It seems that all it takes for me to finish a sweater in two weeks is a knitalong!
Pattern: Gramps Cardigan by Kate Oates, size 4
Yarn: Madelinetosh tosh dk (100% superwash merino) in Robin's Egg, two skeins plus ~5 yards or less of a third skein
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 6 (4.0 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: May 1/May 14
Mods: quite a few (see below)
I knit this as part of the Mad May knitalong in the Madelinetosh Lovers group on Ravelry. I didn't want to aim too high and try to knit myself a sweater, but I figured this would be a good challenge because of all the cables. It made for some good car and hotel knitting on the trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool.
While I'm very pleased with how the sweater turned out, I did have some issues with the pattern along the way. I'll be the first to admit that I did not swatch. I had used the same yarn and needle size for my Effortless Cardigan, so I knew I'd be pretty darn close on stitch gauge. I also chose to knit a size up from Rainbow's current size (intending this to fit this fall and winter), and I was counting on the fact that the yarn is superwash to allow it stretch out a bit in blocking.
The main difficulty was with the sleeve. I cast on for the first sleeve in the car on the way back home from MDSW, and the two friends in the car with me both agreed that it looked impossibly tiny. So I ripped that attempt out and cast on again using the number for the next size up (four stitches more, so almost an inch larger). That cuff seemed to be a better size, but I ripped it again when I started the cable and realized that it did not grow out of the ribbing the same way the cables on the body had. On my third attempt, the cuff was the right size and the cable split a column of two knit stitches so that it was symmetrical. However, this time around, I forgot that I was knitting in the round and was omitting every other line of the chart (I was used to knitting flat, knitting the stitches as they appeared rather than consulting the chart), meaning my cable was coming out half the height it should have been. The fourth attempt was finally successful in all aspects.
Nearly all of my mods were on the sleeves. I increased to the number specified in the pattern for the size I was making, but I added an additional 2 inches of length (I know Rainbow is tall, but I don't think she has gorilla arms!). I also changed the way the cable crossed on the second sleeve so that, when the sleeves were connected to the body, the cables would cross toward each other. Finally, as the raglan decreases in the yoke were eating into the cable area, I made the cables narrower at the top of the shoulder so that they would stay intact. The only non-sleeve modification I made was to do a smaller buttonhole (a k2tog, yo buttonhole rather than a three-stitch one-row buttonhole). I wasn't planning on using huge buttons on this sweater, so I didn't think a larger buttonhole was necessary.
In spite of all these changes and challenges, I really did enjoy knitting this sweater. It was really a fast knit once I got used to the cables and could know intuitively what to do next. I will probably knit this again as a baby gift, but there are several things I will do differently next time. For one thing, I might use a heavier yarn (and perhaps go up a needle size) in addition to working a size up. A number of projects on Ravelry indicate that the pattern does run a little small; Rainbow's fits okay now, but if she continues to grow the way she has been lately, it may be a bit snug this fall and winter. I would also switch the direction of the raglan decreases, as I don't really care for how they look as written.
The most important factor of all in determining whether or not this was a successful knit, of course, is Rainbow's response. She is thrilled with it, and it's always a joy to knit for someone who appreciates the knitting.