Today, I have a finished object to show you: Inishmeane, a gift for Mr. N, and the first sweater I’ve ever made him!
Though I tend to knit mostly for myself, I’ve knit many things for Mr. N over the years we’ve been together: hats, fingerless mitts, socks. And–aside from an unfortunate incident that involved him losing the first hat I made for him the day I gave it to him–Mr. N definitely falls firmly in the “knitworthy” category. His handknit socks, in particular, are in very constant rotation. If he’s wearing a handmade hat, he’ll proudly tell anyone who will listen that I made it. He takes a real interest in my knitting, so I’m generally happy to make things for him.
But a sweater — that’s a different kettle of fish, isn’t it? He’s been asking me for one for quite some time. And I would always, half in jest, tell him I couldn’t possibly knit him a sweater, citing the boyfriend sweater curse–which apparently even has its own Wikipedia page! (I know some of you think Mr. N and I are married, which is fine and a completely reasonable assumption! But we’re not, we’ve just been together for quite awhile!)
And in this way, for a long time, I successfully avoided knitting a giant man sweater, using the sweater curse as a good excuse. And maybe I partly believe in the sweater curse–in my university days, I overzealously knit my boyfriend a pullover, only for us to break up and to have to still see him wear it around campus (the nerve! on the flip side: at least it got worn!)
But near the end of last year, when Mr. N and I were about half way through our year of long distance commuting, I realized if I ever wanted to knit him a sweater and it be a surprise, this was my chance, given it would be much easier to hide my progress since we weren’t, you know, living together. So right after Christmas, I ordered the Fibre Company’s scrummy Arranmore yarn for an Inishmeane–which I’d actually featured here on Friday Favorites–banished any small superstitions about boyfriends and sweaters and curses, and resolved I’d try to finish the sweater in time for Mr. N and mine’s fifth anniversary, at the beginning of March.
And I almost made that deadline. I basically knit on it non-stop in the new year, with nary a peep here on the blog as Mr. N would have seen. By the time I was ready to fly to Los Angeles for our anniversary, I had the thing nearly done, save for some finishing details. See, even though the sweater looks virtually identical to the sample (well, I think it does at least!) I actually did some modifying to the pattern as written (more on that in a second). Unsure if modifications had worked, and also running short on time, I decided it was better to give it to Mr. N as a shell to try on for our anniversary. It fit, there was much rejoicing, and I promised him I’d finish it — which involved knitting and securing the button placket, weaving in the ends, and finding suitable buttons — very soon (can you guess where this is going?)
I had every intention of finishing it quickly, but it was hard to find it a particularly pressing task when I knew Mr. N wouldn’t be able to wear it anytime soon (tweedy wool and Los Angeles, it turns out, don’t really mix). So the sweater sat: first in my apartment in Philadelphia, then in our apartment in Los Angeles over the summer. Annoyed with myself for leaving the simple finishing so long, I picked it back up our last weekend in LA, only to still not quite finish. Finally, the Friday before we left for Yorkshire, I decided enough was enough and put on the finishing touches. So, in summary, it took me about three months to knit the bulk of this sweater, and then about six months to do the last few hours of work on it! I find I often fall down on the last finishing bits of the project — does that ever happen to you?
Delays aside, I am happy to report that, now that we’re in a climate that’s very well suited for woolly jumpers, Mr. N has been loving the sweater, as you can hopefully see from the pictures! He’s commented, especially, on its combination of warmth and breathability, a testament to the lofty character of the Arranmore yarn. It served him well while we were walking around Aysgarth Falls and the area around Hawes (the two places these photos were taken) in Yorkshire, and a good many days since then — so, I think it’s a success!
So I made quite a few modifications to the pattern as written. Some were really straightforward — like swapping out the folded hem of the sweater’s bottom band, cuffs, neck and button placket for 2×2 rib. I’m not a massive fan of the bulk of a folded hem, especially in a heavier weight yarn. And I couldn’t really imagine having all the extra folded fabric on your neck especially, so I decided to switch it up! That was an easy enough switch, as we adding a faux seam (two purl columns) along each side of the jumper to give it a bit more structure.
The thought of changing the construction of the yoke from partially seamed to completely seamless, on the other hand, caused my a lot of worry. The pattern had you knit the sleeves, cast them off (except for the cable panel, which got incorporated into the shoulder saddle) and then ultimately sew the sleeves into the finished sweater. I am not a fan of seaming sweaters, but I do understand that people have reasons for wanting to seam, that mostly have to do with adding structure, etc. But I wanted to avoid it if I could, so I turned to trusty Elizabeth Zimmerman to see what she said about saddles and between that, and following the numbers in the pattern, I knit the yoke seamlessly. I fully expected it to take several tries, but in the end, it was fairly simple and worked on the first go (though I’m struggling a bit to describe it now, this much later!)
So overall, I’m very pleased with the sweater and would definitely put it in the building-my-confidence-to-go-off-pattern category! The pattern was clear and straightforward. And I adored knitting with the Arranmore yarn. It’s 80% merino, with 10% cashmere and 10% silk. The nubbly tweed flecks in the yarn are gorgeous, and the resulting fabric is warm without being heavy, a product of the yarn being woolen spun, I think.
The points where the cables of the sleeves meet the saddle shoulder, perhaps, turned out ever so slightly more angular than they should have — but Mr. N’s quite broad shouldered, so I think it ultimately works. And despite all my measuring of a sweater of his I had, the sleeves came out a bit long — but they’re the perfect length when the ribbed cuff is turned up. And most importantly, Mr. N is happy with the sweater, so I am too:
And perhaps, in the end, all the delays were a good thing …. because between me showing Mr. N the almost finished article and sewing on the last button … we got engaged!
I couldn’t be happier! And now, no more worries about the sweater curse 😉
It happened awhile back, but now that we’ve set a date for next September, and I’ve already started planning a wedding shawl (more on that soon!), I decided it was high time to share! There won’t be tons of wedding chat in this space (so if that’s not your thing — don’t worry!) but I will, of course, share any wedding-related knitting 😀
So that about does it for me this evening! Thanks, as always, for spending a bit of your day with me — hope your week’s going well so far!