Yes, Virginia, There is a Perfect Sweater Pattern
October 9, 2006
Dear Kay, and All Valiant Heroes Who Have Helped to Determine the Perfect Handknit,
I know there are a lot of you who have decided that world peace will arrive before the pattern for the Perfect Sweater.
Ah, the Future Search for the Perfect Handknit, the project from last fall which turned our blog into a regular United Nations (or supercatty episode of The View).
Well, I’m here to tell you that world peace will have to come tomorrow. The pattern for the Perfect Sweater is done.
Pretty much done. More done than not. Done enough to launch on its way to everybody who has ever wanted to make the Perfect Sweater.
First, I want to apologize to those of you who have been waiting, and inquiring in superpolite ways, and generally not being awful to me about the fact that this pattern is long overdue. I can’t say I would have been so kind had I bought up a batch of Cascade 220 (The Perfect Yarn, it had been decided) only to find that the pattern was stuck somewhere in the ether. So: thank you for your patience.
Second, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this gabfest. It has been educational and hilarious to hear everyone’s opinion about what constitutes the perfect handknit. For those who would like to see how we ended up with a “perfect sweater,” the whole tale is available in the archives beginning right here.
What It Is
Here’s where it all stands–and this is where I send a giant THANK YOU to Mandy our tech editor, who has been a regular Florence Nightingale, nursing this thing along. I encourage you all to go give her a thank you or a pile of diamonds. Or a new brain, because surely she blew her current one on the calculations she just finished.
We have a pattern for a sweater which includes the following features:
Written for nine (count-’em nine) sizes, from a 28″ bust to a 60″ bust
Slightly shaped waist
Three hem/cuff options: seed stitch, hemmed with a flat edge, hemmed with a picot edge
Three neckline options: rolled jewelneck, V neck (designed by the heroic Suzanne), seed stitch
Now, there are a number of elements missing from this pattern: some neckline variations and the entire issue of the cardigan option. Our elaborate voting called for these things. Perfection is complicated, it turns out. And I have no doubt that in time we will get them all. Everybody who volunteered to cook up a neckline is still welcome to do so–of course.
Thanks to Mandy’s blazing calculator and good sense, this Perfect Sweater pattern is a thing of beauty. It includes notes on such tidbits as the three-needle bindoff, a crochet provisional cast-on, and the best increases and decreases. I think this is a fantastic pattern for anyone wanting to make a sweater for the first time.
In all its numerically dense glory, here is the Perfect Sweater pattern. Free to all!
A Test Knitting
I’ve just finished my second Perfect Sweater, test-knitting the pattern. Let me tell you, never in my life have I had the sort of effortless success that I have had with this pattern. Rilly! It’s like it’s charmed or something. Check out these hot blocking photos:
Have you ever seen a 19″-wide sweater be so very 19 inchy?
Or a 21 1/2″ side seam be so NOT 22 inches?
In fact, the only error in the whole knitting of this thing was mine–after I finished sleeve #2 last night, I ran downstairs to block this final sweater part. I laid it out, pins a-ready, and discovered that something was seriously, wonkishly wrong. Sleeve #1 (knitted back in March, I’m chagrined to report) was, like, a full inch taller than sleeve #2. SOMEbody did not follow the directions. Incredible. So I reknit the sleeve cap of sleeve #1.
If anyone doubts the mighty redemptive power of blocking, you can see in this picture the irregular new stitches at the top, and the fluffy, steamed-like-a-clam stitches of the bottom. Really, Cascade 220 is a marvelous yarn–it loves to be knitted, and it loves to be blocked. It’s, uh, perfect.
I can’t wait to make another one.
Ze Future of the Perfect Sweater
As with all good collaborative projects, there will be no end to the Perfect Sweater. Necklines remain to be designed, cardigans to be figured out, top-downs, sideways. We hope people will dive in and and make the Perfect Sweater even perfecter. To that end, we have set up this Creative Commons license which gives readers a lot of liberty to copy the pattern and to create derivative versions as long as they give proper attribution. After all, everybody who participated in the Search for the Perfect Handknit has a hand in how this pattern turned out.
So: print out a bunch and give them to people for Christmas. Looking for a bar mitzvah present? What better than the Perfect Sweater?
Yarn? What About Yarn, You Ask?
You have a great chance to score Perfect Yarn at a great price.
Two fantastic yarn shops are offering discounts (and no, MDK makes nary a dime off yarn sales):
Fiber Gallery in Seattle returns with 25% off all Cascade 220 from now until December 31st. Regular prices are: Cascade 220 (includes Quatro) $7; Cascade 220 Tweed $9.50; Cascade 220 Superwash $10. No online ordering available; please call in orders to the shop to provide credit card information: (206) 706-4197.
Threaded Bliss Yarns, Nashville, is offering a once-in-a-lifetime 20% discount on Cascade 220. Beginning on Wednesday, October 11, go visit the Threaded Bliss web site for details. Over a hundred shades in stock, up to 10 skeins at the sale price. Sheila will even order a bag of 10 for you if she doesn’t have your shade in stock.
And Finally . . .
I leave you with a thought. After the discussing and the voting and the retiring to the lounge when it got too loud, please remember this: the perfect sweater is the one you make the way you like it.