sampling the sweater sampler; part four, the big finish…

Happy Monday everyone! Sorry I left you hanging for a minute there. I had all intentions of posting the fourth and final entry in this series at the end of last week but Mother Nature had other plans. (AKA when you’re self employed and it’s 75 degrees and sunny on a Friday afternoon in February on the East Coast who can resist starting the weekend early?)

Anywhoo, to get back on topic, at the end of part three I had to put the sampler down for a bit. Literally, as it was time to knit an I-Cord to thread through the lacing round and a belt for the sweatshirt pocket, but also metaphorically because I ran out of the contrasting yarn needed to complete the cord and pocket and had to hunt down some bits of black worsted weight yarn leftover from an earlier knitting experiment. Not so surprisingly, it didn’t take long. So let’s get back to business.

The Knitted Belt: I’m guessing there are as many styles of knitted belts as there are non-knitted belts, but for the sampler you basically knit an I-Cord with extra stitches (and slip the extra stitches, purlwise) thus creating a firmer, wider, flatter, double sided I-Cord, if that makes any sense. And if it doesn’t, you should just try it for yourself. (PS: Does a kangaroo pocket actually need a belt? No. It does not. Conversely, does a sweater sampler benefit from having a belt as part of the exercise? Probably. And where else are you going to attach it? We will leave it at that.)

And, believe it or not, we have reached the bind off! Or, rather, bind offs; because we’re about to explore several. But first, another side note: as mentioned in a previous entry, the pattern calls for a set of double pointed needles in the same size as the circular needle, in this case size 7, which I do not have on hand. (And didn’t realize I needed until I was well into it.) Up until this point I used size 6 needles to complete these bits but decided to go with size 8 for the cast-off, mainly because I’m used to going up a needle size to bind off from previous sweater experiments. In retrospect, not my best idea, but it is what it is.

The Knitted Cord Cast-Off: As the name would imply, this cast-off mimics the look of a knitted cord grafted onto the edge. Which does make for a tidy, rounded edge. But it looks weird to me. Maybe it’s the fact it’s knit in a different color that’s throwing me off? Or the larger needle size? Either way, it’s a pretty simple technique; if you can make a knitted cord, you can do a knitted cord cast-off.

The Knitted Loop: This little extra certainly popped up in my life at the right time, as I was just trying to figure out how to add a loop to a potholder I’m knitting. My plan was to bind off as normal, pick up a few stitches in the bind off row near the corner, knit a small I-Cord using said picked up stitches and sew the end of the cord to the beginning to form a loop. This technique has you knitting the cord and attaching the loop as part of the bind off row itself. Which is kind of genius. I think I’ll try both out on my other project and see which looks better.

Lace Cast-Off: An interesting cast-off; which is more like a fancy edging since you create a whole new lace panel as you bind off the stitches. I have to admit, this looks weird to me too. Again, perhaps going up a needle size was not the best choice. Perhaps it would look better after blocking. Don’t know if I ever will block this, or bind off this way again, so the jury is out on the lace cast-off for now.

Cast Off In Ribbing: Now this is a bind off I can get behind. Like I said in our first entry, you really can’t go wrong with 2 x 2 ribbing; it looks good and is stretchy in all the right ways. So it’s not surprising the ribbed bind off adds a good looking, stretchy edge. Therefore I will amend my previous statement to say you really can’t go wrong with a 2 x 2 rib or a 2 x 2 ribbed cast-off.

The Initialed Hem: Yay, more colorwork. (I realize this reads as sarcasm but I’m actually getting into this whole two color knitting thing.) My stitches are still a little wonky but I feel like I’m getting better at it each time, which is certainly encouraging. I realized I made a couple of rookie mistakes in this segment: I forgot to slip the first stitch of every row and twist the yarns in order to carry both colors neatly up the side. But I’m still pretty pleased with myself. Unintentional bonus points: I even had the husband teach me how to use Excel to make a little blank grid to chart my initials.

(For the record, the grid being upside down is not a mistake. You’re supposed knit the letters this way as the panel then gets folded over and sewn to the inside. Also, I wanted to go the extra mile and chart it on the computer, with neat even dots and little numbers on the axis, but the program is on his computer and I’d already interrupted his work day enough so hand drawn dots it was / is.)

At this point all of the stitches are cast off but we’ve got one more step to go... 

The Afterthought Pocket: As the name would imply, this type of pocket can’t be attached until after a sweater is complete. And I’m not going to lie to you, I briefly considered skipping this part because I was petrified of the first two steps - cutting one leg of the center stitch and picking yarn out of 5 ½ stitches to the left and the right. (Um, there’s a half stitch now?) Fortunately, I was able to talk myself out of talking myself out of knitting the pocket and I’m so glad I did. Do you have any idea how many of my sweaters, handmade or otherwise, need pockets? The obvious answer being any and all of the ones that don’t already have one. However, since the non-handmade sweaters don’t come with leftover yarn to make pockets, we’ll stick to the ones I’ve knit.

And that, my friends, is how you knit a sweater sampler! Overall I’m really glad I decided to embark on this little journey. I got to practice some stuff I already knew, learned some new techniques and tried a whole bunch of things I wouldn’t have otherwise tried. (Some of which I’m itching to explore more.) I definitely feel like it boosted my knitting swagger / confidence, which alone makes it a worthwhile effort.

The only negative thing I would add is, I’m not a hundred percent pleased with the photos in this series. Photography is not my strongest suit (and the lighting in my house this time of year doesn’t help) but, much like colorwork and knitting Continental, I’m hoping to get better results the more I do it.

Thanks so much for following along! If you have any sweater knitting (or photo taking) tips or tricks you’d care to share, I'd love to hear them!

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