Knitting work-in-progress #1: cozy sweater

I’m in the middle of a couple of different knitting projects right now, and I thought I’d post some of my thoughts about them, beginning with my largest: a cozy sweater that I’ve been dreaming about for years.  I bought the yarn more than two years ago with a visions of a cozy hooded cardigan that was still attractive enough to wear out for dinner.  I love hoodies, but all of the warm ones that I own are the rather scrubby sweatshirt variety, and not really nice enough to wear out.

(In case you are confused, it’s plain stockinette stitch, so the front edges are curling under – and it’s going to have an inch of garter stitch up each side – so it really will come together to close properly by the end, despite what it looks like in this photo.  And you’ll have to excuse the provisional cast-on crochet edgings, and the needle in the neckline, and my yarn trailing off into the dining room…)


So why has it taken two years to get started?  Good question … and I’m not sure I can exactly answer, but I think it’s been a combination of being busy with school work (up until May, at least) – having other, more pressing knitting projects – and being nervous about casting on a sweater for which I had such a particular image in my mind.  I’ve designed several of my own sweaters before, but had never knit a cardigan or a hood, and was working myself up into too much anxiety about making this project perfect, which of course is usually a recipe for disaster.  So about a month ago, I relinquished my hopes of perfection and decided that the yarn deserved to be used – and that there would be other yarns and other sweaters in the future – better to make this set into something than just let it sit there for the rest of my life.

I’d been admiring a pattern from Kate Davies, Manu, and decided to use that as my inspiration.  I bought her pattern since it’s my design model, but have done most of my calculations from scratch, and am modifying some of the shaping.  It’s not going to look much like hers when I’m done, no matter what – I’m using a much heavier yarn, and am making it into a cozy, fitted sweater rather than a light, swingy one.

I’m running into a little bit of difficulty at this point, though.  One part of her design that I really wanted to use was the pleated neckline (even though I planned for a higher one than the original Manu has) and despite cutting the pleats from 12-stitch to 6-stitch to decrease their bulkiness with the thicker yarn, I’m not so sure any more.  I have wide shoulders to begin with, and I thought that having a seamless yoke and pleats might have a similar effect to that of raglan sleeves – drawing the eye toward the neck and away from my shoulders – but I’m afraid the volume of the pleats may be visually increasing my shoulder width instead of decreasing it.

It seems to be particularly a problem on the left shoulder, where one of my yoke decreases came an inch or two higher than on the right shoulder (since I forgot to do it on the correct row, and didn’t discover the problem until quite a few rows later) which adds quite a bit of extra fabric in the pleat; each stitch is about 1/3″ of width in the material.  (Stitch gauge is 3.25″ for the knitters reading.)

If I smooth out the shoulder, it looks fine…

… but it doesn’t last for long.  As you can see in this photo I took of the right shoulder – even though the left one is not in focus, you might notice that the moment I stop smoothing the left one, it gets bulgy again.




And you can see from the straight front view that the puffy pleats probably don’t help my wide shoulders, no matter what….



I’ve had it set aside for about two weeks now, and have been working on a different project, trying to decide what to do.  Although I have given up my dreams of this becoming my tweedy gray Perfect Cardigan, I have still spent a good deal of money (on the yarn) and time, and would like it to be flattering and wearable.

So the debate now is: keep on going up into the hood, and leave the shoulders as they are?  Or rip back a couple of inches below the pleats (and into the short rows) and try to fix at least the left shoulder, so the two are equally puffy?  Or rip back further still and do either a normal set of seamless yoke decreases, or standard raglan decreases, and forget about the pleats altogether?  Any thoughts….?

Max would appreciate your helping me out, as well.

He’s getting sick of hearing about pleats this, pleats that, short rows short rows short rows….




11 thoughts on “Knitting work-in-progress #1: cozy sweater

  1. From a non-knitter, I can’t see any difference in the L vs. R shoulders. I think if you carry on to the hood, a completed sweater will nullify the slight imperfections that only you will notice. But it’s ultimately a matter of your own comfort and asthetic. If you hate the L shoulder, then you probably should re-do it so that when you’re wearing your gorgeous sweater you’ll love it completely, as a sweater should be loved. I think it looks great already!

    • Thanks Denise, for yet another of your signature thoughtful and rational replies. You tend to leave comments that pinpoint what I’m thinking, but perhaps (at least in this case) haven’t quite accepted. I can hear as many other opinions about the puffiness of the shoulder, or whether I should keep going or rip back, as I can stand to hear – but what I really need to do is decide how much it’s going to bother me when I’m wearing it, isn’t it?

  2. I still don’t see a difference in the shoulders and I also really like the pleats. My vote is to keep going and do the hood! But I have a feeling that the shoulder thing is going to drive you crazy if you don’t rip it out.

    • Agh – yes – but I keep hoping that if people keep saying they couldn’t see the difference, maybe I’ll convince myself it’s not a problem. (If only John hadn’t made that comment about the puffiness the first time I tried it on…) Thanks for your input, and of course knitting support while I’m actually working on it. :p

  3. I think the pleats add character and with a thin body, you can have a puffy sweater without anyone noticing your shoulders! If one is a bit bulkier than the other, it is like curly hair — interesting! (who ever has seen two curls the same on one head?)

    • True, true, but on the other hand, whoever heard of two different sleeve styles on the same garment?
      I realize it isn’t quite that drastic, but still – I’m a little gun shy, perhaps because when I first tried it on, John said “WHOA, are you going to leave it like that?” (Or something to that effect.) Maybe the photos don’t correctly convey the problem if you haven’t seen it in person – but either way, I’m afraid it will be obvious if I don’t fix it….

  4. Pingback: Sweater Update | puddle-wonderful life

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