Another Weekend(er)

Yet another sweater has come off my needles!

I finished my own Weekender last year, and as soon as it came off the blocking mats I knew it was something special.

I wore the thing all winter and didn’t put it away until only about ten days ago. (Full confession: I washed it when I blocked it, and then didn’t wash it again until just before I put it away for the season. Wool really is a wonder fabric.)

As soon as I finished my own version of the Weekender (by designer Andrea Mowry), I knew I wanted to knit one for everyone I loved. Everyone should be this comfortable and cozy all winter long!

Yarn Choice: NOT Superwash!

My Minnesotan sister-in-law was top of my list, as I had not yet knitted her something. I turned to trusty Knit Picks for yarns, and sent her different color options.

I made the mistake, however, of suggesting a superwash yarn. I realized later that this would simply not do!

Why not, you ask? Superwash yarn is so convenient! It’s machine-washable! Perfect for gifts!

A Brief Lesson in Superwash Wool

Well, yes and no. Superwash yarn is treated so that it won’t felt when it’s washed.

Each strand of wool yarn has little scales or fibers that stick off it (imagine those little amoebas with the flagella that help them move–kind of like that). Those scales are what cause yarn to felt to itself when agitated (aka thrown in the washer).

To make a yarn “superwash” it is treated with chemicals to strip those scales, and then coated in a resin to make it super smooth. Great! You can now machine wash your knits without worry!

Aside from the environmental concerns some have over this treatment, removing those little scales also has its drawbacks. Those little hairs, when not agitated and felted together, help a knitted fabric to hold its shape. By removing them completely, the yarn doesn’t stick to itself at all.

What does that mean? Well, when you’re knitting something small and rather light, it’s no big deal. Shawls and scarfs are fine, even mittens or a hat. But something larger and heavier, like a sweater, will simply STRETCH OUT.

Sweaters knitted with superwash wool are famous for being ENORMOUS once they come out of the machine. Some people insist you must also tumble dry the sweater for it to regain some of its shape, and I’ve heard people have had success with that. However, the idea of tumble drying wool is just too terrifying to me.

And so, despite having ordered a lovely batch of superwash wool from Knit Picks, I sent it back and instead ordered this:

Knit Pick’s City Tweed Aran yarn in color “Blue Blood”

Swatching & Gauge

The Weekender is knit in worsted weight yarn. However, the City Tweed Aran yarn I used is a “heavy worsted” or aran-weight yarn.

I have a somewhat tight gauge, so I cast on for my swatch using the needle size recommended in the pattern. For my own Weekender, I had used regular worsted weight yarn and I had had to go up a needle size. This time, I got it right on the first try!

The Weekender is knit in the round, meaning it’s knit on circular needles and you’re always knitting, never purling. Therefore, your swatch should also be knit this way. However, casting on a little tube of knitting is really annoying. So here’s a trick:

I knitted this swatch flat in the round. Whaaaaat?? you say? Yes, it’s confusing. No, it’s not difficult. Check out this video from VeryPink Knits and skip to minute 3:05. She’ll show you how to do it.

I hit gauge bang on the nose with 4.5mm needles.

Cast-On, Ribbing and Joining in the Round

Andrea Mowry has you do a tubular cast-on for the Weekender. It’s a lovely cast on and definitely worth the trouble. However, I couldn’t make heads or tails of her video. So I went back to my trusty knitting teacher, Staci Perry of VeryPink Knits:

I cast on 55 stitches to get the required 109 stitches for my pattern. After chugging along happily on my ribbing (front and back), I was ready to join to knit in the round.

Now I am convinced there is an error in the pattern. Andrea says to finish the back and front ribbing with a RS (right side) row, and to then start your stockinette stitch. However, when you do that, the “seam” stitch that runs up the middle of the front and back of the sweater doesn’t line up with a knit stitch in the ribbing. It lines up with a purl stitch.

That bothered me to no end. At first I thought I had misread the pattern. But this had happened when I knit my own Weekender last year, and a girlfriend had also had the same problem.

So I will add this correction to the pattern: Finish the ribbing on a WS (wrong side) row, and then join to work in the round and start your stockinette.

Body & Shoulder Shaping

The only modification I made in the body was to make it about 5 inches longer, as per my SIL’s request.

Before casting on, she had provided me some measurements from a favorite sweater of hers. Based on those, I’d selected which size to knit for her Weekender, and then planned some changes accordingly.

After chugging up the main body, I separated for the front and back. I always realize, when switching from knitting in the round to knitting back and forth, how much I dislike purling. Luckily, this pattern doesn’t require much.

Then at the shoulder shaping it was time for… SHORT ROWS! Some people love them, some hate them. Ever since discovering German short rows, I have grown to love them.

German short rows are simply a way of avoiding doing the traditional “wrap and turn” short row, which then requires you to do a fiddly move to “pick up” the wraps when you’re done with your short rows. They can be substituted in any pattern.

Here’s Staci Perry’s very helpful video:

When I had first finished my short rows, I looked at the purl side of the work and was a little nervous about how it looked. The Weekender is knit in the round on the “wrong side” and then turned inside-out when you’re done with the body. So it’s actually the purl side which shows on the finished sweater.

Luckily, blocking worked its magic as usual, and all the bulky wonkiness of the short rows vanished after my Weekender had had a good bath.

Unblocked, after joining at the shoulders

I did the shoulder ribbing as per the instructions. However, I did not use the tubular bind off as suggested by Andrea Mowry for the neckline.

When I tried the tubular bind off on my own Weekender back in 2020, I followed the written instructions in the pattern and found it way too tight and very uncomfortable. According to Staci Perry’s video, it’s supposed to be really stretchy, so I must have been doing it wrong. Perhaps another time I’ll try it again.

In any case, I successfully managed the 3-needle bind off for the shoulders (after dropping a stitch and having to work it back up nearly half the body of the sweater–but never mind, it all worked out), and I was ready for my sleeves!

Sleeve Island!

Hooray for Sleeve Island! To fit with the measurements my SIL had given me, I went up two sizes for the sleeves. I found the sleeves on my own Weekender a little snug, and according to the schematic, they would not have been comfortable for my SIL. Instead of picking up the number of stitches for the size 3, I picked up the number for the size 5.

I knitted the sleeves for my own Weekender at the same time using magic loop. This time, I decided to knit them one at a time, and I was glad I did!

When picking up stitches for the first sleeve, I made the mistake of not picking up a stitch right at the edge of the 3-needle shoulder bind off. The result was an unsightly bump at the end of the shoulder:

UGLY BUMP!!

Thankfully, I hadn’t gotten very far down the sleeve, and I was only knitting one at a time. I quickly ripped it back and tried again. The result was perfect:

Ahhh, much better.

After that little hitch, all was smooth sailing down the sleeve. I kept meticulous notes as to the number of rounds and decrease placement, so that when I knitted the second sleeve, they’d be exactly the same.

Here’s me, very excited about finishing the first sleeve, modelling it for my SIL and being a goofball:

Blocking and DONE

I was so excited to bind off the second sleeve that I did a little jig. The best part of this yarn, is because it is NOT superwash, it can felt to itself. That makes changing balls of yarn a breeze. I simply spit-spliced them together!

(If you’re reading this Sudha, yes, that does mean that I slobbered all over the yarn as I was working it, but in all fairness I gave it a good wash before sending it to you.)

Thanks to the magic of spit-splicing, I had very few ends to weave in when I finished. Then, after a little lukewarm bath with some Eucalan, I blotted it on towels and pinned it out according to the requested measurements. Here it is:

Tah-daaaaaahh!

Sending it Off

I forgot to take a photo of the personalized label I sewed into it. It says, “Handmade with love by Jane”. And it’s true. I really loved making this sweater. The entire process was a joy.

I also love the way it turned out. The tweedy yarn is delicious, and since it’s a blend of wool and alpaca, it’s wonderfully soft. Perfect for snuggling up on a cold Minnesota day in midwinter.

Tucked in tissue paper, placed in a pretty box, I wrapped the whole thing in parcel paper and mailed it off with a kiss (and very detailed care instructions: DO NOT PUT THIS IN THE WASHING MACHINE!!).

My SIL’s feedback was exactly what a knitter loves to hear: “It’s perfect!”

As are you, my love. Wear it in good health and with great joy.

Jane

The Brain In Jane works mainly in the rain. It's always raining somewhere. Find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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