Glutton for Punishment

So, you know all the fun I had knitting the boyfriend’s Charmed Sweater? Well, it seems I’ve decided to set myself another Herculean knitting task.

My little brother will turn 30 at the beginning of June. Yes, yes, I know 30 is not little, especially when the brother in question is well over 6 foot and built like a tank, but whether he likes it or not he will always be my little brother.

The brother has not asked for a sweater, this is all my idea, so I shall have no one but myself to blame when it all goes horribly wrong. But for one reason and another I have the urge to bundle him in some woolly goodness. However, unlike me, he doesn’t really get cold (see earlier ‘built like a tank’ comment) so big jumpers are definitely out.

So, several weeks ago, after I had rendered him immobile with a Sunday roast dinner, I suggested a cardigan. I then showed him various designs, patterns, things I had knitted, and quizzed him on his views of all of them. Once I explained what the hell DK was, he conceded that, yes, a DK weight cardigan sounded good. And he liked the idea of a few simple cables.

As to his other preferences, he does not like hoods, collars, or anything too bulky or textured. Button bands are often annoying as he’s never cold enough to actually use them. On the one hand this is brilliant, as it means I can omit a great many twiddly details but, on the downside, it makes finding a pattern even more difficult.

I’ve returned to trusty New Lanark for the yarn, this time opting for the DK Natural Blend in Pebble, a mid-grey, with his approval. I’ve measured both him and the cardigan he was wearing at the time, and  am slightly drowning in maths.

I knew that most of this was going to have to be done on-the-fly but I wanted to try and find some sort of base pattern that could help me get started.  After hours on Ravelry, I tried the Summer Tweed sweater, by Heidi Kirrmaier, as a top-down raglan. By knitting the V-neck version and then simply not joining it together, I could make a seamless cardigan. I pretty much followed the pattern, adding two simple cable panels on the back.

On Monday night, I divided the sleeves and body. And last night I realised my gauge is off and the chest is too small; the measurements for the two fronts are the same as the back, so there is no room for a button band; and even if I add a button band (without buttons) I worry the fronts will curl.

I think I can correct the gauge difference simply by making a slightly bigger size, so I ripped back about three inches of knitting, to do some more raglan increases. But working out how to amend the fronts, and what to do about the button bands, is making my head spin.

Obviously I can do fewer increases on the fronts (but should these be deducted from the V neck shaping or the front shaping?), and leave an inch or two for a button band, but I’m still not convinced they will lie flat. And something about the whole thing just doesn’t quite seem right and I don’t want to frantically knit a 44″ sweater that turns out to be crap. I am full of ‘meh’ for this cardigan.

Obviously I’m never going to get it done in time for his birthday, a little over two weeks from now, but I want to be able to show him what I’ve got so far. He could do with a little knitting mojo and I seem to have mislaid mine.

So, what are the options? I could pick up where I’ve left off, and continue with the original plan. I could rip it out and start again bottom up, with a pattern of my own devising Zimmerman style, knitting a button band as part of the front to help keep it flat. I could choose another pattern and try and modify it slightly – Emilien without the hood or zip; or this without the stripes and less fitted; or Ranger with a different collar (and possibly no texture?) although there comes a point where it hardly seems worth using a pattern if I’m going to deviate from it so much.

Maybe I just need to have a chat with the brother and see what he thinks, but any other ideas would be gratefully received at this point.

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17 Responses to Glutton for Punishment

  1. liz says:

    he’s a guy. he won’t care if you don’t knit it in time for his birthday. i think i heard you interview him on your podcast? he sounded very laid back. didn’t he say he didn’t want much detailing? he didn’t say it had to be perfect… and doesn’t blocking cure everything anyway?

    • Hoxton says:

      Ha ha – you obviously know him well! You’re right, this is all entirely self-inflicted angst. And blocking does indeed work wonders…

  2. Belinda says:

    Deduct the increases from the v-neck, not the raglans as you want the fronts to be narrower but really you want the front half of the sleeve to match the back half of the sleeve. If you pick the buttonband up once it’s all finished and use the correct ratio of stitches to rows to do so then it won’t curl (or shouldn’t). I find buttonbands often do curl if you knit them at the same time – they really are better if you add them on afterwards. Happy to help more if you want to email me…

  3. Rosie says:

    You are brave. The only ‘man’ I will knit for is my toddler son and once he hits man sizes he likely only score hats and mittens.

    • Hoxton says:

      Brave. Stupid. The two are somewhat interchangeable when it comes to my knitting 😉 You obviously have far more sense.

  4. Joanne says:

    I think your idea of starting over, perhaps with an EZ percentage sweater, is a better choice. Knit in button bands (with no buttons) won’t stop it from rolling completely but they will help, and if you make them 4-5 cm wide they will help A LOT. Plus they would add some textural interest. You could even knit a neckband (not a collar, something to lay flat with the cardigan) either from the button bands and up and then fit it into the neck at the end of assembly, or in a separate piece.

    And in order to show him progress, maybe start with the sleeves – they will give you a great gauge swatch…

    • Hoxton says:

      Thanks, that’s a helpful idea. I was thinking about the structure of the Aidez cardigan, which is bottom up, with bands included, and incorporates the neckband as you describe and combining that with EZ’s percentage. I think I ended up going top-down because I wanted to be able to have him try it on and check it was the right size!

  5. Ellen says:

    What a good sister you are! I vote for the EZ idea or Ranger, which is a great man’s sweater. Of course it is – it’s Jared Flood! Looking forward to hearing how it turns out, and hoping for success.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Joanne is onto something. I think working a button band is going to help. Do you have to rip the whole thing out to “translate” it into an EPS pattern? Since you’re knitting it top down, you should be able to customize it as you go–unless you simply cast on too few stitches (which now that I’m typing this I realize might be the case. see: buttonbands). Oy. Rip out, start over with good plan and better karma.

    • Hoxton says:

      You’re right, as it’s a top-down raglan it’s fairly easy to customize, and pretty much along EPS lines anyway. But I’d need to start again to incorporate a knitted-in buttonband – the stitch count is about right, but it’s all stocking stitch on the fronts, I’d need to change the relevant sections to a texture or something.

      Hmm, lots to think about and then yes, an improved plan is definitely in order!

  7. Liz says:

    Is the cardigan your idea or his? If you do decide to start over, maybe you might want to consider a simple pull-over style instead. That would eliminate some of your curling issues at least. Is this the same brother who resurrected the web site recently?

    • Hoxton says:

      Cardigan was my idea, because he doesn’t wear pullovers. Would be a little easier if he did, but nevermind! It’s my other brother (it was the older one who resurrected the website).

  8. Barbara says:

    Ok. I am not nor ever will be the knitter you are, but as a crap knitter I can say with great confidence, why don’t you knit a hybrid saddle shoulder sweater in the round from e. zimmermans knitting without tears and cut a steek in it after, pick up and knit bands down the fronts, or just knit a hem as she suggests? It actually would be done in time, methinks. And it’s quite a manly sweater. Well, there you have it. Math makes me want to sleep. So I’d take the easier way out.

    • Hoxton says:

      Aw thanks, but I’m not buying this ‘crap knitter’ label when you clearly have much knitting wisdom. But hang on a minute, did you say steek?! *faints* 😉

  9. Barbara says:

    I wrote my post before reading all the others that basically suggest the same thing. Hah. Oh well.

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