Thursday, March 6, 2014

Twigs & Willows is DONE!

front crop 2I am so excited to report that my green Twigs & Willows sweater is finally finished. I cast on excitedly at the end of October and then got a bit sidetracked by Christmas knitting. I finished knitting the second sleeve (and last piece) just before Christmas, but it took me a long time to block the pieces, find buttons, and complete the finishing. But now it’s done done DONE!

front cropThis sweater was a bit frustrating to begin. You may recall that I found it impossible to get the gauge of 20 stitches over 4”. The pattern calls for a 4.5mm needle (US 7). I got 18.25 stitches/4” on a US 5 and that’s still too big. So I turned to my old friend, math. Using a 3.75mm (US 5) needle and knitting the size 35 (the smallest size offered in the pattern), I would have ended up with a sweater actually sized 38.3. I was aiming for something around a 36. In a fit of pique, I decided to whip out a 3.5mm needle (US 4) and just knit the size 35, hoping it would be about right. That’s right, I didn’t even knit a gauge swatch with the 3.5mm needle. Nothing like running with scissors! I have consistently knit sweaters that are a little too big for me, and I wanted to get this one to really fit in the shoulders.front crop 4

I think this worked. The sweater really looked too small while I was knitting it (especially before the button bands went on), but it seems to fit fairly well – especially in the shoulders, which was the goal.

Did you notice that the sleeves are a good length? This was a major mod. The schematic says the sleeve length (from cuff to underarm) is 17”. I made mine 14.75” based on my Amy Herzog Custom Fit measurement. Yay! I did not alter the length of the sweater. The pattern photos show that it is kind of a cropped look, but since I’m short I knew it would fall a little longer on me. I am pleased with the overall length.

Here’s a view of the back. P1020941Again, note that it fits well in the shoulders. There seems to be a bit of extra fabric in the middle of the back (under the armpits) but that is a design flaw IMHO. You can see it here, right?schematic

For the first time, I sewed grosgrain ribbon on the back of the button band. Since this sweater is blocked I figured it would be fine. It definitely made sewing on the buttons easier. I also used backing buttons so that the “public” buttons won’t sag. I think the button band lays quite nicely.bittpms

For buttonholes, I used the superior one-row horizontal buttonhole as described in Margaret Fisher’s Seven Things that can “Make or Break” a Sweater: Techniques and Tips for Hand Knitters. I don’t know how the buttonholes specified in the pattern could possibly achieve satisfactory results.

I used my new blocking board (thanks again, Mom!) for the first time on this project, and I love how much easier it made things.P1020915

Seaming is becoming more pleasant to do. Since this yarn (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter) is woolen-spun, I did not use it to sew seams. Instead, I found some leftover sock yarn (this is Dream in Color Smooshy in color Happy Forest). You can see the mattress seam going in here. Once those stitches are pulled tight, you cannot see the yarn. The seam at the bottom of the photo has already been sewn. Beautiful! I was also reminded what a gorgeous colorway Happy Forest is, full of greens from kelly to teal. I need to get more of that (since my Happy Forest socks sprung undarnable heels years ago).mattress stitch

What else can I tell you about this sweater? It’s super cozy warm. We braved 20 degree temperatures to take these photos and while my hands were freezing (I just noticed how I was clutching them here) and my hair is blowing around a bit, my torso was fine. In fact, I was a little too warm in some parts of the library later in the day.front crop 5 And I still love the leaves. leavesThis pattern is from the Botanical Knits collection, and just as I finished this the designer (Alana Dakos) released Botanical Knits 2 (at least for preorder). The second collection contains a pair of fingerless knits with this same motif on them. So if you love the leaves, too, but don’t want to knit a whole sweater, you can go for the mitts instead.

Next time I’ll give you an update on the apple green shawl I’m knitting for the wedding that takes place in 9 days. I’m totally on track… even a bit ahead of schedule.


  1. This turned out perfect, thanks to your old friend Math! Hah! I'll need to pick your brain about the ribbon and backing buttons idea when you're here. And the pattern calls for 17" sleeves? That sounds almost as long as the sleeves in some patterns I've knit for me and my gorilla arms!

  2. Great work! Can you describe the difference in button hole working, for those of us without access to the "Seven Make or Break techniques"? Beautiful color on you!

  3. Your sweater looks very good! I liked your description and all the different photos you took. Congratulations!

    SV Changes

  4. Karen - I think this video is very close to (or even identical to) M. Fisher's technique:

    Margaret is a very fine teacher. If you get a chance to take a class with her, I recommend it. Her book is extremely clear and I've pulled it out several times to get a small detail just right. It's worth checking your local library to see if you can get it there.

    Good luck!