For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Boxy Pullover Tells All

Dear Ann,
Being as how this is a knitting blog and all, please excuse me while I recount, at a nausea-inducing level of detail, Creeper’s sewing-up story. After all, in Blog Lit 101 we were taught that the Sewing-Up Story, like the Bildungsroman, is a literary genre unto itself. We must not ignore it simply because it is tedious and repetitive and we’ve all done it a hundred times and nobody cares.
There are also humanitarian reasons. Others have embarked on Creeper. I want them to be prepared. I want to help them, and in as many words and pictures as possible, by golly, I mean to do it.
Fixin’ to Mattress
Creeper is a pullover from Rowan’s Denim People book. One of its quiet charms is the funnel neck. I have never made a funnel neck. I liked the idea, though, because t-necks make me feel choky, but any structure that distracts from or obscures the neck/chins area has got to be a good thing. So we begin our sewing up, on the dining room table, mug o’tea at a safe distance, by joining the funnel neck and shoulders with one mattress seam on each side.
creeperneckstitches.jpg
This is Easy Mattress Stitch because we are joining row ends to row ends, so there is no need to ‘ease’. Just make that ladder, row by row.
creeperneckfinish.jpg
See how nice? I just had to try it on. (Note: That is my Sewing-Up Face. Do not mess with me when you see the Sewing-Up Face.)
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
We come, much too soon, to the Sleeves. The sleeves of the Creeper, they are the ‘Shallow Set-in Sleeves’. This means you attach the sleeves at the shoulder before you join the side and sleeve seams. Except for the little notch of shaping at the sides, this is just like putting in a Drop Shoulder Sleeve. (You should get an Ominous Inkling right about now.)
creepersleeveshaping.jpg
The shaping bits are easy to join with Mattress Stitch. Rows to rows again. One for one. Easy to get a perfect join.
Two tricky parts, one mild and one thorny.
Mild tricky part:
For the rest of the sleeve, you are joining the cast-off stitches of the sleeve to the row ends of the body. Ruh-roh. Row gauge and stitch gauge are different, so you can’t stitch them one-for-one or you’ll end up with a stretched part and a bunched part. Since I am loath to count stitches and rows and perform simple math (just figure out the ratio between stitches and rows), I did it by eyeball. Which is fine over such a short distance, if you’re willing to undo it when you see any stretching or bunching. If it saves me math, I am happy to do a seam over.
Thorny part:
creepersleevecenter.jpg
See that big fat cable that is twisting right at the top of the sleeve head? That, my friends, is Trouble. Wish I had thought about THAT before casting off the sleeve. But I’m too impetuous (!) to reknit the last few rows of the sleeve. I forge ahead. At least the cable makes it unnecessary to mark the center of the sleeve so I can match it to the shoulder seam.
creepersleevecentercable.jpg
When I reached this point, I realized that I could not mattress-stitch through the gnarly knot of that cable. So, with the suppleness of a pro (HA!), I went back to an inch before the cable, and right then and there I switched from Mattress Stitch to Back Stitch. This was not particularly graceful or fun, but I didn’t want to back-stitch the whole seam.
creepersleevefinished.jpg
Yay! The sleeve survived!
After that, it was just a matter of mattressing the sleeve and side seams. This was so routine that even I did not feel the need to document it for posterity.
Dum De Dum Dum
We come to the part where I try it on.
As it turns out, I made one little mistake with Creeper: I knit the wrong sweater.
creeperonkay.jpg
The DNA that governs my shoulders and biceps comes from centuries of my foremothers pushing plows across rocky fields in Northern Europe and the Great Plains. As the Manolo would surely agree, the big arms they are not the fashion for the ladies of today. A Shallow Set-In Sleeve, which turns out to be a Drop Shoulder by another name, highlights the bulk of the shoulder and upper arm. And then– cruelly, really– the big juicy cable on the arm makes matters much, much worse. I could make the first cut of a rugby team try-out just by showing up in this sweater.
I also feel it should be an inch or two longer and have a touch–a whisper–of side shaping. I did say I wanted it to wear it like a sweatshirt. But I didn’t want it to fit like a sweatshirt. (I know you’ll notice, so let me just say that I made the sleeves short on purpose. The romantic, trailing sleeve is for Rowan models and other people who don’t have to wash dishes.)
I don’t hate it. But as my Great-Aunt Carrie would say, it ‘doesn’t do a thing for me.’ I like it enough though, to tinker and make another version. Plain sleeves. A ‘flatter’ center cable–maybe a diamond cable. A lighter-weight denim, such as the Elle brand, which knits to 22 sts/10 cm instead of Rowan’s 19 or 20. And most importantly, a Real Deal, 100% No-Kidding Set-In Sleeve.
Please, please, do not let me make any more sweaters for myself that don’t have a set-in sleeve! Friends don’t let friends look husky.
For recovery knitting, I followed Siow Chin‘s lead and made a Parquet Squares Dishcloth.
parquetsquaresdishrag.jpg
Aaaahh. I feel better now.
Happy weekend everybody!
Love, Kay

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Super fabulous Kay,
    The Manolo does not see what is the thing that you are seeing. Why such the long face about the handknit? The arms they are not the Hulk Hogan arms, the cables are not such of a big nightmare to the Manolo. The only thing you should be adding to this ensemble of relaxed spring fashion is . . . SHOES. The strappy four-inch sandals will be finishing up this outfit to be the most deluxe.
    Basias to you!

  2. Ha! First comment. And I know I should be doing something else, but – Kay, if you want lighterweight denim than even the Elle, I’ll send you more. Drapey 4-ply. Just say. Beautiful knitting, anyway, even if you’re not entirely sold on the finished article. And as for the sewing, The Kay, she is the Sewing queen (I was going to say ‘mattress’ instead of ‘sewing’ but thought it sounded faintly rude….)

  3. foiled by The Manolo!!

  4. Sorry to disagree, Kay, but I LOVE IT!!
    That being said, I do know that no amount of outside opinion really matters if you are not comfortable in it. Thanks for all of the details. I’ve had Denim People on my wish list forever. May have to revisit it!

  5. Normally I would kid that this is not as hideous as all that but then that sounds like it’s a touch hideous. It certainly is not! Why not make this an experiment in sewing: add some waist-shaping and take in those shoulders a bit now. You’ve got nothing to lose.

  6. The sweater is very cute! But I agree that it’s your vote that matters, and if you want set-in sleeves for life, by golly, I’ll take an oath to remind you.
    I finished a sweater for myself last weekend and was so delightededly surprised that I actually, truly loved it. Made me realize how seldom that happens! (As opposed to the following conversation with myself: “If you put this on in a store, would you buy it? No? Then don’t keep it just because you knit it. Find a new home for it.” and so on and so forth. My sister has gotten some nice sweaters this way…)

  7. I love your blog. I love your sense of humour and writing. thank you for that story… You are the bees knees.!

  8. Hello Kay,
    I have a boxy, short sweater that I spent a lot of time making (it’s from an ooollllld Vogue Knitting and has little cabled saguaro cactuses on it!), and it is the wrong shape and has that drop-shoulder problem, and should be a few inches longer because my midriff is not that attractive… but I wear it all the time, because it’s a nice weight cotton sweater that is perfect under a coat, blah blah. So, maybe in time, you’ll learn to love this sweater too. Or heck, just whip up another….
    And that is one hot dishcloth, I’m telling ya!

  9. I lurrrrvvvve the sweater. Really. All those things about arms and necks and pushing plows may be true (of myself too)…but in the end, I think the overall look trenscends those trifling concerns. It’s the perfect cool weather spring sweater.
    And I favor the shorter sleeve too…longer sleeves just end up getting pushed or rolled up — not the intended look at all!
    But really, I love it.

  10. I like that you have a Sewing Up Face too. For the record, if I had read the description first with no photo visual, I would absolutely NOT have picked out that sweater as the offending project, even if you’d pointed to it in your closet first. Looks good on you!

  11. Perhaps if you dyed it hot pink, it would be more to your liking? I think it is cute and full of cabley goodness, but if it makes you feel dowdy, that’s not good. You must feel fabulous! Maybe baste in some waist shaping and see if that doesn’t do the trick? If you still don’t like it and won’t wear it, do you have an Aunt Edna somewhere who might enjoy it?

  12. kay….truly, i think creeper looks handsome and classic on you, but if you feel conflicted, why not add layers of clothing underneath like skinny long-sleeved tees…. and treat it as a jacket-y item?…..or…give it to carrie for a trendy cable-y look for pre-teens!….golly… aren’t dishcloths soothing to the nerves…..

  13. Kay, Kay, Kay…..I LIKE IT. ALOT!! It looks well on you and you know how I am one to take charge of your wardrobe!! I am thinking that with a different brassiere, you might like it better.
    Did I really just say with a different brassiere?
    I did.
    Oy vay!!

  14. oh, i think it’s lovely too! and such beautiful knitting. but if you don’t like it…
    that’s one very cool dishcloth!

  15. Count me in with the NOT Dowdy crowd. I like it. Of course, I’m kntting it soooooooo maybe I’m not an impartial party. If you don’t want it, just send it on down to me and save me the trouble of knitting my own ;>

  16. Kay, I guess I’m not seeing what you’re seeing, as it looks great to me. If the cables were part of saddle shoulders, ok, but they stop at the shoulders, which seems to draw attention away from them. The center cable is eye-catching and also draws the eye up to your face. Nice!
    I’m sorry it’s the wrong sweater in your eyes, but it looks very right to me.
    But, hey, if you don’t love it….I’ll email you my snail mail address and relieve you of the burden!
    MaryB in Richmond, trying to confuse everyone by commenting whenever Mary deB posts! :-)

  17. If Trinny or Suzanna from BBC’s What Not To Wear were there, she would probably grab you inappropriately and urge structure for broad shoulders, but personally, I think the cable is so strikingly gorgeous that it overcomes the very odd title of “Creeper” and raglan sleeves, and actually is not creepy at all. It’s a lovely garment. I particularly love the ecru shade and short length. I echo mariko and say nip it in and wear it daily. It will make all the difference in the world.

  18. Woman, you are the final judge on what you wear but it looks pretty fab from this angle. And secretly, I’m just happy to hear that someone with lots of knitting experience has a hard time making the “right” sweaters too. Phew!

  19. Kay darling. You’ve lost the plot. It’s lovely – really, it looks good and I PROMISE I wouldn’t just say that. I’m really glad you’ve finished it and I got to see it on a real live dishwashing person as it’s been on my to list and now it’s definitely getting done :0)
    Heather x

  20. I think creeper is lovely. You’re much to hard on yourself. I like the ecru color much better then the denim color in the book (after you showed your first pics of creeper, I had to go and order the book). I like the shorter sleeves as well – looks like the perfect spring sweater to me. Did you use the real Rowan denim or did you use the Elan brand?

  21. Oddly enough, I posted about this very thing for tomorrow. There are sweaters that are learning experiences, and if you think you can knit a newer sexier one, I say go for it. I see what you mean, but I don’t think it’s so bad. You’re going to zjhuzjh the sleeves anyway, right, and that’s bulk that Trinny and Susannah would say tricks the eye: and I quote from page 43 of What Not To Wear(English edition)”[Three Quarter length sleeves] hide the flab at the top and display delicate wrists”.

  22. I think that you are being a little harsh on the sweater. Especially on the sleeve length which I think looks great. Like you I like my sweaters with some shaping but I think that this looks like a cuddle up on the sofa, comfy sweater (I suggest you find others to do the dishes though). A.x

  23. The sweater looks great in your photo, but you are the only one that can make the “wearability” decision. On the funnel neck, I found them worse than t-necks. Without the accompanying neck shaping, I got a strangle factor and an ugly wrinkle where the shaping should be. I also agree about “rectangles with sleeves”, set-ins look best…on me anyway.

  24. What a lovely sweater! :)
    Your Parquet Squares Dishcloth left me speechless. And gave me an idea. I bet you can read my mind!? Yes, I’m going to knit Parquet Squares Planket! Yippee! :D

  25. I agree completely on the issue of set-in sleeves. I think they are more flattering for most folks and worth the extra effort. And they are not so hard to design with the help of a couple of nice books…
    I do love the big cable!

  26. I think you are much too hard on yourself… in my opinion the sweater looks great on you and seriously, your arms look fine, the cable looks fine, and I love your choice in color and weight of the yarn used. You have a nice shape and the sweater is too cool not to wear. Trust me, you’ll get lots of compliments on it when you wear it out!

  27. O.K.,I’m adding my voice ! You look gorgeous ! Really.I’m not just saying that.That collar/neck treatment with the cable right to the top is very flattering.The 3/4 sleeves balance the over all look.The sleeves aren’t too wide so don’t look bad at all.Wear it and enjoy it,and go knit another one with modifications if that’s what you need/want to do.
    We women have images in our heads that we invariably fail to live up to.
    I wish I could look that good in such a fab sweater.

  28. I like it too – and it has nothing to do with having spent the last few hours in the pub with Heather…..!

  29. Here are my two cents: the last time I checked, boxes weren’t shaped. The funnel neck is perfect. The shoulders will relax more the more you wash the sweater, right? The only thing I agree with you on is that it could be a little longer. Couldn’t you pull an EZ, (setting aside the fact that she would have knit it in the round from the top down) snip the bottom side seams, unravel the bottom and knit down a bit and resew or is Denim unfriendly to that treatment? Really, you look great in that sweater. Carpe sweaterum!

  30. The body is perfect and I wouldn’t lengthen it. Here’s another thought: how about frogging the sleeves only and reknitting them without the cable? You would get less bulk and more drape that way and that could compensate for the drop sleeve issue.
    I learned my own sleeve lesson too; clearly your forefathers and mine were related!

  31. Kay, you look great in Creeper, seriously! Me, I’m so tempted to turn the Delta pieces into a couple of Buckle Bags. And I’ve to salute you, Queen of Squares (on top of being Queen of Denim), the parquet square looks just divine with the neat little border and the loop! Why hadn’t I thought of that?

  32. Kay, I’m with the others who like Creeper. I think I’d probably re-knit the sleeves without the cable if you feel they’re bulky but I love the cable down the front and the relaxed shape. What about washing/drying it a few times so it’s softer?
    To make it longer you could maybe pick up some stitches at the bottom and add some rows of moss stitch to match the collar top.
    By the way I totally LOVE the sewing up face!