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The Saga of the Orange Sweater

Apr 15, 2011
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Salt Peanuts by Veronik Avery  

As long as I've been knitting, my friend Molly has been there for all the ups-and-downs, ripping out stitches, and projects gone terribly wrong. She's the one who convinced me to switch from throwing to picking, which really made my knitting take off. We belong to a knitting group that's been meeting for seven or eight years, and now that I live in a different city, our group meets for knitting weekends a couple of times a year.

One of the wonderful things about belonging to a group is sharing tips, skills, and resources. One of the resources I shared with my group is the book The Best of Interweave Knits: Our Favorite Designs from the First Ten Years, edited by Ann Budd, which I've had for much longer than I've been working at Interweave! 

Molly fell in love with the design Salt Peanuts, by Veronik Avery. She liked the orange color, and looked for a similar yarn. What she found was a true citrus orange in the form of Adreinne Vittadini's Trina, which is a cashmere/merino/microfiber blend. (Sadly, Adrienne Vittadinni yarn is no longer produced, which is a shame—I've made a couple of sweaters with Vittadini yarn, and it's wonderful.)

Molly came to visit me in Spokane and she brought along her orange sweater. "It's dead to me," she said. Uh, oh.

Her problem was that the shawl collar on this lovely sweater is pretty complicated, and Molly was "over it," as we like to say.

The sweater is trimmed all around with a simple lace rib, but when you get to the shawl collar section on each front, you have to do arm shaping, V-neck shaping, short-row shaping all at the same time, while flipping the ribbing so the front shows when the collar is folded over. Oh, and I forgot to mention that you have to increase the collar stitches, too. Yikes! The rest of the sweater is really easy—stockinette stitch with that simple, pretty lace-rib trim—so all the shaping at the collar is a bit of a shock! (But totally doable, and worth the effort.)

I told Molly I would finish it for her, but that turned out to be a lie. The poor orange sweater sat in its bag for a couple of months. I went on a trip to Seattle and returned it to her, with apologies.

While the orange sweater was staying at my house, though, my mom noticed it and loved it. She said a couple of times how much she liked it and could I make her one in the same yarn, et cetera. My answer? "Yeah, right."

About a year passed and Molly was planning another trip to see me. I asked if she'd finished the orange sweater and she said no. So I told her I'd buy it from her and finish it for my mom. (That's how much I love my mom!) She said I could have it; she just wanted it out of her UFO pile! I did end up giving her some yarn and a hat I'd made, so it seemed like a fair trade.

So now I'm working on a sweater that someone else started. I didn't know what size Molly was making, and she couldn't remember, so I counted stitches to figure that out. Here's the rest of the story in photos:

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Here's how I received the sweater, in its plastic-bag home.   Here are the pieces, a back and two partial fronts that Molly knitted, and two sleeves (they're stacked on top of each other) and a gauge swatch that I've knitted. Poppy looks skeptical . . .

Adventures in Getting Gauge

The hardest part of picking up this sweater midstream was matching Molly's gauge. There was a size 8 needle in one of the pieces, so I thought that might be what she'd used. I did a swatch and I was way over the stitch gauge. I went up to a 9 and didn't actually get stitch gauge until I switched to a 10. I'm a little off on the row gauge, but I can cope with that by knitting to the correct length measurements.

I think it'll all turn out fine after blocking.
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I'm not done yet, but I'm on my way. My mom's birthday is in June, so that's the finishing goal. I think I'm up to the challenge!

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I'm using this Susan Bates "Peg-It" counter to keep track of all of the shaping and it's working like a charm.  

And as I've been working from this book, I've found another pattern to add to the queue: Norah Gaughan's Cabaret Raglan. This really is a fantastic book, full of timeless classics. Get your copy of the Best of Interweave Knits now, while it's on sale!


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barbara gaul wrote
on May 24, 2011 1:53 PM

Finishing someone else's knitting involves a bit of detective work, rather like substituting a different yarn than the original, or finding a "set-aside" work of one's own. However, after the initial frustration, there is much that can be learned- about the pattern, the yarn, oneself.  

EllenD wrote
on Apr 22, 2011 4:11 PM

Poor Adrienne Vittadini ...

on Apr 19, 2011 2:02 PM

To my chagrin, I discovered the day after the newsletter went out that the Peg It has just been discontinued. So I'd just scour the web to see if any stores have them in stock and get yours ASAP.


JenniferB@73 wrote
on Apr 18, 2011 10:11 AM

Kathleen - where does one find the Susan Bates "Peg It"?  I've tried a couple of searches on line and all I've found are second-hand ones that are already sold out!  Is it still available?  Thanks

Jennifer Baldes

Kamloops BC

cjrgemini01 wrote
on Apr 17, 2011 5:33 PM

Where can you get the Peg It?  It seems to be discontinued.

eileen-s wrote
on Apr 16, 2011 8:33 PM

Be careful what you endorse ... the Susan Bates "Peg-It" is nowhere to be found, discontinued ... out of stock.  

on Apr 16, 2011 11:26 AM

I truly enjoyed your article on the orange sweater; as a matter it prompted me to order The Best of Interweave Knits.  I hope you can finish it and that it works out for your mom.  

KathleenL@15 wrote
on Apr 16, 2011 9:10 AM

Well I loved the look of this sweater, but I found it the most difficult item I had ever attempted.  I resorted to writing out each row with all the shaping.  In spite of that, the collar never did lay right on me.  I am large busted so perhaps I should have added extra short rows.  The collar just kept rolling up and would not lay flat despite steam blocking.  I finally sewed the collar down and have worn it a couple of times that way.  However I am still thinking about ripping it apart and reusing the yarn in some other garment.  

Kaki in Chicago

micamynx wrote
on Apr 16, 2011 8:34 AM

I laughed out loud when I saw this post because I too have a Salt Peanuts at the very same stage! It was started 2 years ago and put away, then pulled back out with a determination to finish only to succomb to the shawl collar frustration in January. It is now stashed away again with THREE unsuccessful pencil scribbled row-by-row calculations of increases, etc.  I will anxiously follow your progress and I am off to look up this magic "peg it" device!

catlynn1 wrote
on Apr 16, 2011 1:09 AM

Hi I was reading your latest knitting daily newsletter and I was wondering what you mean by throwing and picking. I have never heard of those expressions before relating to knitting.



LizT@4 wrote
on Apr 16, 2011 12:34 AM

I tried to knit this cardigan a couple of years ago and had trouble with the collar/armhole shaping. I didn't realise how uneven the collars were until I had sewn it up and tried it on. It went in the frog pond!! Perhaps a 'Peg-it' would have made all the difference.



knitting57 wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 8:44 PM

I have been looking for a Susan Bates "Peg It" counter for over a year now. Where can I get one of my own?


Anneke4510 wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 7:50 PM

Cannot find the Susan Bates "Peg It" anywhere on the web.  Wish i could find one.


CHIcarla wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 5:01 PM

Funny you should mention the Cabaret Raglan.  I wore that sweater today!  I made it from Knitpicks Shine Worsted in a coral color that has since been discontinued.  Yes, The Best of Interweave Knits does contain a lot of good patterns and tips!

Linchad wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 3:15 PM

I have this pattern also but have not attempted it. I'm glad you're doing it. What was the "and the winner is" all about? I guess I didn't read earlier. I have that pattern and actually have on the sweater right now! I love the pattern.

Valerie@43 wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 3:02 PM

You're so lucky to have a Peg-It...I've seen them sell on E-bay for 35 dollars +.  I wish the company would make them again.  


on Apr 15, 2011 2:01 PM

Are those counters no longer being made?  I tried to find one and nobody has them.

Meghan@4 wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 1:45 PM

I JUST finished knitting this sweater for myself, and I totally loved it! I did it in Rowan Pure Wool in Honey and it is my new favorite sweater ever. I found that the short rows in the collar lined up for me on every other row of the decreases at the collar. And then I just checked the armhole shaping everytime I knit it to make sure I was doing the right thing. This pattern gets 5 stars from me, and the Best of Interweave book is one of my favorites :) xo Meghan from Spokane

Sqbrt wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 1:32 PM

I feel really silly asking this, but what are you talking about with the "Peg-it" counter.  This is the first I've ever heard of it.  Could you please explain it a bit?

John PaulM wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 12:31 PM

You mention "switching from throwing to picking."  Is that the same as knitting with the left hand vs. the right?  Or what some call the European way vs. the British way?  Whenever I knit Fair Isle patterns, I knit one color with the right hand and the other with the left as it avoids getting the two strands tangled up.  Is that a usual practice?  An old woman taught me that about 30 years ago and it's saved me hours of untangling yarns.  JP McKinney

mishi wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 10:12 AM

I too have a "Peg it”, inherited from a crafter, and love the system, except if you are on the go. So I was so excited to get and now am hooked on my Knit Counter App on my Iphone, how did I live without it?

TerryG@4 wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 9:53 AM

You are amazing!  Taking on someone else's project is very ambitious.  By the way, I have one (different pattern, of course) in about the same state.  Can you work on mine next?  LOL

By the way, I love my Peg-It counter, too.  it's really helpful even for easy projects.

magpi wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 9:17 AM

This sounds like an interesting project. Where can I find the pattern?

Zoe wrote
on Apr 15, 2011 8:32 AM

Chuckles, I think Poppy knew there was one UFO now in your stash that you could actually finish!!!  What a wise dog you have, Kathleen.

Wisdom shared between knitters really is priceless.  Thanks Kathleen for another excellent blog!