That’s a Wrap

Hi friends! I thought I’d pop in with a quick post about my Incunabula Cardigan.  No, it’s not done …

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But I’ve knit the sleeve cap a few times and tried out different things with the short row shaping.  I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve written a more process-oriented post, and this cardigan has been a really good learning experience for me, so I thought I’d share my results.

I mentioned last week that I had some concerns about the back and armholes of this cardigan.  After doing a bit of measuring, I decided that the back panel was probably going to be wide enough.  I frogged around a half inch or inch on the fronts and backs to shorten the depth of the armhole. I then rejoined the fronts and backs with a three needle bind off, and set off on the armholes.

In the above picture, the sleeve caps on the cardi look just about identical. But there’s actually a crucial difference, very visible when the fabric is stretched (which it definitely is on my shoulders).

Top down set-in sleeves are shaped with short rows, and on the first sleeve cap, I picked up and knit the wraps as I came to them.

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I am not sure if this is what the pattern wanted me to do.  There weren’t specific instructions to pick them up as you came to them in the pattern text, but the instructions about the short rows in the back of the book that the pattern refers you to said to do it.  Regardless, this left me with really gape-y and distorted looking stitches, which was extra visible in the light colored yarn.  The picture doesn’t really do it justice — when it was on, it really stood out.

Unhappy with how my cap looked, I pulled Elizabeth Doherty’s Top Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Design off the shelf and referred back to Gudrun Johnston’s Islay Cardigan, which I knit two summers ago and has a similar sleeve style.  Doherty’s book and Gudrun’s pattern both suggested that short row wraps shouldn’t be picked up, and also described a more gradual shaping than Incunuabula.  Since I generally like the fit of my Islay, and the stitch counts for my Incunabula sleeve were the same, I decided to follow those instructions for the second sleeve armhole, but left the first one as it was so I could compare.  I’m so glad I did.

My second (un-photographed) attempt resulted in a much more gently shaped, flatter sleeve cap, that I imagine would suit a lot of people.  But when I tried it on and compared with my first attempt, I realized that the more dramatic shaping of the pattern was a much better fit for my broad and angular shoulders.

So now, I knew what to do.  I ripped back that second attempt, and, after using the pick up stitch method described by both Elizabeth Doherty and Gudrun Johnston, I followed the shaping instructions laid out by Incunabula, but left the wraps alone. Here’s the result:


No unsightly gaps or spaces!  And a lovely full sleeve cap that fits!

So the reading, tinkering, and reknitting has been worth it.  First, I’ll now always not knit the wraps on a short row sleeve.  Second, in the future I’ll be able to consider changing the pace of the shaping on a top down, set in sleeve to fit my particular shoulders.

Often, I get frustrated when I can’t zip through a project.  This cardigan has been a nice experiment for me in slower, more considered sweater knitting.  I had initially hoped to finish this by mid-May. But once that “deadline” passed, I stopped worrying so much about when this got finished and more focused on knitting something that fit me. This is really special yarn in a lot of ways, and I want something that I can enjoy and wear for a long time to come.  So if it takes an extra month to get it right, so be it. I’ve actually even found myself enjoying thinking about the modification and fit issues this cardigan has brought up.  (Although, all that being said, I would not be mad if I were able to finish this before I fly to the US next Thursday …. just because I don’t want to lose momentum on it while I’m away!  But we’ll see.)

Hope your week is ticking along nicely.  Back to dissertation revisions for me — but I do have a finished object to show you that I’m pretty excited about, just as soon as I can get some pictures of it.  Hopefully this weekend!

xo K


12 thoughts on “That’s a Wrap”

  1. That’s interesting about the short rows – which type of short row were you doing? My impulse would have been to pick them up too but there’s such a difference in the look. At any rate – it was worth the re-knitting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just regular wrap and turn short rows (they probably have a name, but I can’t think of it!). I was going to try the whole thing again with German short rows until I read Elizabeth Doherty’s book and saw that she said not to pick up the wraps, so I decided to try that first! I had forgotten that that’s what I’d done on the Islay cardi since I’d knit it a few years ago …


  2. I love the idea of taking your time to get something right and making sure you are happy and in love with it. So many times we get caught up in the rush of life and forget to stop and smell the roses. I hope you get it finished in time; however don’t stress if you don’t. I hope everything is going well with your dissertation! How much further do you have to go? Have a safe trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Paula! You’re exactly right. I didn’t finish it before I left, but that’s okay. It’s waiting for me when I get back, and I’m promising myself now that I will get it finished when I get back .. I don’t want it to move to the UFO pile! I just had an intermediate deadline for the dissertation last week, and I’ll get feedback, work some more, and submit the final in mid to late August, hoorah! So the end is in sight!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope I can remember to read your advice again or seek your expertise when I (eventually!) get to knit mine. Very glad it is now turning out well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a difference changing the pattern has made! It is frustrating when something that we think should be simple turns out to be far more complicated than we expected – but the rewards for getting it right are all the sweeter! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have to try such a sleeve; I admit I’m intimidated by its process. I feel sometimes a swatch isn’t fully accurate; I don’t know if your swatch told you differently which is why you were having this sleeve trouble? For example, my swatch for my Flax gave me a different number than when I had blocked it. I know I blocked the sweater more aggressively but not overly aggressive. I followed its natural stretch after it soaked for a half an hour.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My gauge wasn’t my issue here, just the technique but I totally no what you mean! Getting an accurate swatch is so hard — I know if you do your swatch flat but then knit part of the sweater in the round, that can affect the gauge. And gauge can change over the course of the project as you relax into the knitting or if you’re stressed when you’re working on part of it! It’s so complex! But luckily blocking can sort out a lot of issues on the other side!


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