Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Mighty Acorn

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"What is a Quercus?" I wondered. Almost instantly, an email from Teresa unraveled this riddle. "A quercus is just an acorn!" she explained. The Quercus is also a new pattern from Knitty designed by Julie Turjoman.

From first sight, the pattern filled me with ambivalence. I absolutely love the back - LOVE! It's made for a figure like mine. I have to have it.

But other details make me itch and scratch. I don't like the yarn - or maybe it's the gauge? - for this sweater. It's too stiff and crunchy. The cuffs bother me; the way they're photographed, the sleeves look like they were knitted too long and haphazardly rolled up. The model looks engulfed by the collar - but she's a tiny little thing so maybe the wide collar wouldn't be an issue on a big girl like me. And then Teresa exclaimed that the cable looks like a spine. Eek! I agree.

But still, I like this design. It has great promise and with some tweaks, it could be just right for me. (As it is now, it's probably just right for most other people. I'm just contrary. And the joy of knitting is that you can make sweaters however you want. Thank goodness there are no knitting police or I would be arrested.)

Given this, I'm going to make Quercus with the following mods:

I'm going to use a different, lighter weight yarn with a better drape. My choice: Nashua Creative Focus Worsted, a 75% wool/25% alpaca blend in Taupe Heather, an oatmeal color. A few weeks ago, I purchased a treasure trove from Little Knits at a steep discount. Apparently Nashua Handknits has sold the yarn brand to Rowan. I bought the Nashua version for $2.50 a skein a week before Rowan released its new and unimproved version for $10 a skein! It was such a great deal, I bought two sweaters worth, one in oatmeal and one in light blue. I'll be making a fair isle sweater with the rest of it soon. 

I like the elbow-length sleeves, especially the natural line that occurs between the sleeves along the back waist where the cable ends. But I don't like the cuffs so I will either end them at the elbow with ribbing, revise the cuffs so they lay better, or extend the sleeves to the wrist. Still pondering...

I want to swap out the rolled edge front on the sweater with ribbing and buttons because I know this will be more becoming on me (see the quick-and-dirty mockup below). Like lots of bottom-heavy women, I look better with the top of my sweater open and the bottom buttoned; this draws the eye towards the bust, shoulders, and face. I created a graphic for the F2F Rav group this morning that shows why I don't wear three-button sweaters. The same principle goes for sweaters like the Quercus; I'm skeptical that using a pin at my waist will be attractive on me because my belly will protrude. I'm also so short-waisted the the pin will ride right under my bust. Buttons are better - for me anyway.

As I said before, my knitting gal pal Teresa remarked that the Quercus cable looks like a spine. To reduce this effect, I'm removing the two purl rows that bisect the cable. I'm going to use a more classic style instead, as shown here in my swatch.

Planning completed, last night I casted on and started the long march down from the shoulders to the hem. The Quercus is knitted top-down design and is almost seamless. I am intrigued by the construction and am interested to see how it effects fit. We'll see. But I like what I've made thus far. My sweater will be even prettier after blocking because the Nashua Creative Focus Worsted blooms luciously.

So, what am I calling this creation? The Mighty Acorn, because it's SO much easier to spell and say and remember. I hope you will come back and watch my little Acorn grow into what I hope will be a very beautiful oak tree.


  1. The back is so gorgeous and uses the cable pull-in to advantage. I love that. I really like your mods.

  2. People must think I am just an old cranky curmudgeon! LOL
    Love the mods...especially the new relaxed cable.(I like the cuffed sleeve, though).
    Looking forward to this A-t-O (Acorn-to-Oak) Project.

  3. You know what I like about you Julie? You ask and answer questions I did not even know I needed to ask myself yet. I predict it is going to look great.

  4. Wow. I have to admit that this one slipped by without me really noticing it, yet now I can see how with a few modifications it could look really great.
    I completely agree with you on the sleeves too. Can't wait to see the finished result!

  5. I'm so glad I found your website. I have knitted for many years, but seldom finished any project for myself...Now, I know why. I am a large-size woman, not busty, & definitely bigger on the bottom, but never even thought about the need to alter patterns to fit my body & look good.

    I had looked at this pattern before, but disregarded it because of the front (rolling, no buttons, can't remember why else), but now I'm looking at your mods with new eyes & will consider making it for myself.

    One question: Do you think the sleeves as they are with the cuffs would make the bustline look larger? I need all the help I can get in that area. Thanks for your help & again, I love your blog.

    Karen P. in GA

  6. This looks like a beautiful sweater and your mods are excellent. My only question is: why would you make such a warm sweater with short sleeves?

  7. I love your modification to the cable - your way looks MUCH better! Were I to make this, I would either taper the sleeves to the wrist and end with a roll edge, or I'd make them slightly bell shaped. I like the rolled edge, but would probably do a big vintage button and loop to keep it closed rather than a huge pin.

  8. I looked at this sweater & loved it at first sight. Then I took a second look & thought there was something wrong & I had to fiddle it. I like the elbow length sleeves - I'm always pushing mine up anyway - I also didn't like the roll front & thought about ribbing. I can't wait to see how the yarn looks - I'd like something less 'rustic' as well but still not sure what I'll use . .