears: "work to within one stitch of the marked stitch, slip marked stitch & the one preceding it together as if to knit, knit the next stitch, pass both slipped stitches over it. This forms a very attractive chain running up the decrease line."

Indeed, it does. I think this is the decrease most often used here when people make this sweater, and with good reason. It's so pretty!

To get the tubular edge on the collar, I decided to knit the ribbed collar separately, then graft it to the collar of the sweater. There were a few moments when I was sure I was insane for trying this, or that it would somehow come out looking nothing like what I'd hoped for, but look! It's amazing--if I do say so myself!

The fabric of yoke across the back was strangely mis-shapen when I finished knitting; it was what I called "poochey"--it bowed outward and looked a little over-sized and like it wasn't quite the right size piece of fabric for where it was meant to be. Granted, this was only a small issue, and the kind of thing a lot of people would probably not noticed, but...see previous re: obsessive knitter. I hear (after all is said & done), that people sometimes decrease a few stitches as they approach this bit, in order to adjust for the difference in height vs width in a knit stitch. For mine, though, it fortunately smoothed out to suit my tastes with nothing more than a basic blocking.

I like how this picture makes it look like I have some kind of athletic "V" shape to my back or something, but I assure you it's all trickery of the camera angle and fancy lighting.

I've worn this sweater quite a bit, though. I've also decided that I most definitely need more hand knit wool sweaters!

And now...we can all get back to our knitting.


Yarndude said...

Aren't handknit sweaters the best? This one looks great!

Emily said...

Looks great! I'm gonna be honest - the "30 rounds of ribbing on EVERY project" rule pisses me off. Different projects require different amounts! Some sweaters don't want ANY ribbing. Some sweaters are ALL ribbing. WhatEVER, Liz. :-)

In any case, your sweater is totally flattering & cozy-looking!

jamesdotca said...

Dude, I got the strangest deja vu reading that post. Have you seen my latest FO on Ravelry? A Liz Z. shirt yoke sweater (albeit mine is with a shawl collar). Also 2x2 ribbing. Also with the chain decrease. Also with a poochy yoke. In my case it was the collar that had to be ripped out and reknit. I finished about two weeks ago. We were probably knitting them at the same time.
Yours look excellent in red! Such a great colour!

Chuckleheads said...

Love the sweater! It looks great on you...I can only aspire...