January 3, 2014

My holiday sweater...

Wow, how time can fly…
A couple of weeks ago, I started seeing the first on-blogging-vacation-for-the-holidays notifications and year-round-up posts on other blogs. And I thought there was no need for me to make either of those. Obviously, I would first finish my sweater, somewhere before Christmas, post about it and then get on to other stuff… Famous last words…

I mentioned before (previous post) how much work went into making those fair isle sections. Fortunately, when I was about half-way through, I got the hang of it. Stupid mistakes (which means in this case: forgetting to push a button before knitting a certain row) became rare and I could usually correct them. I also learned which steps in this design came with a risk of dropping stitches and managed to prevent some of those.
After that, I finished the plain knit front, back and sleeves in a single evening. I used the 'fake rib' from the manual for the bottom band and sleeve cuffs. 
At that point, just before Christmas, I thought I'd finish this thing rather quickly.
All I had left to knit was the collar, which starts with knit 2 purl 1 and then puts all the knit stitches together to form a knit 1 purl 1 rib for the top bit. Because I was a bit worried about the fake rib and the collar would be rather eye-catching, I decided to do that in a proper rib stitch, which can be made on my single bed machine by knitting the knit stitches by machine and then, by hand using a separate machine needle, creating the purl stitches in the spaces you've left open. But before I could even get to that, I already hit a snag: To combine two stitches into one over the entire length of the work, I had to take all of them off the machine, onto a normal knitting needle and then put them back on with two stitches on one needle (the purl-stitches-to-be are needles in 'rest' position and open spaces in the knit work at this point). And I only happened to have one set of knitting needles in my house: size 5, way too thick.
Fortunately, my parents were coming over on Christmas Day, so I called them and asked my mother for some thin ones. She brought me a set of size two needles which she doesn't need again any time soon.

Then, of course, social obligations took over and then a minor cold. And that making-real-rib-stitch-by-hand thing turned out to be very well possible, but really time-consuming. And when it was finally done, the resulting piece of knitted material was way too small. I had knitted the knit stitches on a higher tension than the rest of the sweater, like I was told to do for the fake rib. It looks like I should have used the same tension, or a slightly lower one. I might have been able to attach the finished thing to the yoke but it would never have fitted over my head. 
So, after hours and hours of hand-purling, it was back to the drawing board, or, in this case, the knitting machine. 
I had, by then, sewn up the sleeves to get a better look at that fake rib and I wasn't disappointed. The size was certainly good. So, I would have to try and make the collar in that way. 
It worked, even though the part I put on the inside (for fake rib, you knit just the knit stitches you need for the rib, for double the amount of rows and then you hang to first stitches on the last ones, doubling the whole thing), where I had to go from knit 1 purl 1 to knit 2 purl 1 isn't pretty. I had to pull on the work to get that done and add quite a lot of stitches in the middle so there are holes. But they are on the inside…

After that, A LOT of time went into sewing this thing together. All those yoke pieces had to be matched up with great care and sewing the yoke to the body pieces was no walk in the park either. Oh, and attaching the collar was rather fiddly as well.

I finally finished the sweater on 1 January, but at such a time that there wasn't enough daylight left to take pictures. On 2 January, I had to go to work, so really, today was the first opportunity I had to take pictures. Fortunately, E was willing to help me with that.

The sweater turned out a bit wider in the body than I had expected ( based on the pictures with the pattern. My stitch swatch was a good match, so this should be how it's supposed to fit) but fits well. I was a little worried about the less stretchy horizontal seam where the body and sleeve pieces are connected to the yoke but even though they are there, they aren't that obvious after pressing and they don't bother me when wearing the sweater. It's actually really comfortable and, because of that thin yarn, not too warm either.
And I'm really, really pleased with my fair isle design for that yoke.
I'm not sure how much use it would be to anyone, but if you like, I could share it.

Right now, I think it's time to go back to sewing for while, even though I'm already thinking about other knitting projects. I might try and do a round-up post for 2013 after all, but really, if I don't get to that in the next week, it's not going to happen.

Happy 2014 everyone!


  1. Happy new year! I love your sweater. The fair isle design is lovely. You almost make we want to get a machine like yours. :)

  2. gorgeous sweater - you can see the care you took with it - it's beautifully executed.

  3. That turned out beautifully! I admire your determination to try such an intricate project!

  4. This is lovely! Fair isle is a pain when done by hand as well. At least with your machine, it goes more quickly. Love the sweater, and I am impressed that you did it on a knitting machine.

  5. So good, I like the pattern very much.