As many of you know, I have laughed in the face of the Boyfriend Sweater Curse, but now that I’m married it seemed only fair to provide some more knitwear for the Mr without the threat of bad mojo. He had made it clear that he would appreciate another jumper, and I wanted to try and knit him something a little more refined than my last attempt. This was the result:
Searching through Ravelry, I’m always a little disappointed by the scant number of good modern sweater patterns available for men. But although the choice may not be that extensive, there are some really good designs, so I made a shortlist and took my husband on a Ravelry tour to see what took his fancy. In the end, we settled on Grettir. Appropriately enough, after our trip to New York a couple of months ago, this is a pattern by Jared Flood. It’s a gorgeous Icelandic style yoke sweater, with enough interest to be an entertaining knit and something a bit different for his wardrobe, but not so crazy as to make him run for the hills.
I decided to follow the original colour scheme in the men’s sample, and use a greyscale palette, though my budget and the limited supply available in the UK didn’t allow me to use Shelter yarn. So I turned to, you guessed it, New Lanark aran. There are other yarns available, and I promise you I’m not being paid to keep mentioning them, I just find it’s a really good classic, affordable woollen yarn. Jamieson’s would have also been a good substitute I think. It has enough texture to give some grip to the stranded colourwork, and it softens nicely after blocking.
So, I had lots of yarn, I had a 14 page pattern (Brooklyn Tweed patterns do not scrimp on detail) and I had a two week break over Christmas to get stuck in. The bulk of it is simply stocking stitch in the round – perfect for sitting on the sofa watching movies, chatting to relatives, or nursing a glass of mulled wine. Which meant I could break the back of it quite quickly, and then settle into the fun of the colourwork. But before I did any of that I was exceedingly good and SWATCHED! Yes really. Because in spite of my usual slap-dash attitude, there was no way I want to knit a 42″ aran sweater only to have it turn out completely the wrong size.
This is where I ran into difficulty. There was no way round the fact that, no matter how tightly I tried to knit, I was not getting gauge on 4.5mm needles. Even going down to a 4mm didn’t help, and I couldn’t go any smaller without the fabric getting too dense and stiff. So I had a gauge of 18.5 instead of 20. Now my husband’s chest measurement is about 40 inches, so I was going to aim to make the size 42 and maybe squeeze in an extra half inch with blocking, but with my gauge I’d have ended up with more like a size 45.5.
For about an hour, I wrestled with some fairly elementary maths that made my head hurt. The things we do for love and knitwear. But after much wrangling of numbers and measuring everything a dozen times, I had a solution. The colourwork pattern around the yoke is a multiple of 8 stitches. If I removed one repeat then I’d cut about 1.7 inches from the chest. And if I made the sleeves according to the size 38 instructions, rather than the 42, that would knock out another 8 stitches. Overall, I worked out that I could knit a size inbetween the 42 and the 46, ending up with about a 43.
As my row gauge was also off, I had to rip back the first sleeve and skip the last couple of increases or they would have been far too long. This was ok because I was still working in multiples of 8 and could just take out another repeat at the yoke. And although I did the short rows around the chest, I only did two short rows at the back of the neck, instead of six, as I worried it would end up being too deep and make a funny collar stick up at the back.
After fudging the numbers and measuring everything over and over I was still a bit worried about the fit, but it turned out perfectly!
The pattern is very well written with lots of thoughtful details. The increases at the chest make a more flattering shape around the body, the tubular cast on gives a neat edge, and the shaping in the yoke is really cleverly done, so it’s pretty much invisible.
All in all this was a fairly quick knit and I’m really happy with how it turned it. A non-knitting friend said it looked like it came from a shop – high praise indeed!