Deadline Knitting: The Big Sur Pullover

I’m not a fast knitter. That is, I’m reasonably speedy when I’m actually knitting, but finding the time is hard. So when I offered to knit Norah Gaughan’s Big Sur Pullover from Wool Studio Vol. II, I knew I was asking for it. But the brioche knitting was calling to me . . .

brioche knitting

I fell in love with this brown alpaca yarn.

Norah is hands-down one of my favorite designers, and the sweater is gorgeous. A big cozy drop-shoulder design, it’s knit in a variation of brioche, my current obsession. There is almost no shaping beyond a v-neck, and it has this awesome divided collar that I knew I just had to try. Everything looked super straightforward, so I figured I could get it done in record time.

Ha.

I’m one of those people who modifies practically everything I knit. Mostly it’s for fit, as I’m 5’ 1” even with good posture, and short-waisted as well. A drop-shoulder sweater seemed like an easy exercise, but in addition to shortening the sweater length, I needed to adjust the collar depth so it didn’t hit my navel. The cheater method for this, btw, is to simply divide for the v-neck at a higher point than the pattern calls for. I then worked fewer decreases when shaping the v-neck because I have narrow shoulders, the collar is roomy, and having a sweater fall off in the middle of a meeting is unseemly. So far so good, and since I was knitting less than the original pattern, I should get done even faster, right? Except I didn’t plan when I knit the back, so I needed to rip out and readjust the shoulders, so the front and back pieces would match.

For those of you who don’t knit a lot of brioche, it can be a beautiful heartbreaker of a stitch. All those yarnovers make a gorgeously squishy, textured fabric, but they also make a very short fabric, compared to the same stitch count in plain stockinette. I felt like I was knitting in a black hole at times. Please note, do not let this dissuade you from trying brioche. It’s totally worth it, just maybe not when you have 2 weeks to knit a sweater in your spare time.

brioche knitting

This is the part where I’m supposed to have a cute photo of me wearing the sweater, doing happy model-y poses. Except I’m not over-the-top cute, and the sweater isn’t done yet. The main parts are blocking, and I need to finish one sleeve. For me this is total speed-knitting, so I’m happy even if my editor is not. And I will have a gorgeous sweater that I’m proud to wear.

If there is any moral to this story, it’s that doing something properly takes time, but it is worth it. A textured stitch takes longer to knit, but you get a beautiful fabric. Alterations take longer to do, but you get a sweater you look great in and wear over and over. And a fussy-seeming collar takes longer to finish, but is definitely worth the fuss.

Whatever your next project is, I hope you can take your time and make something you love.
Allison


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2 Comments

  1. Marcy S G at 12:27 pm January 8, 2018

    Allison- can u share your modifications? You & I were cut from the same mold, although I bet I am lots older than you and even less photogenic, haha. But, seriously, all your modifications would be ones I need to make, and I am NOT a designer!
    Would love to discuss!!!! Love the look! – Marcy G

  2. Allison K at 3:03 pm January 19, 2018

    HI Marcy. It’s a beautiful sweater, and a very easy knit. I didn’t make notes, but I can tell you roughly what I did.
    I wanted a sweater that was 20 in in length, to hit at my low hip. I knit the back for 18 in before working the shoulders. For the shoulders, I kept 30 st on the right shoulder and 32 st on the left before joining a second ball of yarn. Because I wanted to keep the shoulders the same height as the original pattern, I needed to bind-off more of the remaining stitches each row so everything was bound off evenly by the 8th row. My numbers get squishy here because I can’t recall exactly how many each row I worked.

    I knit the front for 10 in before dividing for the v-neck, as written; the shorter overall length meant the V neck would begin higher up on my torso. I worked the decreases for the v-neck as written, but repeated the last 18 rows 4 times, not 6, which left me 30 st on each side. I worked even until the front was 18 in before beginning the bind off. Again, I had to fiddle the shoulders, binding off a few more stitches each row than was written, but can’t recall exactly how many on what rows.

    For the neckband, I needed a shorter length to fit the shorter v-neck. I worked my increases and decreases 2 rows earlier than written. The pattern is actually rather flexible here, as the collar is eased in, and you may need to add or remove rows before grafting the edges together.

    One note–I blocked my sweater a bit larger than these measurements because I have selvedge edges for sewing and because the yarn I use boings back a bit after blocking. I really hope you knit this, and enjoy yours as much as I do mine.

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