Improv #2–The Inspiration

Being in more of a rest and recuperation sort of phase these days, I am being very careful to match my projects to my energy. At first this meant spending two and a half months knitting a 7 1/2 foot-long stretch of garter stitch. Then, I cast on for a nice simple stockinette stitch pullover for the Fringe and Friends Knitalong.

The pullover has gone swimmingly–the fit is perfect, and the finished project is going to be a really useful addition to my wardrobe. But the process has almost gone too swimmingly. With the exception of a dropped stitch (which I am blaming on Stranger Things being utterly amazing), nothing has gone wrong. I did adjust my raglan increases on the fly, but this required no ripping back and not much thought. I simply opted to split the sleeves from the body a little earlier than my swatch math had indicated because it felt like the yoke was getting too long; I worked the last few body increases under the arms, and it worked out perfectly. This sweater is taking shape with no problems, and no difficulties. I still have to work the pockets and sleeves, and sew up the faux seams, so I suppose there is still a chance for drama!–but it’s unlikely.

I am revelling in the sensation of something being too easy… and of course I’m also making things more difficult for myself, in the form of another top-down improv sweater.

Sketch

The sweater’s basic shape–a long cardigan–is inspired by an old store-bought cardigan that I wear at home all the time. It’s basically my housecoat, I suppose. I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of this sweater–and it shows. The entire thing is covered in pills, and has started to form a few holes. It is worn past the point of repairing, so the plan is to replace is with something hand knit that will get treated with a bit more love, and that will be worth repairing once it starts to wear out.

I spent a lot of time considering various design elements. I even printed out pictures of a few favourite projects and taped them into my notebook so that I could think slowly and thoroughly about their appeal.

Was I inspired by the gentleman in the lower-right corner? You bet I was.
Was I inspired by the gentleman in the lower-right corner? You bet I was.

Kay’s post on Mason Dixon Knitting about searching for a “glamorous granddad” sweater definitely gave me a lot to think about–so many good links in the comments. I fell in love with the notched collar on the sweater in that post, and hope to achieve something similar on my Improv #2.

I was also attracted to a wide button band, as seen on this Vine Lace Vest and on this Dark and Stormy sweater. And I really liked the two button look on the Storytime Scholar sweater. But I also liked the no-button band look on Aidez, and the way the lace pattern follows the neck shaping on Vignette. Deciding on a button band and collar style for this project was difficult–all my desires were very competing. But my love of the notch overrode other concerns!

I’m also really into the cables-up-top-stockinette-below look of Flyingdales, so I will be doing a variation on that. I will likely place my horizontal line a little higher up than shown in that project, and add pockets.

Hello!

And, when it comes to Mr. Handsome McBeardyman… I’ll be making my cardigan a little bit v-necked as shown, as I think it will look good with my collection of denim shirts.

And finally… overall, looking at many, many, many projects… I decided that I like Irish Moss stitch and tight skinny cables, so that’s what I’m going with.

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My chart is kind of a mess, but it makes sense to me! I cast on last night and so far–four whole rows!–it’s going well.

I’m using Knitpicks’ CotLin yarn, as something machine washable seemed to make sense for an item that will get a lot of wear. Plus I usually love the way that my store-bought cotton yarn sweaters wear, so hopefully I’ll get that same feel out of this project. And although O-Wool’s Balance was very appealing, I wanted something lighter than worsted weight.

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I created a layout for the two fronts of the cardigan, and then centred this layout on the sleeves and back as well. I’m uncertain what I will do when I have reached the full width of the cable layout on the sleeves and back–I may just leave the motif centred in a sea of stockinette, or I may chart out some more cables. I’ll figure it out when I get there.

This will either be a disaster, or it will be amazing–either way, it’s just challenging enough.

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