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’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?
Short Row Bust Shaping for Knit or Crochet Garments to get a better fit
Short Row Bust Shaping for Knit or Crochet Garments can help immensely in giving a better fitting garment for those of us with curves. Emma and I discussed this in August and explained how the short rows work.
How to measure for Bust Shaping for Knit or Crochet garments
We covered how to measure your body for short rows, basic calculations based on those results and how to work that in a cardigan or a sweater. After our initial chat and hello, the info you want is a couple of minutes from the start.
Let’s start by asking ourselves, what is a swatch? A swatch is a smaller piece of knitted or crochet fabric we use to ensure we have met the stated gauge/tension required by a pattern. It can be a sleeve, a hat, a mitten or just a square in your chosen pattern.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 1 you want your sweater to fit a person, not a doll
Whether you knit or crochet, if you are making a garment for an adult, you need to swatch and find out what size needles/hooks you need for your yarn. If you don’t, your sweater could end up with so much positive ease that you could use it to cover the car on a cold day. Or, even worse, it might be so small and tight that you can’t fit into it. You’re investing time, lots of it, and cash in terms of your yarn purchase. So, please make a swatch of a decent size and block it the way you intend to block your garment so it behaves the same way.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 2 You are substituting the yarn
If the garment or item you’re making is a Summer top knitted with hemp/cotton, that yarn will behave very differently to wool, alpaca, acrylic or silk.
Silk has very little memory but combined with wool (which does) the cables will be springy and the item should hold it’s shape well.
Alpaca grows, sometimes a lot, it’s very warm but also very stretchy. If you knit or crochet a swatch and then wash and block it the way you intend to take care of the finished item, it’ll give you a better idea of how it’s going to behave.
The designer, should, and probably has, taken the qualities of the yarn they used into account when designing the pattern. If you use an acrylic yarn, it may not have the same stretch as wool, you may need to consider making a larger size, or going up a needle size for cuffs and other elements that could end up being too tight.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 3 You’re using a different colour to the designer and you aren’t sure if it will work with the stitch pattern.
Busy yarns don’t always work with lace or cables, sometimes they drown out the pattern you’ve spent many, many hours to lovingly create. Using a very dark or very light colour can also obscure the pattern. It’s worth doing a swatch to see how it looks with your yarn, you could save yourself a lot of heartache and time.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 4 You’re making modifications to the pattern
Adding an extra cable, adding length, making an item shorter are often easy modifications to make. You may need more or less yarn depending on those choices. A swatch can help you figure out any changes that should make to the finished item in terms of width, yarn usage etc to guarantee it will still fit.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 5 The designer used dk yarn and you want to use aran weight
Great, make a swatch, find your stitches and rows per inch in the designated pattern stitch. You could wing it and make one or two sizes smaller, or you could do that little bit of mathematics and be certain. If the gauge/tension is 22×28 and my swatch is 18×24 and I knit my usual size, I’ll end up with a much bigger garment. I could end up with a garment that has over 40 stitches and 8 inches wider than I need.
I worked on a 44″ bust and at 5.5 sts per inch that is 242 sts cast on, with 4.5 sts per inch I’d only need to cast on 198. Look for the size that has the closest stitch number and give that a go. You’ll need to make sure you check your length for underarms and any shaping, but it’ll be pretty close. A swatch can tell you so much.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 6 You’re adding bust shaping, darts or short rows
It’s worth you understanding how that will look on a patterned sweater, how will it affect cables, stripes etc? A swatch can help with that. You might choose to do short rows and not bust darts, but it’s best to know up front, pardon the pun, and save a lot of re-knitting and/or tears.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 7 You don’t have the right needle size
If you don’t have the right needle size to get gauge/tension (number of stitches per inch and rows per inch), you need to know whether to make a larger size, a smaller size or just order the right needles.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 8 It’s your first time making a large item like a garment
If this is your first garment and all your other projects are small items, this is a bit investment in time, yarn, emotionally and mentally. You want it to a) fit your body and b) look great. Make a swatch of a decent size in the given stitch pattern, get to know the stitches and understand the pattern first. If you are short of yarn, you can rip out your swatch and use that yarn. Ask me how I know, lol.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 9 You usually knit or crochet toys/amigurumi
Why does that matter? Because you need to knit/crochet at a tighter gauge/tension for items like toys which are then filled with a stuffing so that the stuffing isn’t seen through the stitches. When you come to knit a garment and you’re still in toy mode, your garment will be too small and you may have to go up one or two needle sizes to get gauge.
10 Mysterious Reasons Why You Should Swatch – 10 To Understand the Yarn and how it behaves
What do I mean by that? Does it work well with your cables or lace? Does it have the right drape, do you need to go up or down a needle size? If the fabric is too tight, even though it says it’s the right weight, will you like it? Learn about the yarn and that yarn will help you.
I hope that’s been a useful round of of all the reasons I love to swatch, let me know if you’d like to see more articles like this one. I’ve embedded a link to our YouTube video where we talk about swatches and what is a swatch.
Today Emma and I chatted on our Facebook Live about the Pantone Autumn/Fall 2020 colours, how to wear them, how to combine the colours and what catwalk trends are for this Autumn/Winter season 2020-2021.
I’ll link to the video, which includes a presentation with the colours for the New York Fashion shows and the London colours which are slightly different.
In the video above, I talk about the London and New York colour trends, suggest possible colour combinations, which colours are bright/clear, soft/muted, warm or cool and how best to make them work for you. Emma shows us her Pinterest board from the Autumn 2020 Fashion catwalks for ready to wear. If you prefer to bypass our intro and chat, the Pantone presentation starts at approx 7 mins into the video.
Today’s post is a round up of Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting, though to be fair, some of this also applies to crochet so crochet fans, please read on.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Try to keep your tension or gauge even
What does that mean? Well, for a start, try and keep the stitches the same size in each row or round. Then try and make sure that your wrong side rows (if you are working flat) have stitches the same size as the right size rows.
If you notice loose or sloppy stitches in your rows (crochet or knit) you need to work on improving your tension. I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed I knit tighter than when I’m relaxed. Same with crochet. I have to make an effort to keep my stitches the same size, but it’s worth it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Always finish the row or round
I’m knitting a sweater at the moment, top-down on circular needles in the round. I finish the round, then slip the marker and knit a couple of extra stitches before I put the work down. When I come back to it, I tink the couple of stitches I worked back to the marker and then knit a full round. This helps keep my tension even and stop the needles pulling on the fabric in the middle of the garment.
When working flat, back and forth, I ALWAYS finish a row before putting the work down. Otherwise you get pulled stitches in the middle of the row that may not even out with blocking later. Most of our kids know not to interrupt us mid row, so let’s use it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Learn how to fix your mistakes
There are so many tutorials on YouTube, Craftsy and other sources to help you learn how to fix a problem with your knitting or crochet. Do a search and watch a few until you find the video that works for you.
We learn through our mistakes and you’ll be so much better a knitter or crocheter for doing it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Check Your Work
Check your stitch count, particularly in lace or cable patterns, to make sure you haven’t dropped a stitch, missed a yarn over increase or worked a decrease in the wrong place.
If it’s crochet, count your chains, stitch clusters/shells to make sure you haven’t missed any. If you miss a chain or a cluster it can wreck your next row, so check regularly and rip out if needed to work it again.
Learn to read your knitting, it makes it easier to see a mistake in the work as you look at it. And, hopefully, save a lot of tinking back.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – use a row counter
When you are first starting to knit, it’s hard to keep count or track of your knitting. Some people mark off every row they knit on their pattern, others are able to ‘read’ their knitting and count up every now and then. For me, my favourite gadget is a swimming length/lap counter. It’s a digital counter with buttons to count each lap/length and a digital display. it fastens to my finger just like a tiny watch, the battery last for ages and it works well.
You can get row counters to go onto your needles and change that each row. It’s handy when you are working increases or decreases to shape a sleeve, waist shaping etc. My friend adds a locking stitch marker to the end stitch of the increase/decrease row when she is knitting sleeves to make sure they are worked every x rows and also so she can count up and make she she’s worked them all. It also makes life easier when working the second sleeve, to ensure the shaping matches.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – a crochet hook is a fantastic help when knitting
It’s a great tool for picking up dropped stitches and working back up to the top of your knitting. I use a crochet hook sometimes for picking up stitches on a neckline as it can be easier to pull the yarn through to make each new stitch. A fine crochet hook can be really useful for adding beads to your knitting. Beads are sneaky little horrors but a crochet hook can help you wrangle them.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – use the right yarn for the stitch pattern
Fancy yarns, textured yarns and busy patterned yarns are great for stocking stitch (stockinette) as the yarn does the hard work. A plain yarn with a good twist will give better stitch definition for cables, lace and textured stitch patterns.
When you’re starting out, buy cheap, plain yarn. Why? Because it’s easier to see your knitting if you’re not distracted by stripes, speckles, random colours, fancy textures that are hard to knit. As you learn and build your skills, you can move up to more luxurious or expensive yarns if you want. If you like knitting with cheaper yarns and that suits your budget, that’s fine too.
The right yarn is the right yarn for your pocket, your colour preference, works with the pattern you are knitting and makes you happy. If you’re knitting for a busy Mum, she’ll want something machine wash because it’s easier to care for, so an acrylic or blend might be best. If your budget runs to a superwash wool, that’s great, but it’s not essential. It needs to be easy for her to look after.
I can’t think of a single person who has commented ‘That’s a lovely sweater and it’d be so much nicer in a fancy yarn.’ No one says that, they all say ‘That’s a beautiful sweater.’ End of story, they don’t know what yarn it is, how much it cost or anything else, they just like what I’ve made, so it’s the RIGHT yarn.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – It’s okay to rip it and start again
It’s not a failure to rip something out. Think of it as perfecting and improving your finished project. It’s also a learning experience that will help you in future projects. It takes time to learn to knit and you need to practice. I’ve been knitting since I was 4 years old, I’m now 52 and I am still learning new things. I love that there is so much to learn that keeps me interested.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Always block your knitting
I block all my projects, that might be steam blocking with my iron held above the piece, spray blocking or web blocking. Sometimes I’ll machine wash the item, then pull it to shape/size and dry it flat. For smaller items I will spray with water, pull to size and to even out the stitches and leave it to dry. The main reasons are to a) make the knitting share the stitches evenly and make the work look neat and b) to make the finished item the correct size (or as close to it as we can get) so it fits.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Use the right needles for your yarn
That might be circular needles or dpns for a piece knitted in the round. Though I used circular needles a lot for flat knitting things like cardigans because they allow the weight of the piece to be in my lap and not dragging on my straight needles. When starting out, I suggest bamboo straight needles as they grip the yarn and make it less likely for your stitches to fall off as you knit. Your local yarn store (LYS) will be able to show you different types of needles and may let you try some in the store and see what you think before buying them. Interchangeable needles have different size tips,
I hope you’ve found this article helpful but if you have other questions, do get in touch and we’ll try to answer them.