September 26, 2006

She's gone to pieces

In which That Laurie is graciously welcomed to the blog host seat (If it is even possible for me to possess grace at this point. ) and begins to tell of her recent flirtation with modular knitting, what she did with it, and the sorts of sweaters that she got at the end. (There are some very, very good sweaters in this. The last one (Thursday) is my favourite.) That Laurie will be comment lurking, so ask questions if you got em...

The First Patchwork Sweater

Either you are the kind of knitter who LIKES to knit piece by piece, or you are the kind of knitter who finds all those little bits too fiddly. Although I embrace the whole circular-knitting-with-no-seams project, I do find some piece by piece knitting very satisfying. I have flirted with Domino Knitting and even with a pattern from Just One More Row. My favorite from the latter is the San Francisco Shirttail , although I MUCH prefer it with the alternate sleeve. You see the version which led me to prefer that other sleeve here. The second version I made worked much better and looked a lot less boxy! This pattern does VERY nice things with handpainted yarns, by the way.

However, what got me truly involved with knitting piece-by-piece was a sweater I saw a woman wearing in Barnes and Noble as I sat on the floor perusing the new knitting books. (Stephanie is not the only one who tends to follow around knitted garments to try to figure out how they are made!) This lady’s sweater included several strips, each displaying individual cables and a different colors of yarn. Clearly constructed from machine spun yarns, the sweater was still very cool and distinctive – and definitely my kind of thing! And wouldn’t it be even nicer in handspun?
Mine is a bit chunkier than hers, but it embraces the same principle--four-inch wide cable strips knit from different yarns, all spun from Romney cross sheep at worsted-to-bulky weight. The cable panels are 4 inches wide and allowed me to play with all kinds of different cabling:


Two sections on the body were eight-inch wide textured pattern to break up the strips, one at the bottom edge of two in the front and one at the top edge of two in the back. I started each “patch” with a provisional cast-on (knitting into a crochet chain) and slipped a stitch at the row ends on each side so that I could seam it easily. I blocked all the strips to size before crochet-seaming them together with the darkest yarn and knitting the cuffs and bottom in garter stitch. The seaming was not as tiresome as it looks since I just picked up stitches on each edge and did a three-needle bind off to link them together.
Basically all the strips were supposed to be the same width and length, but I decided along the way to use short rows at the upper edges for the neckline so that the neck need not be square:


I had one shorter panel for the underarm body section. The sleeves included a single 4 inch panel like the ones in the body and underarm panels that started slightly wider and then narrowed slightly toward the cuff. Several of these panels came from a three-color fleece by a sheep named Moxie--thanks to Swiftwater Farm! And here is the completed sweater:


The nice things about knitting this sweater were a) being able to try out different cables (I used Leslie Stanfield’s The New Knitting Stitch Library) being able to work on individual strips “on the road” because each individual strip was quite portable, and c) having fun in arranging the strips in various ways to see how they would look together before seaming them together.

I will admit that my husband thought the whole project looked quite awful in progress (however, even he liked the final version). Also it is a VERY bulky sweater but not too hot because it is so loose. As a heavy duty sweater for cold Maine days, it works quite well. And it COULD have a more shaped silhouette if I had used cables that “gathered” more at the waist of the sweater.

Next up – in which patchwork evolves and includes handdyed yarns.

Posted by Stephanie at September 26, 2006 8:36 AM