So, having cut the steeks, joined the shoulders, and set in the sleeves (never to my satisfaction; oh, well, move on) of the Norsk Strikkedesign-inspired sweater, it’s time for me to finish the front cardigan edges.
I’ve been delaying the decision of how I will do this, as usual, until I see what I’ve got. I’ve planned wiggle room that will accommodate several alternatives and have eliminated other possibilities through my previous actions. Now it’s time to narrow the options to one . . . although I can always rip and re-do if I decide later that I want to shift to one of the other still-available finishes.
I really want to get this fabric wet and let the stitches relax into an integrated unit! But not yet.
When I told my daughter I was thinking about a zipper again (I like zippered cardigans), she said, "No, Mom. Pewter buttons." She’s probably right.
I thought about horizontally ribbed, vertically ribbed, seed stitch, and other types of bands.
I thought about buttonholes. Buttonholes are not my favorite things, although they have their place and are, of course, one of the ways of fastening buttons. But not the only one. I thought about how in many cases I like horizontal buttonholes better than vertical buttonholes (more on that in a later post).
I thought about working horizontal buttonholes in a band that’s being picked up and knitted horizontally. Yep, can do that, although you wouldn’t know it from looking at many knitting reference books.
I thought about how I like the bottom edges of front bands to meet squarely with the bottom edges of the sweater itself.
I browsed through a few resources—Montse Stanley, June Hemmons Hiatt, Vogue Knitting’s big book—for ideas that could kick my thought process in a new, ideal direction. In June Hemmons Hiatt’s The Principles of Knitting, which I’ve fortunately owned since it was relatively new and affordable and which I am grateful that I did not lose in the 1997 flood, I found an idea for working horizontally ribbed front bands that is not right for this sweater but is intriguing enough that I might want to knit a whole other sweater to try it out. It’s a subtle touch. Hardly anyone else would notice. I might like it a lot. Move on. I have this sweater to finish, and after that I have a bunch of other ideas in line.
And then I thought: What about making front bands that would match the foldover hems on the lower body and sleeve edges? This should have been my first thought, but it wasn’t, in part because it involves a bunch of extra knitting and, as I mentioned, I’m at the point where I want to block this garment and wear it. Well, and see if I actually like it. If I stuck to this solution all the way to the end, I’d be working horizontal buttonholes through two layers of fabric on one of the bands—nice. It would be a neat and appropriate finish, because of the synchrony with the bottom edges.
Because I’d have a squared-off area at the top of each front band and those areas would overlap, I could use a neckline finish similar to the one in the original design, which I like even though it doesn’t show very well in the book’s photos.
I rewound my one remaining ball of black yarn into a center-pull so I’d have two ends available. Then I picked up 111 stitches along each front edge, using a separate circular needle for each side. I started picking up at the top of each edge, beginning with the row where I placed the marker for the start of the neckline decreases and moving toward the bottom edge. I’m lazy about picking up stitches. I use one of my grandmother’s old crochet hooks instead of knitting-up. Although it’s small in the photo, that’s the white thing lying on the sweater. I find it easier to position in the right picking-up spot than a knitting needle.
Because my stitch and row gauges for the color-pattern areas of this sweater are identical—6.25 stitches and rows to the inch—there are also 111 rows between the bottom hem’s turn-up row and the start of the neckline decreases. This made picking up the stitches really easy: one for each row. In my knitting life, that doesn’t happen often.
At the bottom edge of each side, I cable-cast-on one more stitch to compensate for the usual feeling that the front band wants to be shorter than the main body edge, for a total of 112 stitches along each side.
Then I knitted a few rows on each side to see what I thought. Bad photos again. Knitting early morning and late night again. Sorry.
Here’s the lower edge with a couple of rows knitting; more accurate at the bottom, because the fabric curls back on itself farther up on the edge. That jog bothers me, despite the extra cast-on stitch, but I have ideas for what to do about it if it’s still a problem later.
I decided what was happening was promising.
I clipped open-ring stitch markers into the fabric where I thought buttons might go, to get an idea of both placement (which, in my mind, needs to coordinate with the patterning) and how many I might need. I don’t like buttons to be either too close together (after all, I’m basically a zipper person, kind of in a hurry) or too far apart (I don’t like gaps).
The markers are on the body itself, not the button band, which wasn’t big enough yet to accommodate them. I also haven’t counted rows for placement–I’m just eyeballing.
It looks like seven buttons will do nicely.
Meanwhile, I’ve gotten past the halfway point on the band that will hold the buttons. I’ve knitted the front face, the turning row, and four rows on the foldover section. I don’t want to knit the buttonhole side until I know what buttons I’m using (unless I change my mind again and do something other than buttons). I’ll want to size and position the buttonholes right. By knitting the button band, I’ve already limited my choices in buttons a bit, but I’ve also decided how much mass I want in the black line the bands will make down the front of the sweater. I thought about knitting in pattern on the front surface and decided against competing with what was already going on in the body. The width of the band will also affect how I make the collar.
So I’m slowly eliminating my options, or making choices, or. . . . Well, just knitting the way I knit, starting with an inspiration and discovering exactly what I’m making and how I’m going about the process at the same time that I’m doing it.
Here’s how the top edge of the band I’m working on fits with the row where the decreases start.
Tomorrow, conveniently, we have to drive to Boulder for a medical appointment. Exactly 364 days after I bought the book and the yarn that inspired this sweater, I’ll be back at Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins to see if they have buttons that feel just right, whether they’re pewter or not.
Meandering along toward a warm, jacket-y sweater that will go with both my everyday jeans and my dress-up black stuff. . . .