Recipe for an almost perfect pullover

karen templer's almost perfect pullover pattern

Oh hey, look at me, standing in the unscenic courtyard outside my studio on a dreary morning, all cozy and warm in my new favorite sweater. I feel like this one has been finished forever, but since I’d gone on about it here and elsewhere, I wanted to show you how it turned out. Pretty cozy, yeah? It grew a bit in blocking (and wearing), so the yoke and armhole depth are a bit longer than I’d intended. So that’s lesson number one for today: This is why we wash our swatches!

You may recall that Agnes was my original starting point for this one. I wound up ripping it back to the neck ribbing and reworking the whole yoke, and in the end (other than the commonalities of all top-down, raglan pullovers) there’s not a single stitch that lines up with Melissa LaBarre’s perfectly lovely pattern — it just wasn’t quite what I was wanting. Lesson two is that I should have ripped out the whole neck and done proper neck shaping, picking up stitches for the ribbing. As Julie Hoover would have warned me, there’s not really enough structural engineering here for the weight of the sweater. The neck will be stretching out every minute I wear this.

Lesson learned, and thus the sweater’s official name: The Almost Perfect Pullover. There are more pics at Ravelry (and my undying affection to anyone who favorites this over there). And the recipe is below. I haven’t written this out in pattern form, but these notes should suffice for anyone familiar with top-down. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

(Oh, and that hat I have on is the bulky cabled hat from this week’s Knit the Look — pics and details for mine right here.)

karen templer's almost perfect pullover pattern details

Here’s what I did, to the best of my ability to reconstruct it from my notes:

– Malabrigo Chunky in Natural, 600-ish grams (6 skeins plus about a yard, oy); gauge is 3 sts and 4.5 rows per inch

– CO 60 stitches on US11 needle; ribbed 2×2 for 2 inches; increased evenly to 74 stitches on following round (via pfb).

– Marked off for raglans as follows: 2 stitches per raglan seam, 23 stitches each for front and back, 10 stitches per sleeve ( 2 | 10 | 2 | 23 | 2 | 10 | 2 | 23 )

– Worked increases as a kfb on either side of the 2 raglan stitches. Aiming for an eventual 40 sleeve stitches (x2), 57 body stitches (x2), and an armhole depth of about 11.5 inches, I increased at all eight increase points on round two, then again on every 3rd round through round 36; on 37 and 38 I increased the body sections only. (For more on my raglan decision-making, see A tale of two raglans.)

– Worked the arms first: CO 4 stitches for each underarm; marked center of underarm. Increased 2 stitches on the 8th round (I know, weird). Decreased (k2tog/ssk pairs) at 6 inches and on the 8th, 14th, 18th and 22nd rows thereafter (i.e., counting from the 6-inch mark). At row 26, switching to US10.5 DPNs, decreased evenly (p2tog) to 28 sts. Continuing with US10.5 needles, ribbed 2×2 for 5.5 inches, BO in pattern.

– Body now 114 stitches. On first round, adjusted markers to mark off the two stitches at the center of each underarm. For a tiny bit of interest, I purled those two stitches on every round and twisted the stitch (ktbl) on either side of them. Worked in that fashion for 10 inches, then divided the stitches evenly into front and back.

– For the split hem, and a nice substantial edge up until the ribbing, worked in stockinette with I-cord edging at each end for 1 inch. Adjusting stitch count to 58 stitches (so there would be a pair of knit stitches at each end), switched to 2×2 ribbing for 2 inches. BO in pattern. Repeated for the other side.

– Wove in ends; wet blocked.

Again, for more (and more descriptive) photos, see Ravelry. Thanks to Leigh for snapping the pics.


Barry Klein and the baby sweater

baby sweater barry klein top down classI’ve tried about five times to write a concise post about my top-down sweater class at Stitches, and each time it quickly becomes a 2000-word manifesto about how obsessive I am. Suffice it to say, when I take on anything new, I want to know everything about how it’s done. Sometimes I wish I were able to just follow a recipe (both literally and metaphorically) — I mean, someone labored over it, why not benefit from that? — instead of inventing or reinventing every dish to suit my own taste. But alas, I’m not. Whether it’s food or gardening or any craft or design discipline (beyond the one I actually have a degree in), it’s important to me to understand materials and methods, the how and why, so that I can go my own way with a solid understanding of the implications of whatever decisions I make.

You get it: same with knitting. What I wanted to get out of Barry Klein‘s all-day sweater class was not a prescription but knowledge, and that’s what I got. Like I said, this was a class about top-down sweater construction — seamless sweaters, that you can try on as you go! That’s a thing I want to know how to do. Barry didn’t just say do this, now do that. He discussed the hows and whys of the top-down method. And he was very generous about it. Plus I made a baby sweater! Well, most of one. 90% of the people in the room were more experienced and faster than I was. So while I totally got what we were doing, I was slower to complete each step. Barry was concerned about us all being up to the same point — the point where we would take the sleeve stitches off the needles and cast on stitches for the underarms — by the time we reconvened after lunch. I was in jeopardy of not having the mandated four inches, but wasn’t concerned about it. I was there to learn, not to finish a baby sweater, so it was fine with me if I had disproportionately small armholes. But I caught up and I’m so glad, because this thing is adorable. I’m excited to finish the sleeves and torso, for practice, and then move on to making a sweater that will actually fit my broad shoulders and narrow torso at the same time, which is the whole point.

The hilarious thing was the diversity of sweaters from one knitter to the next. Everyone else was doing colorwork or stitch patterns, in every color under the sun. You see mine up there. I was so very clearly the minimalist in the room.

One thing I have to tell you about Barry. He has all kinds of credentials and claims to fame, but the one that made me say WOW out loud (no joke) was when he mentioned in passing that he knitted all of Freddy Krueger’s sweaters for “A Nightmare on Elm Street”! I also have to tell you that if you get a chance to take a class with him, do it. I’m working out how to get in on his “Perfect the Fit” class somewhere/sometime soon.