Wednesday, 20 September 2017

WIP Wednesday: Sterling Cables Birthday Sweater

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Hello, and welcome back to WIP Wednesday

I'm heavily into the Birthday knitting at the moment, it seems.  This time around, the pattern I'm working on for my roommate's birthday (which is, as always, looking suspiciously like it's going to be a belated birthday gift) is a pattern by request, so it's not one of my own designs. It's the Sterling Cables Sweater by Bernat, and it's an . . . interesting pattern.  And don't worry, my roommate knows what she's getting.   She picked the pattern and the yarn, so there's no risk of ruining the surprise.  It's also my entry into the *Eat.Sleep.Knit Third Quarter Rhinebeck Sweater KAL, so I've really got an incentive to try and finish this up.

A woman wearing a cabled aran-style sweater.  There is a central cable panel, and smaller cables on each side of the panel. There are also cable twists running up the sleeves.
Photo courtesy of
Anyway, my roommate originally chose the pattern because it's gorgeous, and it is!  Just look at those cables!  But it's definitely a pattern with a few, well, lets just call them 'quirks.'

First, it's clearly written to save as much space as possible in a print pamphlet.  While I haven't yet seen the dreaded "at the same time"
 instruction, a lot of the instruction is inferred.  For example, the pattern gives you the shaping increases and decreases, but tells you to just 'keep cont of pat', that is, keep the continuity of the cable patterns intact while you do the shaping.  It's not necessarily difficult knitting, but it requires you to have the knowledge and make the judgement call about how, exactly, to continue the pattern and where, exactly to put the shaping.  It's not difficult for me to figure out, as someone who has several sweaters completed, but it's not something I'd suggest if you're not comfortable modding and playing with patterns.   Also because of the clear space constraint, the main cable pattern is written out over a page break!  So I'm constantly flipping back and forth between pages.   Surprisingly, it is charted as well, with all the cable motifs charted on the last page.  But the Chart A is printed in one orientation, while charts B and C are printed in another orientation, on the same page, so that all the charts are, in fact on one page.  There's absolutely no way I'm going to try and read a complex cable chart sideways, and it's a pain to flip the orientation of the PDF pattern on my tablet every single time I change motifs.   So I'm stuck with the written instruction for the cables, which is split over two different pages.  Not the smartest pattern design.

Second quirk is the shoulder shaping. The shoulder shaping is done primarily by binding off stitches at the top of each shoulder.  That's fine in and of itself, but it makes if very difficult to convert to in-the-round knitting (which would be far and above my preference).  and, because of the stepped shoulder shaping, it's going to be a pain-in-the-behind to seam.  There are a few mods that will help the seaming be easier, but again, that requires you to be comfortable modding a pattern.

That said, it's working out to be absolutely gorgeous, and the actual knitting isn't difficult, so long as you're comfortable with cables!  I do strongly suggest a cable needle; I've found that since there are a few 7-stitch cables in the pattern, they're just too bulky to be done without a cable needle, at least for me.

A peice of knitting laying flat, still live on a circular needle.  There's a large central cable motif and two smaller cables on either side.  The knitting is done in a tonal yarn that varies between emerald green and almost black. Alright now. Since this supposed to be more then just a pattern review, lets show you folks where I'm at!  I'm currently working my way up the back of the sweater, and am just before the cast-offs for the armholes.   I've given in to the pattern and decided that yes, I will have to seam it, even though I'm not looking forward to it. But, working it in pieces helps keep it from being too bulky on the needles -- it's rather heavy as it is, so I think the full sweater on circulars would be uncomfortably heavy.

The progress keeper in the centre is exactly that -- it marks my progress each day!  I've found that sometimes, when I'm sticking to one project for a deadline, it's hard to keep my motivation, since it's hard to see my progress. Each day, I set the progress keeper to my first row.  So I can always see that I've done some work.  It really helps with motivation, especially on bigger projects.

Needles are my Hiya  Hiya 4.5 mm needles, with the *24-inch cord, I believe.

Yarn is the now-discontinued Dream in Color Groovy, in "Emerald Darkness."  It's a bulky-weight 100% Superwash Merino. Luckily, Dream in Colour has replaced Groovy with Mammoth, which is very similar, and is currently (as of Sept 20, 2017), on sale at *Eat.Sleep.Knit!

That's about it for this WIP Wed. It was a longer post, with my feedback on the pattern, so thanks for your patience!  The TLDR (too long, didn't read!) version is that it's not a horrible pattern, it's just an awkwardly written one.  If you're comfortable knowing how to keep pattern continuity while shaping, and knowing what decreases/increases to use when they're not specified, then you shouldn't have too much trouble, though I would suggest re-writing the cable chart to a single page!  The result, so far, has been worth the aggravation.

Until next Wednesday, folks!

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