The Saga of the Orange Sweater

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Salt Peanuts by Veronik Avery

As long as I’ve been knitting, my friend Molly has been there for all the ups-and-downs, ripping out stitches, and projects gone terribly wrong. She’s the one who convinced me to switch from throwing to picking, which really made my knitting take off. We belong to a knitting group that’s been meeting for seven or eight years, and now that I live in a different city, our group meets for knitting weekends a couple of times a year.

One of the wonderful things about belonging to a group is sharing tips, skills, and resources. One of the resources I shared with my group is the book The Best of Interweave Knits: Our Favorite Designs from the First Ten Years, edited by Ann Budd, which I’ve had for much longer than I’ve been working at Interweave!

Molly fell in love with the design Salt Peanuts, by Veronik Avery. She liked the orange color, and looked for a similar yarn. What she found was a true citrus orange in the form of Adreinne Vittadini’s Trina, which is a cashmere/merino/microfiber blend. (Sadly, Adrienne Vittadinni yarn is no longer produced, which is a shame—I’ve made a couple of sweaters with Vittadini yarn, and it’s wonderful.)

Molly came to visit me in Spokane and she brought along her orange sweater. “It’s dead to me,” she said. Uh, oh.

Her problem was that the shawl collar on this lovely sweater is pretty complicated, and Molly was “over it,” as we like to say.

The sweater is trimmed all around with a simple lace rib, but when you get to the shawl collar section on each front, you have to do arm shaping, V-neck shaping, short-row shaping all at the same time, while flipping the ribbing so the front shows when the collar is folded over. Oh, and I forgot to mention that you have to increase the collar stitches, too. Yikes! The rest of the sweater is really easy—stockinette stitch with that simple, pretty lace-rib trim—so all the shaping at the collar is a bit of a shock! (But totally doable, and worth the effort.)

I told Molly I would finish it for her, but that turned out to be a lie. The poor orange sweater sat in its bag for a couple of months. I went on a trip to Seattle and returned it to her, with apologies.

While the orange sweater was staying at my house, though, my mom noticed it and loved it. She said a couple of times how much she liked it and could I make her one in the same yarn, et cetera. My answer? “Yeah, right.”

About a year passed and Molly was planning another trip to see me. I asked if she’d finished the orange sweater and she said no. So I told her I’d buy it from her and finish it for my mom. (That’s how much I love my mom!) She said I could have it; she just wanted it out of her UFO pile! I did end up giving her some yarn and a hat I’d made, so it seemed like a fair trade.

So now I’m working on a sweater that someone else started. I didn’t know what size Molly was making, and she couldn’t remember, so I counted stitches to figure that out. Here’s the rest of the story in photos:

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Here’s how I received the sweater, in its plastic-bag home. Here are the pieces, a back and two partial fronts that Molly knitted, and two sleeves (they’re stacked on top of each other) and a gauge swatch that I’ve knitted. Poppy looks skeptical . . .

Adventures in Getting Gauge

The hardest part of picking up this sweater midstream was matching Molly’s gauge. There was a size 8 needle in one of the pieces, so I thought that might be what she’d used. I did a swatch and I was way over the stitch gauge. I went up to a 9 and didn’t actually get stitch gauge until I switched to a 10. I’m a little off on the row gauge, but I can cope with that by knitting to the correct length measurements.

I think it’ll all turn out fine after blocking.
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I’m not done yet, but I’m on my way. My mom’s birthday is in June, so that’s the finishing goal. I think I’m up to the challenge!


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I’m using this Susan Bates “Peg-It” counter to keep track of all of the shaping and it’s working like a charm.

And as I’ve been working from this book, I’ve found another pattern to add to the queue: Norah Gaughan’s Cabaret Raglan. This really is a fantastic book, full of timeless classics. Get your copy of the Best of Interweave Knits now, while it’s on sale!


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