Current projects: Toulouse Pullover
I went yarn shopping recently because my husband needed yarn. He ended up not getting any yarn, because the color he wanted had been discontinued. However, I was somewhat in the market for yarn as well. I had decided to start a winter sweater because I have a zero track record of finishing projects at the proper time of year to wear them, and I hoped that if I started I would finish when the temperatures were cooler. This is despite the fact that I would be making a winter sweater during the hottest part of the summer in New Orleans.
I ended up ordering yarn for the Birchbark Pullover because my local yarn shop, Bornside Yarns, did not have a sufficient quantity of the Plymouth Jeannee Worsted in the color which I finally selected after much hemming and hawing over which color would be flattering on me and would coordinate with dark denim. However, I wanted the instant gratification of bringing yarn home and casting on a new project. Which I wasn’t going to get with the Jeannee that I had to wait a whole week or two for. And I had fallen in love with the Toulouse Pullover as much as the Birchbark, because of the bow at the neck. So when the Berroco Ultra Alpaca in the ruby mix color caught my eye, and I was told it would work for the Toulouse Pullover, I was sold. My husband has used Ultra Alpaca before and has been pleased with it.
After returning home from the Saturday morning yarn shopping excursion, I enlisted the husband to help wind one skein of Ultra Alpaca into a ball. At first I followed the pattern as written. I decided to make the size 37 1/2 since my bust measurement is approximately a 38. I figured that with the bust measurement being right on the measurement for the pattern, it would be more fitted the way I wanted. The sweater is shown on the model with a good bit of positive ease, almost like a sweatshirt, but the Ultra Alpaca is quite lovely and I was hoping for a more sophisticated look for my sweater. I very quickly liked the color and feel of the yarn as I knitted it.
The pattern starts out with the neck tie with 300 stitches. I wasn’t sure about the neck tie because so many of the other projects on Ravelry and even the sample project have neck ties that curl in and don’t look quite right to me. So I got about halfway through the neck tie and decided to modify it where I would do a provisional cast on (which I had not been successful with in the past), I would knit the neck tie in plain stockinette, and I would join either side up with kitchener stitch and knit the stitches in the middle section together where I would begin the body of the sweater. I enlisted the husband to wind yet another skein of Ultra Alpaca into a ball for me so I could keep the original project on the needles in case my modifications didn’t work out. I had better luck with the provision cast on by using a crochet onto needle technique, which was good news since I have two other projects way on the back burner which I have not been able to start due to issues with the provisional cast on. I did have to work out the first couple of stitches of the crochet chain, but after that I was able to pull out each crochet stitch one by one like I was supposed to and slip the knitting needle through the live stitch that was exposed. Hooray for pulling projects off the back burner, not to mention reducing the yarn stash which is cluttering up the back room.
I spent most of the following weekend attempting several methods of making the neck tie before going back to my original method with the provisional cast on. I did 40 rows of stockinette for the neck tie — 300 stitches, like I said — since the original neck tie was 20 rows worked flat and I was going to be doubling it. Although the neck tie is what I LOVE about the design, the novelty of knitting it wore off pretty quickly since a row of 300 stitches goes soooo slowly. Everything ended up matching up when I did the kitchener stitch on either end and knitted the middle section together. Although I ended up wishing I had remembered to place a stitch marker every 50 stitches as I cast on to help me keep track of everything. The next tie turned out a bit bulky, but better than having it curl up as far as I was concerned. It would be a possibility to do 20 rows of garter stitch if you want your tie to be flat without being bulky, if you don’t mind the look of garter stitch.
After trying the set up row as written, I went back and made another modification wherein I used M1R and M1L increases on either side of the stitch to the right of the stitch marker, which I thought would give a more sophisticated looking shoulder line. My jubilation at finishing the neck tie was short-lived, as the yoke proved to be equally slow going. 34 rounds with every other round gaining eight stitches. And even though everything is clearly marked I have a tendency to increase where I am not supposed to. It went a bit quicker once I put the sleeves on scrap yarn and started knitting straight around, but not as much as I expected.
Finally, three weeks in, on a Friday evening, I was ready to try the sweater on to see how it would fit around my bust. I came home from work in an excited mood. I slipped my project onto scrap yarn. I went into the bathroom where I could see the results in the full length mirror. I slipped off my top. I pulled the unfinished sweater over my head. The color was fabulous. The neck tie was fabulous. The feel of the yarn was fabulous.
But the sweater was too big.
The husband became aware of my distress. He took the excess sweater between his fingers and there were three or four inches.
I would have been cursing if I had possessed enough energy at the time . I spent my Friday evening frogging to the neckline when I had been hoping to keep knitting along. Fortunately the next size down calls for the neck tie to be the same. If I am still not happy with it once I get back to the point where I can try it on, I will have to start completely over including provisional cast on of almost 300 stitches and then 40 rows of stockinette for the neck tie, and grafting around 100 stitches on either side. The remainder of my weekend was spent playing catch up, when I was not baking cookies for the monthly Knit n’ Nosh, running — er, walking — the Saints kickoff race, or procrastinating on chores.
I determined that the Toulouse Pullover is designed with three to four inches of positive ease, once I determined that my gauge was accurate. And that the large amount of positive ease is described in the pattern profile. Sigh.
It’s not that I’m not enjoying this project. But with all the setbacks I feel like I should have been almost done with it and ready to move onto something new by now!