A Sweater Tale

Knitting my Ambiente while on return flight from Phoenix July 2013

Knitting my Ambiente while on return flight from Phoenix

As you may recall from an earlier post — 6-1/2 months ago — I started on my very first adult-sized sweater. It was to be a birthday gift for my sister. The chosen pattern was Ambiente a lovely top down sweater featuring the contiguous sleeve method.

Here is what I discovered: never, ever make a sweater for someone who lives 2,279 miles away. For my maiden sweater attempt I definitely needed to have my sister readily available for fittings – even though I had very detailed measurements.

I began the project last July. Armed with her measurements, I set off on this new knitting adventure. Loved the contiguous arm method! Full of confidence, I made it past the neckline where I joined the garment to start working in the round. I then got serious and was constantly comparing my knitting to the measurements. Then, I frogged.  Started again. Measured. Frogged. Repeat. By December this project was in full hibernation.

I went to Phoenix last month and brought my poor neglected WIP with me. My sister tried it on and I was thrilled that the neck, shoulders, bustline, and waist were perfect! I next measured sleeve length and length down to the hipline where she wanted it to fall.

I, of course, had to refresh myself with where I was in the pattern and set off knitting to the eyelet round which precedes the start of a feather-and-fan lace motif at the hem. I finished the lace after measuring from under the arm to the bottom and confirming that it was the desired length. I did my usual knit two, pass 1st stitch over 2nd bind off and looked at this nearly finished item in horror dismay.

For some reason I had extra stitches in the lace pattern and now I had a rufflely, frou-frou hem. Even though much can be done in blocking, I just knew that that ruffle would never be tamed and my bind-off seemed to roll the edging more than I was comfortable with. Hot mess!

Since my sister was conveniently coming over to my Mom’s house, she tried it on. It was unanimous…frou-frou had to go. Adding to the trauma, was the eyelet row which hit her in a spot that she felt would require tank top underneath. Have you been to Phoenix, AZ? Well, it was 80 degrees outside…in February. You don’t want to be adding layers when you don’t have to.

More measurements were taken. After I ripped out the lace and eyelet sections, I did some lace pattern research. We agreed that we liked the wavy edge you get with the feather and fan stitch. After counting my stitches and reviewing different patterns for this stitch I found one matching my stitch count. I lengthened the body a bit by continuing in straight knitting (in the round) for 2” more and eliminated the eyelet round. As I knit the new lace pattern I could immediately tell that the edge was not at all frilly and would lay flat as God intended (or the designer, whoever came first).

As I prepared for the bind-off I once again did an Internet search for various bind-offs and found just the right one. Sadly, in my excitement and haste to get this damn sweater done, I’ve lost the link to the YouTube video.

After completing the last round in the feather and fan pattern, I did one round of knit and then bound off the stitches. Love, love, love this bind off.  It not only looks great, but keeps the edge from turning! Here’s how it’s done: knit the first stitch through the back loop, move the stitch back to the left needle and knit it again through the back loop. Repeat on the next stitch. Then, pass the first knitted stitch on the right needle over the second stitch (the one nearest the needle point). Continue in this manner until you’ve worked all stitches then end the last worked stitch by pulling yarn through loop to secure. I love the way it looks and it’s stretchy.

Feather and Fan along the  hem

Feather and Fan along the hem. I apologize for the poor photography!

I then applied the same lace pattern and bind off to the sleeves.

Sleeve detail

Sleeve detail

Provisional Cast-on technique

Provisional Cast-on technique

The next area to tackle was the neck edge. The pattern calls for a round of single crochet. While that’s easily accomplished, I’m not the best at crochet and cannot maintain a steady tension. Plus, I was already in a “learn new techniques” mood, so why not push myself. First, I had to learn a provisional cast on. Then watched a few videos and, voilà, I finished the neck edge with an applied I-cord!

I liked the provisional cast on finished with Kitchener stitch for smooth joining of the I-cord ends. You really have to look hard to see where it began/ended. Overall, I love the effect. It provides just the right amount of stability and gives a wonderful finish to the neck edge.

Neck detail with applied I-cord

Neck detail with applied I-cord

After blocking, my sister tried it on and declared, “It’s great. I’d like another one.”



Here is everything I learned while working on this project:

  1. Fuji by Berroco was a dream to work with. It is not at all splitty and has a lovely feel and drape. And yes, the next one will be made out of Fuji. Sue carries it in the shop. Next time you’re at Lovelyarns, take a look. It’s perfect for Spring/Summer knits.
  2. The contiguous sleeve method rocks! This Ravelry forum regularly lists contiguous patterns. You’ll definitely want to give this technique a try.
  3. When you’re working with the same non-woolen yarn/color, you might want to try the double knot technique. I recommend it and there are no ends to weave in! YAY!!!    As an FYI, I use a Russian Join when working with 100% wool.
  4. I am able to do the math necessary to match stitch count to patterns…this was not the case before. My math skills are somewhat lacking, so this was a big win for me.
  5. Love the applied I-cord edge finish. I am now on a quest to find other patterns where I can use it. I envision that the next few items I make will probably have an I-cord somewhere on it.
  6. When I find videos/instructions for new techniques, write down the URL…it just might come in handy someday.
  7. And, finally, if you’re me, don’t make a sweater for someone who is not geographically available to continually try on and fit…at least not until I get much better at making sweaters.

Have you learned any new techniques lately?

This entry was posted in Observations, Ravelry, Techniques, what's on the needles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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