Mireille

This sweater was almost a year in the making—I started it on June 1st last year, and finally bound off the neckline on May 23rd. This was a project that I worked on in fits and starts, knitting steadily on it for a good bit and then laying it aside for long enough for me to forget where I was or what my plans were. I made the knitting unnecessarily confusing for myself by not taking any notes as I was progressing through the pattern. I at least had the sense to get this finished up before having a baby. If I had tried to pick this up in the fall or winter while balancing an infant, I knew the sweater would be a lost cause.

Mireille Pullover

This is the Mireille pullover from The Shetland Trader (Gudrun Johnston). This is the third Gudrun Johnston pattern I’ve made—I’ve previously made Audrey in Unst and Little Wave—and I really enjoy her work. Her sweater patterns have such great attention to detail and thoughtful construction methods that I really feel like I learn something new from each piece. With its loose fit and dropped shoulders, the design lines of this sweater are unusual for me. But I’ve had some success with a few boxier and oversized sewing patterns. Plus, I started knitting this at a point in time when my measurements were in flux and trying to knit something more fitted would have been kind of pointless.

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I ended up knitting the 48.5” bust size—my bust measurement was ~43” when I started and has more recently been ~41”, so I’m looking at wearing this piece with 5-7 inches of ease at the bust. The pattern calls for holding two different yarns together, which I didn’t want to mess around with. Instead, I substituted Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Charcoal, which worked well in terms of matching the pattern gauge and getting enough drape for the style.

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I pretty much followed the pattern instructions exactly. I swapped the cable called for in the pattern with a simple rope cable (when I was swatching, I just couldn’t get the charted cable to look neat enough for my liking) and changed the rate of decrease for the sleeves to get the right length, but I didn’t make any modifications otherwise. That makes it seem like knitting this piece was pretty straightforward, but it wasn’t. I actually attempted several different pattern modifications like adding width at the hip, adjusting the length of the body to account for the growth that my swatch showed, and widening the sleeves a bit based on my measurements. These are all pretty typical sweater alterations for me, and they all turned out to be completely unnecessary. Indeed, a big part of the reason that I kept picking this sweater up and then putting it down again was because I needed to rip out so much of the work that I had just completed and I kept getting frustrating.

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The failure of my attempted modifications had nothing to do with the pattern. A small part of it was simply that my gauge swatch lied to me—when I blocked the body to check the length, for instance, it turned out that the piece simply didn’t grow like my swatch had so my length adjustments were for naught. My changing measurements caused another set of issues since fit adjustments that I had planned out when beginning the piece ended up being unnecessary six months later. But I think the biggest factor was simply that this is the first time I’ve knit a loose-fitting sweater like this, and I was just at a loss for being able to visualize how the schematic measurement would or would not work for my body.

Mireille Pullover stitch detail

I really love the texture of this design, as well as the shaped shoulder, and I’m hoping this sees frequent wear in the winter. I’m going to have to wait until then to post modeled shots and really evaluate the fit, however. I can easily get the sweater on, but all I can see is how obviously wrong the fit is for my current (pregnant) body, which makes me feel frustrated with the sweater. Better to stash it away for a good bit, and evaluate the fit at a more appropriate time. Until then, I’m just glad this piece is no longer hogging space in my project basket.

Grandpa Cardigan

Finally! Finished pics of the Grandpa cardigan. I started knitting this in August as part of a knit-along with my friend, Abby. I’m pretty worn out on lightweight, fitted cardigans, but I’m really liking heavier-weight cardigans that almost more like jackets. I made the Girl Friday cardigan a few years ago, which is pretty similar in style, and I’ve been wearing it a lot over the last year. So I think the Grandpa cardigan will fit into my closet nicely. I used Cascade 220 in Atlantic. The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn, but I like the way this knit up in a worsted weight. The fabric isn’t too dense and the cables have great definition.

Before I get into detailing all of my fit modifications, I just want to say that this is a really excellent pattern. This sweater can be a bit challenging–there are a lot of different details to manage at once–but I think the pattern in written in such a way that makes tackling everything that you need to do as clear and as manageable as possible. As long as you’re keeping track of the numbers and charts that are relevant to your size, I think it’s pretty easy to stay on top of where you need to be.

I think this pattern also has some really great design details. I like that the cable pattern is specific to each size and that the ribbing on the collar, sleeves, and hem is all finished with a tubular bind-off. I don’t think I’ve used a tubular bind-off before, and even though it’s a bit to work around the length of the collar, the result is really nice. (I found this tutorial from Interweave especially helpful when I was working the bind off.) I’ve also previously tried a pattern with a seamless, set-in sleeve like this pattern uses and ended up with a sleeve that looked really weird and baggy. I’ve seen other people get similar results with this construction method so I was a bit hesitant, but I think the sleeves on this cardigan look really good and have yet to see another project where someone had something funky going on with their sleeves.

My upper torso, full bust, and hip measurements all fall into three different sizes, which I usually manage with bust darts and a lot of waist shaping using methods that wouldn’t work with this particular pattern. To work around this, I started with the 42-44” size for the upper torso, and then added extra stitches for the bust by following the neckline instructions for the largest size. This made the sweater ~46” around the fullest part of my bust. Then I added more room at the hip by working 4 extra sets of increases at the waist shaping.

The armscye seemed a bit shallow to me, so I added 1/2” before starting the armhole shaping. I made the sleeves 2” shorter than the pattern called for and added a couple of extra buttons. After I finished the sweater at the end of the September, I realized it was looking a bit short and hitting me at kind of a weird place. So I ripped out the collar and button band and ripped out the ribbing at the bottom so that I could add another 2” of length in the body. I’m much happier with the longer length—I think it works well with the style of the sweater.

Adding the extra length used up the extra ball of “just in case” yarn I ordered for this project. If I hadn’t used it to lengthen the body, I probably would have gone back and made the button band significantly wider. The shawl collar is a bit shallow and sometimes wants to flip up, but I could also use a little bit of extra width on the body. The cables pull in enough that make this feel pretty snug even though it’s knit to the measurements I typically knit to. The pattern recommends 1-2” of ease, which I ignored because I typically knit sweaters with zero ease or just a bit of negative ease, but I wish I had added more ease through the body to counteract the behavior of the cables. If I were to knit this again, I’d also lower the back neckline by about an inch.

Making this pattern was the most fun I’ve had knitting in quite awhile. I highly recommend it, and I’m looking forward to trying more Joji Locatelli patterns in the future. There’s really a glut of knitting patterns available right now, but I Joji is one of the designers that always stands out to me (Ysolda Teague and all of the regular contributors to Brooklyn Tweed tend to be my other favorites). Not everything she designs is something I would wear, but I really appreciate the originality of her work and the fact that she’s coming up with more challenging designs that make use of a variety of construction methods and techniques. Maybe I’ll have to try Even Flow next?