the suspender sweater

new sweater

What you need to know about the pattern:

The pattern, Suspender Sweater, is from Knit One Knit All (scroll down), the posthumous garter stitch frenzy book by Elizabeth Zimmermann.  I started this sweater over a year ago. Maggie was smaller then, but there were just a few adjustments needed to make it work with her current size without starting from scratch.  The pattern is written as a regular pattern (with regular directions like, “cast on…sts”) but also has all the information necessary to adjust for any gauge and any size. I figured out my gauge using Nature Spun Sport on size US 4 and went from there.

I experienced a lot of trouble with various aspects of this project, none of which were anyone’s fault but my own, I assure you. First I had trouble picking up stitches. Then I misunderstood the meaning of the word “center”. Next I knit the first sleeve too narrow and didn’t admit this until the sleeve was almost fully knit. After that I knit the second sleeve too long, and really there is no excuse for that sort of thing when you have the first sleeve (complete with easy-to-count stripes!) to compare it to. Finally, I had to unsew one of the woven (garter stitch kitchener) side seams and re-do it because apparently the direction in which you do that trick matters.

But from the very beginning of this project I pictured the finished sweater and thank goodness because that is a lot of roadblocks to overcome. I knew this sweater was going to be The Cutest. And finally this morning I saw the results of all that knitting, unknitting, reknitting, ad nauseum. It’s exactly as cute as I hoped it would be.

What you need to know about the pictures:

Maggie likes the sweater much more than she likes modeling the sweater for pictures. I really wish you could have heard the monologue she performed during our 10 minute photo shoot. It was a lot of “Wouldn’t it be good if we went on the tire swing?” and “I’ll be right back, I need to get my bird!” and “Let’s go over here!” and “I’ll put on this bonnet!” until I was exasperated and had to remind her that I was in charge of the pictures and please do what I say!

Maggie did her own styling, including props.

I took a bunch of pictures and a lot of them are posted here. There are even more in the Suspender Sweater set on flickr.

First, a picture of the underarm; the sleeve (top) is a sewn seam and the side (bottom) is the woven garter stitch. Details. They matter.

new sweater

And now the model, my Maggie.

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

One last picture. When I was ripping out the first sleeve Maggie drew me a surprisingly accurate schematic in order to help me get it right the next time. I was sort of blown away.

Maggie's surprisingly accurate schematic of the sweater I knit her.

I got it right, Mag! Finally!

Collared

Tomten, with collar

Maggie’s Tomten is getting a collar this time, not a hood like last time. You can’t really tell but the collar is done, and the very next thing I will do is start the first sleeve!

I’m knitting this from the pattern that appears in The Opinionated Knitter. The yarn is Cascade Ecological Wool and on a US 8 needle it’s knitting up at 4 sts/inch. Therefore, I am following the pattern almost exactly as it appears in the book. The finished size should be about 27″ and Maggie’s actual measurement is 22″, allowing for positive ease and room for growing.

I’m following the cast on numbers, but I have have made a few small modifications. My pockets are 18 sts wide (the pattern says 14; I wanted them bigger). Also, as the pockets are wider, I needed to make them longer, too. The pockets are 15 ridges, and I inserted them at 22 ridges. I made the body longer by 8 ridges to accommodate my growing girl. I always say that she has a long torso, but I really have no idea if this is true or not. It seems as if she has a long torso so I made the sweater longer. I also calculated how long the sweater would be if I followed the pattern, measured Maggie from her shoulder to her waist, and decided two more inches would be perfect.

EZ directs you to cast off the underarm stitches, but Meg’s note on the page says she leaves them on a thread and incorporates them as she knits the sleeves. That’s what I’m going to do.

You can see the red yarn that I’m using to hold stitches; I think I will use that color for an i-cord edging and to finish the pockets. I really can’t wait to finish this and try it on Maggie. It’s such a cute sweater. I am perpetually amazed by the genius of Elizabeth Zimmermann. Garter stitch FTW.

Graveyard Socks

On any given day of the week, you might hear me saying the following:

  • I love wool.
  • I love garter stitch.
  • I love colorwork.

If I had to choose a favorite, I would be at a loss. I equally enjoy all three of those things. When it came time to design my new pattern, I was able to combine all three loves and the result is balanced, simple, and wearable (another three things I love in knitting).

Graveyard Socks

The pattern is Graveyard Socks, and the idea came about when I read about the Socks Revived Contest on the Exercise Before Knitting blog. This is my entry for the contest.

Knit from the cuff down, and combining elements of colorwork, plain stockinette stitch and a reinforced garter stitch heel, the socks are a good balance of “I need to pay attention to the chart right now” and “All I want to do is watch TV while I knit”.

The decidedly macabre motif was scribbled on graph paper, then transferred to my charting software while Jerry was watching over my shoulder. It came time to save the file, and I mumbled something about needed a name for the socks. Jerry, who is 7, noticed the similarity of the chart to a graveyard, and the name of the socks was born.

graveyard socks

The heels are knit using garter stitch short rows, and two strands of the yarn are held together for extra reinforcement. If you’re worried about garter stitch ridges digging into the bottom of your feet, I urge you to try this technique. The stretchy nature of garter stitch makes for a very comfortable heel.

The toes are French (or at least that’s what Nancy Bush says). There are three lines of decreases, rather than the usual two, and the stitches are gathered at the end instead of woven.  It was the first time I tried this toe shaping, and I really liked it!

graveyard socks

My foot model, as usual, was Lisa (here and here, her new education technology blog). I can’t thank her enough for helping me with the photo shoot. I had her climbing under the picnic table (not easy!) and taking directions like: “Try to look more dead.” (see first photo) Thank you, Lisa!

Graveyard Socks – $6

Yarn: Nature Spun Sport
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm)
Gauge: 8 sts = 1″ (2.5 cm)
For more specific information please visit the Graveyard Socks page, or the Ravelry page for Graveyard Socks.

You can find more pictures in the Graveyard Socks Flickr Set.

As always, thank you for supporting my designs!!

Graveyard Socks