FO: Cowl Sweater
This weekend I finished the Cowl Sweater! As I mentioned before, this wool has been through the gauntlet, and after 5 years on the needles it is finally a sweater. The Cowl Sweater is a blend of Kate Gilbert’s Wisteria and Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s Idlewood, more heavy on the Idlewood. I was looking for something long, warm and cozy, so I took the basic top-down, cowl tunic structure of Idewood and then added the cables used in Wisteria to give it a little bit of visual interest.
For the wool I used 18.69 balls (I just got a digital scale. Believe it or not, this pullover weighs in at 934 g. Nearly a kg… and for you imperialists out there, 2.2lbs.) of Berroco Blackstone Tweed Chunky yarn in 6602 colourway, which is sort of a tan tinted, grey tweed.
I’ll give you my thoughts from top to bottom, keeping in mind that I have been knitting this sweater for 4 or more years and am rather sick of it:
- Hood: If I had to do it again, I would make it longer, I wouldn’t make it a straight forward cowl, and I wouldn’t make it seamless. There is not enough structure in the neck, and the front of the cowl is a little too high when the hood is up for it to show off the cabling. As you can see in the photos, it looks a little jowly in the front. If I could go back, I would have short rowed the whole hood, making the front only long enough for the cabling and the back much more bulky. Probably would have saved on yarn and weight also. In the end, I used a crochet chain along the inside of the neckline picking up the first, second and fourth stitches, then repeating (as I wanted the neck gathered slightly – every other purl bump was too tight).
- Hood Strings: I also set in hood strings (which have no function other than beauty as they are set in with a few crochet stitches on the front of the neck.) They visually balance out the cables with the plain-ness of the long torso. Also, if you are going to do this, remember to place the strings so they drape over the breast, rather than close to the middle (I had to undo one because it looks very silly coming from the middle.)
- Sleeves: The sleeves are raglan, and in the Idlewood pattern are short, and those in Wisteria are long. I tried the short sleeve look, but with the bulk and the cable of the sweater, it looked unfinished (plus, my arms would be cold.) So, I made a 3/4 length sleeve, hoping to make some cute arm warmers to finish the look… but without arm warmers, the arms just looked too short. Long sleeves it is! Spent waaaay too much time ripping out and rekniting. Also, I knit the sleeve cables according to the ‘bottom cable’ chart in the sweater. This makes a natural flared sleeve, and I just kept on going with the cable until the cables came together at the back of the sleeve. (I had originally started knitting the cable up higher to continue with the cable for a longer period of time, but I couldn’t make the stitch count work, and that meant that the flare would end with a few inches of straight knitting).
- Under Arms: the underarms are a little loose, especially if I’m not wearing a bra. This is in part because of the structureless neckline, and once I realized I needed to give it some support it was too late to lengthen the sleeves (meaning I had already bound them off, and I wasn’t going to rip the goddamn things out again!) If I could go back, I would lengthen the sleeves just a touch… but wrist warmers help.
- Torso: If I had this to do over, I wouldn’t make it quite so long, as the finished length is more like a dress, which stands out a little too much in an outfit. I do like the waist shaping supplied by Idlewood.
- Cables: I finished all of the edges with a 3 stitch icord embellishment except for the hood because it didn’t really need it since it was the cast on edge … and I didn’t feel like picking up. We’ll see if I change my mind once everything is finished. (… I changed my mind. It looks much better with the icord bind off)
For its maiden voyage and photoshoot I wore a tank top beneath, skin hugging Volcom jeans and tall, chunky, brown boots. I am curious about wearing it like a dress, but that will take a bit of shopping for the right tights, and perhaps knitting some boot liners to go with. It was warm enough for this (West Coast) February day as long as I was moving about. The yarn was soft enough on my skin to wear indoors (usually I find wool kind of itchy when I’m warm). I was a little surprised that, despite being out in the park and in several stores, nobody commented on it.
Part of that might have been my own confidence in the thing. Over the length of time I knitted with this yarn I realized that the colour of the yarn isn’t perfect for my skin tone. In the future I would ask to see the yarn in natural light, and maybe bring a small mirror for a purchase this big. I’m also not sure the pattern is really my style anymore, but I guess that’s what I get for parking a project in my basket for so many years!
Overall, it is an incredibly functional sweater, but it would be a better fit for someone who is a little shorter, bustier and wider than me. Looking at the pictures, I do really like it! So, maybe with a little time-out in my cupboard (till next winter?!) I’ll be more enthusiastic.