Ranger

Behold my latest knitting triumph: I made Aidan a sweater!

I’ve knit Aidan a lot of stuff, but so far it’s been mostly socks and hats. I wanted to try knitting him a sweater, so I asked if he would be interested in one and gave him a handful of patterns to choose from. He picked Jared Flood’s Ranger pattern and decided he wanted it in a forest green similar to a color I’d used previously on a sweater for our godson. I ended up going with Valley Yarns Northampton in Dark Green Heather. (If you haven’t used Northampton before, it’s comparable in quality to Cascade 220, but more economical.) I started the sweater last May, finished it in August, and then let it sit around for awhile before I finally blocked it and sewed on some buttons. I mean, there wasn’t much incentive to finish it since it was too warm for him to wear it anyway. When it finally got cold, he wore it out once when we went to the movies and it was clear that it was way too big—the sleeves were a few inches too long and the whole thing just looked kind of droopy and sad.

Getting a sweater to fit another person (and more specifically, a person who is old enough to have lost all of their baby teeth) is it’s own kind of challenge, especially since when something goes awry, you really only have your eyes and your measuring tape to help you figure out what’s wrong. You don’t get to feel how the sweater fits—you can’t use feel and your sense of fit to differentiate what parts fit okay and what parts are a real problem. And that is a bit tricky.

I suspected that my row gauge was off, making both the sleeves and the yoke way too long post-blocking (although somehow the body of the sweater blocked out to the schematic measurements). I tried to get a more accurate sense of what my blocked row gauge was by measuring the sweater itself, but every part of the sweater I measured had a significantly different row gauge. And I’m not a novice measurer—I know what I’m doing. It was incredibly frustrating, and even though I had originally determined that it was mostly the yoke that was a problem, I somehow managed to convince myself during this measuring debacle that I was going to need to reknit the entire sweater. And so it sat with my knitting stuff for four months, taunting me, until I had knit through my stashed yarn and told myself that I needed to finish Aidan’s sweater before I could get anything new.

(Side drama: Just as I had resolved to fix this sweater, it was involved in a freak exploding-garlic-sauce situation that resulted in a quarter-sized grease stain on the back. This is the kind of thing that happens when you 1) leave a project just laying around for four months and 2) store your knitting stuff pretty close to the kitchen. The silver lining is that I now know how to treat a grease stain on wool: Mark the stain with a stitch marker. Put a small amount of dish soap directly on the stain, gently spread the soap around the affected area, and then soak the affected area in warm water without agitating, replacing the water as many times as needed until the water is clear of any soap bubbles. I let it soak for about 5-10 minutes each time before dumping out the water and refilling the bowl. Let the area dry over night and repeat the process if the stain is still at all visible.)

While I was prepared to rip the whole sweater apart, I had the good sense to try it on Aidan one last time and realized/remembered that the the body of the sweater before the raglan shaping was perfectly fine and the sleeves were also fine, except for being too long. So I saved myself a lot of trouble and just ripped back to the point where the sleeves joined the body of the sweater. I ripped both of the sleeves back about an inch to get rid of some of the excess length. The pattern, as written, contains two places where Jared Flood included short rows to allow extra length for broad shoulders and backs—one right before and one right after you join the sleeves to the body. However, when Aidan wore the sweater for the first time, I noticed that in addition to being too long in general, it was also dipping down in the back, giving him a weird droopy drawers situation. So when I ripped back, I ripped out all of the short row shaping since it didn’t seem like Aidan needed it. I reworked the yoke shaping to get rid of about 10 rows and omitted all of the short rows, so that I removed about 1.5” of length from the front of the sweater and about 3-4” of length from the back.

The resulting fit is much improved. There’s no more droopiness and instead of feeling like a grandpa, Aidan says he feels like the “kid” in the pattern photos. My only regret is letting it sit around for so long before I went ahead and fixed it. Oh well. It’s still cold enough for him to wear it for a bit this season. And I’m pleased enough with the result that I would knit him another sweater in a heartbeat. I hope he enjoys wearing it!

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