Friday, May 3, 2019

Finally, a Finish

Finally! My striped sweater is finished, and I’m happy about that on so many levels.

Back view of Elphaba Pullover knit in stripes of scrap sock yarn.

The pattern is the Elphaba Pullover by Mary Annarella. The first time I made it, about five years ago, everything went smoothly. It’s a lovely pattern.

The second time I made it, a few months ago, I used a yarn with a blend of 45% wool, 35% silk, and 20% rayon from bamboo instead of 100% wool as the pattern recommends. The sweater was too big — and then it grew.

The third time I made it, a couple months ago, I used an assortment of leftover sock yarns unraveled from a top I wasn’t wearing. I was back to 100% wool yarn, or nearly so, but the size was strange — too wide but also an odd combination of too long in some areas and too short in others.

The fourth time I made it, about a month ago, there was another fit issue that I seem to be blocking from my memory now out of self-preservation. But I started knitting wider color stripes with this attempt and found that I prefer their relative brightness for this sweater. I also added some black and ivory from my stash to ensure I would have enough yardage.

The fifth time I made it, what you see here and only the second version still in existence, this top finally worked up as I wanted it to. I reused the leftover sock yarns one more time and went down a size from what I had been previously knitting. The pullover’s width is the same as the first version but it has a bit more length, which is what I’d been aiming for in the first place.

Front view of Elphaba Pullover knit in stripes of scrap sock yarn.

The neckline and lace edging proved to be another challenge with my yarn choices. I didn’t want the stripes to compete with the lace stitch pattern, but a test knit of striped garter stitch didn’t look right as the edging either. Knitting the edgings in all one color wasn’t an option based on the yardage I had available, and the self-striping yarns wouldn’t work because they would bring me back to the stripes-on-lace I was trying to avoid.

Gray at the neckline stood out against my skin tone without creating too much visual contrast. I chose the dark handspun merino for the lace on the body of the sweater to give it a visual base. The combination of the ivory with the lace sleeve edge seemed a natural choice based on historical fashion.

I spent at least a full week weaving in the ends. Two ends of each stripe of color would have been bad enough, but there were more than that. Some of the lengths of yarn were quite short after being worked into so many projects. Normally, I would have woven the ends as I knit to keep the task from becoming overwhelming. But with so many missteps on this journey, I held off until I was sure the top would fit.

And, I’ll admit, the fit isn’t perfect. I’ve put on a little weight over the past few months — coincidence or induced by knitting stress? Either way, I think I can block the sweater a bit bigger for now. I won’t be wearing it much, if at all, until cooler temperatures return in the fall. That buys me some time to re-evaluate.

But if I don’t like the fit in the fall? This pullover is going to become socks.


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