Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Officially Ready for Fall

Though we're having a bit of a heat wave this week, I can now say that I'm ready for the chilly fall weather. Why? Because I have a new sweater that's roomy and cozy. What's more, in spite of the fact that I ignored it for about a week, I still managed to finish it before the end of the knitalong. Woohoo!

Pattern: Calligraphy Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk (100% superwash merino wool) in Silver Fox, six full skeins and just a smidge of a seventh
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) Chiao Goo Red Lace needles and US 4 (3.5 mm) Knit Picks Options (for buttonbands)
Started/Completed: September 22/October 21
Mods: eliminated about 2" of length in the body and made adjustments on sleeves to account for errors (see below)

Although this sweater turned out well in the end, it was plagued by some counting issues from the start. I cast on for it on a day when I was woken up by a sick child at 4:30 a.m. and spent several hours in the ER, so by the time I sat down at my LYS that afternoon to begin, I was having trouble counting. I had to have a friend double check that I'd cast on the correct number of stitches before I could start knitting. The next evening, as I was placing markers for my raglan increases, I was obviously distracted by the same sick child and placed my markers incorrectly -- a fact I only discovered about a week later when I was finished with all the increases. At that point, I decided that I didn't want to rip back and determined to fudge the numbers when I knit the sleeves, which I did. The result is that one shoulder is two stitches wider than the other, but I really can't remember now which one it is, so clearly it is not a major issue.

For the first time, I was a really good knitter and alternated skeins every two rows/rounds because I was working with a hand-dyed yarn with some variation from skein to skein. I figured that any variation would be more obvious in a light-colored yarn, and I was right. I didn't alternate skeins as much in the button bands, and I can definitely see a difference. It was a pain to be constantly untwisting and untangling, but I prefer that to the alternative of distinctive blocks of every-so-slightly different colors in the finished sweater.

The only intentional modification I made was to make the sweater a little shorter than called for in the pattern. As written, the sweater is more of a coat-like garment; if I knit it to the specified dimensions, it would have hit well below my butt. I decided that I didn't need a sweater to be quite that long, so I started the bottom ribbing about 2" higher, working the last set of waist increases into the first round of ribbing. As I suspected (because my yarn is a superwash), the sweater did grow some in length when I blocked it, so I think if I'd knit it as written, the sweater might be hanging close to my knees.

Despite eliminating some length, I still needed more yarn than called for in the pattern (just a little bit of an extra skein to do about four or five rows of the second button band) even after using every last bit of the six skeins I started off with. I suspect this is mainly because my row gauge was a little off, meaning I needed more rows per inch than the specified row gauge. I wasn't off a huge amount, but obviously it was enough to need to break in to that seventh skein. The good news is that I still have most of that skein left and it's enough to make a hat or cowl or something with.

My only disappointment in this sweater is the buttons. I picked them out on Saturday at my LYS after much deliberation, and I do like how they look. But as I was sewing them on on Sunday evening, I noticed a funny smell. It took several minutes before I realized the smell was coming from the buttons, and it got increasingly stronger as I kept sewing. I had hoped that the smell would go away after a nice bath with some Soak, but it's still there (albeit not as strong as it once was). It's kind of a chemical smell, so I'm assuming it's from something used to manufacture the buttons, but it is rather foul and might deter me from wearing the sweater if it doesn't go away. I'm hoping that it's just a matter of airing out (the buttons are kept in closed plastic cylinders at the LYS, so there's not much of a chance for a smell to dissipate), but if anyone has suggestions for getting the stink out of stinky buttons, I'm all ears.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this sweater. It was an easy knit (that I still managed to screw up, ha!), and the resulting garment is very much like a favorite boyfriend sweater -- roomy, comfortable, easy to curl up in. I suspect that, assuming I can get rid of the button smell, this will be a favorite sweater for the chilly days of fall and winter ahead.


  1. Are you willing to remove the buttons in order to get rid of the smell? If so - I'd recommend a run through the dishwasher. If something like that doesn't get rid of the smell, then maybe find some new buttons because they sweater is gorgeous and deserves to be worn.

  2. Beautiful sweater! I love Hannah Fettig's patterns, but I haven't seen this one before. I've added it to my queue. Thanks for the inspiration!