The Epic Tale of a Sweater for Jon
If you follow me on Instagram you may remember that back in February of 2017 I finished knitting a sweater for Jon that I never blogged about. Well, I'm finally ready to discuss The Sweater! Grab some tea and settle in, cause this is a long one.
It was summer of 2016 when my friend Karen asked if I wanted to participate in her yearly Fringe and Friends Knit-Along as a panelist. The topic for this one was top-down sweaters and at that time I'd never knit one before. I'm more of a traditional knit bottom up in pieces knitter, probably because it most closely resembles drafting sewing patterns. Anyway, it seemed like a fun opportunity to learn something new and Jon had been asking for a fisherman's rib sweater for a while so I thought...eh, why not? FAMOUS LAST WORDS GUYS! Anyway, I wound my yarn, swatched, did my math, and cast on in full fisherman's rib. For this sweater I used O-Wool Balance in Talc, which is a 50% wool / 50% cotton blend aka the perfect fiber content for a guy who runs warm!
I originally cast on while watching the Olympics and apparently was more into the Olympics than counting. Luckily I realized during the first row when my knit and purl stitches didn't properly align, so I cast on again immediately, this time with the correct amount of stitches. I was cruising along when I dropped a stitch marker, my needle got caught in an increase row, and I got caught in the needle cord. 5 rows ripped out right at the increase which means I lost 2 increase stitches. In any other stitch pattern I could have fixed that, but in Fisherman's rib, I was lost. Out went all the progress and I cast on for a 3rd time. This one was particularly painful because I had already joined the sweater in the round at this point but I felt like Jon deserved a normal looking sweater, and it was one of the front raglan increases. Ah well.
After the previous trouble getting going on this project I finally hit my stride; once the Olympics were over and I was done yelling at the tv, the knitting got a lot easier...imagine that! I was trucking along and knit about half the body of the sweater, which, if you've ever done full fisherman's rib you know takes forever. If you're not a knitter it may be useful at this point to know that fisherman's rib requires 2 rows to form 1 row which means you're basically knitting double the sweater compared to a regular knit/purl stitch. This fisherman's rib was especially slow going for a second reason — that this was a man's sweater. I blame his German / Norwegian heritage but Jon has extremely broad shoulders meaning even more extra knitting. By the time I stopped increasing and was working up to the sleeve and body separation I had 378 sts on my needles. I timed a row and it took me 20 minutes of nonstop, focused, semi-fast knitting to complete. Since there are 10 rows per inch in my gauge, that meant the sweater was growing at a rate of 1" every 3 hours and 20 minutes. Uff da!
Dun dun dunnnnn, yes that is a second swatch in half-fisherman's rib. So I had half the body done and the sweater must have weighed about 20 lbs. I mean not really, but it was way too heavy and oddly drapey in a way that was not flattering at all! So out it went. Half-fisherman's rib uses much less yarn and is more stable, plus it knits up faster so really it's an all around win. I don't know why I didn't go with that from the beginning but live and learn right?
I re-did my math and cast on again and things started looking up. I was cruising on the body and starting to feel like one day I'd actually finish this sweater! Jon tried on what I had and it looked really good, we were both super excited, but then...
I ran out of yarn. Because of course I did. Not only that but the dyelot I used for the sweater had sold out over the weeks and weeks and weeks it took me to get to this point, and the new dye lot was definitely a different color. Cue to me messaging random people on Ravelry to try to get them to sell me their yarn. I found one lady with 5 skeins who very kindly sent me hers and as a replacement I ordered the same number of skeins in a single dye lot from O-Wool and had them sent to her. Thanks to that amazing lady I was back on track and finished the sweater! Finally!!
The finished sweater! Jon was so excited to finally have it after months of watching it come together and probably wondering if I'd ever finish it. It fits him pretty well and he wore it nonstop until spring that year when he asked if I could lengthen the body and sleeves. You see, when I blocked it I noticed that it shrunk, but I was hoping Jon didn't notice. Of course he noticed though! He was just waiting till sweater season was over, and probably for me to get another project done, before he asked about the length.
I'd put so much time into the sweater at this point of course I had to lengthen it, so out went the hems. Luckily I had traded for more skeins than I needed so I had enough extra to lengthen. I added 3" to both sleeves and the hem of the sweater. You can kind of tell where the new knitting is since he'd worn the sweater in pretty well before I added it, but after more wearing it's sort of evened out. I think over time it will all end up looking the same, and after all the work put into this Jon will be wearing it forever, by choice or force! Hahaha!
So that ends the epic tale of knitting a sweater for Jon! If you want to read more about the technical aspects, you can check out my previous posts on Fringe Association: Meet the Panel, Meet the Panel, and my Finished Sweater Post.
I've recovered enough from this knit that I'm to the point where I would definitely knit him another sweater, but I still cannot touch fisherman's rib, and honestly probably never will again. Have you ever knit a sweater for a significant other? I used to laugh at the "sweater curse" but now I can totally see where it might come from. If Jon hadn't absolutely loved this sweater (which he completely did as you can tell from the state of it) it would definitely be a bitter point!