Monday, February 18, 2019

Blueberry for Scotland

How do you choose a pattern?
Is there some logic or serious deliberation involved in your decision or you just see a picture on Ravelry or in a magazine and start looking for a suitable yarn?
Normally, I spent quite some time thinking about my next project. Usually it happens while I finish the previous one and generally it has to be something practical, that someone really need and that will be worn often. Sometimes though it is hard to make only things that are practical and needed (socks, I am talking about you!). Then I have to coerce myself into working on them by promising to make something easy and fun afterword. That’s how I ended up making my Margaux Red after a two month marathon of gift knitting.
Yet, sometimes a pattern just calls me and I cannot resist. That is what happened with this sweater by Tomoko Noguchi from Daruma pattern book 3. It has all my favorite things: unusual and interesting construction and ribbing. Plus it is a Japanese pattern and I enjoy making them since they are always so well explained and charted.

The only yarn that would go with this pattern was this dark blue variegated one from Rowan that I bought to make an afghan for my new house about 3 years ago. Unfortunately, I have not much information about the yarn since the labels and tags got lost somehow. It is thick wool that is extremely soft and warm. However, it turned out that a wooly and warm blanket isn’t needed here in South Florida. If one day I decide to finally make one it will be from cotton or acrylic.
This is how I ended up with quite a lot of this dark, multicolored wool in my stash. I tried several different yarns when swatching for the ribbed sweater from Daruma. Because as soon as I got the magazine I just had to swatch for it – my hands were itching. It is not easy to find a yarn that would consistently look well in simple ribbing – not brioche stitch, or fisherman rib, or any other type of fancy ribbing. And this yarn was just flying from the needles, it was a pure joy to work with.
Now it was only one small thing left – to persuade myself that I really needed this sweater because, well, why would I? My kids keep asking for socks and cardigans, they don’t want sweaters so it had to be for me. And winters in South Florida are rather mild.
Then I remembered how cold it was last year in Scotland and thought that this sweater would go well with my waterproof pants and jeans. Yes, I definitely needed to make it for our trips to Scotland.

After the decision was made it was all smooth sailing. Despite its highly unusual construction the whole pattern is clearly charted and easy to make. My only little problem was with its size. It looks long and oversized on the pictures. Yet, the back part seemed to me rather short when I came to the armpits and I decided to make it longer. Therefore I made the front longer as well. After washing both parts, I blocked them according to the dimensions given in the pattern.
It turned out rather fitted. The model in the book must be really diminutive because the sweater looks roomy on her. And the reason she is wearing it with a skirt is because the original is rather short, almost waist length.
I already made it longer, now my goal was to make it roomier. It is not a big problem when you are dealing with thick yarn and ribbing. After finishing the sleeves (these I made shorter intentionally for my extra-short arms) and sewing all parts together (if you like puzzles, you are going to love assembling this sweater) I washed and stretched it width-wise.

My only other change was tubular cast-on and cast-off for the collar.
I highly recommend the pattern. Just bear in mind that it is supposed to be short and fitted, so if you want something roomier pick a thicker yarn or bigger needles.

Lengthening the body is easy – just keep knitting till the desired length (in my case I had to make only 8 additional rows). Shortening the sleeves was also not a big deal. Since you pick up two additional stitches around 11 middle stitches in every other row and the sleeve increases are happening only in every 5th or 10th row (I don’t remember anymore), you have to decrease 2 stitches at the beginning and end of every other row to compensate for the increases. As soon as I had 61 stitches total required for the sleeve (73rd row in my case) I casted off all stitches.
Oh, and use a stretchy cast off everywhere if you want your sweater to move and stretch with your body.

More pictures on my Ravelry page. I called this sweater Blueberry because I couldn't translate its Japanese name.

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