The Bayside Pullover On A WIP Wednesday

Hockey has been so enjoyable this season. I think part of the reason is that the lockout dragged on for so long that many of us hockey fans feared there wouldn’t be a hockey season at all. And we missed hockey a lot. So we are joyous to have it back.

Another reason is that, because the hockey season is shortened to only 48 games, every game is important, so every team is giving its all in every game. Just last night, two games went to a shoot out. The Bruins were trailing the Rags Rangers 0-3 going into the third period, but Boston came on strong and tied the game, sending it to OT. They ended up losing in the SO, but at least they got a point out of it. Then, later in the evening, the Blackhawks and Ducks went to a shootout. Unfortunately for me, the Blackhawks lost, but at least they got a point. In this shortened season, every point counts. Big.

Of course, while my eyes were busy watching these exciting and entertaining hockey games, my hands were busy knitting. I’ve been working almost exclusively on the Bayside Pullover. It is definitely autopilot knitting and a great project for hockey knitting. I’ve progressed quite rapidly on the sweater, but there have been a few bumps along the way.

Bump Number One

When my 40-cm Aero circular needle became overcrowded with stitches, I wanted to switch to my 60-cm Aero circular needle. But it is AWOL, and I have no idea where it could be. So I grabbed the handiest 3.5mm circular, which happened to be Knit Picks Zephyr acrylic needles that were on exactly the size cable I needed. I had bought one pair of Zephyr tips when they first came out so that I could give them a try, and this was the first time I had used them. I went to work on the sweater, and I was loving the Zephyrs, when this happened.

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Can you see it? If not, here’s a picture that is a little more “in your face.” You can’t miss it.

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Yes, the point of the needle broke off and went flying. Where it landed, nobody knows. Crap. I had to search for yet another needle. I ended up using Knit Picks Options, which are really nice needles, as long as the cable doesn’t decide to do something funky, like separate from the bushing while you are mid-row. So far, the cable is holding up just fine, and I’m doing everything in my power not to anger the knitting gods.

Bump Number Two

The second road bump was a little more serious. I’m knitting this sweater in linen, and the only way to be certain about your gauge is to knit a gauge swatch, then wash and dry it. I did that, and was using the swatch and my rudimentary but adequate math skills to determine how many rounds I would need to knit to get the correct length. The pattern is knitted at a gauge of 9 rows per inch, and my gauge swatch was 8.5 rows per inch.

The yoke is supposed to be knitted to 7.75 inches long from the cast on edge, at which point the sleeve stitches are places on holders and the underarm stitches are cast on. I did the math–simple multiplication–and knitted the yoke until there were 66 rows (8.5 rows per inch times 7.75 inches equal 65.875 rows), then put the sleeve stitches on holders, cast on the underarm stitches, and knitted several rounds of the body.

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The yoke, of course, was not 7.75 inches long from the cast on edge, but the swatch told me it would be, once the sweater was washed. But, damn, it sure looked way too short to me. I just wasn’t trusting the swatch. So I did what any knitter would do when faced with nagging doubts. When I came to the end of the working ball of yarn, I put the stitches on holders and washed my work in progress. When it was dry, I measured and remeasured, and while my stitch gauge jibed with the swatch, my row gauge did not. In fact, my row gauge was 9 stitches per inch. This means that I can simply go by the measurements in the pattern. I don’t have to make any adjustments whatsoever because my gauge, both stitch and row, is spot on.

So I ripped out the five or six rounds I had completed after casting on for the underarm and continued knitting the yoke until it measured 7.75 inches. I cast on the underarm stitches and kept knitting round and round, and now I have nearly reached the body decrease round. If you look closely at the picture, you can see where the washed section ends and the unwashed section begins. The fabric changes a lot when it is washed.

The Bayside Pullover as of February 13, 2013

The Bayside Pullover as of February 13, 2013

This pattern is a lot of fun to knit. I will probably knit it up in wool for myself sometime down the road. And if Em likes her linen version, she, too, might get one in wool.

Check out Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see what other clever folks are up to.

 

A Sweater!

For the past six months or so I’ve been jonesing to knit a sweater. But I already have two drawers full of handknit sweaters, so I need another sweater like a need a hole in my head. But my son does have a lovely GF who adores hand knitted everything, so why not knit a sweater for her?

I started pouring through pattern books and searching on Ravelry to find sweaters that would be contemporary but classic. I went through my stash to find yarn suitable for sweaters. And I thought and thought and thought some more. I have been inspired by Ravelry friends and by knitting podcasters, especially the Knitmore Girls, whose back catalog has been my spinning companion. Through these folks, I found some lovely sweater patterns that are now in my queue, but they are not on my needles. Yet.

But more importantly, due to the recommendations of just about every knitting podcaster in existence, I decided to purchase a knitting book that everyone has been raving about, Coastal Knits.

A must-have book for any sweater knitter

A must-have book for any sweater knitter

Let me state first that I rarely buy knitting books any more. Too many of them contain either poorly-thought-out projects that I would never even consider knitting or trendy stuff. I don’t do trendy. But this book is different. It is filled with patterns, mostly for sweaters, but also some for accessories, that are classic and very knitable. The sweaters come in a large range of sizes and have shaping that makes them feminine. And if you don’t want the entire book (and I cannot imagine why you wouldn’t), you can purchase the patterns individually as PDFs.

When I got the book in my grubby little hands, I was so thrilled with it that I could barely contain my enthusiasm. The next time I saw the GF, I handed the book to her first thing and told her to take her time and go through it and choose any items that she would like me to make her. I allowed for the possibility that there might not be anything in the book she would want, but I knew the odds of that were somewhere between slim and none. And I was right. When I saw her a couple of months later, she said that she loved pretty much everything in the book, but the thing she wanted first was the Bayside Pullover.

Classic, not trendy

Classic, not trendy

Oh, my! She does have good taste. 😀

Next question–what size? That was answered quickly because she had been measured not all that long ago for a bridesmaid dress.

Now comes the most important question. The sweater in the book is knitted in linen–Quince & Company Sparrow–but it can just as easily be knitted in wool or a wool blend. What fiber would she prefer? Her choice was linen. Now, let me state for the record that I knew that linen would present a challenge, but that would just make the project more interesting. And a sweater in linen would definitely be scrumptious.

The next step was choosing and ordering yarn. I certainly don’t have sweater-quantities of linen yarn in my stash, just some leftover bits of Eurosport Linen that I knitted up into facecloths many years ago. I went to the Quince & Company web site and discovered to my delight that their linen yarn, Sparrow, is very well priced and comes in some lovely colors. I sent a link to the GF and asked her to choose the color she would like. She sent me three and asked me to choose, so I picked Nannyberry, a lovely dusky rose color.

Bayside Pullover and Sparrow–a lovely combination

Bayside Pullover and Sparrow–a lovely combination

I placed my order, which was quickly filled, and when the yarn arrived, I was totally blown away by how beautiful it is. I couldn’t wait to knit it up. So I hand-wound a skein into a ball and started swatching. And here’s where the challenge of knitting a sweater in linen lies.

For a lot of knitters, swatching is a dirty word, but when knitting a garment where size matters, it is essential. The swatch must be knitted, then laundered in the same way as the finished item will be laundered. Then the stitches and rows can be measured to determine the gauge. This is a step that should not be left out if you want the garment to be the size you intend. And this is especially true for a fiber like linen. No matter what size needles I used for knitting the swatch, the unwashed gauge was 5 stitches per inch. The pattern calls for 6 stitches per inch. I couldn’t possibly know the gauge until after the swatch was washed and dried. After knitting and washing several swatches, I finally found the needle size that gave me 6 stitches per inch. We are a go!

I was ever so eager to cast on, but something happened that made me put the sweater on hold for a little while longer. The NHLPA and the NHL reached an agreement and the hockey season was about to begin. I needed to have lots of mindless hockey knitting OTN, so I got busy casting on socks. The sweater would have to wait its turn.

Finally, last Saturday, after the Penguins had demolished the Devils at the CEC, I finally cast on the Bayside Pullover. This pattern is a very simple one, a top-down raglan embellished with a simple 6-stitch cable, but the casting on takes some concentration and stitch counting. Once I got the pattern established, this sweater became mindless knitting that I can work on while watching hockey, so the knitting should go quickly. I hope to have the sweater finished in a few weeks so the it can be worn this spring.

Side and back view. I obscured some of the text to protect the copyright.

Side and back view. I obscured some of the text to protect the copyright.

I've got three inches knitted so far.

I’ve got three inches knitted so far.

I’m very happy with both the pattern and the yarn. I just hope that when the dust settles, the sweater fits the wearer and lives up to her expectations.