Interweave’s Contracts Administrator, Kate Grusauskas, knit herself a beautiful sweater in some Noro yarn, with some help from Ann Budd. Today, Kate is sharing with us her process for swatching, designing, and knitting up this gorgeously cozy pullover. Take it away, Kate!
I had five skeins of Noro® Taiyo yarn in my stash for a while, enough, I thought, to make a V-neck vest for myself, using one skein for each quarter of the vest, with the last one for finishing the neck and arm holes. I wanted a relatively simple pattern, to let the long stripes in the yarn shine, and I thought a complex pattern might not show up very well against the stripes. I made the vest in quarters rather than halves because I didn’t want the sweater to go from really narrow stripes in the body to really wide stripes at the shoulders.
Having learned the hard way that I am a loose knitter and my garments tend to grow after washing and blocking, I made a giant gauge swatch in stockinette stitch using size 7, 8 and 9 needles, with garter stitch dividers. After washing and blocking, I liked the looks and drape of the bit made on the size 9 needles best. I also kind of liked the look of the periodic garter bits.
Next, I got out my copy of Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns and compared my gauge to her charts to figure out how to make my vest. Using Ann’s recipe/formula for a 40” chest, with a gauge of 4 stitches to the inch, I cast on 40 stitches for the left back section. Wanting a rustic, weekend-y sort of vest, I knit 3 rows, then did a garter ridge, then went back to stockinette for a slightly rolled, unfinished edge. I knit until I felt like throwing in a garter ridge, back to stockinette, then more random garter ridges until I was done. It went really fast with the relatively thick yarn and big needles, following Ann’s wonderfully clear formula for when armhole and neck shaping should be done. I did the right back and the two fronts in the same manner. When all four pieces were done, I had used not quite 3 skeins.
I went back to The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns to see if I could fit sleeves into the vest size armholes. This is when I discovered a fabulous thing Ann had done – the armhole size and shaping for vests and sweaters was exactly the same! I was overjoyed that I wouldn’t have to force sweater sleeves to fit into vest armholes, but that the vest could metamorphose into a sweater. Interestingly, the sleeves took longer than the body quarters. Both the body quarters and sleeves started with 40 stitches; while the body stayed at 40 stitches for two thirds of the way, then decreased for the arms/shoulders and neck, the sleeves increased in width.
I blocked the sweater pieces, and let it languish over the summer for two reasons. First, it was hot and I didn’t want the sweater on my lap while sewing it together, and secondly, I was afraid of it. My finishing skills are nil. Eventually, I brought the pieces into the office and Knitscene editor Amy Palmer put the sleeves in and showed me how to do the mattress stitch. I seamed the rest of the pieces together and finished the neck in time to wear it a couple of times before the weather got too warm for it.
It’s so pretty, Kate! I love the colors. Thanks for the show-and-tell!