If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see youΒ at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

Perfect Sweater: Shaping Up

Dear Kay, and all you country music fans,
Apologies for the long silence, but I’m still reeling from the sight of Dolly Parton and Elton John singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” together on the Country Music Association Awards Tuesday night. This fell in the category of Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should. I mean, I love barbecue and I love sushi, but let’s not be putting them on a plate together.
First of All, A Shopping Opportunity
If you’ve been following Emma & Co. in recent weeks, you know that Emma’s beautiful son Oliver has recently acquired a superfancy trike which has put the fella on the road. He also has a car seat which has made it much easier for him to gad about, and a much-needed stair lift. From what Emma says, a lot of you guys have helped make this possible.
I encourage everybody to go visit Emma’s Nov. 8 entry (scroll down) to see what happens when Oliver enjoys his newfound mobility. Pure delight!
Now. There is another set of wheels that Oliver needs. To raise funds for his new wheelchair, the brilliant Ina has cooked up two beautiful Clapotis scarves:
Wool and tencel!
Wool and alpaca!
Thank you, Ina, for your generosity. The knitting is perfect, and so is the cause. Bid early, bid high, bid often!
Speaking of Knitting . . .
I wouldn’t call it a howl of protest, but somebody was asking if we had already cooked up the Perfect Sweater pattern and not told her. Are ye daft? They wrote the Bible faster than we’re writing this thing. When we’re finished, there is no way you won’t know it. We’re going to bind it in rich corinthian leather with the Words of Kay in red.
What I have done is to cook up a beta version of the pattern and begun testing it. This is going to be a pullover, with set-in sleeves, slight shaping, with a plain jewelneck collar. It’s like the framework for a Rose Bowl parade float, OK? You guys get to do the fun part once the flatbed truck’s in place.
As I started writing the pattern, I realized that we hadn’t actually voted on about ten different things that could be voted on. But I am sensing what we in the Future Search business call “Blogpoll Fatigue.” “Overvoting.” “Too Much Democracy.” “Enough, Willya?” I’m concerned about the drinking over in the lounge, frankly. So, with the realization that I might be wrong, and you guys may be drunk, I executive-decisioned the following elements:
Stockinette stitch. Seems to be a good place to start, is pretty much the industry standard when it comes to What Knitting Is, and besides, I know full well that everybody out there who hates stockinette is going to rejigger this thing anyway.
Length of sweater: Hits right below the hip.
Shaping: Total of 4″ (10 cm) narrower at the waist than at the bottom.
Here’s a first peek:
Here’s the back, which features a 1″ (2.5 cm) shaping on each side. My question: is this what you had in mind when you voted for “slight shaping”? Any slighter, and it kind of disappears. And any shapelier, it gets to be so fitted that we’re going to look like Dolly Parton in the not-good-Dolly-Parton way.
(On many occasions I have ditched the side shaping when I wanted a boxier look. And that’s simple to do here. So if the sight of these curves is giving you shpilkes, just knit straight.)
Other details: Gauge is 20 sts + 27 rows = 4″ (10 cm) using a size 6 (4 mm) needle. The decreases and increases are made 2 stitches in from the edge. Those are short rows at the shoulders, which we’ll join with a three-needle bindoff.
As for the knitting, I find this stretch of stockinette weirdly soothing. And this Cascade 220 is a blocker’s dream: knits up all supercurled, then flattens out like a possum on Highway 31.
This is what the hem looks like when done without the picot edge.
The hem adds a certain borderish heft to the sweater. You hemmers will be happy with your choice. And you moss stitchers will like yours, too.
I happen to know someone who is a Size Small (finished sweater chest measurement: 36″/91 cm, to fit a 32″ bust). Here’s what the back looks like on Ms. Small.
It’s hitting Ms. Small below the hip, maybe two inches below.
So. No polls; this is more of an essay question. Whaddyathink?
If anybody’s out there dying to test knit this along with me, let me know and I’ll send you the pattern. This pattern is currently only to fit a 32″ chest–more sizes will be available in weeks to come, after the Neckline Designers cook up their varied neckline options.
And finally, I can’t tell you how much I’ve loved seeing everybody on the Frappr map. Amazing! So incredibly cool to see so many faces and new blogs.




  1. It looks great, all plain and all. I’m so excited, I just can’t wait! So far I love what you’ve done. Er, what we’ve done. Hurry, I need specs for a 38-40 bust.

  2. You’re right, I’ll mess with that stockinette in a major way. And use the seed stitch edge instead of a hem. But the fit! The fit is lovely. Just what I pictured.
    You rock. This is gonna be great.
    Here. You deserve this nice cold tanqueray and tonic with lime, don’t you?

  3. I’ll test knit it!
    *snort* I’m totally kidding. But I crack myself up. I’m knee deep in socks and hats and fuzzy feet for Christmas, or I would totally think about it. πŸ™‚
    BTW, just a helpful note to all of you out there – don’t drink Tangueray & tonics, watch lost, and try to knit fuzzy feet all at the same time. You’ll end up with slippers big enough for the dude from Big Fish. (And I’m not talking hottie Billy Crudup.)

  4. Ann, I think the sweater looks great. For my sweetheart neckline one, what if I happen to have yarn that knits to 220’s gauge? And a boyfriend who really would rather me not buy more yarn?…

  5. It looks great. I think you got the shaping and length just right.

  6. It looks greats on Ms Small. The length is good as is the slightly shaped waist. most of all I like that shade of green… I mean really like it,

  7. The back looks great! I’ll be happy to test knit as long as I can start on December 26th. Right now I’ve got too many holiday projects on the sticks.

  8. I guess it’s time to step away from the conference buffet and drinks so i have a waist left to shape for! The sample is looking good there, Ann.
    Saw the new tweed (well- new to me) Cascade 220 yesterday- beautiful- cant wait to start…

  9. You are on to something. That is cooking up to be the perfect sweater!

  10. WAIT!!!!
    What’s with the seaming! Was that an executive decision too? I think I’m going to go join the drunks in the lounge. That sounds like much more fun than seaming.
    Other than that it looks good. I’d shorten it a bit but that’s easy enough to do.

  11. Woot! I’m winning the bidding on one of the clapotis for Oliver’s Fund. And what’s up with that, folks. Go bid! Sheesh. It can’t stay this easy for me.
    It was that duet that gave me the schpilkes, not the sweater. The sweater looks lovely, I like the shaping and love the color you chose.

  12. love it! please size it way up for us larger women out here — i’m about a 3X, will probably do away with the slight shaping — but hope the pattern comes large enough!

  13. Looks great, just what I was envisioning all along as the Perfect Sweater.
    I think the “slightly” part of the shaping kinda depends on the wearer: for someone who themselves is not shaped very much, this is going to look very fitted, while on someone quite curvy this will look less shaped.

  14. I think the shaping is beautiful. And should be flattering on a variety of figures after the resizings are done.
    P.S. Ann, did you get an email from me day before yesterday? Or did I get lost in some vicious spam filter somewhere?

  15. Oh, gorgeous. Perfect shaping!
    Plus I was very happy to read “Those are short rows at the shoulders, which we’ll join with a three-needle bindoff.” OH love! Perfect, just like the perfect handknit should be. πŸ˜‰

  16. I love it I love it I love it! Fan-tas-tic!!! The length is perfection!

  17. Yes, very nice indeedy. But I still want moss stitch and raglan sleeves and cardigan and knit in one piece… I can see how this could become perfect… I’ll work on it… oh, and rather larger, too!
    Love the clapotis (what’s the plural, clapotises??) and the pics of Oliver on his wheels.

  18. Love it, especially the color. I, however, am much more Ms Large (or even Ms. XL) than Ms Small, so I’ll wait for the up-sizing. And I love Dolly, and I love EJ, and I even love Imagine, but I had to mute the TV fast when all three were combined. (There were moments during the Johnny Cash tribute last night which also made me cringe a litte.) My tea is ready so I’ll head back to the lounge now and wait for updates while the snow slowly accumulates outside my window.

  19. I LOVE it! Color, fit, shaping, just as I dreamed. Guess its time to place my 220 order….let my personal color debate begin!

  20. I’m hoping I’m not the annoying Future Searcher in the back of the room who waits until the end to share a key bit of info – I was digging through vintage IKs last night and found what I remembered: the Perfect-Fit Pullover (Winter 01/02). A woefully small picture is here; it has a handy accompanying article on customizing the “perfect-fit” sweater so it fits you. Might be worth seeking out – it comes in a billion sizes.

  21. Okay, the “don’t steal my bandwidth” protection is working a wee bit too well – here’s the direct link:

  22. Looks wonderful. Just as I imagined. Can’t wait for multiple sizes. Now, how to decide from all those gorgeous 220 colors?

  23. Lurve it, dahlink.

  24. yay, yay, yaaaaay! (I was going to start this comment with a much more sophistitcated sounding expliative, but I keep repeating that every time I look back at the perfect sweater so it seems fitting.) The sweater pattern in progress looks great and I whole-heartedly agree with all of the design elements that you ad-libbed.
    (I’d sign your guestbook but have vowed not to even start with the frappr thing – instead please just imagine me floating around in the northern-most state of New England…)

  25. Wow, totally impressed. Lauren, please either find a good hiding space or a new guy (okay, maybe a bit harsh) . . . Can’t wait for the rest and love the slight shaping but will be seed stitching my hem.

  26. It looks like the perfect sweater to me. I am looking forward to knitting one!

  27. Dolly and Elton. Wow. I thought Johnny Cash doing my boyfriend’s song “Hurt” was too weird. (Greatest boyfriend ever. He doesn’t even know!)

  28. It looks great!

  29. Did you say something, Ann? Sorry, but I can’t quite hear you over the blender. More margs coming up!

  30. Very cool sweater. Can’t wait to see it done.
    So agreed on the CMA Awards, basically all the way around. Dolly and Elton — it looked to me like they were BOTH in pain with having to be up on stage together.
    And, the dresses. I saw some of the ugliest dresses on stage I have ever seen!!!! UGLY. 80% of the dresses were horrors!! Lousy show. I don’t think the CMA is meant to be in NYC. I wonder if BET awards are going to Nashville next?

  31. Kim — ” I don’t think the CMA is meant to be in NYC. I wonder if BET awards are going to Nashville next?” Before I assume anything, could I ask what you meant by that?
    Ann – fabulous!

  32. what a whirlwind of knittin’….you do so much for us in blogland. i’m not very hourglassy….could we have the option to go boxy, too? hope i’m not the only fuss pot!

  33. I have never commented before, although I have voted on most of the choices and followed the results closely. I’m with Laura in that I hope the sweater gets sized way up. The small, however, she is gorgeous. I have been trying to decide on my yarn color so that I can cast on when the pattern is ready.

  34. I love that yarn color. Good choice!
    And thanks to Kay for stopping by my blog and dropping off a comment. Way cool!

  35. … thanks ann for posting the gorgeous pictures of the clapotis … the plural can’t be clapotises … but it’s the pure genius of kate gilbert … and then stick some needles and yarn to it and ya’ cook up a fabulous knit for a great kid … can be done … it takes bits and pieces from all over … maybe i’ll send a picture of gumby wearing it and they’ll like it more … she’s not up for auction though … i see you have been plenty busy … and kay got you to do all the posting huh?! … thanks for the gracious reviews … much appreciated … happy day … mille baci … ina and gumby

  36. I am just exhausted. After all that voting, I was about decided out. So I stared at the Cascade 220 color card for a week and then sent the link to my daughter and asked her to narrow it down to five choices. Which she did in about two minutes flat. So I talked to Mary at The Fiber Gallery today and ordered my yarn! My daughter said that 9327 is the color of my eyes.
    The slight shaping of the sweater is *exactly* what I have been hoping for. Now I wonder if it will give *me* some of that same shaping. Ya think?
    Thanks to Ann and Kay and just everybody who hangs out here.
    Wishing I knew how to make a Marguerita,
    Sandra in Western New York where we are getting some snow

  37. Sandra, 1 part really good tequila, 1 part triple sec, 1 1/2 parts real lime juice. Having spent a lot of time in the frozen tundra of Northern NY, I can say it will help you through the winter (and any bad knitting nights). From NYC, Happy kniiting . .. 9237 is lovely

  38. OOOOH I typed wrong, it is 1 1/2 to 1/2 to 1/2, forgive me all margarita lovers .. . . .. . ..

  39. I love Cascade 220–its so versatile! If you need another test knit I’m itching to start another sweater.

  40. Pullover? I thought we were doing a cardigan? Or with there be options?

  41. I’m still giggling about the reference to possums and Highway 31!

  42. I think you must be psychic, as well as all your other many attributes – exactly the shaping/length I had in mind……

  43. Totally fabby! I’m going to need to wait for the bigger sizings but am really looking forward to it! Never tried the 3 needle bind off so that’ll be exciting too….

  44. I love it! I’m going to go and order yarn, totally unnecessarily now. Is it the 100% wool version we’re using? I wasn’t paying attention… and I want to get it right because it’s coming from far far far away from me.

  45. You’re headin’ in the right direction methinks.
    (so glad all the polling is over. executive decisions are great!)

  46. Bee-yoo-tee-full!!!! Full o’ beauty, definately. Proof positive that democracy, teamwork and polling works. Still, top-down knit in one piece makes me drool more, but I do lurv that side shaping! And the hem, and the yarn….okay, I’ll stop here with a final thought: thank you very much for all you’ve done on this! and thank you everyone!

  47. I am swatching for MY PERFECT SWEATER when the pattern is done, however I fear my shaping goes the other direction..

  48. Looks like fun, and I just happen to have a 32″ chest and a need for a new project! I’d love to test knit it!

  49. 32″ chest? Let’s see… if I lose about 50 pounds and bind myself with an ace bandage… no, I’ll just wait until you have the other sizes ready. Can’t wait!

  50. Speaking of poetry…
    “As for the knitting, I find this stretch of stockinette weirdly soothing. And this Cascade 220 is a blocker’s dream: knits up all supercurled, then flattens out like a possum on Highway 31.”

  51. I love the shaping! I must echo the need for a wide variety of sizes. Would it really be the perfect handknit if it couldn’t work for all the beautiful variety of people out there? This will be my (gasp) first sweater and I can’t wait to start!

  52. Wonderful – keep going!

  53. Hi Ann,
    If you are looking for another size 32″ to test knit, I’ll be happy to chip in πŸ™‚


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