channel cardigan, pattern, and yarn review
Let me begin by stating that I am not a shapeless blob. I know this because I can run one mile. I had to work up to this mile starting a couple years after the boys were born and I finally found time to exercise a little. It’s my goal to run this mile one to three times per week depending on other demands of my time. Running, even though it is only a mile, makes me feel good (afterward, not during) and good about myself.
When I wear this sweater, I look and feel like someone who needs to exercise. The fit is the only thing I dislike about it, but it is enough to keep me from wearing the garment.
Things I do like: the many textures, the strong color, the feel of it–it is really warm, the shawl collar, the buttons, the fit of the sleeves. I even like the way it looks when it is lying on the couch. But the shapelessness through the midsection is unflattering on me.
The pattern was well written, easy to understand, easy to execute, easy to plan. I enjoyed knitting it.
I think the problems with the sweater stem mostly from incorrect size selection. This pattern gives diagrams of each segment of the garment and shows exactly how long and wide they should be for each size included in the pattern. I studied the piece-by-piece measurements carefully, adding the widths of all pieces to confirm whether they would fit me. I also measured myself very carefully. In retrospect, looking at the fit of the sweaters on the models, I think I should have chosen 1 size smaller. The models are wearing (attractive looking) sweaters that are both snugger and shorter on them.
I should probably admit now that I made a modification to the body of the sweater. I made it larger at the bottom. Even though I can run a mile I am still pear shaped. The sweater, in the diagram and in the photo-shoot on the model, appears very straight. I figured that even though Mr. Flood is a garment designer he is also a man, and maybe he doesn’t understand the problem of the pear shape. When I compared my measurements to the measurements of the sweater I realized that the size that would fit at the top would not fit at the bottom. Unfortunately at this point I had already purchased the pattern and yarn, so I used some tips I read in Maggie Righetti’s Sweater Design in Plain English to cast on more stitches than instructed in the pattern. I added more moss stitch to the moss panels and kept the chevron panels the same. Then, at the waist I decreased all the extra stitches and followed the directions precisely for the upper parts.
The sweater fits fine in the hips. It goes all the way around and it buttons with no stretching. Perfect. The problem occurs in the area of the decreases and above. As I said, I should have made a smaller size of the sweater. I believe I should have made the decreases a few rows earlier. Perhaps I should have made almost all decreases in the back and sides and none on the front panels. Perhaps I should re-read Sweater Design.
Also, the belt loops are below the waist. Maybe it’s supposed to be like this, but it adds to the illusion that I don’t have a waist. I do have one, and remember, I can run 1 mile.
I don’t think I had a gauge problem. I made several swatches and after a few trials, the right needles and the right tension were paired with the yarn.
I first resisted writing what follows because I want to seem like a reasonable person, but as I recall the careful measuring, calculating, altering, gauge swatching, knitting, blocking to precise measurements, etc., I am becoming convinced that the sweater grew after I made it. I didn’t want to tell you, but there it is.
I wear this sweater around the house. Someday I might figure out how to modify it or figure out how to like it. Considering the price of the yarn I plan to keep this sweater a very long time…
And that brings me to the final part of this review. In 2014 I made a New Years resolution to knit a sweater. I also made a resolution to try knitting a pattern with the yarn for which it was designed; usually I mix and match a pattern from the internet with yarn I happen to have. I combined the two resolutions in this sweater. Brooklyn Tweed yarn and Brooklyn Tweed design.
Considering that the wool is made by American sheep and spun in one of the few remaining American mills, the cost was relatively reasonable. (I mean, I am not accustomed to paying that much for a pre-made sweater, but for the pleasure of knitting it myself? I decided to use my birthday money and pressed “add to cart.”)
The 2-ply, woolen spun yarn was nice to work with. It’s soft and airy. The colors are earthy. The website describes the yarn with both the word “rustic” and the word “delicate.” You might wonder how this can be but, but I tell you, it is true.
I would knit something else with this yarn but maybe not a sweater. One problem was with seaming. The pattern warned that seaming might be best done with sock yarn of the same color. The reason is that twist is the power that holds fibers together in yarn. The tighter the twist, the stronger the yarn, as I learned in spinning class. This yarn is only two ply and is lightly spun so if you want to seam with it you have to add extra twist as you work by twisting the needle.
In 2014 my kids were toddlers and it wasn’t convenient for me to spend a few hours making a pilgrimage to a yarn store I dislike for sock yarn in a specific color that may or may not exist. Do I take the boys with me (hmmm that would be distracting and perhaps messy and embarrassing) or leave them with my husband (who might want to spend some time without them since he cares for them solo during the work week) on Saturday evening (when I would like to be home with the family all together)? This question drove me to buy the yarn online at the beginning.
I twisted the two-ply and used what I already had on hand. I haven’t worn the sweater much, but the collar has already come loose from the body in one place and I need to re-seam a couple inches.
Overall, I have to say the experience was a disappointment. I might eventually take the sweater apart and make something else with it. However… woolen yarn does something called “fulling” that is like puffing up when washed. It’s not as extreme as felting, but it might prevent ripping out the sweater to reuse the yarn. I will try it with one of the several swatches first.
I am not disappointed with the sweater so much as with the way the sweater looks on me. Which is to say, maybe I am disappointed with myself or my shape. In the future I will pick a more flattering design… If I ever knit a sweater for myself again. This design is beautiful (on someone else). And I like knitting textured things, but textures add perceived inches in the mirror. I could save textured knitting for hats or mittens and only knit garments in flat stockinette which, although boring, might be slenderizing. Or I could knit that cabled fisherman’s sweater for preschoolers who would totally appreciate it if their sweater makes them look bigger.