Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just what I wanted

Several months ago (ok, about a year ago, if I'm being perfectly honest) I decided I wanted a drapey shawl collared cardigan - a sweatshirt sweater of sorts. A sport weight cardigan knit on size 3 needles takes a long time to knit. Thanks to the snow day last Wednesday, I finally finished and blocked the piece.

It's just what I wanted. What it really needs at this point is a shawl pin (maybe something like these) to keep it shut.

Pattern: I made this one up - more on that in a minute
Yarn: A Touch of Twist Peruvian Alpaca, about 2.5 skeins in the nutmeg colorway
Needles: size 3 addi lace circulars for the body and sleeves, size 2 addi lace circulars for the sleeves (magic loop)

This is just a basic raglan cardigan that I whipped up with pen, paper, and the calculator on my phone. I actually knit a relatively large swatch (and washed it!) and then plugged those numbers into the measurements that I wanted.

I wanted a sweater that I could wear comfortably while pregnant but that (hopefully) wouldn't look like a tent when I'm not pregnant, too. I figured 42" at the bottom and 35" at the bust would be good measurements to go with. This time I was good - I cheated - when picking those measurements. I just measured my Kerrera sweater, which I wear all the time.

Throw in 3" of ribbing at the bottom hem and on the side edges (subtracting 3" accordingly from the hip and bust measurements in order to figure out stitch counts), and decrease evenly from hip to a couple of inches below the underarm. That's all there was to the body.

As for the sleeves, I went with something like 30% of the bust circumference (or key number, if you're familiar with the EPS) for the upper sleeve circumference and 20% of the key number for the ribbing. Increase evenly from the top of the ribbing to a couple of inches above the elbow, working straight to the underarm, and you have a sleeve.

There are many ways to handle decreases on the yoke - raglan, set-in sleeves, and saddle shoulders, just to name a few. Raglan shaping is my go-to sleeve treatment. It looks good on me - my shoulders are neither too wide nor too narrow - and, more importantly, it's easy! Plus, you can throw in a fun cable between the decreases to make things a bit more interesting.

The v-neck shaping was a bit trickier, but only because I have no handy formula for that like I do with the raglan seams (work straight for an inch or so after joining the sleeves to the body, then decrease every 4th round a couple of times, then decrease every other round). So, I started decreasing around the spot where the sleeves joined the body and decreases every 4th round until there were no more front stitches to decrease, except for a selvedge stitch. In other words, once I was decreasing the sleeve stitches every other row, I calculated when I needed to stop decreasing at the neck edges. 

How, exactly? Take the number of stitches on the sleeve and divide by 2. Then subtract this number from the total number of stitches on the front edge. This last figure is the number of front body stitches that can/should be decreased.

Yes, this sweater involved a fair amount of math but it was very easy math and the basic formula works every time. At least for me. It certainly fits while I'm very pregnant.

Now I just have to wait and see how it looks when I'm not so pregnant.

And, because I so enjoy the various shots of snow in the woods around the blogosphere, I thought you might enjoy a pic of snow in the city. This is the view looking north from our building towards the loop. That's the Sears Willis Tower on the left.


Jonah said...

The sweater looks nice ... and I really like the view of the city - especially the sky!

Brenda said...

Great sweater, Rue. I'm an EPS fan too. Love the cabled raglans. I sometimes feel as if I'm cheating doing raglan sleeves because they are so easy. But like you, they look good on me so why not?

elizabeth said...

You're wearing a hug! It looks great, and I'm marking this post unread for your helpful notes!

Jodi said...

It turned out beautifully! I love the fancy raglan details.

Striking photo of Chicago! Paul used to work in the Sears Tower, and all the swaying in the breeze gave him the willies. The view was tremendous, though.

Anonymous said...

Very nice and impressive. If it's too big afterwards, the shawl pin will be perfect. That WIP in the pictures looks like it's nearly done! :)

Rachel said...

I wonder if I'll ever get the nerve to 'make-up' my own sweater design. I'm seriously impressed with anyone who does that...and yours looks amazing. I especially love the cabling detail at the shoulders. Thanks for all the detailed notes...if I ever do get that nerve, this would be a great starting point for me!

Very dramatic beautiful (for a city of course!). ;)

Carlene said...

ooh, I just found your blog through pinterest! I'm looking forward to reading all the way back.


who still calls it the Sears Tower