Sweater Knitting: Working With Cotton

One of the things people said to me when I initially did colorwork with cotton was that it was really difficult. I think I picked a perfect first cotton colorwork project with Tecumseh because the fit was oversized so I didn’t have to worry that it wouldn’t give. Now with a more intricate pattern and me wanting to achieve a closer fit I can see where some might say it’s difficult. But I’ve figured out how to adjust and wanted to share what I’ve learned.
Cotton yarn doesn’t have the same kind of stretch or blossom when blocked that wool does. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely changes and expands but in a different way. For the Guthrie sweater I decided to knit a size medium, it’s closet to my natural bust size and I didn’t want a lot of ease. I got gauge with size 5 needles and after doing the yoke I realized it was going to be super fitted and not give it I kept going. So what did I to do adjust?
I went up a needle size! I wanted to make sure this was going to be able to go over my chest with ease and that I wouldn’t be sausaged in and now it does! I also know with a little blocking it will ease up a bit but the goal is to have a more fitted tee with elbow length sleeves (I’m hoping it will pair nicely with a lovely green pleated skirt I have) that’s perfect for spring, summer and fall.

So don’t let cotton intimidate you, figure out ways to make it work for you and the pattern you’re working on. Anyone else want to offer any tips for knitting with cotton?


Sweater Knitting: The Process

In July of 2015 I bought this sweater quantity (1400 yards) of Madelinetosh Vintage in the colorway Kilim on sale. It is gorgeous. Pictures don’t do it justice to all the flecks of color in this dusty pink yarn. I love it.
But the yarn was so gorgeous that I kept trying to find the perfect sweater to make with it but couldn’t find anything good enough for it. I was at the beginning of my sweater knitting craze in 2015 so my skills weren’t where they are currently so I just kept looking lovingly at that yarn in it’s drawer. And this summer I’ve been trying to dig through my stash (and actually document it on Ravelry) and really use up a lot of what I have in order to move on and buy more yarn. Plus I know I love how good Madelinetosh feels and I wanted to knit with it. So I decided it was time to pull out the insanely gorgeous yarn and just make something as part of my Summer of Basics Makealong projects.
On Friday night while my husband and I have pizza and watch a movie I finished off another little dress for a baby girl and then decided to swatch the yarn for the next project.
I decided to use size 9 needles, they’re my favorite. They’re not too small and not too big. Pre-blocking my swatch was 5 stitches per inch and post-blocking and drying it worked it’s way down to 4 stitches per inch. The magic of blocking folks. It truly changes your yarn.
Saturday morning I got up and looked at my blocked swatch and decided to go ahead and make myself a very basic raglan sweater. I’m going for simple stockinette stitch because the yarn really does speak for itself, garter stitch bands and a shawl collar. I did add a little faux side seam because why not? And I’m considering picking up stitches and doing some patch pockets and perhaps adding elbow patches. I’m calling this one the Pink Professor because it seams like it would be a scholarly kind of knit plus I’m a professor. Although my classroom is always so hot I never wear my knits to lecture.
As of Tuesday night I’ve gotten 9 inches of body from the point of separating from the sleeves. My hope is that by Wednesday night I can finish the body and by Saturday finish the sleeves. So far it fits really nicely and I’m hoping once it’s blocked there will be a bit more ease to it. I want it to be like a nice boyfriend cardigan but I added in waist shaping because I didn’t want it to just be a big box on me. I thought I’d document this one via my Instagram stories because so many people say they don’t think I sleep and I just knit. And I thought it would be a good one for my Sweater Knitting Series on how I actually go through a sweater from swatching to blocking. And I promise and I sleep and don’t knit in my sleep. I’m in bed passed out every night by 10:30/11pm. I promise.
But Jellybean is also a tiny drill sergeant and makes me knit faster and faster so she has more warm yarn to burrow under. Perhaps that’s the secret to my success? So when it comes to really awesome yarn, how do you decide what to make with it?

Sweater Knitting: Picking Colors

I get two questions when it comes to my knitting: how do you knit that much and how do you come up with these color combos? It always tickles me that my knitting output and my color selection are the top questions but I’ve been asked so much recently about how I come up with these color combos I thought I’d talk about my inspiration behind some of my picks and share a few ideas I have for the future as part of my slow going Sweater Knitting Series.
Family Photos 1982
First, I should let you know that I’ve been color obsessed since I can remember. My mother dressed me in color and pattern all the time but at an early age I asked to pick out my clothes and had a strong opinion on what I wanted wear. I picked paint colors, wallpaper and carpet for my childhood bedrooms and my parents gave me a lot of creative freedom to pick what I liked regardless of how much they didn’t agree with my choices. I’m thankful they let me express myself. When it comes to picking color combinations it’s really just about what inspires me, what makes me happy and what I think is just fun. My husband (who has mid-range colorblindness) tells me that I clearly see a very vivid world. I agree with him.
So here’s a prime example of inspiration inspiring a color palette. This is a random picture of a sunrise I took one morning when I was walking the dogs. But within this I see a great color combo that is similar to…
Cracked Pepper Cardigan
My color combo from my Cracked Pepper cardigan! A lot of times I say to myself ‘I really should knit a neutral’ but in the end there’s always a POP of color because I can’t just do a full grey sweater. That isn’t fun to wear. And neon peach surprisingly goes well with lots of other colors. On the color wheel it’s opposite blue so I pair this sweater a lot with varying shades of blue.

Left to right: Lemonade Shop Sparkle DK in Girls Gone Wild, Madelinetosh Neon Peach, Hedgehodge Fibers Merino DK in Pucker and Madelinetosh Torchere

Currently I’ve been using the subtle colors and tones in yarns to create a color palette. This all started with wanting to pair the Madelinetosh Neon Peach with Torchere without really mixing in any neutrals. I’ve been thinking of a bold sweater for fall. Both of these initial yarns have ribbons of pink in them so I’ve added in a Lemonade Shop color pink that picks up the pink in the Neon Peach and a Hedgehodge Fibers color Pucker that pulls together the peach and the deeper pinks of Torchere. Now to ground this out I may actually use black for ribbing/bands since there are some black flecks in the lightest pink yarn but other than that it’s a color explosion of pink and orange. That’s how I come up with a color palette. I just see it in the subtle tones and stripes that vary in the color.
Striped saddle shoulder sweater
For me, the more colors and the brighter they are the more I love it. And that’s what really inspired my Saddle Shoulder Striped tee, it was just a lot of happy color. It’s a lot to some but to me this is perfection. Meanwhile others love how subtle the Cosette tee’s colorblocking looks.
Cosette final
This was just based on what colors in the entire palette of Pima 100 could I blend with the pink and purple I already had in my pile of leftovers. The heathered pink and blue make for great transitional colors to make this color spectrum work. But I also see making this top in a neutral like a pale grey or white and adding in a gorgeous green as the pop color. For me color is happiness. I pull at the little flecks of color in a yarn to find that color combo you wouldn’t expect. I use the underlying color to make contrasting color choices. But honestly, for the most part I just try to make it fun. So how do you go about choosing your colors?