I’ve finished one sweater project which means I need to cast on another sweater! This time it’s going to be for me. No more selfless, good sisterly knitting for me for a while.
I’ve realized that when I start knitting, I don’t like to stop. Not even to measure my work (this particular trait has lead me to disaster so many times). So before I start knitting, I like to have everything planned out, all the math for the mods I’m doing settled, so when I start knitting, I can just go go go until I’m done. So let me take you on the journey that is me preparing to knit a sweater.
I’m a moderate fan of swatching. It’s alright. Whatever. But in this case, it definitely saved my butt. The plan was to knit the Hawser sweater by Jared Flood. I had been daydreaming about that sweater in this yarn. It was going to be perfect – until I swatched. And I hated almost everything about the swatch. The yarn/pattern combo I was so excited about did NOT work together. I think the yarn maybe isn’t wooly enough for this sweater. It just wasn’t doing it for me.
So after taking a day to mourn the loss of this daydream sweater, I decided the plan B should be the Threads sweater by Justyna Lorkowska. It was another sweater in my giant Ravelry queue of things to knit. It’s a bit sporty looking but also really versatile and can be worn at work. Perfect! So I swatched again. This time things did not end in disaster! I think the smoothness of the yarn really worked well with the lace detail. I’m quite happy with it.
Like usual, my gauge was a bit off (when will it ever be spot on?!). So that means I’ve got some math to do to make sure I pick the right size or modify things a bit if I need to go between sizes.
I start by looking through the pattern to find how many stitches are around the bust for each size. For the top down sweater pattern I decided on, I found it in the section that talks about separating the arms from the body. In flat knitting patterns, it is usually around the time you start the armhole shaping. Once you’ve got the number of stitches and you know based on your gauge swatch how many stitches you need to make one inch, you divide the two numbers. Divide the number of stitches for the bust by the number of stitches it takes you to knit one inch and you’ll find out how wide around each size will be at the bust.
So for this pattern because my gauge didn’t match the required gauge listed in the pattern, I’m going to be following the numbers for the smallest size but end up with a sweater that is between the small and a medium. It is going to work out perfect and give me about an inch of positive ease around the bust – which is exactly what I wanted.
Finally, I go through the pattern and highlight the numbers for the size I chose. I highlight everything: how many stitches I need to cast on, extra sections that are written for my size, how many stitches I should have at each point, everything! I find that highlighting makes it really easy to not get lost in the pattern and to remember what size I was knitting as I switch between projects.
Now just begin! This is the fun part. You’ve got your size figured out and you’re ready to go!
This is the least fun part. You can’t tell me to stop knitting! Once I’ve knit about two or three inches I like to stop, make sure my stitch count is right (although you really should be checking after each increase/decrease section), and make sure that your gauge is still spot on. I find that sometimes when I knit a lot of stitches in a row, I can really get into a rhythm and my gauge will change a bit from the swatch. If it’s different, I’ll evaluate if I need to drop or add a round of increases to make sure the sweater will still fit. Just remember that if you measured your gauge after blocking, it could be very different than your pre-blocking gauge!
And that’s it! I’ve made a lot of headway on this sweater so far and I’m really loving the pattern and the subtle tonal colors of the yarn. It’s so addicting! What’s your sweater knitting process like? What extra steps do you have that I don’t?