Nothing like sitting around the week before a fiber festival thinking, GAH why don’t I have a new sweater to finish under an artificial-yet-compelling-anyway deadline?
With Rhinebeck nigh, I headed straight to Muslin Bag Mountain, aka the considerable pile of Unfinished Objects that has been sitting on my dining table.
At this point, Muslin Bag Mountain is a shrine to incompletion, to process, to hope or sloth. I was happy to excavate Muslin Bag Humulus, where I gleefully discovered that I had only 1.3 sleeves to finish in order to have a new pullover for Rhinebeck.
You’d think I’d invented sleeve knitting. You’d think from my loving embrace of those double-pointed needles that I had forgotten all other kinds of knitting needles. You would have been proud to see how fast I slapped those sleeves into existence.
Things I Noticed Along the Way
This is as simple a top-down yoke sweater as can be imagined. Isabell Kraemer’s Humulus design won the champion laurels for MDK March Mayhem 2018, and it’s great because it’s classic, fun, and knits up fast. The yarn, Jill Draper’s Mohonk, is 100% Cormo.
Thing 1: Contrast. This low-contrast yoke is less contrasty than I’d thought it would be. I love the green, and I love the gray, but the value of these two colors is actually pretty close. Before I began, though, I thought the almost neon vibrancy of the green would carry the day.
It did not!
If I could Photoshop this pullover, I’d dial up the yoke contrast. The lesson here is probably to take a black-and-white photo of your yarn before you embark, to make sure there’s enough light-dark variation that your yoke will show up.
Consider, for example, this yoke in color:
And the same photo, in black and white:
Isn’t that astonishing? It’s a miracle we can see the yoke at all!
Another tip: think about the specifics of the yoke pattern you’re going to make. If the yoke stitch pattern had included broader stretches of uninterrupted green, I think it would have been OK. Stitch patterns that have a lot of single-stitch back and forth require good contrast in order to read properly. Think about an Icelandic sweater and how there are broad swaths of the yoke colors. Then look at this Humulus stitch pattern. See? Each stitch has to be readable.
Thing 2: That stitch at the arm join. Once you finish the body, you return to the armhole stitches that have been sitting on waste yarn. It’s time to pick up those stitches and begin the downward march to the cuff. Isabell encourages us to pick up a stitch or two at the armhole, near the armpitular area to avoid a hole, then knit two stitches together on the following round in order to preserve the stitch count.
As you can see, I get a C-minus in extra armhole-stitch-pickup. This one is no better:
I’ll go back and moodge these weirdies into shape—as I always do, I suck at this—but I hate that I didn’t pick up the extra stitch in an elegant way. I’d welcome tips from all you elegant stitch pickeruppers.
Final observation: if anybody’s examining my armpits that closely, well that’s just your creepy problem not mine!
Thing 3: Blocking. This is my main tip for you. The mighty redemptive power of blocking is never more apparent than in the blocking of colorwork. It takes a significant act of faith to knit an entire sweater where the yoke looks lumpy and irregular.
In most cases, if you’ve been minding your floats and living a virtuous life, all this stuff melts away after a good soak and drying.
The whole sweater falls into place. Before:
The yarn, Jill Draper’s Mohonk, has been a complete joy to knit. I love everything about this yarn: the slightly rustic feel, the subtle shift of the color, the way it loves being blocked.
Now the wait is on for my new low-contrast Mohonk Humulus to dry. Feeling very sweater proud. I got a Rhinebeck sweater. Phew!