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 right shoulder as worn
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Wheatsheaf Sweater right shoulder as worn

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.

Me in the sweater
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Me in the sweater

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 yarn will 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.

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