Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cabled, Cotton, and Knitted

Finally, the cabled cotton sweater is blocked and ready for photos. Actually, the shot below was taken yesterday morning, just before I put it in the washer (hand wash cycle, fabric softener only, no detergent).

It's so nice and new that I'm still treating it a little gently. After squeezing it between towels (for some reason, my washer doesn't spin-dry in the hand wash cycle), I laid it out flat with the fan on it. It was dry by morning and I went out to the crab apple for a few photos.

Unfortunately for the sweater, it was chilly, the sprinklers were on (K exhibited bad timing on the sprinkler project), and the crab apple flowers were distracting.

So that's all the decent photos. I abandoned the camera for the days chores. An excursion to you-know-what Mart has proved the sweater to be quite wearable, comfy and fairly warm, thus proving that using a worsted weight yarn and size 7 needles in the Cabled Pullover pattern from the Silver Anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting can produce a fitted sweater, rather than an oversize one.

The pattern calls for over 3,000 yards of a sportweight wool yarn. I had 1240 yards of a cotton and acrylic blend (ye olde Cotton-ease). Since the sportweight yarn is held double, a heavier weight yarn held single would require 1,500 yards. I thought I'd knit a shorter version to reduce the yards needed to around 1200. Unfortunately, I got carried away with my cables and didn't start the armholes quite soon enough.

The sweater is a smidge too long. That's not a serious problem, but it does explain that crease you see at the bottom in the photo above. I first thought I messed it up in blocking, but now I realize that it gets caught in my lap when I sit. After a couple of cups of coffee this morning, I had a crease. Also, if the sweater had been shorter, I would have had enough yarn to knit the turtleneck to the recommended 11" length. As it is, I only had enough for a 7" turtleneck. The jury is still out on the question of collar length. Certainly it will do, especially since it is short enough to wear up, as a mock turtleneck, or just flopped down in front, cowl-style. For comfort, I prefer it rolled down.

My final commentary on the sweater concerns the shoulders and sleeves, where I made some pattern modifications. When knitting the back armhole decreases, I stopped cabling as soon as the decreases cut into the cable stitches. This left several rows of stockinette above the last cable twist. To eliminate that effect on the front, I cabled and decreased at the same time, crossing the stitches first, then decreasing when knitting the two stitches closest to the edge. You can see the result in the photo above. (All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them). The cable twists go right up to the decrease line. I'd rather have done this on the back as well, but having this difference in the front and back cable endings makes it easier to tell the front from the back when I'm pulling on the sweater.
My second modification was to change the pattern in the sleeves, replacing the diamond cable with a plain cable and the reverse stockinette with broken ribbing. I thought this would make the pattern line up better. In a way, it does. The broken ribbing on the sleeve matches up with the same pattern on the body, the outside cable matches with the second cable on the body, and the inside cable matches with the third cable on the body. It's not perfect, but considering that the sleeve is reduced by approximately 30 stitches and the body is reduced by approximately 60, the only way to get a perfect match would have been to reduce the number of stitches in the central twisted ribbing enough to make room for the diamond cable.

Although I considered it for days, I finally decided against reducing the ribbing. I'm glad now that I left it, for a completely unforseen reason. It allows a lot of stretch over my shoulders.
The shoulders are a part of this sweater that probably need to be re-designed in my version. The oversize version falls off the shoulder; no fit needed. In a fitted version, the back should be raised (I added two sets of short-rows to the back shoulders, but the back neck is still too low). Also, for someone with square shoulders (me!), either the sleeve cap or the shoulders should be wider.

I've read that a yoke sweater might need extra increases in the yoke for someone with square shoulders. Overall, set-in sleeves would fit that body type better. I think the same rule applies with raglans, which are just yoke sweaters with the increases (or decreases) confined to one area.

As it is, I've skated by with this one. My other cotton-ease sweaters have stretched out tremendously. This one will loosen up with each wash.

 Update:  I've worn this sweater frequently for a couple of years, always machine washing and sometimes machine drying it.  Now that it has stretched a good bit, I ripped back the neck, decreased the stitches by nearly half and reknit the neck in a simple ribbing with short rows at the back.  The sweater is even more comfortable now. 


Anonymous said...

It's absolutely lovely - the color's great and I prefer the shorter turtleneck - looks feminine, not oversized.

Wool Enough said...

I much prefer your revised version to the original pattern. The fit is great, the way the cables play off against each other is eye-catching, and the color is lovely too.

Wool Winder said...

Beautiful work!

Sam said...

Wow this is a beautiful sweater. Great modifications and pointers. I really like both the body and the collar length. Very nice indeed.

Sydney said...

It's a lovely sweater. I like your modifications and the Cotton Ease has good stitch definition. Nice work!

Marjorie said...

I think it looks very nice on you. The pictures are great.

One modification I almost always make is to have little cables (say 2x2) twist toward (or away from) the center of the front or back, in that way you can make attractive, matching decreases along the armhole. I never considered whether I had square shoulders or not, but I find raglans confining and prefer the mobility of set-in sleeves.