Before and After: Fisherman sweater redux

Before and After: Fisherman sweater redux
Before and After: Fisherman sweater redux

Happy Labor Day, for those in the US! I’ll have Summer of Basics highlights, thoughts and prize news tomorrow, but I couldn’t wait to show you the “after” pics of my fisherman sweater fix. (See my previous post for the original/full rundown.) I’m not sure how dramatic the difference is in the photos, but trust me: It’s no longer rippling around me; gone is the cape effect in the back, the rolls of fabric with nowhere to go; and it is a sweater instead of a tunic. Whereas before I was thrilled with it as a piece of knitting, now I’m thrilled with it as a garment. Even my husband, the only other person to have seen it in person both before and after, took one look, nodded, and said, “It looks good now. You saved it.”

As I had postulated, I’d simply gone much too wide and a bit too long with it when I initially blocked the pieces. In the “before” (left) photos, it was about 43″ at the chest (8.5″ ease), 46″ at the hips (7.5″ ease), and roughly 26.5″ long. Which could be totally fine for a lighter, thinner sweater with less surface density, but was not working with this fabric. By giving the finished garment a nice long soak and then being more gentle in laying it out, it’s now more like 41″ in the chest (6.5″ ease), 44″ at the hem (5.5″ ease), and about 25″ long.

Before, it was not too terrible looking from the sides, definitely a little long in the front — just a bit too much of a good thing — but looked awful from behind. More to the point, I did not feel cute or comfortable (or even proud) in it. I felt swallowed. Thankfully it was easily fixed, without having to rip out a single stitch.

What is this sorcery, some of you will wonder? A piece of wet knitting is a like a lump of play-doh — you have a lot of power to mold it. In a case like this one, the broken-rib portions and and the raspberry stitch are fairly fixed in their widths, but the cables (just like lace) have quite a lot of give. When I first blocked the pieces, I had pulled them way open, making the fabric wider. Whereas in the reblock, I did not. It’s as simple as that. Likewise, rather than pulling at the length at all, or pinning it in place to dry, I gently coaxed it shorter as I laid it out, and left it free to pull up even more as it dried.

So it took only a few minutes of effort — and a couple days’ wait — and now I finally feel like I have the sweater I wanted all these years. That photo up top is of a dream come true.

See also: How do you block your finished knits?


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The fisherman sweater

67 thoughts on “Before and After: Fisherman sweater redux

  1. Ah, now I get it! Lovely, lovely sweater (we call them “jumpers” over here) which will no doubt become indispensable.

  2. Fit is perfect now. I really dislike oversized sweaters. Blocking is so powerful. It has “saved” my knitting many times.

  3. Fantastic look! Yes, EZ wrote that aran knitting is nothing more than fancy ribbing, and she was so right. Like lace, the final size can be controlled a lot through blocking, unless you use superwash treated wool (which I never do for sweaters).

  4. I do always count on my cables increasing in width when checking gauge, since I usually just wash my knits (albeit infrequently) on my machine’s wool cycle .

    But your blocking example is really dramatic. A lovely sweater.

  5. Awesome look!!! I am glad you are happier with the result now! Thank you for sharing so thoroughly your thoughts, considerations and solutions about this knitting. It is like attending many knitting courses at the same time!

  6. It is a beautiful sweater. I liked it before and now. Sweaters designed for the period of your pattern were more boxy in shape than today’s sweaters. An Aran sweater is in my future.

  7. This is really exciting! It never occurred to me to re block to make something smaller. I hate to say I just frogged a sweater that had blocked too big.

  8. Wow, amazing how much difference that made! It really is perfect now. My boyfriend’s sweaters always end up with fold lines down the outside of the sleeves, from being laid out flat to dry – he says the sleeves look like wings and he’s stopped wearing a very nice (bought) patterned yoke sweater because it makes him “look like an owl”… Any advice (as you seem to be the re-blocking master!)?

    • I mean, those creases should let up just by wearing it, but you could throw it in the dryer with a damp load for just a minute or two and see what happens. Or steal it for yourself!

    • I’m not Karen, but I’ve washed a lot of sweaters… A few solutions for creases like you describe:

      – When you lay the sweater out to dry, don’t press the sleeves flat — pat them gently into shape and allow the fold at the edges to be softer (works better with fabric that has a decent amount of body)

      – Lightly stuff the sleeves with crumpled up plastic bags while drying (the plastic won’t retain dampness). Even better, if you can somehow get your hands on a couple of newspaper delivery bags in this day and age, you can stuff them with polyfill, tie them off, and keep them around as sleeve blocking aids. I guess those plastic bags they give out on rainy days for umbrellas would also work? Anything long and sleevelike.

      – I hang dry a lot of my store-bought, machine knit sweaters on these hangers: RTW machine knits are generally more stable than hand knits (since they’re knit much more tightly), so as long as the fabric isn’t super heavy and all the excess water has been spun/blotted out, I don’t usually have any lengthwise growing problems.

  9. That’s all it took? Ok, you give me hope for my Aran sweater that I did not block as a finished piece. I blocked the pieces before seaming. I will definitely try blocking it again to see what happens. Hopefully it will fit better. I am totally amazed by the difference it made, and yes, it suits you perfectly this time.

    • I normally reblock things once they’re seamed together because I think it makes a difference — the whole thing just gels — but I was in a hurry to get pics of this one and post it by the 31st, which was dumb!

      • Karen, your rush to post the photo has turned out to be a great lesson for all of us. We needed the visual to go along with the issues you had with the sweater so we would better understand your complaint.

        The great surprise is what the second blocking did to change the sweater to your liking. I wholeheartedly agree, the new fit is a massive improvement and looks wonderful on you now.

        The ‘second’ sweater is such a significant change it is hard to believe it is the same sweater. Absolutely amazing! Looking at your photo of the sweater ‘hanging’ (posted on the 31st) makes it evident that it was too large for you. We have the same broad shoulders and I find the things I fit and knit have a markedly narrower hem than the shoulders. That, to me, is a dead giveaway of an improper fit.

        I am so happy that you were able to save your beautiful sweater…* You will enjoy it, truly, for years to come. Never having to block ‘down’, I was not certain you could pull off blocking out so many inches. Put a feather in your hat! I just learned something valuable. Thank you for that.

        * … unlike poor Francis who frogged hers. There must have been tears!

  10. So happy you avoided surgery! Ditto all the wows above. I hope it stays there as you wear it.

    • Yeah, I’ve redistributed it but the overall weight is the same. It’s not super heavy, just dense, and it’s very woolly (just a little bit of cashmere and silk in the blend, nothing really droopy like alpaca or anythign) so I’m hoping it won’t be a grower. But I’m not averse to popping it into the dryer for a minute to freshen it up if it does.

  11. Superb knitting on a gorgeous sweater! I will use this info on a cabled Amanda I’m in the finishing stages of. Right now it seems a little snug, but blocking changes things sooo much.

  12. ..the before and after sweater pictures largely persuade me that knitters are perhaps a wee bit too finicky about their Finished Objects. Non-knitters might simply be in awe of the stick-at-it and handskills (of both versions!!)

  13. What a lovely sweater! I have a question though, and I apologize if you have already discussed this in an earlier post- the armhole looks quite high, as if it has much less ease than the overall sweater. Is it? Did you modify the pattern? The fit through the armhole and shoulders is beautiful, but I wonder if it is more snug than is typical in such a bulky raglan? For me, it is this fit, in addition to the beautiful knitting, that makes this sweater so stunning.

    • My apologies, you addressed the shaping in your previous post. The choices you made to tailor the fit through the upper body to your preferences are what really make this garment stand out. Is it really comfortable to wear with such a tailored fit through the upper body? How do you decide the adjust the ease when the stitch pattern itself is bulky and a bit stiff?

      • It’s standard raglan depth for me. (It’s definitely not what I would call tailored.) I always make my raglans about 8.5-9″ deep, which falls just slightly above what is politely referred to as the “apex” of my bust. It’s quite a bit of ease but not so much that it drops below my bust, which I find uncomfortable to wear.

        I think a common mistake people make (especially with a top-down sweater) is a too-shallow yoke, which doesn’t leave the sleeve and body ease anywhere to go and causes some bunching. I like everything to hang nicely.

  14. Just lovely! Beautiful knitting and beautiful work, Karen. And behold the magic of blocking! I suspect that with repeated wear you will find that it will continue to shape to you/your liking ever so subtly too.

  15. It’s perfect!! Before looked good too, but the after is really spot on. By the way… this project has caused me to add so many Bernat booklets to my eBay list, including this one!

  16. Beautiful!!! So many times we forget the flexibility and advantages blocking allows to truly personalize our knitted/crocheted garments. Thank you!

  17. To my eyes, the difference is night and day — so glad you now have a beautiful, wearable garment that feels good to you, not just a beautiful knitted artifact that looks good on a hanger! And, I mean, it’s empirically a significant change: given the difference in finished measurements, in RTW terms the sweater went down at least one size, maybe two.

    I also admire your grace in the face of the very well-meaning chorus of “it’s fine!” that greeted the first post. You know best whether clothes feel and look the way you want, and you have the power to remake them until you get it right. I know people want to be reassuring, and of course you didn’t want to post the photos you were most unhappy with, but (what seemed to me like) all that poor-poohing of your concerns would have driven me up a wall. One of the many reasons I don’t have a blog, I guess!

  18. Sigh, it’s just a dream garment. So great! Personally, I like a looser fit and was unsure if the “before” was a problem, but now I totally see it. Brava!

  19. Reblocking worked wonders. I liked it before but it was more of a cozy, wear around the house on a fridgid winter day sweater. Now it looks like a wear i
    n public and feel great sweater. Amazing what a difference a couple of inches makes.

  20. This looks fantastic. I’m so glad you’re happy with it now!
    I hate oversized sweaters, which is of course what’s trendy now. Sigh. I just can’t stand extra fabric flopping around.

  21. Thrilled for you! Thanks for the follow up. It is stunning. You have created an heirloom that will give you pleasure for the rest of your life. So well done, especially in insisting it be exactly what you wanted.

  22. I loved it before, and thought it was perfect, but when the two pictures are side by side, I can see what you were talking about. The ‘ballooning’ in the back is entirely fixed. This is just so beautiful. I’m very happy for you.

  23. Looks great! You can only tell the difference in the back when comparing the two pictures; when I first saw it I thought it was perfect, but then when looking at both photos you can tell that there is a difference. Beautiful sweaters :)

  24. So lovely! The Before & After photos really tell the story. Congrats on what looks like a perfect fit!

  25. It was gorgeous before, but even better with the re-block. Truly a sweater for a lifetime, congrats!

  26. Can I just say how proud I am of you? It feels so odd to say that because this is the internet, I don’t know you, and I never normally leave comments, but I am just so proud. I’ve been reading your blog for about two years now (I began knitting around six months before that), and this is just so encouraging to me.

    Sometimes I fall prey to the idea that if I’m not an excellent knitter/sewer/cellist now (I don’t sew or play the cello) that I’ve missed the boat. But life is long! And you can’t knit the sweater of your dreams if you don’t labor through all of the hard first tries, where things like seams and neckbands don’t quite turn out right. And that all takes time and practice, and anyways, I just want you to know that I’m so proud of you. 😂

  27. I must admit I was like most other commenters when I saw the first set of photos and couldn’t really see the problem with the jumper. But the second version looks amazing. I think they both have their fans and obviously the second one is much more you.
    Personally I like my jumpers a big larger but I’m sure this comes from RTW where when a jumper fits me nicely around the body the arms are normally way too tight so I have got used to oversizing to get a suitable fit in the arms.
    I’m looking forward to some well fitting jumpers in my future (but probably quite a long time away…)

  28. I was so wondering how you managed to fix it. Thought there was going to be ripping and resealing or something. Can’t believe it was simple enough as reblocking. Amazing!

  29. What! All this from blocking?? That is amazing. You’re a wizard Karen! You give me such hope for future sweater knitting. I might even be brave enough to go back and fix the fit of a past sweater…although mine will likely require actual surgery.

  30. Whoa, that’s amazing the difference in just reblocking! I initially thought you must have taken in the side seams. It looks really great and I can see the difference in the photos, though I’m sure it’s even more obvious in person.

  31. It looks stunning,
    I would like to make one sweater for myself.
    For a pattern like that requires determination.
    Excellent work, well done

  32. I can’t believe that it changed that much from blocking! I’m going to be re-visiting a couple of folded-in-the-corner sweaters to see if I can revive them. I always block but perhaps haven’t taken proper control of it…

  33. It’s amazing what a difference a slight change makes. The reblocked version looks great on you. There’s always something to learn from each project. I’ve been knitting for 40+ years and I still learn something new with every single project. Thanks for sharing.

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