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.
I cast on for a Wheatsheaf Sweater to go with the Wheatsheaf Poncho. It’s a V neck sweater and I’m knitting the Aline version, not least to match my own shape as I’m bottom heavy or pear shaped. I am using Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in the Oatmeal colourway. I’ll be writing the pattern to work in the round (bottom up) and also a seamed version. I have talked before about how seams add strength and structure to a garment, they also stop it moving around the body when worn.
I also had to consider the cable pattern and what impact that would have on the fabric of the sweater. Because the cable pattern uses more stitches per 4 inches/10cm, I had to add extra stitches to maintain the correct width of each piece of the sweater. That was easy for the sleeves and back of the sweater as they only have one central cable panel. However, on the front which has two cable panels, it required thought to centre the cables, add some stitches between them to make a seam stitch either side of the V neck.
Shoulders and Fit
I do like the trend for drop shoulder sweaters, but with slimmer shoulders and a larger lower body, it’s not a good look for my body shape. I decided to go with the Modified Drop Shoulder, I’ll add a diagram below this section so you can see what that means.
Drop Shoulders typically have the seam part way down the arm, which can be unflattering for those with slim or narrow shoulders as the jumper looks like it’s falling off the body and you end up with a large amount of fabric under the arms.
A modified drop shoulder, in this case, has the seam moved in to sit on my shoulder line, the sleeves are extended to match the difference between the underarm position and the new shoulder/armhole line. The solid line at the top of the sleeve shows the extra length added to the sleeve to ‘fill’ the armhole area but keep the shoulder seam where I want it to be.
Wheatsheaf Sweater Sleeves
The photo below shows both sleeves, on in progress, the other completed and blocked, they are worked flat for my prototype garment, but the pattern will be written to include instructions for working in the round too!
I’ll be starting the test knit for the sweater pattern on the 20th February, if you’re interested, do sign up in the test volunteer thread to receive an earburn/message when the test starts, here. Or, sign up for our newsletter here.
Suitable yarns for the Wheatsheaf Sweater
You need an Aran weight or heavy worsted weight yarn. Cascade 220, Berroco Vintage or Vanna’s Choice would be suitable or any Aran weight yarn. I used Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool because it’s affordable and machine washable.
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.
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.
Indie Gift Along 2020 my WIPs, FOs and plans for December knitting and crochet.
I cast on the Ronan Cardigan by Tiona Murphy for the Gift Along, it’s going to my friends Ben and Kelly for their new baby boy who was born a few weeks ago. I used Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in the Denim colourway and it works well with the cables. It’s also machine wash for a new and busy Mum of two.
I’m also sending them a couple of cotton burp cloths from a pattern by my good friend Emma Sadler, it’s called Muzies.
I have wanted to knit Alameda by Clarice Gomes since I saw her knitting the sample in a beautiful green colour when we met on a Saturday night Zoom knit and natter which we both go to. It’s absolutely stunning and I love it so much. I’m using Lanas Stop Bambini in the Linen colourway. You can buy that yarn here. I’ve knitted a bit more since then and will add another photo to the project page, click the image below to see more info.
This is Clarice’s sample
I did another crochet test of a pattern for Lillinette Crochet of her Ilsan pattern, you can make two of the squares and join them to make a Biscornu which is a clever construction and makes a very pretty pin cushion. I used scraps of DK sparkly yarn in silver grey, purple and magenta.
I cast on for the CareAway Shawl, I’m not sure I made the best yarn choice, but I do absolutely love the colours, it’s a creamy white, a light grey and a mustard yellow and is called Skittles. The yarn is Stylecraft Bambino DK.
The Diamonds and Lace Hat is ready for testing, available in four sizes, Child, Teen/Adult S, Adult M and Adult L to fit most of the family.
Diamonds and Lace Hat Yarn Choices
The Diamonds and lace hat is knitted with DK weight yarn, I used two yarns for the samples so far. For the Teen/Adult S size I knitted this with light grey coloured Austermann Merino Silk worsted. It’s a super soft merino yarn blended with silk and gives amazing stitch definition with all the bounce you’d expect of a merino yarn.
For a more affordable yarn choice, and partly because I fell in love with the colour called Mellow Yellow, I used Stylecraft Bellissima DK yarn.
The smallest size used less than 45g of yarn, approximately 140 yards of yarn. The Teen/Adult Small size used approximately 66g or 165 yards of the Austermann Merino Silk yarn in the light grey. The Adult M should use (with a 10% allowance just in case) 240-280 yards and the Adult L should use around 300-340 yards or so.
Diamonds and Lace Hat ready for testing – Gallery
What comes next in the Diamonds and Lace pattern family?
Do I knit a shawl or wrap to match the hat and cowl, or should I design some fingerless mittens? Let me know what you think.
What yarns are suitable for testing the Diamonds and Lace Hat?