Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Small Way of Saying Thanks

Over Thanksgiving weekend of last year, when my aunt and uncle were in town and The Mister and I were showing off our new sweaters, my uncle pulled me aside and asked if I would collaborate with him to surprise my aunt with a custom-knit sweater. I agreed immediately, because what better or more fitting way is there to say thank-you to the aunt who first taught me to knit nearly two decades ago?

When they returned home, I had my uncle measure one of her sweaters on the sly to get some basic measurements with which to work, and then, with Elizabeth Zimmermann's wisdom to guide me, I got to work. A month of knitting yielded this, probably my most favorite sweater I've knit to date.

Pattern: Seamless Yoke Sweater from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino (100% wool), color 224/Grey Mix, approximately 4.5 skeins, and color 226/Black, approximately 0.5 skeins
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) 32" and 24" circs and dpns
Gauge: 5 sts/in
Started/Completed: January 26/February 26

Some notes on the construction of this sweater:

As with all of EZ's seamless sweaters, this begins as three tubes -- the body and two sleeves -- that are then joined at approximately the level of the underarms and united on one needle to work the yoke and neck. I cast on 192 stitches for the body (38" worth, plus a couple extra to bring the stitch count for a multiple of four) and worked two inches in 2x2 rib. After I switched to stockinette, I worked three sets of paired decreases an inch apart to the get to the final bust size of 36". I fudged the sleeves as well, starting with 44 stitches (a bit more than the 20% of the body stitches EZ recommends), working two inches of ribbing, and then increasing up to 60 stitches.

When I got to the yoke, I worked an inch plain before starting the stranded portion, for which I followed the first two motifs charted in the book (p. 70). They're basic, but I love the simple geometric look of them, and how they seem to minimize the inevitable jog (if you look closely at the picture above, you can see it at the back of my right shoulder).

I fudged the numbers yet again in the third round of decreases in order to have a slightly larger neck opening and avoid the dreaded too-tight collar that threatens to rip your ears off.

I'm very, very pleased with this sweater. By some extraordinary stroke of luck, my aunt turns out to wear pretty much the same size as I do, and as you can see the finished garment fits me perfectly. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit tempted to keep it for myself, but it's an even better reward to think of what a great surprise it will be!


  1. WOW! That is one gorgeous, fantastic sweater! Beautifully done, you aunt is going to be floored!

  2. That looks really great! I am sure she will be completely thrilled!

  3. I am so excited to see your notes on this sweater! I have been reading that chapter over and over and just soaking it in. The seamless yoke sweater is on my spring knitting list. I'm also glad to see it knit up in the Patons yarn as it always seems to be on sale.

  4. Wow, that looks really, really great and so much better on a person than on a table! And don't be tempted to keep it for yourself, that just gives you a reason to use all that Cascade you got at the knitting festival!

  5. Anonymous7:21 PM

    gurl, that is absolutely fabulous!!! the stitches are so even and the fit is so body flattering. You got a nice body...... coming from a gay guy! Awesome, good job!

  6. Gorgeous! What a flattering fit!

  7. wow! I love how fitted it is!
    I so want to knit this sweater!

  8. Anonymous9:06 AM

    SJ, that sweater is absolutely gorgeous. You did such a great job.

  9. Very classy and if she doesn't like it, you can give it a home!

  10. Beautiful - I guess you'll just have to knit another for yourself! ;)

  11. I'm with Jenn ... looks great, and it's an excuse to knit the pattern again with the 220 you got at the festival! :)

  12. That is seriously gorgeous! (It must be hard to give away when it looks so perfect on you : ) - I agree with all those who say you should make one for yourself!)

    I love it!

  13. Anonymous8:38 PM

    It's really cute! When does she get it? It'll be even more meaningful than just a gorgeous sweater since she's the one who taught you to knit and knows what went into it.