I know many people make a horrified face at the idea of knitting a sweater in fingering and sportweight yarn, but for me, the finished garment is worth it. The weight is perfect for around the house. Comfy without the bulk. Warm without being too hot. Perfect to wear under a winter coat when walking. And perhaps a notch more presentable than the sweatshirt or flannel option? That’s what I tell myself anyway. I spend a lot of time outside here in central NY. My style is wind-blown meets cold weather flush with just a hint of tissue nose. Stranded colorwork sweaters make that look good!
From mid-October – mid-December, we did another round of medical excitement here. At the time, my knitting project was the gorgeous Shetland Bound shetland lace shawl. It’s a beautiful pattern and it required paying attention to the stitches, knowing where my reading glasses were, and well- brain space. After some adventures in ripping back and an object lesson in why we use safety lines frequently, I put it aside.
I did some stashdiving and found two 8 oz balls of handspun grey-brown shetland, a partial ball of handspun/hand-dyed turquoise, and a ball of randomly spun purple and blue that was supposed to be felted mittens but looked hideous in the swatch.
The yarns were sort of the same weight. OK, not really. The turquoise was a light dk, the purple/blue was a sport, and the shetland was a light sport/heavy fingering. I didn’t care. They colors were roughly in the same family. They grey-brown had been spun for a sweater, and I had more of the fiber if I ran short. And most importantly- I wasn’t knitting for the sweater. This was straight mental health knitting. If I got a sweater at the end, that would be the bonus.
I pulled up the pattern for the Sonrae sweater by Jennifer Steinglass and zipped through the yoke. Yokes are so satisfying! They go fast. Once the guidelines are knitted, the rest is very easy to see as you knit. It’s nice to have the pattern to look at, but hypothetically- if you did something unhelpful like forget your pattern on the table and only have the picture on your phone- you can easily figure out the next section by blowing up the image and following that. It’s two color knitting, so there’s very little yarn management. If the ball rolls under the seat of the car, gets snagged on the seat adjuster rod, and breaks- you can just rejoin and sew that end in later.
The turquoise section flew by. The fabric was dense. So dense! The yarn was very woolen, and the fuzz factor wasn’t helping balance the lighter weight of the grey-brown. OK, the turquoise pretty much ate the natural, but I went with it and hoped that all things would get better with blocking. I say that a lot.
I switched over to the hideous purple/blue mystery wool which I like in spite of itself. I spun this yarn at a farmers market and a festival with lots of help from the kids passing by. The weight and texture was all over the place. The kids pulled colors from a bin of pinks, purples, and blues, and we spun them together. There were lots of Barbie colors in this yarn, and they didn’t play as well with the blues as I’d hoped, especially after plying. Fortunately, the natural grey-brown tempered the somewhat sickly pinky-purple areas and perked up the marled areas where the yarn wasn’t sure what color it wanted to be. It was a quick knit through the remainder of the yoke and straight into the body.
Knitting a circular, plain knit sweater body in light sportweight yarn is the perfect hands on- brain off activity. It’s a tube. When I needed a bit of escape, I could sit in my comfy chair while the house slept and bingewatch Doctor Who while my hands just did knitty things on autopilot. I knit for a tunic, but then I realized I was going to be short of yarn. I had more fiber, but I’d also just spent two months training my finger to spin 115wpi singles for the Muness Shawl project. So, I pulled out the tunic length back to low hip length and used that yarn to finish off the sleeves.
I waffled on the length. The pattern calls for a higher hip finish, but that isn’t always a great length for me- esp if the sweater boxes up after wearing. I bit my lip & kept the low hip length, stuck the stitches on a piece of yarn and finished off the sleeves- watching the ball of yarn shrink as I knit. Yarn chicken is never relaxing!
I finished the sleeves and had enough yarn for about 3/4″ of ribbing. I started the bind off- and ran out of yarn. I was all set to rip back and knit a shorter body when I remembered I had swatched this yarn for a different sweater! I rummaged around, found the swatch, and used that yarn for the bind off.
Ta-da! Sweater done!
The sleeve length was perfect. I have short arms, so I finished the decreases and the transition and went right into the pattern for the cuff. I did go up an needle size in the colorwork as suggested.
It took a day of two of wearing before the turquoise yarn in yoke settled down. I have broad shoulders, so the extra width from the larger yarn was a good thing there. On the next one, I would use two sportweight yarns so the drape matches the rest of the sweater.
After all of that messing around with yarn chicken, it’s an inch and a half too long.
If I had made it to pattern length, it would have been perfect. Sigh.
I’m going to wear it for a bit and see if it boxes up a bit. If it does, then the length will sort itself out. If not- well, I may pull out the hem and reknit. Or not. I’m more likely to make another one!
Sizing- I mixed and matched sizes. I was a bit below gauge for the yoke and a fair bit below for the body, so I did the stitch count calculations to pick the size that would get me the dimensions I wanted. I could have matched the body to the yoke by changing needles, but I have broad shoulders and a larger bustline. The extra fabric was nice in the top, and the narrower body worked out. I kept the body needle size for the ribbing and knit a bit more gently for the hip and hem to get more of an Aline. Great idea for a tunic- crummy idea when I switched to a sweater. It’s too loose at the ribbing. I’ll fix that if I shorten the body length.