Spring sweater, autumn color

Knitting wool sweaters in the desert seems a little bit of a fool’s game – when can you wear them? But I find myself wearing tall boots and sweaters when temperatures are in the 60s here, in perfect comfort, even though the practice would have baffled Minnesotan me or Massachusetts me.

It also depends on what you mean by “wool sweater.” I’m not likely to start churning out densely-knit cabled Arans any time soon. But a floaty a-line sweater, in light fingering yarn at a larger, drapey gauge? I can get some use out of that.

Enter Dalyla by Cecily Glowik McDonald.

photo 1 (1)

It’s got a lovely wide neck:

photo 4

and pretty cables down the sides:

cables

Some pattern notes:

I started around Christmas and finished about 10 days ago, so it took a little under two months. I chose the pattern because 1) I liked the wider neckline and the A-line shape (being somewhat A-line shaped myself); 2) I thought it was a good non-intimidating opportunity to learn how to cable (I’ve tried before but never got far enough into the pattern to see the cables develop); and 3) it didn’t require a lot of yarn and I only had three skeins.

The pattern is clear and straightforward. It’s top-down construction – cast on for the neckline, then use raglan increases for the yoke/shoulder shaping, put the sleeves on holders and keep working downward to create the body, with cables down the sides and increases to create an a-line shape.

For some reason, I kept miscounting my raglan increases and ending up with one stitch too many or one stitch too few, the error having been made rows before, and when I tried to tink these particular increases I always screwed them up. So I started this and ripped it back FIVE TIMES before getting to where you divide for the sleeves, and only succeeded after I finally resigned myself to counting stitches after every. single. row. But this was entirely due to my own distraction, not any fault (or even difficulty) of the pattern.

I also somehow managed to start one of the cable rows an extra stitch into the row. At the time I realized that, I hadn’t figured out how to tink the cables and really didn’t want to go back and redo the 4-5 rows I’d accomplished, so I’m just living with that particular error. (I did, of course, figure out how to tink the cables later, since I made more mistakes.)

The cables turned out to be easy (except for the various times I forgot whether I was cabling in front or behind, and had to go back and make the cable go in the right direction). I’m not sure I’ve figured out the most efficient technique – I started with a curved cable needle (the kind that’s like a big hook), didn’t like that, and shifted to a wooden straight needle with grooves; I also picked up some aluminum cable needles that are straight with a dip in them, and those might work even better. But the result is identifiably cables!

The shoulders fit very nicely and the shape of the neck is lovely. I expected the body to be longer and a bit more oversized toward the bottom, but the fit is probably a function of my shoulders being a size L and my hips XL. It’s certainly not fitted, but it’s not quite as big and swingy as I’d hoped. If I were to make one of these again, I think I’d try to figure out how to transition from size L above the sleeves to size XL below. When I cast on, I had just been listening to Amy Herzog on a knit.fm podcast talking about how it’s important to choose a sweater size to fit your shoulders – her suggestion was to take the upper-bust measurement and then pick the size that’s a couple inches bigger. That actually worked really well – my upper-bust measurement is 40”, so I picked the 42 1/2, and it does fit the shoulders very well. But I didn’t compensate for the larger hips.

I wet-blocked (as I do everything) by soaking it in a bowl with Eucalan for a couple of hours, squeezed out a bunch of water, rolled it in a clean towel and trod on it for a bit, and lay it (mostly) flat on the top of a folding drying rack. Freshly blocked, the length was PERFECT, but over the course of wearing it my body heat made it shrink up a little bit. So again, if I made another, I’d probably add another inch or so at the bottom (but that’s just to make it fit me, not because there’s anything wrong with the pattern).

The yarn is SPECTACULARLY lovely. It’s Madelinetosh 80/10/10 Fingering in Cardinal.  The color is rich and deep, a kind of fire-lit russet with blackened edges – I got it in the Madelinetosh Yarn Club a couple of years ago and probably wouldn’t have chosen the color, but am happy I had enough to make this. It’s variegated enough that it’s striping a little, but not terribly (I don’t like stripes). If I look really hard, I can see where I changed skeins, but I think it’s pretty subtle. It is REALLY soft and light, and while I think it will be warm enough that I won’t be wearing it year round here, I should be able to get some wear out of it and it will be fairly airy. I’m not sure how durable it’s going to be (I do come across little fluffs now and then), but then, it’s not something I’m going to wear for hard labor.

And like I said, I’ve worn it three times since finishing, and have received some lovely flabbergasted compliments (of the “you MADE that??” variety) which have made me very happy.

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One thought on “Spring sweater, autumn color

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