Sunday, April 25, 2010

Back to the drawing board - and lots of brown stockinette

Yesterday I ventured to a LYS to talk to the owner about my Handstrikket. My intention: learn how to graft to correct the sleeve length problem. But from the very second I put on the Handstrikket, the three women in the shop simulatenously exclaimed that the sweater is just too big. MUCH too big. The owner, who has knitted since she was a child and is an expert in sweater construction, swirled around me, pulling up the yoke, tugging on the ribbing, poking at the pile of fabric under my arms.

Finally, she made her diagnosis. "Well, I've got got good news and bad news. The good news is that this can be fixed. The bad news is that you're not going to want to do it. But you should."

Her prescription entails the following (see diagram below):
  1. Keep the yoke as is (whew) since it fits well across my bust, back, and shoulders.
  2. Scrap the rest of it.   :-(
  3. Start with the neckline. Remove the ribbing and add another round of decreases in dark blue before adding the brown ribbing. This will help close up the neck opening and lift the entire yoke up. She didn't say this, but I think I should add some short rows to the back of the neck so that the neckline fits better, too.
  4. Try on the sweater. Pinch the sweater under the arms to get a real-life measurement of what the armhole depth should be. This is probably two or three inches below where the yoke ends.
  5. Cut off the bottom of the sweater below this point and pick up the live stitches.
  6. Although I originally knitted the sweater from the bottom up, I would now reknit the sleeves and body from the top down, trying the garment on as I go to ensure proper fit and length.
  7. Start with the sleeves and knit down, re-creating the fair isle design and ribbing as I go. Ensure that both sleeves use the same number of stitches.
  8. With the remaining stitches, knit the body back and forth in rows from the top down, including the ribbing.
  9. Add the plackets and buttonholes.
  10. Finish with a cardigan that I know will fit because I have tried it on four million times during the knitting process.
I bet you're screaming ACKKKK!!!! That's pretty much what I said when she told me this. But I think she's right. The garment is too big mostly because there is a LOT of extraneous fabric under the armpits. If it was removed, the sweater really would fit better. I don't want a form-fitting garment, but I don't want a bag either. My whole point in starting the blog was to learn to make sweaters that fit, right?

I also measured the finished hip size; although I'm busty, my butt is my biggest "asset." (Aargh... sorry for that terrible pun.) The existing garment is 82 inches around; at most, I need it to be 72 inches around. At this point, the sweater has 14 inches of ease! Too much.

I created this pattern using Sweater Wizard. I probably should have done designed the garment from scratch given how things turned out. I don't know how the program's calculations work, but I suspect that when I increased the hip measurement, the software automatically moved the armholes downward. I've checked my gauge and it's accurate - 5 spi. I don't know how this went so off track.

So my verdict is in: I'm going to do it. I can't believe I'm signing up for knitting more miles and miles of brown stockinette. But I want it to be right. Plus it will be an interesting lesson learning to remake a too-large sweater into a garment that fits.

The LYS lady advocated strongly that I knit the entire bottom of the sweater in 2x2 ribbing, but she's nuts! The last thing I want is this thing clinging to me. Plus I want to make a classic sweater, one that matches the original sweater my mom gave me so many years ago. The LYS lady isn't into classics; we have very different taste in knitting, patterns, yarn, and color. But when she's right, she's right, and she's right about remaking the Handstrikket.

So I'm going back to the drawing board - and lots of brown stockinette. Whining about stockinette will commence in three, two, one...


  1. UGH! I couldn't possibly bear to cut a sweater I'd made like that. I'd rather just unravel the entire thing, gorgeous yoke and all, and start over from scratch truly.

    Ribbed bottom? Whole bottom? I've never seen such a thing!


  2. Well, friend, I know you will be much happier if you do what she suggested, so just DO IT! I am proud of you! xo

  3. Is this THE LYS with the infamous first come-first serve workshop waiting list??

    You are a very patient gal to re-knit the entire bottom. Will you frog or purchase more yarn?

    And I KNOW you will have a strong knowledge of custom Ample mods after the reknitting.
    Go for it. t_a

  4. I would NOT do that! I would wear this one as is and I would have another one that fits better. I mean what is better than a yummy warm sweater to sit around the house in?! (And I don't think you should use the sweater wizard again, it appears to have been an EPIC fail! lol) I'm so sorry! :( And I would NEVER rib the whole bottom. Think of the FINGER pain! lol :)

  5. I think you should definitely reknit the bottom and sleeves. If you don't, you'll never wear it, and if you've put all that work and love into it, you should WEAR it with pride!

    Personally, I would not do a ribbed bottom, but a hemmed bottom. This way, it will hang straight like a jacket, and be much more flattering than a clinging ribbed band accentuating what you don't want accentuated.

  6. Wow, what a sad story! The point of constructing this sweater was to recreate a much loved one. You want to be able to wear it with pride. Redo it. You won't wear it if it's to big. You. Can. Do. This! :D And think of the experience you will have gained when all is said and done...

  7. Thank you so much for taking the time to post about your mishaps. I enjoy watching the process you go through to get your knitting right. I learn so much and I get so inspired. I'm also have to enlarge or adjust pattern sizes to fit and I consider myself a beginning knitter. So, thanks again. Terry

  8. Girls, thank you for all the support. I'm glad someone besides myself can learn from my mistakes - or hard lessons anyway. I've decided that this is a good problem to have. Better to have something too big that needs to get smaller than the other way around.

    I love you all... thanks so much for reading.

    And Miss Katie, as the one desenter, know that I know you may be the only voice of reason!

  9. I feel your pain! I am going through the same thing with my Rosamund's cardigan, it is just too big, especially around the neckline. Also, reverse stockinette is stretchy. I may take it apart,or just try to adjust the neckline by adding some crochet or tape inside? I though about felting but am not sure how that would turn out.

  10. Lisa, that's a tough one. The Rosamund would be hard to fix. This is why women hesitate to make sweaters... we never know for certain how they'll fit until they're done.

    I was just reading Elizabeth Zimmermann's suggestion about tightening a neckline. She suggested weaving thread through the top and bottom of the ribbing to close the neckline up a bit(yours isn't really ribbing, but maybe this suggestion will work anyway). Let me know what you decide to do... I'll be interested to hear.

  11. Yowza! Can't wait to see how this one comes out. I wasn't expecting this ;)