Sunday, November 29, 2015


I’ve been alluding to S1’s Christmas sweater on and off for a while. The plan was hatched back in May when she picked this lovely heathered cone of sportweight Bartlettyarn at MDSW:

IMG_5927She wanted another cardigan with a deep v neck, basically with the same shape as the Cushing Isle I made her last year. I did all my swatching, including some in a pattern, and then decided to build a CustomFit pattern in plain stockinette.IMG_8435S1 picked a stitch pattern out of the Vogue Stitchionary v 1 (thanks again, Steven) – she settled on #166 Arrow Stripe (below, not above!). The original idea was to run the pattern around the bottom of the sweater above the ribbing. But the waist shaping decreases were in this area and I decided not to use the stitch pattern there. Instead, she wanted them on the sleeves near the cuffs…so she could see them all the time. That’s logical.IMG_9520You can see from the book photo (in green below) that the arrow only goes in one direction. I didn’t think I’d love this for the sleeves, so I re-charted it to have a center square with arrows emerging in both directions from it. I learned that you can do this from the sidelines of a soccer game! Here is the page from the book with my messy homemade graph paper chart: IMG_9551Knitting the back and fronts of the sweater was very straightforward and much like the Cushing Isle. The sleeve was slightly trickier since I added the arrow pattern.  IMG_9184 IMG_9522Normally the next step would be to seam these pieces together, then pick up several hundred stitches for the button band. That is worked in 2x2 rib with button holes in there somewhere. But for some reason, I wasn’t loving the 2x2 rib button band. It feels a little less substantial than the body of the sweater. I’d read somewhere about sewn-on button bands and noticed that many commercial sweaters are made like that, so I thought I’d give it a try.

First, I knit a couple of sample button bands and sewed one onto my original swatch. Here’s my first button band, which is only 9 stitches across:IMG_9550I decided this was too narrow and made the next one 11 stitches. This is mostly 1x1 rib, with an extra knit stitch on each edge (the right edge is slipped – it will be exposed in the finished sweater --- the left edge is worked normally and will be concealed in the seam). I wasn’t sure how to work buttonholes with this so I just did a YO in a purl column. Normally I spurn the YO buttonhole but I just didn’t know any other option. IMG_9548What do you think? I think it looks very nice at the edge. It looks almost like stockinette, but of course it’s not because the purl columns are hidden in there.  My final button band is worked over 13 stitches so that it matches the 1.5” button band we specified in the original CF pattern.IMG_9549 I have two niggling concerns:

  1. This beautiful button fits through the YO buttonhole, but I worry that it will stress out this yarn over time. The yarn is woolen spun and you can rip a single strand apart quite easily. S1 says this won’t be an issue because she tends to put on and take off her purple sweater over her head rather than button and unbutton it every time she wears it. Still, I would feel better if I knew how to reinforce this buttonhole somehow.
  2. I’m not sure how long to make the button band. The pattern directs me to pick up approximately 302 stitches, but that doesn’t apply in my situation (because knit stitches are wider than they are tall, and you can’t just rotate them a quarter turn and expect all to be the same). My button band stitches are oriented 90 degrees from where they would be if I picked up the button band. So… is my ratio 1:1? Do I want as many rows on my band as there are rows in the sweater? This is fairly easy to figure out for the fronts of the cardigan – I have row counts (though some of those rows have nice vertical edges, while other rows are on the neck slant, which might be different). And as the band winds around the back of the neck, the rows don’t match up exactly right. I’m going to have to experiment with this. My initial plan is to work a band with 428 rows but not bind off. I’ll bind off when the seaming is close to done and I know where I stand.

I’m about 3/4 done with the button band I think I need. Then, seaming! I’ll keep you posted.

1 comment:

  1. It's beautiful! I love the modified sleeve motif. And sewing on the button band seems quite the thing.

    Does the button band carry on up around the neck and back down the other side in one long line? A cardigan I made did that, and they recommended exactly what you are thinking in point 2 -- keep things in limbo and see whether you need to add a few rows after you start sewing it on.

    As far as reinforcing, I can tell you what didn't really work for me. I sewed a backing ribbon on mine after the fact and then cut slits in it through the buttonholes (scary and dangerous!) and then used that weird fabric stabilizer that keeps things from fraying. Didn't like it, ultimately. Too stiff and strange. I wish there were a knitterly version of the button holes one sees in sewing. Maybe looping a ply around the edge of the hole to reinforce it some how. I've looked for a technique like this, but haven't seen it. I'll keep looking.

    Love this sweater -- and love that I was there when y'all bought it.