Knitting: The Sweater is done

The wrists and hands are edging back toward being useful again–I’ve been writing and editing, and last night I was finally able to thread yarn through needle and put together THE SWEATER, a.k.a WristKiller. I’ve been working on this thing since last October, though not constantly. There have been socks, after all. A number of little items. Another sweater.

But this is THE Sweater. Done with wonderful yarn and lots of it, worked out on graph paper, swatched and calculated. There has been knitting. There has been ripping back, redesigning, rethinking. There has been profanity in amounts calculated to turn the air over the entire Deep South a rich and hair-curling shade of blue. There have even been injuries.

The knitting squeamish need to look away now. This was my first true knitting Everest, and at great personal cost I have conquered it, and now I’m going to bask for just a little bit in knitting geek talk.

This is, bar none, the best piece of knitting I’ve ever done, and since it is also the best piece of finishing I’ve ever done, and since it is ALSO my own design from top to bottom, without pattern or picture to spur me on, and since, when I got it all put together, it fit like a dream and looks good on me (something of a first there), I took pictures. Lots of pictures.

The little pictures are here. If you click them, you will see really big pictures. For those of you who are knitting geeks, I’ve also included finishing detail CLOSE-UPS. (Finishing detail close-ups make me shiver. I am a knitting geek.)

Yeah, I really like this sweater.

The Sweater, before sleeves This was The Sweater last night at around seven p.m. At this point all the pieces have been blocked, the button bands have been knitted on and the handmade buttons are in place, and the collar is finished. (All that stuff was done weeks ago, before The Sweater got mean.)

You see that collar? That collar is what got me. I knitted in three other collars before it, three different styles, and with all of them, I was working with small needles, in a cramped position, and with all of them I picked up stitches inside and outside in order to give the sweater the best possible finish.

By the time I finished the fourth collar, and then did the Kitchener stitch bind, off, my hands and wrist would no longer move. I had the weight of a good bit of the front and back of the sweater hanging off of them the whole time.

But I’m not doing the collar here. I’m marking center stitches in order to make sure the sleeve goes in where it’s supposed to.

The Sweater, and the best book of finishing techniques Bottom left corner of picture to the right–the book that taught me how to finish a sweater. This is a translation of the German version, by Katerina Buss, and I’ve used it to learn the right way to do about a hundred different things. How to invisible-stitch a sleeve into place was just the most recent.

And the sleeves did go in… The seaming technique, which involved the sort of counting that will put you in a trance (“one, one; two, one; three, one; four, two; one, one…”) kept the sleeves flat and prevented bulges from the differences between the horizontal and vertical stitch counts. I was enthralled watching the whole thing coming together.

The First Close-UpCLOSE-UP #1. Buss’s technique worked beautifully.

 

 

 

Some of the squares in squaresThis was my first experiment with Fair Isle on a large scale. I decided on a very simple pattern because I wanted to show off the yarn and the long color changes in it. The yarn, by the way, is Noro Kureyon in three colorways: 40, 95, and 182. I alternated two rows of blocks in one color, then removed the first color, added the third, removed the second, added the first, and so on. It gave the whole sweater a nice coherence, which considering the number of colors involved, was a challenge. When picking out the yarn (my big birthday present last year) I looked for nice contrasts in the colors, and avoided greys or blacks, which would have taken a lot of life out of the design. And I threw in random blocks within blocks just because it was fun.

Collar Number Four I was really happy with the way my scoop-neck design turned out. And if you look closely, you can see a bit of the Kitchener-stitched button band and the hand-made button.

And then, the finished sweater.
The Sweater outdoors

And…

The Sweater indoors
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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

20 comments… add one
  • hollylisle Aug 5, 2007 @ 19:47

    Thanks, Keely. I’m immersed in knitting. It’s become a third obsession.

    Maybe I should publish knitting books. ;D

  • Keely Aug 5, 2007 @ 12:46

    I can’t believe you made that! Well… I mean I CAN, considering all the artistic pots you had your hands stuck in when we were growing up, but this rocks!!!

  • Nandini Jun 14, 2007 @ 16:21

    That’s just unbelievable! The colours are incredible, it has a SHAPE (unlike my knitted thingummies), and sleeves and a collar and buttons and all of it… whoa. I cannot imagine the patience needed for this sort of project, or the skill to have rendered it all so beaitifully. Lovely choice of colour, too…

  • Steph Jun 14, 2007 @ 14:09

    Lovely! One of these days I gotta knuckle down and make me a sweater! 😀 I’m just getting to socks, though, so I think sweaters will be sometime in August.

  • hollylisle Jun 14, 2007 @ 14:05

    Zink–it’s all Kureyon. I will confess to a terrible act that I committed in the making of this sweater will forever remove me from the ranks of the Better Knitters. I used an iron set to WOOL directly on the surface of the yarn while blocking it, with the steam all the way on high, and no damp cloth or anything in between. (I’d tested this on my swatch beforehand and knew it would not destroy the sweater.) It altered the appearance of the yarn somewhat, adding a bit of sheen that was otherwise not there. I’m thinking of committing another unforgivable sin and blocking the button bands, too. The sweater hung perfectly straight until I blocked it. Now the button bands pull up. I think an iron would settle the problem.

    Holly D– Steeks?! Yipe! Yipe! Yipe! Yipe! I live in terror of steeks.

    But, absolutely, Noro kicks ass.

  • Holly D Jun 14, 2007 @ 13:27

    Absolutely Stunning.
    And, for your next feat, steeks and avoid most of the finishing!
    Noro is wnderful, isn’t it?
    the other Holly

  • Zink Johnson Jun 14, 2007 @ 13:21

    Wow, pretty! Is all the yarn Noro Kureyon? It looks tantalizingly shimmery in the outside pictures.

  • Lorri Jun 14, 2007 @ 8:28

    I can’t really knit, but I crochet, mostly afghans and ponchos. I totally love the colors in your sweater, they appeal to the painter in me. Excellant Job!

  • Krista Jun 14, 2007 @ 7:34

    It’s beautiful, Holly. Congrats on finishing!

  • fionaphoenix Jun 14, 2007 @ 7:33

    Another fellow knitter here who can appreciate the massive amount of effort that went int that amazing sweater. You rock!
    (I’m going to have to find a copy of the book you mentioned. My seams are always terrible.)

  • lizb Jun 14, 2007 @ 7:21

    Oh Holly! This is a masterpiece! I’m a knitter, have been since I was pregnant with my first child — too long in other words, and I can really appreciate the artistry that went into this. I love to do Fair Isle and Arran patterns. Arran is easy (relatively I suppose) once you get the first pattern set, but Fair Isle presents some wonderful challenges and you’ve met them all. Superb!

  • wolverine Jun 14, 2007 @ 2:31

    You’re right, the colours are gorgeous. They seem to just shimmer together. I can’t knit for.. for anything, really, so it’s an incomprehensible thing to me, but well done!

    Do we get a model? I don’t like clothes on hangers, they, well, hang! They look much better on a person. Hint hint.

    Wolverine

  • Chassit Jun 13, 2007 @ 23:27

    That looks great, Holly! Fantastic!! Congrats on finally getting it done!

  • laubaineworld Jun 13, 2007 @ 23:11

    As someone who works across a myriad of artistic formats including spinning, weaving, & knitting, I understand just how much dedication and determination it took to complete such a garment.

    The colorways are beautiful.

    Congratulations Holly. It’s ABSOLUTELY gorgeous.

    Truly inspiring.

    You mentioned Katharina Buss. I take it you’re speaking of her Big Book of Knitting?

  • joelysue Jun 13, 2007 @ 22:37

    Oh, wow, a gorgeous project! I can barely crochet and never learned how to knit, so I’m in awe!

  • hollylisle Jun 13, 2007 @ 21:05

    In the Deep South, that sweater will serve nicely as a winter coat. We’ll have winter in spots between December and March. I’ll probably get to wear it fifteen or twenty days total this winter.

    My knitting in this part of the world is not the most practical thing. But as stress-reducing hobbies go, it kicks ass.

    And thanks for the kind words. I wanted to share it with people who would understand what a thing it is to make something like this from scratch and have it turn out well.

  • TinaK Jun 13, 2007 @ 20:57

    Wow, the colors are absolutely beautiful. It looks warm and comfortable too! Are you going to wear it soon or do you have to wait for the cooler months? 🙂

  • tambo Jun 13, 2007 @ 20:25

    Holly, that’s absofreaking GORGEOUS!!! The colors look woven together and it’s so balanced yet just leaps out and demands you notice how amazing it is. Wow.

    Wow.

  • Inkblot Jun 13, 2007 @ 20:20

    Very, very cool, Holly 🙂

  • PolarBear Jun 13, 2007 @ 18:36

    I am the furthest thing from a knitting geek, but . . . Gasp! That’s gorgeous. Beautiful workmanship, lovely design, just a beautiful finished product. Thanks for showing us.

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