The winner of the Shoplouleigh project bag is......
flogigknits on Ravelry! Congratulations to Florence. I have contacted both Leigh and Florence to let them know. Thanks for entering and I'll host another giveaway very soon.
As you can see I finished the Solja sweater by Anna Maltz. The pattern for Solja is found in a couple of places. Click here for Solja in Pom Pom Magazine (information via Ravelry) and click here for the individual pattern on Ravelry. I have the Pom Pom magazine and there are other things in here that I might knit. It is a good magazine.
I love my new sweater. It is knit from the bottom up starting with the body. The body is set aside and then the sleeves are knit and joined to the body. Then the yoke is knit with colorwork and decreases and it is finished with corrugated rib to match the cuffs on the sleeves and bottom border of the body. I made the second size, 37.5-inch bust measurement. It is supposed to have a couple of inches of positive ease and I am happy to report that it does. The fit is perfect.
The photos of me in the sweater were taken by my son at dusk inside my house. The lighting wasn't the best but somehow I kind of like how they turned out. They look sort of grainy and vintage-y and it suits the sweater.
So would I recommend this pattern? Yes. However, I had to finagle a bit on my own accord here and there so it is a cautious yes if you are a beginning sweater knitter.
Here are the things I modified on my Solja:
1. I lengthened the body by adding an extra repeat of the lace chart. I like the length of body.
2. I significantly shortened the sleeves and frankly they are still a tiny bit too long after blocking. The pattern has only one sleeve length for all of the sizes. The length is 22-inches. I usually wear a 17 to 18-inch sleeve in my sweaters. Since there is a lace pattern and increasing going on, including adding in repeats as the increased number matches the chart repeat, I had to think about this one. On the underside of the arms the increases are are done in stockinette stitch. It wasn't hard to modify but it might be challenging for a beginner. The lace repeat has to end and match up to where you left off on the body because when you join back in you carry on in the chart.
3. I didn't bind off at the underarm on the sleeves and body. I kept the stitches live and used the kitchener stitch to join them after knitting for a bit on the yoke. I like to clean everything up as I go including weaving in ends and grafting under the arms. I never bind off under the arms and on the body for bottom up sweaters, I prefer to graft instead of a traditional seam.
4. Most importantly, I added four short rows to the back of the neck. I have learned my lesson on this one. If knit as is in the pattern you will have a high and straight across neckline across the front of your neck. I have had other sweaters with the straight across neckline and I end up not wearing them at all. It really bothers me to have a high front neck. So I added the short rows to raise the back of the neckline up, making more of a scoop in the front.
I did the short rows on the cream only rounds in the top of the yoke. I put two short rows in between the tan flowers and brown flowers and then two more short rows in between the brown flowers and the neck border. If you want to learn about short rows at the back of the neck pull out your Elizabeth Zimmermann books like Knitting Around, Knitting Without Tears and Knitting Workshop and look up the EPS formula. Most all modern in the round, bottom-up sweaters with a yoke are based on this system/formula that was unvented by the one and only so many years ago. Elizabeth always included short rows in her necklines and at the lower back to alleviate any fit issues. It is a simple way to solve a problem in handknit sweaters using this bottom up formula.
Please click here to see Carol Sunday's genius short row technique and explanation and video tutorial! I am using this technique called Sunday Short Rows from now on and was introduced to it by Gudrun Johnston in the Ambrosia cardigan I recently completed.
5. Instead of having colorwork rounds that included trapping or weaving in floats using three different colors at a time, I opted to leave out the flower center color changes. I knit those stitches in the cream color and then duplicate stitched them on after the fact. I am very pleased with the results and it really didn't take very long. I had to weave in ends but I don't really mind doing that kind of finishing work.
I used Quince & Co. Lark for the corrugated rib edgings and for the yoke colorwork. The colors I used are Twig, Honey, Egret, Bark and Dogwood. The lace body and sleeves is Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted in Grey Heather N03W. These yarns really worked out well. The colors for the yoke are spot on. The sweater is quite economical and I used up stash yarns. Yay for that!
I used US size 7 needles throughout the sweater. The double-pointed needles in the photo are from Signature Needle Arts.
It's funny how small the sweater looks when still in pieces. It is actually a good sized garment. The lace pattern was really simple and easy to do. Even a beginner could master the lace here.
The debate over colors for the yoke went on for quite awhile before I settled on this winning combination. I think the pink Dogwood color really sets off the heather grey lace of the body and sleeves and the creamy golds and browns of the yoke.
You can try on a bottom up sweater as you are working. I do it all of the time. I wrapped the ends of my needles with rubber bands so the stitches wouldn't fall off when I was trying it on. It worked fine.
The colorwork involved a lot of trapping or weaving in floats and colors along the wrong side as you go. This is due to the bigger flower motifs. The bumpy fabric smoothed out beautifully with blocking. The band of brown that separates the lace from the colorwork is actually alternating knit stitches of honey and twig. It is subtle but I really like it.
I soaked the garment in Soakwash for about 20 minutes using lukewarm water. I squeezed out the excess water by stepping on the sweater while it was rolled up in clean towels. Then I spread out the sweater on my blocking mats. I gave a good stretch to the yoke and the lace to get the wool to relax and show off the stitches better. I'm very pleased with the blocking.
The fit is extremely relaxed which I always love. Also, I love the roomy sleeves so much. I'd say I have 2 or 3 inches of positive ease over the entire sweater after the blocking. It's so comfortable. The sleeves grew a little too much but it's totally wearable and I really don't mind. I am talking about only maybe a half inch to an inch too long. I will probably like this length in the winter months.
I will wear this with skirts and jeans in the colder months. It is really perfect in every way. Yay! It feels so good to get some new sweaters ready for my fall and winter wardrobe. It's very exciting and sweater knitting is definitely making me happy right now.
I am almost done with the body of Louise, my next cardigan. Oh, is this one fun. I am plotting and planning my button selection right now. I checked in with my favorite Wooly Moss Roots on Etsy to see if they could make something good for me. They said yes. I'll keep you posted.
I'll be back soon with more. I hope you are all having a good July and that you are finding time to knit in between all of the summer festivities.
xo ~ susan