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Perfect Sweater: Perfect Tie

Dear Kay, and Perfect Knitters,
Get a load of this, willya?

The edging for the Perfect Sweater is
hemmed 46.2% 346
seed stitch 46.1% 345
ribbing (either 1×1, 2×2, or 3×3) 7.7% 58
total votes: 749

And yes, in the only moment I ever hope to resemble Senate tie-breaking-vote-caster Dick Cheney, I cast a tie-breaking vote. I never dreamed we would have a genuwine, even-steven split between seed stitch and hemmed edging for the Perfect Sweater. A perfect tie.
In the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, and because I figure that some late-voting seed stitchers may tip the scales, and because we want to avoid a filibuster no matter WHAT, we’ll include instructions for both edgings. If the will of the group is split so perfectly, then by jinky the sweater will have two perfect edgings.
Comments Galore
Now. I continue to be awed by the wealth of knowledge among the Future Searchers. It’s a regular Cal Tech of wisdom you guys bring to the table. Thank you, everybody, for chiming in.
Amid the folks who adore hemmed edges, a couple of folks raise serious hem issues. I think we of the Insanely Fond of Hems Club better caveat our emptor, or whatever:
All the way from Finland, we hear the plaintive voice of Kristel, who warns: “Please, please, please do not vote for hemming. The knitted hems never stay put but turn to the right side of the garment in a very ugly fashion. Trust me on this one, I’ve attempted this technique several times. (Last time I had to rip out a nearly finished piece that was knit on 2.5 mm needles because the hem started driving me crazy.)”
Jennifer too has a warning: “I vote against hemmed–twice the work, picking up stitches, blargh. My one experience-disaster. It was also very bulky and uneven . . . or maybe I can’t follow directions?”
Consider us forewarned.
Paula has a great hem tip: “If you use one size bigger needle to cast on, this makes it much easier to pick up the cast-on edge loops when you do the hem-folding-up part.” (Paula just started her blog, so please take her a casserole of welcome.)
Jessica (yes, that Jessica, the Cascade-discountin’ Jessica), writes: “I liked a hemmed edge. Meg Swansen/Elizabeth Zimmermann offer another way to make one for a less bulky hem. Cast on using the long-tail method. Knit your sweater. Then pick up along the purl bumps of the long tail using a smaller needle and a finer yarn. Knit the hem then tack down the live stitches to the inside of the sweater. This makes a stretchy hem.” Cool, especially if you take (tragically blogless) Alice’s advice and use a contrasting color for the interfacing.
Nothin’ but Knit Ashley suggests something completely different, Annie Modesitt’s slip stitch edging which does look cool.
In the Comments for the Nov. 4 entry, there is a ton of rib chat about alternative choices for ribbing. This makes for rich and rewarding reading for those who simply cannot stand the thought of a hem or seed stitch.
What I Am Doing Right This Minute
Coughing. Coughing all the damn time like some pathetic consumptive. I am beginning to enjoy this invalid lifestyle, which involves house slippers, the making but not necessarily the drinking of tea, perhaps the wearing of a shawl that I made back in the day when I was able do things like knit shawls.
But even famous invalids have days when they get stuff done. I’m happy to report that I’ve cooked up a first draft, a beta version if you will, of The Perfect Sweater: Jewel Neck Pullover Edition.
The Secret Truth of the Perfect Handknit, Revealed at Last
Try to remember the kind of September when we started this whole thing. It seemed impossible to narrow any of this down. The Perfect Handknit? An impossible dream. Foolish. Unlikely. Ridiculous.
Uh, good point. But here we are, with the beginnings of a pattern and no end of conversation about what we like and what we loathe about yarns, patterns, styles, beverages, and the touchy issue of our midsections. I think the single most obvious lesson of all this (other than the fact that it’s a crying shame that we can’t all get together to hang out), is that we each have a perfect sweater in our heads. And the elements of that sweater are within the reach of every one of us. We don’t need to dig through a bunch of patterns, hoping that magic combination of elements somehow shows up. We really don’t. If we look at this Perfect Sweater pattern as a beginning, not an end, the whole picture becomes very clear.
Perfection is in the eye of the beholder.
We can make this sweater, this cotton/wool/mohair/merino-which-is-superior-to-ordinary-wool/wool-and-cotton/alpaca/cashmere, cabled/seed-stitch/lace/Fair Isle/striped pullover/cardigan with the set-in/drop/sort-of-drop shoulders and the seed stitch/hemmed/ribbed/lace edging and buttons/zipper. With a crewneck/jewelneck/shawl/square/boatneck/scoopneck/turtleneck/two-point/V-neck collar.
So. I’m test-knitting this basic pattern, and I’ll be contacting all you neckline designers shortly. In the meantime, I hope everybody will think about how they will make this sweater their own Perfect Handknit. My guess: there won’t be a single repeat in the entire batch.




  1. Raising a glass of sparkling wine in your general direction, Ann. Can’t wait to get cracking on the sweater!

  2. Oh, Ann, I’m sorry you’re coughing. It’s terrible when the mom is sick, she says, with runny nose and teary eyes. I hope your children are taking good care of you and not driving you crazy.
    And, knit on!

  3. I can see the light at the end of the impossible tunnel! I can think about planning for yarn! I can push digital chicken soup and tea with lemon and Delsym in the Megabottle your way!
    Take care of yourself…get better. We have waited our whole lives for the perfect handknit. We can wait this tiny bit more.

  4. First, thank you for something new to be hypochondriacal (is this a word?) about.
    Second, I will recreate that infamous first cardigan, without the gauge issues, but with the colorwork. Maybe with the gauge issues, but not with gorilla arms. Oh heck – maybe with the gauge issues and the gorilla arms, but with buttons this time. I loved that sweater.
    Surprisingly, you will recover, so enjoy lounging, and milk that cold for all it’s worth!

  5. Just…um…a thought here. By creating a jewel-neckline-ed sweater with set-in sleeves, no matter what kind of edging we put on it, it will still look like the top layer of nearly every twinset in history. We’re recreating the wheel here. Of course, ours will be the most democratic wheel ever known.

  6. I got a new cocktail shaker for this occasion πŸ™‚ I would be more than happy to break it in, making a Delsyn cocktail JUST FOR YOOOOOOU.
    Just as long as I don’t have to knit the sweater. LOL

  7. Hallelujah! I bought my C220 in midnight heather.
    I’ve got that cold too, Ann. I was up most of last night with a throat pinpricking cough every 100 seconds; Mark timed me. He says I should have some scotch before bed tonight. I’ll raise my glass to you before I down it.

  8. I vote we send Ann to Congress to help keep things civil in DC! Looking forward to the patterns. . . .

  9. There is a special place reserved in the “Start Knitting in January or February” column for the perfect sweater. So excited. I wanted to tell you, too, that with all this knitting talk and what with designing the square neckline and all, I started a blog, too. Nothing terribly exciting there yet but a girl can dream! Stop by sometime, when you aren’t busy test knitting. πŸ™‚

  10. So excited so excited SO HOOTING ROOTING TOOTING EXCITED to make the perfect sweater (c).
    I hope you get over your cough quickly.

  11. Because I am all about consensus (at times almost pathologically so) I posit the creation of a seed stitch hem. I can see it now. A couple rows of seed stitch on the RS, a row of purl stitches, and then turned under as a hem. Bulky, perhaps… but at least all the special interest groups would be mollified!

  12. My big problem is I think I know what I want and then someone says something else and I think “great idea.” I’m in dire need of blinkers and ear muffs, wonderful look for the time of year πŸ˜‰
    I’m coughing with you all the way! Get well soon.

  13. you work so diligently for us….no wonder you haven’t had time to take those health conscious vitamins. please rest!

  14. you forgot to list the funnel-cake-neck…whatever the heck that is!

  15. Thank you Jessica, just ordered my “grapey-heathery” yarn. Looking forward to sweater almost perfection!

  16. I ordered C220 in color:2411, Cafe. The folks at The Fiber Gallery were super helpful and nice. They did not stock the color, so they got it special from the warehouse, just for me. Yippee!! Thanks Jessica.

  17. Hi! I’ve just read back through all the posts since the beginning of the design of the Perfect Handknit, and while I’m so glad I found this, I am bummed I didn’t find it sooner! It’s been a hoot just catching up on what’s been done – I can imagine it’s been a blast while it’s happening. I did get to vote for seed stitch before the polling closed, and I pretty much went with the majority on every other decision (except the collar, and I was in the shawl collar minority there.) Anyway – great to find you… can’t wait to see how this sweater turns out! I’m definitely on for making it!!


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