I did it with:
- 4 hanks of Canadian Regal Grape from Schoolhouse Press (it's surprisingly inexpensive at $5.50 for about 4 ounces and 100% wool)
- 4 hanks of Canadian Regal Yellow
- Size 3 needles: My swatching was off by a bit from the recommended gauge, but with 2's it was FAR worse, and since I was off by something like 1 less stitch per 6 inches, I knew the body would be just an inch or two bigger, which I needed anyway, as the guy I'm knitting for has a chest a couple of inches bigger than the measurement they had for the sweater. I had one Clover 29" circular and five Crystal Palace DPs.
- Size E crochet hook.
- Darning needle.
- One of those magnetic row boards.
It ended up being 21" across the shoulders, 25" from shoulder to cuff, 29" from back of the neck to the bottom of the waistband, and 49" around. Yay! I ended up with plenty of yarn left over for finishing and then some, so having my gauge be a little off didn't really hurt me in this case and I ended up with something that fit him exactly.
These are of my husband, who really loves me as it was 80° in the house. The sweater had just dried from blocking, and I had to have him try it on as I was still uncertain that the sleeves were long enough. As you can see in the pictures, the sleeves were long enough. Whew. One odd thing about this sweater is that I never seem to be able to take just one picture of it as the front and back are so startlingly different.
Departures (or detours or imaginative interpretations) from the instructions in the book were many. Some were from Meg's style of writing, and I just had to decide and I'd never done a steek before so I was waffly, which is likely why I have more explanation here than some might need. Some were mildly aggravating, and some were just fun.
Casting On: She just says to cast it on and join without twist. I actually did a cable cast-on with the purple (on Number 4 needles), then did three links of chain up the body cuff, and tore it all out as the edge was curling, my gauge was WAY OFF and the purl-when-you-can, when I purled ALL that I could, the chains were bumping out in the middle. Kind of the reverse curl when there was too much purl in a concentrated spot. So I tore it all out and tried the two-tail cast-on with purple on 3's for the stitches and yellow for the anchor or thumb yarn. It looked kind of cool, the gauge was pretty close, but when I knit the first couple of rounds it curled AND it showed the yellow purl line in back, and... blah. So I pulled it all apart again. Then I went back and did the cable cast-on with purple, joined it and followed the color chart for the chains, but put two purl stitches in the center of each chain link, to keep the bump away. As you might remember, the bottom edge still curled a bit before blocking.
If I were to do the cast-on again, I'd do it like I did the cuffs. For the cuffs, I did the cable cast-on, but then I knit back across it with the first row of the color chart for the chain, purling the purple stitches. THEN I joined the beginning to the end, and went around and never put a purl on a purl stitch, but did put a purl on every knit stitch of the same color. This picture of the sleeves shows that the cuffs had nearly no curl at all.
The waist band chain: I didn't follow the color chart for the top of the chain. Instead, for the top three rows, I didn't add the beginning of a new chain link, and I did put the single speck between loops at the top. This is just like the pictures of Meg's FO. I liked her FO better than what the charts were saying, which was to just have an open chain loop at the top of the bottom panel. I then did one round where I only knitted in the background color, broke the contrasting color for the first half, and then broke the background color for the other side... i.e. I knitted the sun part across with just the yellow, breaking the purple. Then I broke the yellow and knit the moon side with just purple and rejoined the yellow when I got back to the sunside. This was to have that one row of just the background color between the waist band and main area. I did all of the same pattern on the sleeve cuffs.
The aggravating part is that the instructions deviated from the FO and when she mentions finished measurements I don't know if they're for the exact sweater that's in the instructions or the one in the pictures? So I couldn't really be sure if the four or five repeats of chain plus the different top (which had the extra row) was the way I really wanted to go to get the length she said, or if I should do the two repeats in the instructions and that would be the length, and there was a significant difference between the two of at least several inches.
I did the colorwork graphs for the main part of the body exactly as in the book and they were great. My only problem was that by changing the chain along the waistband, I was out of synch with the side chains. I ended up just drawing a red line at the edge of the chains and ignoring the graph. I also synched up the horizontals on the chains on both sides, (skipping a row of the chain on the end of the round right after the waistband, so that the chain edges matched exactly). But other than that, the graph for the sun and moon, itself, I followed bit by bit.
An interesting thing for me was that most of the loops and ovals and rays match on the front and back, though the stars and crosses and other points are different. There was enough similarity it made it far easier to knit, as it would be mostly the same right mirror left front, then right mirror left back. I LOVE that the back of the back has the same pattern as if the front had continued at the neckline. Look at the top of this picture of the sweater while it's drying from blocking.
The purple sleeve: I changed the purple sleeve partially because I had mostly used the purple yarn in my left hand, and it knits just enough looser that I realized by the time I was mostly done with the body, that I was using the purple faster than the yellow. Oops. So I wanted to substitute some of the yellow for the purple. Plus, ever since I'd seen this sweater I'd been thinking of Cole Porter's "Night and Day", so I got some knitting graph paper and using rusty calligraphy skills, did a rendition of "I think of you..." on the purple sleeve over about 15 rows, starting at the row with 100 stitches. I also put my initials and my husband's initials on the blank bit above the ellipses. So it's signed as well as quoted. I got the idea from Meg's Phoenix sweater, and thought it would be nice to have the quote on it as it was for my husband, anyway.
I also used DPs for the cuff and a little bit beyond that on both sleeves, but then I switched to one dp and the circular needle. The dp break of about 20-25 stitches allowed me to use the circular on the majority of the stitches, and I'd just use another dp to knit the dp stitches. I kept the increase stitches on the circular so as to not have to transfer off the dp at all. I did this trick at the armhole, too as the circular needle was too long to have the needles meet if I did the whole round with the circular needle.
I really didn't think the sleeve was long enough, but I'd never done a drop-shoulder sweater before, so I only did 1 1/2" at the bottom of the cuff where the pattern said anything from 1 to 2 inches and didn't change anything else. But I was sweating it by the time I had to cut the steeks. It didn't help that there wasn't really anything in the sleeve instructions about how long the sleeves would be if I had stuck with the 1" bit. So no real help on how long it might end up. I had to take it on faith and the knowledge that my husband's knuckles did not drag on the ground.
The neck steek: The red version of the sweater had quick notes, and Meg mentioned that she'd done the crocheted steek on it. So I read that, and since I really hate sewing on knitted cloth I thought I'd try it. Quickly, at first, on the neck steek. Since the neck steek was speckled, I just did the surface bind crochet exactly as it's in the book and it turned out great:
The cut edge: The cloth:
You can see the alternating colors on the cut edge there. It was such a small cut it wasn't traumatic at all, and I was impressed at how well it held together.
Armhole steeks: I tried the crochet steek on the armhole areas and ran into a snag. When one alternates the colors in a steek just for that purpose, there are no real carries in the back. The chain pattern along the sides had great big, honking 5 stitch carries on either side, and when I did the surface crochet steek, it was doing NOTHING to bind those carries. If I had cut it, I would have had dozens of five stitch long ends to weave in on the back, and I wasn't about to do that.
I thought about it and realized that what I really needed was for every crochet stitch to catch a strand of each color. So when the color of side of the cut column was different than the color of the anchor column I just crocheted them together, like with the speckled steek:
When they were the *same* color I went down to grab the strand of the other color from the back, like so:
Down into the anchor column:
Grab the strand:
Get the cut column side:
You might be able to see the purple loop on the left-hand side of that last picture, that's actually the carry strand from below. So when I pulled the chain through, I had three strands caught by the loop.
When I'd almost finished going up one side of the armhole, I thought I'd match the sleeve to the hole again, just in case, and I was glad I did:
The green marker was where I'd originally thought I should stop. So the crochet technique does add length to the armhole.
When I was done with my version of the crochet steek, the back looked like this:
It was easy to see that pretty much every strand was caught on both sides of the cut column. So then I cut:
And the edges were good and solid.
Good things about the instructions: The three-needle, two-edge, I-cord cast off was GREAT for the shoulder. Also picking up a stitch for EVERY row meant that there was a secondary binder for all the cut yarn. Just that much more insurance to keep it together. And the finishing details were fantastic. This is a picture of the finished shoulder:
I have never had a shoulder look that clean, pre-blocking.
I also used yellow to put the yellow sleeve on and yellow for the shoulders due to that imbalance I had between the yellow and purple yarn. I did put the purple sleeve on with the purple as then both sides matched and the sleeves merged, very nicely, with the body stitches. This was different than Meg's FO, as she finished it all with purple.
When my husband tried it on, pre-blocking, it was too small in the body and the sleeves, as I'd feared, were too short. I washed it and rinsed it five times, and then spun it in the washer for a bit and then blocked it on the carpet and tugged and pulled and then measured and was pleasantly surprised to find all the measurements I'd worried the most about were exceeded! Woo. So I made the body just a bit longer, narrowing it to the width I really wanted, and widened the sleeves just a bit to get the back to a reasonable length and when it dried, it fit my husband perfectly.
So, with this yarn and this pattern and my gauge, there was a LOT of extra room to be had in the blocking.
Whew. It's been quite the journey with this one, six months of work, but I really love the result. Now I just want cooler weather for me to be able to ... uhm... borrow it. *grin*