February 29, 2016

Bluestone Sweater

I have had six skeins of Plymouth Encore tweed yarn in blue sitting in a bag for what felt like forever. These were originally for a tunisian vest, but you might remember after working on it and getting discouraged, I frogged the project and set the yarn aside.

I've been looking for something to do with it and when I saw AllAboutAmi's Granite Cape, I thought it might just be perfect. The only problem is that I had 6 skeins, and her pattern called for 7 skeins. Since I was unsure from her instructions of the exact total yardage, and was unable to get any more tweed in the same dye lot, I went to Joann's and found three more skeins of Patons Classic Wool yarn in New Denim, which I thought complimented the blue tweed nicely. My plan then is to use the tweed for the body of the cape and the darker yarn for the sleeves, collar and bottom ribbing. So, since my sweater is in shades of blue, I am calling mine the Bluestone Sweater, since her's is the Granite Cape... granite is the stitch, but ya know, also a rock, like bluestone!

As suggested I did work up a small test square to make sure I understood the granite stitch and make sure I wasn't loosing or adding any.

I decided to make my cape a bit wider than hers, as I generally buy XL sweaters, but as I am also around 5'5", so I left the length were it was, but increased the width by starting with more chains... except that I hate starting projects on chains, so I instead worked up a row of foundation single crochet to start from, which also made working the granite stitch a little easier on the first row. I just needed to remember to work the last row on the front panels in sc so it matched.
foundation sc starting row at the bottom
I started with 131 fsc but after working up several rows, I bothered to measure it and realized it was way too wide. Turns out 131 fsc with my 6.5mm hook was almost 34 inches wide. Hers was only 27.5 inches wide... and I'm not that fat. I frogged it down to the fsc row and measured again, this time keeping it around 29 inches wide, which was about 107 fsc.

I also needed to make sure that I could work the whole body piece with the 6 skeins I had, which meant 3 for the back and 3 for the front. The crochet itself was a breeze to work through. With the white flecks and the subtle stitch texture I really love how this was turning out. Final size of the back piece, after using up three skeins, was 29 inches wide by 28 inches tall, which is a bit shorter than hers, but was still a nice length when held up to me. I was worried this was wider rather than longer, but knew that I was going to be adding a border on the bottom, so felt ok about it. Total height in rows was 95 rows.
After that you start onto the front panels. Personally it totally annoys me that when you work the panels on like this and then fold them down over the front, the stitches on the front are then upside down as compared to the back. Oh well, it isn't too noticeable with a stitch like this, but if it was shells or something it would be super obvious. I was also sure to remember to work my last row in sc only so as to match my starting foundation sc row. If you are following along with me, I did 5 rows of decreasing, 88 rows of 47 stitches across, and one row of sc at the end to match the 95 row total from the back panel.
Once both panels are down you work the collar; for me 197 sc around. My collar was the first bit made in the new, darker blue wool. It is a bit thinner than the tweed so it did not create quite as plush of a fabric, but still showed the ribbing detail and really looked nice together.
Lost the game of yarn chicken at the sleeves...
After the collar I moved on to the sleeves. I didn't realize at first that there is an extension of a sleeve and then a ribbing on that as well. Unfortunately after the body I had very little yarn left of the tweed. I lost the game of yarn chicken and did not have enough tweed leftover for even one sleeve, which I do think would have looked nicer. So instead I remade the sleeve in all dark blue since I had plenty of that still on hand. In the end it still looked nice in the dark blue.

Instead of sewing the end of the sleeve closed, I worked slip stitches along the join and then worked the edging directly onto the sleeve. I added one extra row of blsc since I wanted the sleeve to have three ridges, like the collar edging. Working the pieces together saved me some time in sewing, which I also suck at. (74 sc around sleeve)

At this point I sewed up the sides and then added the sleeves. I also did this all on the wrong side and used a whipstitch. My seam always ends up curved a bit in rather than laying flat and I think that is because of how I hold the pieces together to sew them up rather than laying them flat and sewing them. My novice at sewing affects how the assembled sweater drapes, but I still think it is ok looking. (Note: I did frog the tweed sleeve I started since I needed that yarn to sew up the sides.)
I really love the texture and color combo!
As for the bottom ribbing, I decided to do something different. I liked the vertical ribbing she made, but didn't want to have to try to sew a strip on to the bottom, so taking inspiration from a hat I made in the past, I worked the bottom ribbing directly onto the assembled sweater. I attached my yarn to the outside of the right collar edging when looking at it right side out, then chained 15, and worked the 14 sc back up the chain just as she had, but then slip stitched it in place at the end of the row. I repeated two rows, one of front loop single crochet and a second of single crochet only, anchoring each row to the base of the sweater with sl sts. This made it so that the ribbing around the neck seemed to flow right into the bottom ribbing. Once I got past the collar and into the body, my sc foundation row made continuing the ribbing on the bottom so easy.

Here I started skipping a stitch when working the base because a sc is a bit taller than it is wide and I wanted the bottom ribbing to be taught to the sweater. So two rows of ribbing spans over three sc stitches from the initial chain. Basically if you are looking at the front side of your work you should be working sc towards the seam, if you are looking at the back of your work you will be working front loop single crochets away from the body of your sweater.

Working the bottom onto the sweater this way was certainly not faster, but I like the way it hugs in a bit and looks seamless. I love how the dark blue seems to anchor the sweater down. I was worried that making it in two colors would make it less pretty, but I really love it.
Unlike the other few sweaters I have made (and disliked: Crocodile Cardigan, Open Air Shrug, Shell Tunic), I knew from the first second I put it on that this would be a my new favorite comfy sweater. It has a great length and goes past my butt to mid thigh just where I want it. It is both light and warm and fits over anything I'm wearing.

I can't believe that I managed to get such a large garment out of the same amount of yarn that would have made a tunisian vest... that vest would have been unbearably thick and hot. So happy with the finished item and glad that I finally made a sweater that I will wear.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time to complete: 65 hours
Final size:
   Width of body 29"
   Width with sleeves: 37"
   Full Length: 30.5"