During summer, my mom requested a hand-knit sweater to keep at her office for days when the air conditioning was too cold. She specified many things.
- It needed to be roomy so that she could move easily because her job involves scanning very large items like floor plans on a huge floor scanner.
- The sleeves needed to not be baggy at the wrists, and she preferred 3/4-length over full-length sleeves.
- The neck needed to be low-cut because high necklines make her uncomfortable.
- It needed to be knit with a machine-washable yarn.
- It needed to be a cardigan, not a pull-over.
- It had to be large enough to wear over top of work clothes.
- It had to be simple without any frilly designs or colors.
- It needed to be in a color that was fun, but subdued.
- It had to fit (she gave me her measurements).
With all of these requests in mind, I scoured Ravelry for the perfect pattern. I sent her many links and pictures, but there was always an issue with one of them… the neckline was not right (“What is that flappy thing at the top? I don’t want any flappy things around my neck.”) or it was not the right fabric (“Is that lace? Oh, I couldn’t do lace! It would get caught on everything at work.”) or the color was impossible (“Oh, I don’t like that pink!” to which I’d respond “I can make it in any color, Mom.”).
I thought I found a pattern, the February Lady Sweater, which calls for worsted weight yarn. Again, I hit up Ravelry for a suitable yarn that would be washable, affordable, and in a color she would like. I found it at WEBS. I bought 11 skeins. It came in the mail.
She didn’t like that pattern anymore.
She sent me pictures of sweaters from the Internet that more suited her tastes. I began the search again. Finally, I found this pattern for a very basic sweater. New problem… it’s a DROPS garment pattern. DROPS patterns are notorious for being ambiguous and not suitable for beginner-level garment knitters. I’m a beginner-level garment knitter. I’ve only knit one other adult-sized garment, and it didn’t turn out perfectly.
But this was the sweater she wanted. I finally found something she liked. I compared the yarn I bought to the pattern specifications. I thought I bought worsted weight yarn.
I was wrong.
I bought DK weight yarn, which is much thinner. Great. Now, I would have to not only knit a DROPS garment pattern, but would have to adjust it to work with a lighter-weight yarn.
So I did what any sensible person would do.
I did math.
I swatched. I measured. I calculated. I determined that if I knit her size of the pattern with larger needles (size US 8) and the lighter yarn (DK), the two would essentially cancel each other out, and I would end up with a sweater that fit her. Then I calculated how much yarn I would need–1500 yards was my conservative estimate. I had purchased 11 skeins–1287 yards. I ordered 2 more skeins and started working.
I knit. I worried. I knit some more. I worried some more. After seaming, I thought it looked too wide and too short. I thought the sleeves looked too big. I took it to Houston.
She put it on. She loved it. She wiggled in it and squealed a bit. It was “perfect; just what [she] wanted.”
DROPS 112-26: jacket with V-neck and 3/4 or long sleeves
Instead of being written line by line, DROPS patterns are written in paragraphs, full blocks of instruction. And there is a lot of “at the same time” stuff. Before I started her sweater, I rewrote the pattern, breaking it into pieces and formatting it in a way that made sense to me. I took notes while knitting to ensure the fronts matched the backs, the armholes would line up. The only change I made to the pattern is adding 2 extra stitches to each sleeve.
Valley Yarns (WEBS brand) Longmeadow
60% cotton, 40% microfiber
This yarn is interesting. It has a rope-like texture, and the plies come unplied very easily. It is reasonable soft and washed well the first time without any pilling. I was mildly concerned about pilling because the sweater is knit at such a loose gauge.
Photos: It looks a little large in the photo (especially if you look at the set-in sleeve cap), but when she is moving around, she needs that extra space in the arms.