Experimental Sweater Pattern

I wrote this post nearly 5 years ago, and have been sitting on the draft for a long time: not for any reason, I think it's actually pretty good post. For non-knitters, this is kind of a "ask a great cook for their comfort food recpie," but in a narrative form.

In any case, I haven't really been knitting very much recently, and while I enjoy writing knitting patterns there's a lot of work in writing a well formed knitting pattern that I'm poorly positioned for ring now (test knitting! good photography! talking with knitters!) But, perhaps someone will find it useful... Enjoy!


Part of my recent return to knitting has been about taking a much more simple approach to yarn. I think yarn is cool and working with good yarn is awesome but at a certain point, I think yarn distracts from the things that I like most about knitting: the consistency, the dependability, the rhythm of the activity, and coordination of parallel activities.

Novel yarns and yarn variety actually makes the process of knitting less enjoyable for me. It also doesn't really jive with my taste in clothing: I like plain things that fit well without a lot of adornment. While I enjoy knitting patterned sweaters for the rhythm, I don't really wear them much. I also, live and spend my time in a climate where a I'm almost always wearing a light sweater (during the cold months) and inside during the rest of the months.

The result of this is that I've mostly been working on sock knitting. I like wearing wool socks, and after a period of not wearing them for a few reasons, I didn't actually have that many wool socks. Which has lead me to get acclimated to knitting fingering weight yarn with size 0 needles.

So I want to make a sweater in this mold: fingering weight, very plain lines, probably knit in the round using the Elizabeth Zimmerman system. Starting from the bottom, I've been leaning away from ribbings at the bottom, and have tended to like hems though they sometimes flare. Ususally, I just cast on provisionally and add the hem (or whatever) at the end anyway. There's time yet to decide.

More importantly, I'm quite interested in having a rolled collar for the neck, but I tend to think that rolled ends mostly have a flare look anyway. I can defer this decision for a while.

For shaping and even most of the styling I intend to copy the Chrome Cobra Zip Up, which is, by far, my favorite article of clothing.

I think really subtle increases (so that the sweater tapers to the waist) is a good feature and might choose to do some of those, particularly if the model sweater has them. The model sweater has a really long back, and I think I might moderate this slightly.

The shoulders are an open question. If this goes well, I think I'd like to knit my way though most of the standard EZ shoulder constructions: I think I've knit all of the options at least once, but I've not done all of them in plain knitting, and most of the sweaters are a bit odd in one way or another. There's a long project. I want to start with, and hopefully master, the set-in-sleeve.

For those of you playing along at home, set-in-sleeves are probably what you think of as "normal" sleeves, the garment fits in the shoulders, and the sleeves angle gently down from the shoulders. Most shirts have this shaping but the shapes aren't terribly natural for knitting.

To knit set in sleeves in the round, you join the sleeves to the body, setting some stitches aside where the pieces meet and then decreasing body snitches into the sleeves as you knit until the body is just as wide as the shoulders. Then decrease the sleeve stitches into the body until you have about 3 inches of sleeve stitches left. Finally, knit knit short rows across the front and back (or just the front) stitches, decreasing the remaining stitches in the short rows ending with a 3 needle bind-off at the appropriate moment. To get a good crew neck, begin shaping the front of the neck every row 1.5 inches before you start the shoulder short-rows, and shape the back of the neck every other row when you start the shoulder short rows.

The shaping and body of the knitting is pretty straightforward from design perspective. The hard part from the perspective of the success of the sweater is the hems and/or ribbing, and figuring out the right thing to for each hem. It's always something.

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