Monday, April 7, 2014

Knitting the Perfect Summer Sweater

Several years ago (we won't say exactly how many in an attempt to preserve some pride) I purchased a bunch (and by bunch I mean twenty-five hundred yards, although it might be more) of strawberry red DK weight cotton bamboo blend yarn in the hopes that it would one day be the Perfect Summer Sweater. Of course I bought this yarn when I was living in Florida and Perfect Summer Sweaters are generally only needed inside movie theaters or the freezer section of Publix (I miss Publix, but not enough to move back to Florida). Sometime one might need a Perfect Summer Sweater when one's spouse decides that it is hot in the house and turns the air conditioner down to sub-zero. Other than those few instances, there isn't much need for a Perfect Summer Sweater.

I live in Ohio now. Last summer was my first season here and while it did get hot for a few weeks, I found the need for a sweater to be much greater than when I lived in Florida. I was considering purchasing one. (OK, I did purchase a cardigan, but it is far from a Perfect Summer Sweater and doesn't really fit in with what I want a sweater to do, it was simply to replace my khaki sweater from last year.) I then remembered that I had all that luscious red yarn in the yarn bin marked "Sweaters Worths." I went to town trying to decide what kind of sweater I wanted to make.  I'd have an idea of what I wanted in my head so decided to give Amy Herzog's Custom Fit Sweater a try.

I have to say that this in ingenious. The principle behind Amy's Custom Fit Sweater is that you put in your measurements, make a good swatch of the yarn you want to use with the needles you want to use, and tell Amy what features you want for your sweater (pullover, cardigan, short sleeved, no sleeved, long sleeved, v-neck, scoop neck, etc.) and through a series of clicks and the use of a good measuring tape she creates a sweater to your specifications that first your body. No circling which size you need throughout the pattern. You don't have to worry about missing a line for just your size which you forget to do and then don't have the right number of stitches. I'd heard several people rave about the fabulousness of this program and decided to dive in. It is only $10 to get a sweater built for your body alone.

I took my measurements with the help of my daughter. I knit up a swatch including the lace edge I wanted on the bottom and at the sleeves. I inserted all of the variants that I wanted for this sweater. And then I realized that the sweater was built from the bottom up and the lace I wanted to use was built from the top down. And what I really wanted was a raglan sleeve and that wasn't an option. So I left the program. I will be back to this and I will be making a fall sweater with her program, but for now I had a different image in mind and decided to go pattern diving at Ravelry.

That's all well and good except no one really had a sweater pattern like I wanted. I found some really cute ones, and I will admit that my queue and favorites grew exponentially this past weekend. So, I took a deep breath and did (dun-dun-dun) knitting math. I know how to make your basic raglan sweater. And I knew I wanted it to be a v-neck sweater. And I know the formula for how to do that. I don't need no stinkin' pattern. (Remember this. It may come back to haunt me in a week or so.) I cast on 90 stitches (the number needed to make a comfortably fitting neck that would open into a v-neck) and turned on the Game of Thrones marathon that HBO was running all weekend in preparation for last night's season premiere. (I'm still rooting for Daenerys, Tyrion and Arya to get together and clean house.) I managed to knit the first 36 rows and it is shaping up pretty nicely. I can continue on this pat for a while until I get to the underarms and then I'll need to a a bit more knitting math so I can have the sleeves I want and have enough stitches at the end for the lace pattern. I'm planning on making an i-cord edging around the center opening and neck.

With any luck this sweater will be finished by May and I will be sporting the Perfect Summer Sweater. I'll keep you posted as to how it is going. I may even wail a bit as I go along if my math isn't adding up. If I am suspiciously quiet about the sweater, feel free to poke me and ask what's up. If you still don't hear anything then assume that I've frogged it and hoping everyone has forgotten about it. In the meantime, if you are frustrated about not having a sweater that fits you, go to Amy's website and check it out. I've only heard positive things and she has a Ravelry group that can help you if you get stuck or have questions that aren't answered on the website.

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