Filing This One Away for Later: Improving Saggy Sweaters

While I’m not anticipating any problems with either of my Improv sweaters falling off my shoulders, thanks to Karen Templer’s good advice about things like faux seams and picking up collar stitches from a cast-on edge, I do have a few sweaters in my closet (knit from patterns that I paid for!) that wear terribly due to floppy sloppiness in the shoulder area.

I definitely don’t wear these sweaters as often as I might, and fixing them is seeming (seaming?) like a better and better idea every time I think about garment construction. This post from TECHknitter on stabilizing the shoulders and back-of-neck on sweaters to improve wear is advice that I am going to use.

Improv #2, Take 2

After writing the other day about the start of my second Fringe and Friends Knitalong sweater, I pretty much immediately scrapped the first few rows I had knit. I worked another two rows, and realized that my raglans were looking like the dog’s breakfast. I was adding Irish Moss stitches on the front, cable stitches on the sleeves, and different cable stitches on the back. It was a mess.

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So after a quick check to see that I liked my chosen number of cast-on stitches, I pulled out the needle and started to rethink things. The problem was my decision to centre my cable layout on the sleeves and back–so how to rethink the placement of the layout?

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I ended up inputting my cable layout into Excel (the different colours representing the different stitches, of course), and printing off a few copies to play with. The solution was to cut the cable layout in half, and then insert the required number of sleeve stitches (and back stitches) into the centre.

I did consider adding additional cables in the centres of the sleeves and backs, but instead opted to just work more Irish Moss stitch (the pale green). Since this is a sweater for me to wear at home, I feel fairly relaxed about the back: no one’s going to see it, so I might as well take it easy back there, lol.

But–if I did care more about the back, I think an even better way to approach the design of the cables/ stitches on a raglan cardigan would be to design the back first. Then you’d just have to cut it in half to get your two fronts. And then, to get the correct stitch count on the sleeves, just remove stitches from the centre of the sleeves. This way, your stitches would line up nicely along the raglans, and things would be pleasantly symmetrical.

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I am much much happier with this second take on my second Improv sweater. In addition to looking much better, it is also easier to knit.

Despite this progress on Improv #2, I am not neglecting my first Improv sweater.

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Yesterday morning, I cast off the hem–leaving just the pockets and sleeves to knit, plus the faux seams to sew up and all the ends to weave in. I have decided to finish the body–pockets, seams, ends–before proceeding on to the sleeves, so that I’m not left with a ton of finishing work to do at the end.

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I knit the HOT PINK!!! pocket lining last night, and am going to take advantage of the daylight now to weave in some ends.

On Ravelry: Improv #1 and Improv #2

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.

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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.

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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.

Is Karen Templer Reading My Mind?

Thinking of adding a pocket to your Fringe and Friends Knitalong sweater?

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Karen Templer’s got you covered with a little tutorial!

Thinking that your next sweater should involve some cables but you always screw up the crosses?

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Karen Templer has a fix for that!

If the Fringe Association blog starts to fill up with genius solutions for tackling that stack of dirty dishes you want to avoid, and how to balance your desire for all the cool Craigslist finds with the space available in your one-bedroom apartment, I’m going to start worrying.