Wheatsheaf Sweater – what did I learn and what do I love?
I finished the actual knitting of the Wheatsheaf Sweater on Saturday night while on a Zoom call with some friends from the After Party group on Ravelry. We always have a lot of laughs and enjoy chatting, but knitting or crochet happens at the same time. I was picking up the neckband of the Wheatsheaf Sweater and cast off/bound off my stitches not long before I left the chat to go to bed.
I prefer a fitted knit to a saggy, baggy knit that swamps me. The 20 year old me would be appalled, she liked to cover up her shape and hide her body.
I like that I have a waist, boobage and curvy hips. The belly, less so, but it’s the same belly that covered my son and kept him safe during my pregnancy, so I can forgive it anything.
I love the two cables that run up the front of the sweater and split at the V neckline to follow the V shape and create a beautiful design line. If you’d like to see more of the project, you can see my Ravelry project page here.
I learned a long time ago that I prefer to seam and knit flat. But I also know that many of you prefer seamless knits so there will be two versions of the pattern to suit both types of knitters. For this cable, I prefer bottom up as it’s easier to work the cable, so I will probably stick with that.
Wheatsheaf Sweater – let’s talk ease
I wanted 1-2 inches of negative ease at the bust, pre-blocking. After blocking, it’s a perfect fit. At the lower body, which is Aline in shape I wanted it to fit me without too much extra fabric, a neat but good fit. My preference is based on my own shape and knowing what suits me. I’m not tall, only 5ft 2in and I’m a curvy girl. Boxy knits or oversized items absolutely swamp me and all that extra fabric makes me look a lot bigger than I am. Not a good look for me.
For a modified drop shoulder sweater you might want 2-4 inches on the body, but the most important measurement is the shoulder width on the back. That measurement needs to fit you. With a modified drop, it’s easy to adapt, as you can work the lower body wider (Aline, straight or with waist shaping) and bind off more or less stitches to get the shoulder width you need.
Understanding your sleeve length also helps. The sleeve for a modified drop shoulder sweater is lengthened to fit the armhole gap. If you make your upper body narrower, add length at that part of the sleeve, if you make it wider, reduce the length of the sleeve top. There’s a little bit of easy maths involved, but you’ll love your sweater so much more if it actually fits YOU.
What would I do differently?
I’d have knitted the sleeves with a couple of inches of ease. They’re a good fit, no extra fabric and the cables look good down the centre of the sleeve. That said, an extra inch or two for comfort would be nice. Though with washing and wearing, I know this yarn will relax a bit. Next week it’ll be a looser fit on those sleeves. I’m also carrying a bit of lockdown fluff, which I’m planning to shift over the coming months which will make all the difference, no alterations required.
What is the Wheatsheaf Sweater a Modified Drop Shoulder?
It’s one of the best ways to go with the current trend for Drop Shoulders but have a garment that fits someone with narrow shoulders. Just because something is popular, fashionable or on trend, doesn’t mean it’s for me or you. Wear what suits you, the shapes that flatter your figure and leave the high fashion to others.
The shoulder seam ends at the main shoulder bone, at the top of your arm, not near your elbow. The line of the shoulder and armhole draws the eye up to your face, now down the body to the extra fabric or droop of standard drop shoulder sweaters.
If you have lovely broad shoulders, then a standard drop shoulder will look great on you, so please go for it. But, for those with a narrower upper body, they’re not usually the most flattering shape.
Drape, Fabric and Swatches
Other considerations include drape and how the fabric of the sweater behaves. Does it drape nicely or is it so firm that it could stand up without you wearing it? I’ll state the unpopular view that a swatch will tell you a great deal, I’ll also add that one of the best, absolute best swatches for a sweater is a sleeve. It’s large enough and heavy enough to show you have the yarnwill really behave on the rest of the garment, rather than a six inch square which only tells us how it behaves in a small piece of knitting or crochet.
You can work your sleeve swatch in the round or flat, whatever suits the pattern you’re making, but that one item will tell you so much and save you a lot of time.
For those working top down and in the round, a large swatch of any kind is your friend. I will admit that for top down sweaters, where I have used the yarn before, I have a rough idea of the needle size I will need to get gauge/tension. I’ll just cast on and crack on with the knitting or crochet. However, I measure A LOT, during that first part of the knitting. I need to know whether it’s going to be wide enough, do I need to add length, adjust my increases etc. So pay attention at this stage of your garment.
It’s finished, done, no more knitting on my Wheatsheaf Poncho. The buttons are sewn on, for the third time and ALL the ends are woven in. I am so pleased. Please excuse the photos, my hair is at that annoying stage where I don’t seem to be able to do anything with it.
Wheatsheaf Poncho worn by Loraine.
I’m a UK size 20 (Covid fluff, enough said) and wearing the XL sized Poncho, it took just over 472g of yarn but as always, I add at least 10% to the yardage/usage in the pattern to allow for different knitting styles.
Who is the pattern for? I’m a busy Mum, I work, I’m a Parish Councillor, volunteer Director of our local Housing Association and seem to always have something to do. While I love complex cables and fancy lace patterns, I sometimes just need a project I can pick up and knit a few rows when I have time. The Poncho is mostly stocking stitch but the cable pattern adds enough interest to make you want to knit more rows to see the next bit.
It’s a relaxing and easy TV knit for nights in with the family and perfect to soothe your shattered nerves after a day of cooking, cleaning, home-schooling, shopping and making sure everyone else is fine. It’s also a nice warm project for those days you have to watch the kids at dance class, football or other activities when you’re the Taxi as well as Mum.
There are no bands or borders to pick up. The icord and ribbed bands are knitted as you go, absolutely no picking up of stitches, no faff, no cutting yarn or working in different directions. It’s super easy.
I had a drama with the buttons, the first set, sewn on with a Hobbit needle and Mermaid hair were too small and the poncho fell off me. I found larger buttons. Spent another 30 minutes trying to thread the wrong end of the Hobbit needle because I couldn’t see the hole, the Mermaid hair was so thin and fine I was ready to scream. I found my reading glasses and put on every light in the living room, honestly, the heat it generated must have had the Police thinking I was growing a cannabis crop.
Button set two were also too small and I didn’t have enough of one colour. I ended up ordering larger buttons and they are PERFECT. That said, there may have been some swearing while I battled with needles and fine thread.
To be fair, my buttons stash was used to make NHS ear/mask savers, but I’d forgotten all about that when I went hunting for buttons.
The Wheatsheaf poncho pattern is sized from S/M through to 4XL and is easy to adjust to fit by either casting on more stitches in the stocking stitch part of the poncho (the middle of the cast on) for width or adding cable repeats for more length. It is worked in a rectangle and bottom up (if the rectangle is laid flat). Unlike most of it’s style which are knitted sideways.
It’s a versatile piece and a relaxing TV knit so you have enough interest from the ‘one more row’ cables but also can just chill in the stocking stitch portions.
I’m including photos of the poncho on Vicky, my tailor’s dummy who is smaller than I am, but you get the idea. I can be buttoned top to bottom to make a long tube with buttons either end, this create sleeves with the middle section being the body of a shrug.
If you button one side to the other, as shown in the photo above, you can wear it like a poncho as I have, or move the buttoned section to the centre front like cardigan/cape.
The pattern will be released on 14th March, if you’d like a special subscriber only discount code, sign up for our newsletter here. It’s easy to adjust in width (the long edge of the rectangle) or height/length (the short edges with the cables) by adding or subtracting cable repeats.
Sign up for our newsletter to get an exclusive launch discount of 30% when the pattern is released.
Wheatsheaf Poncho Gallery
Suitable yarns for knitting the Wheatsheaf Poncho
Any aran weight yarn should work, the important thing is to achieve 17 sts per 4 inch/10cm. I used 5.5mm needles and it gave good drape with my Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool yarn. I used the Spruce colour way which is a mix of a muted teal and khaki to create a heathered green. I love it.
I’ve been dithering about my Daelyn sweater for months, probably most of last year. It’s been on my needles since 31st December 2018. I know, I should be horrified, but it’s not my oldest WIP by a long, long way. It is, however, a luxury yarn and an investment so I need to either finish it, frog it and knit something else or put it away and pretend it doesn’t exist.
I opted to finish the Daelyn sweater, picked up the underarm stitches and am now working the first sleeve, in the round. That wouldn’t be my first choice, as I prefer sleeves worked flat, I purl faster than I knit and it speeds things up. I don’t enjoy knitting small circumference items and sleeves are my nemesis.
I’m using Malabrigo Rios in the Archangel colourway. It’s richly purple with oranges, peach, khaki green, greys, yellows and warm reds. I love it. The yarn needs to be worked in stripes of two rows or rounds per skein to minimise colour pooling. Notice, I don’t say to prevent it, as you can never quite be sure it’ll be perfect. Look at the purple pooling (purpling) on the front shoulders.
I’m using two balls of yarn and striping them every two rows to minimise the pooling, it’ll never eliminate it entirely but hopefully I won’t look like I’ve got bruised arms.
I’m about four inches into the first sleeve and tempted to pick up stitches for the other sleeve so I can work on them both at the same time. To be clear, I don’t mean two at a time on circular needles, the last time I tried that my sweater sleeves look more like kids trousers.
Once the sleeves of my sweater are finished, I will weave in ends and pick up stitches for the neckband, that’ll be worked in the round on a 16 inch circular needle.
I’m wishing I had added a few more short rows to the neckline to drop the front in relation to the back, but I am very happy with the fit of the sweater itself. I do love her designs and the patterns are always very well written.
The pattern includes sizing and instructions for both men and women and it’s easy to adapt sleeve or body length to suit the recipient.
What are you finishing off this year?
How old is your oldest WIP? No shame here, let’s celebrate them and make a choice to finish it, fix it, frog it or forget it. What’s it to be?
What’s on my needles, is it a poncho, a wrap, a bolero or a blanket?
After a conversation with a good friend, Helen, she talked to me about a poncho she wears a lot. It’s not a garment style that I have in my wardrobe but it’s been on my list to make one for several years.
We chatted about shapes and styles that are flattering, particularly for plus size sizes and I was keen to design a poncho that was versatile. But, also an easy knit for someone new to cables, with stocking stitch sections for an easy TV knit. That would be your go-to for an extra layer on cooler days, evenings or at the park with the kids when the breeze is a bit more than you expected.
I didn’t want to work the piece bottom up and I’ll explain my reasons why. If you aren’t a shawl knitter, a sweater or cardigan knitter, it can be daunting to be asked to cast on a lot of stitches. I almost always use longtail or the thumb cast on which uses the tail of the yarn and the working yarn to effectively knit your first row as you make your stitches.
If you’re familiar with it, you’ll have had the experience of being short of yarn, or having too long a tail at the end. As I knew I’d have to cast on a lot of stitches, I used a piece of yarn from two balls, one for the ‘tail’ and one for the working yarn. At the end of the cast on, and having counted my stitches very carefully, I cut the tail, leaving an end to weave in and worked a wrong side (WS) row with the ball that is now my working yarn.
Why working the poncho one piece sideways wouldn’t work
My other option was to work the Wheatsheaf Cable section to the height I needed, and pick up stitches for the stocking stitch portion of the poncho. I wanted to add buttons and buttonholes, to give you several ways to wear your poncho. That would mean picking up stitches for borders, adding edgings and a lot of faffing about. It would be an interesting and more advanced piece to knit, but how many people would want to knit it knowing the work involved?
Here’s my swatch, showing an icord cast on, an icord end to the cable, side border with icord knitted at the same time and stitches (on the left of the photo) picked up to work sideways from the cable section to make the rectangular piece. It uses different directions, picking up stitches, adding applied icord to finish one edge and an icord cast on for the lower edge of the cable. It’s hard to make it match and have some symmetry.
Knitting a wide Poncho bottom up and why?
Why I’m knitting my Poncho bottom up and why that’s a far better idea. The icord edgings I want to give the piece finesse and a neat edge can be knitted at the same time as the rest of the poncho. The button bands and buttonholes are also knitted as you go. The side borders can also have buttonholes if you wish to wear the piece folded like an asymmetric poncho and create the illusion of cuffs.
Working bottom up, even with a lot of stitches, is as easy as knitting a simple shawl, once the knitting is finished, you add buttons, weave in ends and you are done. No picking up, no fancy finishing. If you don’t want to add buttons, you can just fold the piece and seam it closed and only wear it two ways. If you take the time to add a few buttons (super easy) then you have at least three ways to wear the poncho, maybe more.
Ways to wear the poncho, rough sketches over some designers croquis.
The Wheatsheaf Poncho after two vertical repeats of the cable pattern
What’s next with the poncho pattern and testing?
We’ve been thinking of events and Knit Alongs/Crochet Alongs (KALs/CALs) to have during the year to keep everyone entertained and another designer in our group is also working on a poncho pattern. Our plan is start at the end of January (Sunday 31st) and the Poncho Along will end on 30th April. I’ll have the pattern ready to test and any of my testers can take part in the Poncho Along, with their garment.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and every good wish for 2021
What’s going on at Woolly?
Those of you who receive our email newsletter may know that I was unwell between Christmas and the New Year with suspected Norovirus. We won’t discuss it, you know what it is and we can just leave that in the past.
I’m back to full health and catching up with correspondence, working on some patterns and filled with hope for the coming year.
What’s on my needles/hooks?
I didn’t knit or crochet a single thing while I was unwell and it took me until the middle of January to really get back into the swing of things.
I finished another Ribbed for MY Pleasure Hat, to test the pattern again before sending it to the Tech Editor and having it proof read. The brim uses a provisional cast on and is folded inside the hat and worked together with the live stitches for a double thick brim. Links to how to do this will be included in the pattern.
Another hat was finished, knitted in a couple of evenings using Rowan Yarn Company Cashsoft Aran in light blue, it’s another Bay6 design featuring simple knits, purls and easy decreases to shape the crown and give it that quilted appearance.
I’m stuck for a name, I had thought A Girl’s Best Friend (for the diamonds). But maybe I should continue the theme and go with Quilted for MY Pleasure? What do you think?
It’s a quick knit and I enjoyed the stranded colourwork. I also found this amazing pompom for the top.
I am still working on Alameda by Clarice Gomes, it’s a lovely pattern and I really enjoyed it. The shawl will be fabulous and it’s a really enjoyable knit.
I had the urge to knit socks – what is wrong with me?
I started with the James C Brett Woodlander and used leftovers of the L9 colourway to knit some basic dk weight vanilla socks, top-cuff-cown and really enjoyed knitting them.
I then cast on another pair, my friends think I’ve been replaced by an alien, but I am enjoying them. Another basic vanilla pair but using some West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley DK in a blue/teal colour, gifted by a good friend. Perfect for socks.
Well, I cast on some more socks, using Stylecraft Jeanie Aran in Denim Blue, the pattern is Ultimate Answer Socks by Mary E Rose Designs and I am loving them. Top-cuff-down and an easy knit, only one cable crossing per repeat, basic knits and purls and simple decreases/increases. Easy, well explained and I love them.
I knitted myself a hat, a plain 1×1 rib with a folded brim and simple crown decreases. A few people that have seen it would like me to write up the pattern because they find a basic knit (where someone else did the maths and all the measurements etc) to be relaxing as well as satisfying. Is that you as a knitter?
With my silly, British sense of humour I called it Ribbed for your Pleasure as a working title. To be fair, it is ribbed, it is relaxing, it is a pleasureable knit and requires very little headspace, just follow the directions and it works every time.
I suppose the only tricky bit for a new knitter is the folder brim, but they could just whip stitch or graft that later, making sure to retain the stretch in the fabric. Or go with the shorter brim option and not fold it.
The name, Ribbed for Your Pleasure, amused my teenage inner self and made me smile. But is it likely to offend in a year when so many people are determined to be offended by anything and everything?
I don’t want to add to the strife, but then I don’t want to be something I’m not. I do have a silly sense of humour. Wit and puns amuse me which is why I love QI and other similar shows which play with words.
A new collection coming in the New Year, a fresh start for 2021
I will be launching a new range in the New Year, this news is exclusive to you and hasn’t been talked about elsewhere. I wanted to design a range of basic knits that anyone could make with enough information for a beginner, links to tutorials and other helpful information. But, with all of the maths and measuring done for the experienced knitter who just wants a break for modifying this, or making up their own thing. To relax, de-stress and enjoy the process of knitting an easy item.
As I live near Ulverston, which overlooks the beautiful Morecambe Bay and sits just outside the Lake District National Park and World Heritage site, I am fortunate to enjoy beautiful views every day. I wanted to celebrate an area that doesn’t have masses of tourism, but is less than 30 minutes from the Lakes and has all of the beauty.
I’m toying with the idea of calling the collection Bay6 (a play on basics obviously) but also to celebrate the area where I live, work and which inspires me every day.
What do you think?
Do I stick with my cheeky pattern name for the hat?
Do you like the idea of Bay6 and the join celebration of basic, relaxing knitting and the beauty of Morecambe Bay?
Let me know your thoughts, I’d like to hear them, either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on social media @woollymadlydeeply on IG, lor-artemis on Ravelry.com.