So. It’s been awhile. I know. I’ve been done with this sweater for an embarrassingly long time without writing about it. Due in part to our terrible rainy spring weather, which makes it difficult to photograph properly; and due in part to the current stage of life Gumball is in. He’s reached THAT point of toddlerhood, where anything is a hill to be climbed in the house, a button to be pushed, a tone of defiance and a bolt in the opposite direction any time he’s asked to do something. He asks “What’s thiiiiiiis??” several times a minute. He’s refusing naps. In short, he’s taking every spare moment I think I might have and filling it with tiredness or heart attacks. And I love him so dearly, he melts my heart with the smiles as big as his face.
With all this toddler chasing and never sleeping, my minutes to spare have been sparse. And with that has gone my time to make pretty garments and write about them. I’m trying my best, as I have a great amount of fabric waiting in the wings for new spring things (or is it almost summer already?!). They just might be fewer and farther between for this season of life, which is okay.
So this sweater. This is one of those projects that I just slowly chip away at leisurely, without a time frame in mind for finishing. I actually like to have a sweater like this on the needles at any given time. It makes for a relaxing project on nights when the kids are in bed, and I want to work on something fun, but don’t have it in me to figure out the logistics of a new project. Something I can work on for a few rows, mark my place, and turn in. Something I can carry to the park, or on a family car trip, or bring along to a get together. With long mundane knitting, I actually have less patience if I’m focusing on it, bored to tears with endless stockinette or seed stitch or whatever the pattern. Turning it into a project with no end date, and just enjoying the work when I have a few moments, makes it a pleasurable marathon.
I bought the yarn for this, Madelinetosh Sock, at the Sow’s Ear during a particularly trying time during our last move. I was stressed to the brim, and my loving husband kicked me out of the house, handed me the stockpile of gift cards I’d been hoarding, and told me to go treat myself to a coffee and a new pile of yarn. I couldn’t decide between this gorgeous dusky purple pink or a robin’s egg freckled blue in Rowan Felted Tweed, so in the end bought both.
Kim Hargreaves patterns always send me. They have little feminine twists on seemingly plain garments that make for the unexpected in knitting and wearing. I love the reliable fitting, the straightforward writing, and the detailed schematics that let you redo the shaping for yourself as needed. Really just lovely solid patterns.
I’d been drooling over the Rosa sweater in her book Thrown Together, which is knit almost like a henley, for a long time. I love a well fitted shell, and this has such nice feminine details. Worked from the bottom up, it has short row shaping along the hem to give the center front and back just a slight curve down. The lower edge rib is also worked sideways before picking up stitches and knitting the body up. This makes for a really strong and elastic rib, while making it just slightly more interesting than your usual. I would normally have preferred to work this in the round instead of in a front and a back piece, but due to the atypical rib and the short rows, I followed instructions. I also like knitting such fitted garments in pieces just in case I want to do any tweaking before seaming; it allows you just a bit of wiggle room to make a last minute change without ripping out an entire garment as you would have to do for something seamless.
I did get bored along the back and started timing my stitches per minute in knit and purl, and was happy to see I’ve picked up speed over the last few years. The fronts went quickly, as did the sleeves. The real pill in this project was the ruffles.
I have no earthly idea why the ruffle instructions are written as they are. You cast on in the main color for a million stitches, the same yarn with which you’ve been knitting the sweater. And I mean a million stitches. Actually between 344-384 depending on which ruffle, but that’s a ton when you’re using long tail cast on and you pick the wrong length of yarn and have just spent an entire episode of Sherlock casting on. You then switch to kidsilk haze, a soft lovely silk/mohair blend yarn that’s incredibly sticky, has no stretch, and will not rip out at all. Don’t make any mistakes now, because they’re permanent. Decrease, decrease, decrease, and cast off. And then you only have 4 ends to weave in per ruffle, plus the sewing to the actual sweater. Sounds like a ball, right? Oh, and if you choose to utilize the inside and outside yarns for a faux long tail cast on, just add a few more ends to weave in. Fun times.
Instead: Knit the sweater first, which includes a purl bump ridge for where to set the ruffles. Using the kidsilk haze, pick up the appropriate number of stitches and work increases instead of decreases. Cast off the bajillion stitches and weave in your ends. If I ever decide to embark on the cardigan variation of this sweater, this is how I plan to save myself from headaches and twisty yarn.
After a year and a half of on and off knitting, and a couple months of on and off seaming, I finally finished it this spring. Just in time for our bizarre weather, which has been half cold and half raining, with an hour of warmth and sunshine every two weeks or so. (Raining even the day I took these pictures, hence the differing backgrounds when I was suddenly forced indoors midshoot. Eek!) A snuggly short sleeved sweater has been a nice wardrobe addition for our changing seasons, and the color should transition easily to fall. The fit is excellent, and the finishing around the neckline and the placket are well done. She really does write a smart pattern.
I adore how the neckline is worked on this. Picking up after the shoulder seams are sewn, you knit in reverse stockinette a few rows before casting off. It curls and sits nicely to the inside edge, and provides a strong yet stretchy finish. No worries about it stretching too far out of shape, or it being too inelastic to go over your head. Just another perfect thoughtful detail. I’m also in love with the clear aurora borealis finish buttons I found at The Sow’s Ear. They had a few different designs all the same size, and the mix-matched look is subtle and charming.
I started the Felted Tweed sweater soon after casting off the last stitches on Rosa; another pattern from the same book, named Beatrix. I’ve finished the back and am moving up one of the fronts, but with summer encroaching, it’ll probably sit on a shelf until cooler times are upon us again in the fall. It’ll be a fun project to sit with under blankets sipping cocoa when I feel like curling up with some yarn again. Until then, on to some summer sewing, if it ever stays warm out there! Wishing you all good weather!
Love from Wisconsin,