Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Tale of Two Sweaters

This is a story about two knitted sweaters, one finished and one in the trash.

Sweater One:  Long ago I bought some Rowan Yorkshire Tweed yarn in a lovely brick red. I bought the yarn because I liked the color with tweed flecks but had no specific pattern in mind. Although the yarn is labeled as dk weight, I knit it at a gauge between dk and worsted weight. In other words, my gauge was not suitable for sweaters knit with dk or worsted weight yarn. Still, I knit five swatches on various sized needles and tried three different sweater patterns.

Last December, I settled on the Garter Yoke Cardigan which is a well written pattern. I cast on the required number of stitches, modified the neckline, and knit beyond the yoke into the body. In order to get the correct gauge for this pattern, I knit with size 6 needles. Every time I knit on the sweater my hands hurt. Although the yarn was manufactured from "new wool," the fabric growing beneath my needles felt like cardboard. Last week, I decided life is too short to knit cardboard which hurts my hands. Quite relieved, I yanked the needle out, cut off the remaining yarn, and plunked the sweater in the trash. Usually, I salvage the yarn from abandoned projects. However, I had knitted these three balls of yarn so many times, I threw them away. I'll donate the remaining yarn to a good home because another knitter might get a different gauge. As for me, next time I'm tempted to buy a sweater's worth of yarn, I'll go in search of a pattern.

Sweater Two: Several years later, I purchased 1500 yards of Ultra Alpaca by Berocco to knit the Cassidy Cardigan. Ultra Alpaca with it's fiber content of 50% wool and 50% alpaca combines the softness of alpaca with the memory of wool. Knitting with Ultra Alpaca on the suggested needle size was like knitting with butter. I began knitting this sweater on August 4, 2010 toward the end of my father's life. The challenge of a cabled sweater and soft yarn was good company as Dad entered into hospice care.

While knitting this sweater, I learned to fix cables twisted the wrong way. After I sewed the sleeves into the body of the sweater, I discovered they were three inches too long for my short arms. I took out the cast on edges and pulled the bottom ribbing stitches out one by one. I used the Russian bind off at the bottom of the sleeves. In February, I did some research on Ravelry and figured out how to replace the hood with a collar of the small cable pattern used in the body of the sweater. I used my grandmother's technique of sewing grosgrain ribbon under the button band to make the front edge more stable. This past week, I finished weaving in the ends and sewed on a set of flat buttons which pulled the buttonhole side of the sweater out of shape. In order to accommodate the thickness of the knitted fabric, I sewed on another set of buttons with shanks. Although they were a slight improvement, the front edge still pulls a bit. However, the soft sweater fits well, and the cables all twist in the right directions. Other imperfections are part of the charm of my handmade projects.


  1. I popped over here after seeing your (beautiful) sweater in the Knitting Pipeline group on Ravelry. I'm so glad I did as I got to read more of the story behind your sweater. Great job!

  2. Every sweater is filled with lessons. It's even better when they turn out as beautiful as this one did. In your honor, I ordered yarn :-) this morning for a blue tea leaves sweater. I wonder what knitting it will teach me? J

  3. beautiful texture on your sweater! great fit on you!!
    ^)^ linda