Durrow Sweater, Reimagined

My dear partner Lion has spent two Christmases with me (since we met shortly after Christmas 2009), and both times I’ve given him skeins of yarn and a pattern picture. Because, well, how am I to surprise him with a knitted gift when my knitting time is almost exclusively when we’re watching movies and TV together? To give myself a little credit, though, he’s gotten two surprise hats for two birthdays–I can manage some knitting out of his sight!

For Christmas 2010 I gave him beautiful 100% Alpaca wool from Misti Alpaca, Tonos Worsted in a color called impossiblue.

Look at the beauty!

I’ve been slowly introducing new colors into my love’s wardrobe, and find it works well if they are mixed with black, his very favorite! With the yarn I gave the Lion a picture of the Durrow pattern from Knotions online magazine.

The body knitted up like a dream, in a simple 2×4 rib. I did decide early on to knit the sweater in the round, as I dislike seaming, and I like the evenness one gets from a pullover knitted in the round. The calculation for the body was easy, just lopping off 2 stiches on either side for a total of 4 fewer stitches cast on. I believe I had to choose to cast on 6 fewer, though, owing to the pattern being a 6-stitch repeat. I did the same calculation with the sleeves.

I don’t contribute nearly enough to Ravelry (or Pattern Review, for that matter), but I’m planning to post this there as well and start turning that trend around. Anyhow, I’ll be forever grateful to Ravelry folk for the many reviews of this pattern they’ve posted, as well as options for adapting it. Before I got to the point of knitting the second sleeve (and had stopped the first sleeve at the third repeat of the center cable chart), I had decided to go with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Hybrid Sweater for the yoke and shoulders, given the reports that the pattern as printed led to a very wide, almost boat neck. That wouldn’t suit the Lion at all. I needed help calculating how to pull it all together at the top anyhow, since I was knitting in the round. Last, I decided to knit the second sleeve with a mirror-image cabling patternfor better symmetry.

I'm proud of that Kitchener join!
The whole shebang!

The irony of all this? It’s only the second sweater I’ve knitted, at all. The first one I did straight from the pattern, no alterations, and I wound up with something that I like to some degree, but it doesn’t fit me the way I’d like it to. I guess that’s what emboldened me to all the amendment of this pattern. Anyhow, it was an adventure, all right!

My love was abroad for 3 months this summer, and I’d finished sleeve #1 before he left, and finished #2 while he was gone. Sadly, #2 seemed to be at a larger gauge than #1, and the pattern was off . . . I can’t quite remember what I ascertained the problem was, but I opted for frogging #2 and reknitting it. Wouldn’t you know, when I finished #3, my Lion was already back home, and, well, the two STILL weren’t the same! I had to admit that the gauge of #1 was not going to be repeatable, so I frogged that one and started in on #4.

Number 3 or 4

The months crawled on, and I worked and worked to try to finish Christmas 2010 before Christmas 2011 came around. When I started the decrease for the shoulders, I got somewhat confused and it seemed I was nipping stitches from the sleeves, not the body. As I was planning to work the cable pattern up onto the shoulders, I had to frog that and start over. Then things stabilized, and I even got the Kitchener stitch join of the two horizontal back-yoke pieces looking pretty great.

As it happens, I just missed the mark, putting the finishing touches on the neck band on December 29th, I believe. And there were adjustments to make from that point too. The neck was a little tight, so I frogged it and redid it without the very small decrease I’d done to tighten it up a bit. Then, Uh OH! It turns out that the hybridization of Durrow with the Hybrid meant I should not have knitted the last of the Chart B repeats on the sleeves–they were far too long, as they connected with the sweater in a different manner than I’d expected.

Here you can see the cuffs are 1/2 stitch off.

So that was the last, somewhat terrifying act of amendment to this sweater to make it fit well: I painstakingly unraveled the sleeve cuffs, backwards, losing all of Chart A of my cabling in the process, and knitted new cuffs onto the sleeves. Because I was knitting them in the opposite direction as they’d originally been knit, the cuffs are now 1/2 a stitch off, but this is not very noticeable at all.

Since alpaca is said to be weak, I blocked the sweater by spritzing it with a spray bottle, and left it on the floor of my office (on top of a fluffy towel) over the weekend to dry. I expected to have to flip it and find another office to hide it in for another couple of days, but on Monday morning, it was all dry and looked great! Oh, and for those of you who asked themselves just now “Why the office?” it’s because there’s no place to block things at home that are safe from our little Ocelot. And I didn’t want to discover what a kitten can do to alpaca while it dries.

The Lion and I are both very happy with this sweater.