Monday, January 22, 2024

Well Worth the Wait

As promised, I have a finished sweater to share with you this morning!

Pattern: Birch Pullover by Andrea Mowry, size 2 (38 in./96.5 cm bust)
Yarn: Dusty Tree Dyeworks Root Fingering (100% superwash American Merino), 4.47 skeins/1788 yds.
Needles: US 3/3.25 mm
Started/Completed: March 19, 2023/January 18, 2024

To say I'm thrilled with how this sweater turned out would be an understatement. I am now kicking myself for letting it sit in a project bag for so many months when I could have been wearing it all fall. It fits perfectly, with just the right amount of positive ease to feel like a cozy sweatshirt-type garment but not so much that it feels sloppy. And between the bounciness of the yarn and the thickness of the half fisherman's rib stitch, the fabric is incredibly cozy.

The yarn I used is from a local very small-batch dyer who started out making soap and branched into yarn because she's also a knitter. I've been using Rebecca's soap for years and have used her yarn a number of times before, including for one of my shawl designs (Ravelry link), but this was the first time I'd used multiple skeins for a garment. Because she dyes in such small batches, she has no colorways and thus every skein is one of a kind. So when I picked up the five skeins I used for this sweater, they were all similar but not the same, and I arranged them in a lightest-to-darkest gradient:

As I knit the sweater and got to the end of one skein, I began alternating skeins every round to incorporate the new one. I also wound off about 30% of each skein once I started the body so that I'd be able to match, more or less, the body and the sleeves. If you enlarge the photo above, you'll see that the ends of the sleeves are darker than the bottom of the body; I didn't end up using the fifth/darkest skein at all on the body but did need it for the sleeves, but as the sleeves are actually longer than the body, I think that makes perfect sense and works quite well. The color matching wasn't perfect, but I don't think that really matters or that you can really tell because all the skeins had enough variation in color and the texture of the stitch pattern masks it well.

The color is most accurate in the top photo, but here's  detail of the side and one sleeve. I really like how the raglan increases are incorporated into the stitch pattern. Another nice touch is the tubular cast-on for the neckline and bind-offs for the body and sleeve cuffs:

Aside from my color management, the only modification I made to the pattern was to work two extra decreases on my sleeves, mainly because I have ridiculously tiny wrists and didn't want my cuffs to be gaping. And though this stitch pattern makes for a dense row gauge and thus not an especially fast knit, the cast-on and bind-off dates aren't really an accurate representation of how long it took me to knit. I looked at the calendar and figured out exactly how long it took me: 14 days last March (to knit the yoke to the sleeve/body separation), 15 days in December (to complete the body), and 18 days in January (to knit the sleeves -- while also working on other projects). The total time is 47 days, or about a month and a half. When you consider that I was working full time except for those days in December, that's still pretty impressive.

I had such a positive experience with this pattern that I'm going to do another Andrea Mowry pattern for my next one, and I've already swatched and wound my yarn and will be casting on soon:

The orange yarn is the same base, leftover from another sweater

I also promised you an update on Mo's competition over the weekend. I had hoped to have big, exciting news of a win, but her team missed out on first place by one point. The team that took home the trophy is the same one as last year, from a big suburban district (the one where I taught in my former professional life, actually) and with something like 36 team members compared to the 10 on Mo's team. Even discounting my admitted bias, I think her team had a much better presentation. She thinks the deciding factor was the essay; the other team won the special award for the best essay, so that would make sense. But her team won three special awards, including Students' Choice and one from a national professional engineers' association, so they have a lot to be proud of. And we also don't have to worry about getting her to Washington, D.C., in February!

It's still quite cold here this morning, but we're supposed to get above freezing today and be much warmer (though with rain in the forecast) this week! I'm going to attempt to go for a run -- my first since last Monday -- this morning, but we'll see how I manage with some sidewalks still covered in snow. I hope you all have a good start to your week!


  1. First... Congratulations to Mo and her mighty team! I am so impressed! Well done all of them! (and your sweater! GORGEOUS! I love the graded color... it is perfect!)

  2. Beautiful finish Sarah - your sweater is stunning! And yes, congratulations to Mo and her team. Well done!

  3. Birch is beautiful and it looks perfect on you! Your color/dye management with these skeins on this sweater is just great. Enjoy this sweater and I'm looking forward to your next one.

    Mo and her team have nothing to be ashamed of. She and her team members probably each did about 3x the work of the team members from the big team and got lots of meaningful special awards. It's sad to lose first place by one point but they should all be immensely proud of the great job they did.

  4. That sweater looks so good on you. I love how the colors change along.

    Congrats to Mo. She should be very proud of the work she put in.

  5. I really like this sweater and it looks so good on you. I think Andrea Mowry's patterns are very well-written and result in great looks. Just to say, I have made Nightshift four times; it's a great shawl and the Spincycle yarn has me totally hooked on color shifting so of course I loved that part of your sweater.

    As for Mo's team, what Bonny said.

  6. What a weekend! You both have some great work to be proud of and pleased with!

  7. Your sweater is spectacular! I love how you worked the gradient yarn and I think the darker ends on the sleeves are perfect. I'm sorry about Mo's team but it sounds like they did incredibly well, particularly given their smaller size!

  8. The sweater is gorgeous. I love the way the gradient fades. It sounds like Mo's team did very well. It probably is a bit disappointing not to come in first but still is quite an accomplishment.

  9. Your sweater came out so good! Congrats to Mo and team, what an accomplishment!

  10. Way to go, Mo and team! It's hard to come in second - and especially by that slim a margin (!) - but . . . as I always told my kids . . . it's not actually the place you achieve in a competition, but the fact that you were in the thick OF the competition. Ultimately, that's the prize!

    Your sweater is just perfection, Sarah! It fits you to a T, and I love the way you faded the colors. It looks so very "wearable."

  11. Those sleeves sure knit up quickly, and the finished sweater is fantastic! Love how it fits and the colors are so flattering. Sounds like Mo's team did great ... sorry about that one point.