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Dissertation Distraction Sweater

Long ago, though not terribly far away, I wrote a post about a delightful cable-y pullover sweater. This sweater took ages to knit, in no small part because I was working out the logistics of the pattern as I went, and, well that whole dissertation thing. Details.

The sweater is finished! It has actually been completed for well over a year now, but I had delusions of writing up a highly detailed and precise explanation of what I did to make the sweater. I have accepted that it just isn’t going to happen. Instead, here is a picture!

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This sweater is very snuggly and a bit oversized, which is just what I was aiming for. The only complaint I might have is that the shoulders and sleeves are too bulky to be very comfortable under a jacket. It works best as a solo act or as the outer layer on a cold day.  This is not quite the sweater that I initially dreamed up, but I am very happy with it nonetheless.


So what went awry? As you may be able to see, the front and back neckline are identical, so the sweater has no true front or back. This was NOT the original plan. The original plan was to extend the two rows of braided cable from up the sleeve all the way across the back of the neckline, rather than ending them at the neckline as they are in the sweater. This would have given the neckline more stability and offered the weight of the sleeves some support across the back of the shoulders. Unfortunately, when I was knitting this, I was rather focused on a dissertation chapter (DETAILS) and just carried on obliviously until I finished knitting the neckline edge. I couldn’t bear the thought of ripping out all that knitting, so I improvised and left the knitting as it is.

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Without the added support across the shoulders, the heavily cabled shoulders tended to drag themselves off my shoulders under their own weight. Nothing against off-the-shoulder sweaters, but that sort of thing works MUCH better when it’s deliberate and not weirdly bunching on the arms! My solution was to run a piece of sewing elastic through the pocket created by the double layer of ribbed knit at the neckline. This way the neck opening is still stretchy, but it also doesn’t let the sleeves attempt to wander off in different directions.

So will I ever catch up on the backlog of creative projects that haven’t made it to this blog? Who knows! But now I can finally wear my dissertation sweater without quietly thinking, “You know, you really should blog this!”


Reinventing a Must Have Sweater

This knitting story begins with the yarn.

Worsted weight wool, to my thinking, is not unlike rice or pasta. While perhaps not the most exciting gauge or fiber, it nonetheless provides the makings of many a substantial, satisfying knitting project. I like to keep a certain amount of worsted weight yarn on hand in much the same way that rice and pasta are always stocked in the pantry; they are my staples. Two years ago now I ordered a sweater’s worth of an admirable staple yarn from the WEBS annual sale. I like the combination of softness, sturdiness and stitch definition of Berroco Vintage, and the warm, autumnal color Chana Dal. It’s a nice yarn for cables. I am sure that there was a clear plan for this yarn at some point, but I’ve thoroughly forgotten what that might have been by now. Almost two year later, though, I have landed upon a sweater pattern/yarn combination that feels like a good fit.

Well, I got at least one decent knitting picture in.

Well, there was at least one decent knitting picture.

It has been some time since I last made a sweater for myself, so I wasn’t in a rush to use any old pattern. But late this summer, I got the itch for cables for some reason – densely knitted, complicated, twisty cables. At some point in my Ravelry trawling for a good, cable-heavy sweater pattern, I came across fibrenabler’s “On the Bandwagon with the Must Have” sweater and fell in love. I adore a clever saddle-shoulder construction in a sweater; they always seem to fit better across the back and to hang nicely without shifting around. The saddle-shoulder means that the cable pattern on the sleeves can continue up the shoulders to the neckline and even along the back of the neck.

... and then this happened.

… and then this happened.

One advantage of using this particular sweater for inspiration is that I already have the referenced patterns on hand. This lovely sweater is an adaptation of the Paton’s Must Have Cardigan pattern which was released way back in 2002. I suppose it tells you something about how long I have been knitting that I picked up a copy of the Paton’s pattern booklet way back then. According to fibrenabler’s project notes, she also used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Seamless Hybrid with Shirt Yoke” sweater recipe. I say “recipe” because Elizabeth Zimmerman doesn’t really do knitting patterns in the way that most patterns are written – they are closer to recipes with notes on appropriate ratios and suggestions for variations depending on the preferences and available materials of the knitter. EZ (as she is sometime affectionately referred to by knitters) wrote several brilliant, practical, and helpful “knitting theory” books in the 1970s and 1980s that I was fortunate enough to stumble across relatively early in my knitting career. If you have any interesting in knitting at all, I cannot recommend them more highly.

My polite request that she move has given great offense.

My polite request that she move gave great offense.

But anyway, back to the sweater! Knitting takes much longer than your typical sewing project, so this is very much a Work-In-Progress. Working in the round and from the bottom up, I have knit the torso to where the armholes should begin… I think. It looks kind of short the longer I look at it? I need to measure the length against some sweaters that fit me well. I am currently working on the first sleeve and knitting it flat. Most of the particulars of adaptations and the mechanics of how this thing will fit together will need to wait for a later post (once I figure it all out!). But for now, I will be giddily watching each cable crossing slowly form.

And here we can see the cat has settled in with no intentions of moving ever again. This peasant understand she only knits by the generous forbearance of her Cat Tyrant.

And here we can see the cat has settled into her new nest with no intentions of moving ever again. This peasant understands that she only knits by the generous forbearance of her Cat Tyrant.

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