Usually, I’m pretty happy when I finish a project. Casting off is such a rush. Blocking and weaving in the ends–while tedious in the moment–gives such a sense of accomplishment. And in that initial euphoria, I think I’m always predisposed to (temporarily) overlook a FO’s faults and declare it an unmitigated success. And usually, the longer a piece has been finished, all sorts of little faults present themselves (which is as it should be — I love learning from projects and figuring out how to improve). The love cools to a more reasonable like.
But friends, I think Vatsland is going to be different.
I seriously can’t remember a time I was this happy with a finished object. Every time I put it on, I do a happy dance. And I mean that literally, not figuratively.
If you’re a regular reader of this space, you’ll know that I fell hard for Ella Gordon’s design basically from the moment it was released. I tried to resist it’s siren call, but failed miserably. Within two weeks of seeing the the pattern, I’d bought some gorgeous Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn from Wollhaus. I rationalized it by taking stock of all the yarn I had to see my through until I’m reunited with my belongings (read: yarn) sometime in September, and noticing that the majority of it was fingering weight. I needed a project with some instant gratification, I reasoned.
And this is by far the speediest sweater I’ve knit in recent memory. I cast on June 29 and finished this past weekend. So well under a month, and I wasn’t knitting on it completely monogamously. I started by knitting the sleeves (to get them out of the way) and then moved onto the body, with its addictive simpe lace.
Despite finishing this relatively quickly, there were some speed bumps along the way. The pattern is well-written, clear. and straightforward. But though I did take a halfhearted gauge (I blocked my first sleeve after I’d knit a few inches, realized my stitch gauge was off and dropped down a needle size), I didn’t look at all at my row gauge, which I usually don’t pay much attention to — lesson learned! I realized with alarm when I was maybe two-thirds through the yoke that something was desperately wrong. The yoke–supposed to be nearly done–only made it a little over halfway up my shoulder due to my much smaller row gauge.
At this point, I nearly despaired (well, that’s a strong word, but you know what I mean). I figured I’d have to rip the whole yoke back and restart it, decreasing at a slower rate than the pattern suggested. And then a lovely Ravelry friend saved the day! Alix is a super talented knitter (she was one of Fruity Knitting’s Knitters of the World!) and one of my fellow moderators over in the AC Knitwear Ravelry group. She’d just finished a lovely Vatsland and modified the yoke, so following her helpful project notes and asking her a few questions, I was able to make similar modifications. I’ll spare you all the details (they’re on my project page, along with details of yarn colorways, needle size, etc.), but basically I slowed the rate of increases right down for the last of the called for decreases, and then put some front neck stitches on hold while I continued to decrease the yoke at an even slower rate to add more length to the yoke while keeping a slightly dipped neckline (and again, all the credit for this goes to Alix–I completely followed her suggestions). No ripping + a yoke that fits was a very big win. In fact, I think I love the sweater more having modified it. Even though I followed instructions from someone else, it was really liberating to go off pattern!
I also decided to swap out the garter neckband for an icord bind off at the neck. My Rocquaine sweater was finished this way, and I really like the slightly mod look of icord.
I think this sweater is going to get a lot of wear this fall. It’s a silhouette I’m drawn to when I buy commercially knit sweaters — slightly boxy, but not too giant. And I’m a big fan of the 3/4-length sleeves, especially for handknit sweaters in heavier weight yarns. I like not worrying that a heavy sleeve is going to trail through my food, or not having to struggle to push up bulky sleeves while I work. And I’m actually happier with my modified neckline — I love a nice boatneck in theory, but in practice, I find the back of my neck gets cold, or straps of my bra or undershirt always come poking out.
And the yarn. Oh the yarn. I’ve knit one other sweater out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter — I finished it just before I started this blog. I liked it a lot, but didn’t have a super strong reaction to the fabric of the Shelter. That yarn was from one of the verrrry early batches (I bought it at Fibre Space in Alexandria, Virginia, within a few months of the yarn being released, if memory serves!) so it’s possible the yarn is actually slightly different now. Or maybe it’s a difference in gauge. Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised in the transformation of the knitted fabric post-blocking. I enjoyed knitting with the yarn and the fabric that resulted, but after blocking, it transformed into something unbelievably light and soft, while still feeling sturdy. It’s super lightweight for being a worsted-weight garment. So light and breathable, in fact, that I didn’t break a sweat wearing it while we were taking photos the other evening, despite the fact that it was still in the high 70s F (around 25 C — I’m practicing for when I get to the UK). But I also have no doubt that the lofty fabric will do a great job of trapping heat and keeping me toasty this fall and winter!
So, final verdict: I love the sweater, and I’ve actually contemplated knitting a second one, something I never do! If I were, I’d possibly add an extra lace repeat to the body (partly because it was so fun to knit, and because I wouldn’t mind a teeny bit more length on the body). I’d probably do some things to compensate for my compressed row gauge sooner — add some plain rows in the yoke before I began the decreases, and decrease it at a slower rate throughout. And I’d probably do a similar trick for the neckline, given how much I like it. But before I think about another Vatsland, I have another BT sweater waiting in the wings — I’m hoping to restart my Stasis (a very long suffering UFO), knit in BT Loft, in the not too distant future, which I’ll be knitting along with Kate from Rosalind Craft Supplies!
If you want a quick, satisfying knit that will give you a great sweater for this fall, I highly recommend the Vatsland Jumper!