The Loop Knitting Shop in London has recently been hosting a “Knit Along” with the task to knit the lovely sweater “Sous Sous” (designed by Norah Gaughan) until May 1st. Well, I’m a little late (actually 2.5 months too late, finished July 18), but quite proud nevertheless as it was a real challenge for me – both because of the pattern construction itself as well as for this being my first garment knit from an english pattern.
If you want to knit this pattern now, I can recommend the corresponding discussion group on Ravelry and the helpful blog post by Loop for a start. Hopefully my notes here and on Ravelry might be of help to someone as well – or ask me directly if you have similar problems to those I had while knitting this thing.
Overview of Yarn Choice, Prework, Errata and Modifications (click on the links, explanations are below)
>> Yarn Choice: Madeline Tosh DK
>> Prework: Getting Gauge, Needle Size, Sweater Size
>> Pattern Errata
>> Modification: Knitting K1tbls as p1tbls instead of p1s
>> Problems with Shaping the Shoulders
>> Problems with Shaping of Neck and Stitch Count
>> Other Modifications: Pattern Repeats, Sleeves
Yarn Choice: Madeline Tosh DK in “Calligraphy”
I chose to use Madelinetosh DK in colorway Calligraphy, a beautiful plied DK merino yarn (very stretchy too as long as it’s not blocked). The color is kind of a pale shell pink with grey and taupe. After having finished this sweater, I would not use DK yarn again though for this project. Considered that it’s an oversize jumper and considered you have Size L normally (as I do), DK yarn adds too much additional “bulk” to a feminine shape – in my opinion. In a fingering weight yarn, the sweater should have much more drape and “flow”. I also used up all seven skeins I had because I knit longer sleeves (see modifications notes below).
I swatched in the recommended pattern (double moss stitch) and tried desperately to get gauge but this didn’t really work out. I counted 18sts (10cm/4in) for all needle sizes I tried, which were (from the bottom on the picture): 4.5mm/US 7, 4mm/US 6, 3.5mm/US 4 and the last top rows in 3mm/US 2.5.
At first I didn’t block the swatch, but liked needle 3.5mm/US 4 most because knitting the pattern stitch with it was most comfortable and the tension of the fabric seemed to be alright, though it was very stretchy anyway. Couldn’t see much difference visually though between the different needle sizes. But the largest needle (4.5mm/ US 7) produced a veeery loose fabric (and I’m normally knitting very tight), while needle 3mm/ US 2.5 had too tiny stitches and the fabric felt like a brick. :)
After a few more days considering (and some advice from other Ravelry knitters), I decided to wet block my swatch (using Soak wash).
The fabric visibly “relaxed”, but lost also nearly all of its former stretchiness and stitch count is even further off than before (18st with 3mm/US 2.5 and 17 st. with 3.5mm/US 4).
For your convenience: There are two pattern errata/additions noted at the KAL-thread, which I want to repeat here, as you might not see them:
- CHART UPDATE: Row 13, stitch 37 should be worked as k1tbl.
- NECK EXTENSION UPDATE: Next row (WS): RH side; Patt to last 4 sts and place the 56 (66, 78) sts just worked on a holder. LH side; Place all sts on holder. Continue on 4 sts for RH neck extension.
After starting to knit, I wondered, why the K1tbl (RS) in the pattern should be knit as “normal” purl stitches in the WS rows and not as P1tbl. I know from a different pattern that normally the K1tbl are combined with their counterpart P1tbl and form a lovely “wheat” pattern this way. I noticed that when I just purl those stitches in the back rows, my stitches get much more “irregular” and bumpy as when I knit P1tbl in WS.
The picture to the right should make clearer what I mean. The top (blue) lines show when I switched to p1tbl in the WS rows, the (red) bottom lines show when I knit p1 in the WS. Well… looks both kind of bumpy. Guess it’s also my knitting “style”. ;)
“Because I like the way it looks, twisted every other row. Frankly, I also like that it is easier to do. :)”
I agree that it might be easier, but my knitting looks very bumpy doing this, so I stuck to my “k1tbl (RS)/ p1tbl (WS)”-approach. After having posted the picture above on Ravelry, the designer suspected that my bumpy knitting is due to the different yarn I’m using. The pattern calls for MadelineTosh Merino and I’m using MadelineTosh Merino DK, which is a plied yarn in contrast to the single-ply version “Merino” by MadTosh.
As noted above, the construction of this sweater was a real challenge for me. So I was a frequent participant in the discussion thread of this KAL on Ravelry, where I also found a very helpful comment by user knittingtastic on shaping the shoulders:
“So, for size 1 you work 8 repeats followed by rows 1-14, then work 20 rows of shoulder shaping. The cable chart is 16 rows, so you have now worked 10 repeats of the cable chart plus 2 rows as shown. You then cast off the neck stitches thus ending the cable panel.”
Problems with shaping of neck (front part) and stitch count
I reached the point where I just had 68 sts (for size S) left on each side of the neck, and where I needed to knit the next 3 rows “Patt to end” plus the 4th row as dec row. Then the pattern instructions said “1 st dec each side” so after repeating those 4 rows further 7 times (as instructed) I would end up with 60 sts each side of the neck.
So far this made sense to me, but… I wondered if I would need to continue the “k2tog”/”ssk” RS-decrease at the borders while knitting the 3 rows “patt to end”. Because doing this, wouldn’t the decreases go too fast? Or should I knit the borders without this decrease, so just doing the decrease in the 4th row on WS? But then it wouldn’t be “pattern to end”??
Result: Well, I tried both: without decreases at the borders (as established in pattern), the stitch count doesn’t change at all, I guess because of the yarn-overs. So keep knitting the established pattern and all will be fine.
Somehow I ended up with one more pattern repeat more on the front – but more by mistake, as I really have no idea, why. In my memory, I always knit exactly after the pattern instructions. Anyhow, it didn’t matter much, it actually helped to make the front part a tiny bit longer, which I quite like.
I also knitted the sleeves separately without picking up any stitches and lengthened them to 30cm (11.8 in) instead of just 19cm (7.5 in) as in the pattern. As the shape of this sweater is oversized anyway, I knit size S for not getting a too large sweater – which was perfect for me (170cm/67 in, Size L), but on the other hand, the sleeves upper arm circumference in S was too small for me (pattern: 34 cm / 13 1⁄2 in), so I wet-blocked the sleeves very hard for more width before sewing them to the sweater.
This sweater is very lovely, but I had just too much figuring out to do, and though the knitting itself is quite easy (even as a not very experienced knitter like me), the construction gave me quite a headache. Others reported the pattern to be very easy though, so I’m quite sure, it’s just my lack of experience with english patterns, so my experiences shouldn’t discourage anyone to take up this project. And feel free to ask me directly here via comment, email or on Ravelry (username sunnyi) if you encounter similar problems or have questions that are related to mine, I’m happy to help.