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random thoughts from my life & the universe

It’s a Tradition

Every year, in Mid-October, knitters, spinners and wool-fiends from around the world descend upon the Hudson River Valley in New York for the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Festival – also known as Rhinebeck.

Knitters typically deck themselves out in their knitwear, and many work on a shawl or sweater just for the occasion.  Last year, I knit up a handspun cardigan – and this year, while I wasn’t planning on attending Rhinebeck, I used it as a special occasion to spur me to put the finishing touches on a cardigan I’d started and nearly finished earlier this year.  All of the knitting was actually done in May, then the poor sweater languished until August when I finally blocked it…once blocked, I was able to measure it for a zipper and start the hunt for one that would match.  Zipper in hand, the poor sweater languished another month and a half until last week when I finally put the finishing touches on and completed the zipper install…just in time for Rhinebeck, if I had been able to attend!

Zipper matches perfectlyFinding a zipper was a little challenging – mostly because I wanted a two-way zip that matched the yarn, and it needed to be a custom length.  I eventually stumbled on Zipperstop – they offer a wide variety of zippers in all different colors – and more importantly, they offer custom length 2-way jacket zippers.  I had gone around and around on Google, looking for instructions on how to shorten a plastic zipper and really could not get comfortable with the process – especially for a 2-way zipper.  The color range that Zipperstop stocks is quite wide – and it looks like I was able to find one that was a perfect match 🙂

Pattern: Less is More

Needles: US4 and US5 (I think. I could be wrong – it may have been US3 and US4s or even US5 and US6’s – I apparently failed to take note)

Yarn: Handspun “Outlaw of Turtle Cove” – a spectacular progression spun by my very good friend Kiki from Finn wool dyed by Becoming Art

I’d had the lovely skeins of yarn marinating away in my stash for quite some time, just waiting for the right sweater pattern to come along – and when I saw Less is More, I knew I’d finally found the perfect pattern to make use of the yarn.  Less is more is a top-down Raglan that is perfect for creating a sweater out of several different colorways.  The pattern is straight forward and easy to follow, and provides great instructions on how to switch from one colorway to another to make a nice even transition.

Modifications: Instead of the rolled hems, I opted for a garter border.  I also added shaping at the sides, back and front.  If I had it to do over again, I would consider starting with fewer stitches at the collar to make the neckline a bit smaller.

Overall, I’m happy with the fit of this sweater – the knitting went quickly and smoothly, with the exception of a minor panic when I ran out of yarn mid transition on the sleeves.  Luckily, since the yarn was handspun, and I happen to be a spinner, I was able to resolve the issue by unplying some yarns, and replying them to match the yarn that I had run out of!  There was also some hesitance in installing the zipper – it’s been a while since I’ve put one in, and it took a while to install by hand (I don’t trust my sewing machines to not chew on my knitting).  For reference, I used this tutorial from Chicknits and just took it slowly (seriously, I think it took me 3-4 hours to get it all stitched in).

It seems I have a tendency to knit top-down sweaters with too large of a yoke.  It definitely leaves me with room to layer underneath, but I would prefer a little less room.    I suspect I have a combination of issues going on that I’ll have to check in future sweater knits – I have a feeling I’m being too generous with the ease in the sweaters when selecting a size, and I may be under estimating the amount of stretch that happens during blocking.

If I had to guess which was the larger contributor, I’d chalk it up to user error and inaccurate sizing selection because I also notice that I have quite a bit of room in the sleeves that could be reduced – and generally, knitting will tend to grow in the lengthwise direction, rather than the horizontal direction post blocking.


Here’s to the Rhinebeck knitting and the wooly adventures – hopefully I’ll be joining the madness next year…with another new sweater 🙂

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