July 30, 2016

Battersea Sweater

The project I'm sharing with you today has been over a year in the making. So I'm really excited to share my newest finished sweater, Battersea! I've got lots of pictures to show and stories to tell, so get comfortable!

The pattern first caught my eye as one of the featured projects on the Ravelry blog in June 2015. Mark me doubly excited when I saw the pattern was free! The sweater is designed by Valerie Miller of Toronto, Canada, and her blog KnitBug is fun to read, too. This sweater is inspired by ganseys, which were sweaters worn by sailors and fishermen from the British Isles. The stitch patterns were designed to make especially dense fabric to hold in as much heat as possible. 

Though the original pattern is for a short-sleeved sweater, such a garment is not useful in my wardrobe as a California (and eastern Washington) girl. I don't wear wool in summer. So I decided to slightly adjust the pattern for long sleeves.

Soon after adding it to my Ravelry queue, I purchased the yarn for it in August 2015: 10 skeins of Drops Karisma Superwash in color 48 Red. This was my first big project where I ordered the yarn online and used a natural fiber (wool) instead a cheap acrylic blend! I guess I am finally getting to the big leagues here.

I started knitting it in October 2015. I was excited to make my first top-down sweater. I had the sweater nearly finished (according to the pattern, so still with short sleeves) in December 2015, before finals. Then I blocked it and tried in on, and it wasn't pretty.

The sweater simply didn't fit. The high-low portion went far too low for my liking, that awkward place of midway past my rear end as if I were trying to hide something. The boat neckline was wider than my shoulders, and a sleeve would regularly fall off as if I was trying to emulate a fad that ended in the mid-2000's. The body of the sweater was too wide, and the cap sleeves were too fluttery to be proper foundations of long sleeves.

So it just wasn't going to work. I was reminded of when I knitted my first sweater two (?!) years prior. After the first attempt of my first sweater didn't work out, I let the project hibernate for awhile so frogging the whole thing and starting over wasn't as painful. Back then, I also changed the entire pattern, but this time I stuck with the original pattern, still charmed by it and determined I could make it work. While this project hibernated, I knitted my first pairs of socks, a cowl, and focused on college studies. 

Before I started attempt #2 earlier this summer, I spent a few hours working on modifications to the pattern to make the pattern fit me better. Here is the final draft of the mods list for the size small (also listed on the Ravelry project site):

Body: CO 124 sts with US 4. 
Change to US 5 after twisted rib. Place markers after 39 sts, 23 sts, 39 sts, 23 sts.
Adjustments to stitch patterns at edges between sleeves and body improvised.
Slide off sleeve stitches in normal place (round 57).
For body, k 10 inches St st.

Short rows: 6 short rows (3 on each side) in front, k over front side, 10 short rows (5 on each side) in back. There are 3 sts separated b/t front and back short rows. 
Then k 1.5 rows St st, then 1x1 twisted rib, still with US 5. 
Bind off very loosely, but I wish I did it even looser. I could stand to do more short rows next time, it's barely noticeable. 

Sleeves: pick up slipped sts, plus 3 extra casted on while slipping off = 56 sts.
Next rows: k all, k all, p all, p all, k all, arrow chart over 12 rows, k all, p all, p all (dec 2 this row), k all, k all, p all, p all. 
Then k 11 inches St st, decreasing 2 on either side of middle underside every 1.5 inches 8 times. 
Then change to US 4, 1x1 (non twisted) rib for 2.5 inches, then cast off.

I started knitting the second attempt of this sweater in June. I started out using the skeins I hadn't yet used in the first attempt to knit sweater so I wouldn't have to rip out the original sweater earlier than I had to. I needed the comfort that the second attempt was going to be better than the first before wrecking all the evidence.

Once I ran out of the extra yarn, I started ripping out the original sweater, one skein at a time. I noticed pretty quickly that the kinks and warps of the yarn were making the fabric look coarser when knitted up a second time, and I didn't like it. So I ripped out that skein, wound it into a hank... 

...soaked it in my sink with cool water and cap's worth of Woolite for 10 minutes, and BAM!

The yarn was like new to knit with after drying overnight and winding it back into a ball of yarn! Watch this video to see how I wound the dried hanks back into balls of yarn.

I knitted the sweater almost exclusively in June. My hard work figuring out the modifications ahead of time made this time a breeze, though I made sure to try it on periodically to avoid the mishap of attempt #1.

I wove in the yarn ends last night. What should have been a finished project last December is finally finished seven months later! I'm holding off blocking this bad boy for now, it looks nice enough to me as it is.

So that's the adventure! I could even call this the 4th annual summer sweater, but I think I'm going to save that for a project I'm almost done with that should be complete before the summer is through.

Until next time,
Happy Crafting!!