Better Sweater No. 9: Brighton

 

Well, it's a Christmas Eve miracle! Brighton is DONE! I was really hoping to finish this baby before the New Year and am so pleased that I did. I began this jumper in September 2016, just after getting married and starting my last year of graduate school. I worked away at it very very slowly in the interim. It's a fun and mostly uncomplicated pattern and one that I recommend. Here are a few of my edits:

Front and back panels: I knit these longer than what the pattern calls for since I didn't want a cropped look. 

Back panel: Did absolutely no shaping on the back panel as I wanted this to have more of an A-line loose fit. I knit it to be slightly longer than the front panel by a few rows.

Sleeves: Did only a few increases since I have small arms and didn't want wide sleeves. I had to mess around with the sleeve cap shaping given that I did not have the same number of stitches as the pattern.

Stitching it together: I love the look of a split side seam at the bottom. The two panels didn't quite match up so it was good that I'd pre-planned keeping the ribbing separate. 

Overall, I really like this sweater. The lapped shoulders are very fun and nothing I've ever done before. I'm super into it!

More images and info about the pattern over on the project page

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Ondawa is Complete!

 

After seven long months, I can now say that the second and final better sweater of 2015 is complete! Hurray! It's been quite a long journey. I cast on in May and slowly chugged away at the first panel over several months. Once grad school started in August I stopped knitting completely (sadness!), but over the Thanksgiving break I started up again and made steady progress on the second panel. I finished the sleeves over Christmas and sewed up all the pieces when I got back to the Bay on Monday. In my impatience to finish the sweater, I skipped the blocking phase...eh I know. I may block it now that it is in one piece, but honestly it fits (and looks) just fine without blocking.

If you've seen the Ondawa pattern, or other folks' Ondawa projects, you'll know that this sweater was designed to be oversized (like 10-20 inches of positive ease) in width and slightly short in length. Concerned about fit and inspired by the mods made by Raveler grimfrosties (who added two more repeats of the central cable to her sweater), I decided to do 8 total repeats of the central cable (16 twists). I achieved the suggested gauge with a size 7 needle but must have knit rather tightly because my panels are 20.5 inches across rather than 22. My length is also 21 inches rather than the suggested 17¼. I also modified the sleeves as my arms are rather slender and did just 3 increases, resulting in a total of 52 stitches on each arm before casting off. 

All said and done, Ondawa was such a joy to knit! I absolutely loved the pattern and experienced zero cabling fatigue! Knitting without a cabling needle changed my life and the chart repeats flew by. If I were to tackle this project again, though, I think I would try out a modified front and back panel. Perhaps skip the twisted rib along the sides, thereby removing some of the excess ease? I'd also use a lighter (read: softer and not 100% wool) yarn. The Ondawa pattern produces a rather dense material. Add a robust wooly yarn to the mix and, well, this is a pretty heavy jumper! But hey, it's winter! I'm very content, cozy, and warm. 

 

Ondawa Update

 

Hello! It's been awhile! Things have been a wee bit crazy over here. I started graduate school in August and since then have picked up my needles only a handful of times (...twice). This summer I had high hopes of completing Ondawa by the end of the year, but between classes and readings and papers, well, I'm just not sure if I have the time!

Still, as one who is highly optimistic, a good 80% of me thinks I can get 'er done. I am very close to finishing the front panel. Then it's just the back panel and two sleeves to go! Totally doable right (heh heh)? My current plan is to bring the project down to my parents for Turkey-Day and go hard on it then. And again during winter break. I think completing it before the new year is semi-possible if I really put my mind--and hands--to it! I'd love for this to be at least a two better sweater year (four less than 2014 but hey)! Wish me strength and focus, friends! 

 

Aran Weight Sweaters

 

Clockwise from left to right: 1. Wainwright by Bristol Ivy, 2. Dressage by Amy Miller, 3. Samantha by Amy Miller, 4. Parapluie by Hilary Smith Callis, 5. Golden Wheat Cardigan by Veera Välimäki

Now that Epistrophy is almost complete (I know! It's on the blocking board right now!), I'm getting ready to unravel my next sweater for Project No. 8. Unfortunately the aran weight pattern options in my Ravelry Library are rather minimal right now, but I've selected a few that I think might work. Now I just need to unravel, determine the yardage, wash, pick a pattern, and get to knitting!

 

Better Sweater No. 7

 

Better Sweater No. 7 is complete! As I mentioned recently, I loved knitting this sweater. Garter stitch, stockinette, cables--gah!--I'd knit it all over again!

For the first time ever I took detailed notes on the process and included them on both the project page and on Ravelry. The biggest mods I made had to do with needle size and decreases since I'm quite small. I also added a line of crochet on the right side of the neckline just below the cast on edge. This kept the edge from rolling too deeply in the back (all that stockinette stitch!). It looks like it's rolling a bit in the picture below but that's just because my shoulders were back. It normally lies completely flat.

In other news: I'm going to be taking a wee break from better sweatering in the to knit up Kate Davies' Epistrophy with legit yarn. We'll see if the project monogamy lasts. If I get too restless I'll start harvesting yarn for Better Sweater No. 8. I already have the sweater picked out and it's lace weight! Exciting!

 

Moroccan Nights: In Progress

 

As of this posting I'm nearly done with my Moroccan Nights sweater! Still to do: knit half a sleeve, rework the ribbing at the bottom of the body, and knit an applied i-chord around the neckline. Sounds like a lot but I think I can get 'er done this week.

I am having so much fun knitting this sweater! The pattern is excellent and the combinations of stockinette, garter, cables, and double moss are keeping me glued to my work. There's no getting bored with this baby! 

Still, as per usual, there are a couple things I'm wishing I'd done differently at the outset:

  1. Use a smaller needle. I did knit up a swatch for this project and I achieved the correct gauge (size 6 needles with about 1 inch positive ease on an XS). But after doing the sleeves with a size 4 needle so that they'd fit more closely to my arm, I'm kind of wishing that I'd done the whole body with a size 5. That said, I'm a fan of the roomy pull-over (a la James). It all looks a-okay when I try it on (the finished look is supposed to be drapey), but I can't help thinking "what if?" Luckily the thought isn't strong enough to make me frog the body and start over again!
  2. Get creative with the body shaping. I took the liberty of decreasing at my own pace on the sleeves (with great success) and I wish I'd done the same with the body. The part that comes out of the side cables is a little too loose (you can see it below where the stockinette and d-moss meet) and it's bugging me. Actually, on further inspection I should be able to fix this in the blocking phase. The cables/stockinette along the sides pull in the fabric so that it poofs out when the cables end. I'll just block the heck out of the sides and hope for the best!

All in all, this is a fantastic project and I know it will get a lot of wear! For pictures of the original sweater click here.

 

2014 TBSP Year in Review & Plans for 2015

 

I should have posted this before New Years but...Sibella...so today will have to do! Here's my 2014 knitting year in review and my pattern plans for 2015!

Projects: 1. Campus Jacket // 2. Hypatia // 3. James // 4. Acer // 5. Sibella // 6. Woodland & Palmyre

It was a great first year for The Better Sweater Project! I knit five sweaters--six, if we're counting Uniform--and two shawls. I learned some new tricks like short rows and the mattress stitch, and improved my cabling and lace knitting skills. I also learned two important lessons:

  1. Fiber quality matters! While I absolutely love all the sweaters I knit this year, there are some that I love a little more than the others. Acer (a wool/acrylic/mohair blend) and James (cotton/acrylic) probably get the most attention when I'm reaching for something warm. No doubt it's because they're so soft and comfy! That said, Campus became a closet staple this December as the weather turned cold and Hypatia got a lot of use in the spring and summer months since it pairs so well with dresses and tunics. Still, I wish C and H were a wee bit softer to the touch. This year I plan to be more choosey with the items I frog.
  2. Swatching is a must! So I know I say "always always swatch" on my DIY page because, heck, it's important! But often one to ignore my own advice, I rarely swatch...or rather, I rarely swatch properly. Instead I'll cast on 30 or so stitches, knit a couple rows, measure, make sure I'm within the gauge limits, and then get going. If the gauge is off I'll go down a needle or two without re-swatching and hope for the best. This has led to some pretty serious gauge shame and frogging. Sibella was one of those gauge disasters. I had nearly finished the body and a sleeve when I thought, "Hey, this looks a little loose." To my nonsurprise my gauge was off. Rip rip rip. This year I plan to swatch properly. Any resources on the subject would be greatly appreciated!

As for 2015, I am very excited to embark on new knitting adventures! Some patterns I'd like to tackle include:

1. Bressay Dress by Gudrun Johnston // 2. Backbay by Jared Flood // 3. Ondawa by Michele Wang // 4. Stasis Pullover by Leila Raabe

The Better Sweater Project has been a real gift to me this year. It has provided me with a sense of purpose when I've felt lost, and highlighted a resourcefulness I didn't quite know I possessed. It has allowed me to further explore my passion for knitting and transformed the way I look at the craft. I am so happy to have stumbled upon the wonderful world of recycled yarn and better sweatering!

Looking forward to knitting the Better Sweaters of 2015, transforming meh into yeah!