2013 Spring Cleaning #1

The next few posts have no photos because they’ve already been ripped out.

I started Tea Leaves last summer and finished it in time to wear at SOAR. It should have been the perfect fall cardigan to wear all California winter. A fabulous mid weight sweater to throw on over T-shirts or turtlenecks. I even received some beautiful buttons handmade by Denny that would have been fabulous on the sweater.

Except it wasn’t.

Even after careful measurements, the sleeves were 2-3″ too long. I don’t know how that happened because I measured several of my favorite top down and yoked sweaters and used those numbers as my guidelines. It’s possible that I forgot to account for the nearly 3″ of garter stitch cuff.

Even if the sleeves had been of the right length, they were too tight. So tight that I wouldn’t have been able to comfortably wear anything other than a tank up or sleeveless shell under it. I might have fooled myself into thinking it was okay if the sleeves weren’t too long.

The sleeves were no only tight at the upper arm, they also sat right under the arm pit. There is no room for any shirts underneath to bunch up. You know what I’m talking about — the inevitable extra fabric you get when you wear a top with some ease. So, if the under layer has ease, the top layer needs ease too. This didn’t. It had negative ease. Not only was it uncomfortable, it was unsightly. After a perusal of the discussion forums on Ravelry, I found that a lot of people had issues with the too snug sleeves and added stitches to make it wearable.

Lastly, I wasn’t too fond of how low the neckline is. It felt like it was falling off my shoulders. Of course, it wasn’t because those darned sleeves made sure nothing moved.

So, there they sat. Washed, blocked and lonely since the end of September. Last week, the cat found it and decided that it is the perfect cat bed. Before she had a chance to circle once as a precursor to settling in for a long nap, I made the decision to rip. She was not a happy kitty.

While ripping the sweater, I started my research on how to fix this sweater.

Sleeves

I already knew I needed more sleeve stitches to start, but how many? I pulled out my notes from Janine’s EPS Yoked Sweater and crunched some numbers and compared them with the written pattern. I was stunned. Absolutely floored!

I knitted the 40″ sweater. For a 40″ sweater, the pattern instructions had an upper arm circumference of 11.4″ inches. Seriously. 11.5″. No wonder my arms were protesting. I can’t fit into that even without a shirt underneath.

According to the EPS calculations, the upper arm should be anywhere from 33% to 40% of your finished chest circumference. With a 40″ chest, the range is from 12.6″ (skinny narrow) – 15.2″ (loose), with the average in the 13.4″ to 14.4″ range.

2″. The sleeves are too narrow by two whole inches. On Ravelry, I see many knitters adding “a couple” of extra stitches. I don’t see how a couple of extra stitches at 5 st/in is going to help. Many of these people also said “blocking” and lots of it.

Neckline

Vicki did a fabulous review on her Tea Leaves Cardigan in Episode 12 of her podcast. She talked about the short rows she did to have the sweater fit better on the shoulders. She also pointed out that the pattern discussed the short rows! I completely missed it because it was not in the main section of the sweater pattern but in the notes section under gauge and notions. Thank you, Vicki!

Decision

Well the decision has already been made. The sweater has been ripped all the way back to the last ruffle and yoke increases. Some people added the short rows in the stockinette stitch sections between the ruffles. I couldn’t face the ruffles again right now so I will be putting my short rows after the yoke section. I already added one set of short rows. I will knit a few rows plain and then add in another set of short rows. Each of these sets is 2 short rows, if that makes sense.

I will be adding 2″ to my underarm for the sleeves, once I get to them again. I am hoping that the short rows will give me extra depth in the sweater as well so that it will not be sitting right at the arm pit. I’ll try it on as I go and decide if I need a bit extra depth. I couldn’t use the EPS calculations for the yoke depth because this sweater has a low neckline to start.

Of course, those 2 extra inches for each sleeve means that the body will be 4″ larger in the circumference. I will need to try on as I go and decide how to manage all that extra girth. I can turn it into more of a swing coat by adding even more stitches or do some waist shaping.

Lessons Learned

I buy and used published pattern because I want mindless knitting. Just follow the written pattern and turn the brain off. Unfortunately, this pattern didn’t fit the bill. For the next sweater I knit using a published pattern from a new-to-me designer, you can bet that I will double check all the numbers at critical points to make sure that the fit works for me.

For this sweater, I would have been better off making it up as I went, using only the rough instructions for the design elements that I like. In this case, the ruffles.

Last lesson? Try the sweater on as I go. Seriously. I know better.