WIP Wednesday: Sloane's Cozy Classic Raglan

Well, that escalated quickly. Like many in the Bay Area, my family was already preparing for some form of social distancing a couple of weeks ago, but things have changed dramatically in the last few days: my kids are out of school, probably for the year, and our entire region is under a "shelter in place" order. We feel incredibly fortunate that so far, all four of us are healthy and safe, and are figuring out how to hunker down for our new normal. 

Fortunately, our new normal is allowing for some time for some of that selfish knitting I kept telling myself I'd do at the beginning of the year and hadn't started as of <checks watch> ... March. And of course, my first project is ... not on my list of selfish knitting projects that I put together back in January. But, I beg your forgiveness, because there was this yarn....

At Stitches West a few weeks ago (back in the prelapsarian era of, uh, gatherings?), I got a chance to meet the wonderful Aimée Gille, the force of nature behind La Bien Aimée yarns. I had been kicking around the idea of some pairings between our yarns and those of some of our fiber friends, and I fell head over heels for her silk-mohair laceweight, which is fuzzy and delightful and hand-dyed with just enough variegation for visual interest, without having so much that it violates my "could I have worn this when I lived in DC?" rule. I picked up two skeins in her beautiful Dawn colorway, thinking I would hold it together with one of our lighter undyed shades of Weld (ultimately, I settled on Fawn).

If you've never held two different yarns together, give it a try! It's a great chance to blend the properties of the two yarns, and in my experience, almost always produces a whole greater than the sum of its parts. No surprises here, but I love knitting with Weld, especially as a sweater yarn (because I live in Northern California, where it is the right temperature for a fingering weight sweater every day), but the addition of the silk-mohair blend here does something really interesting, adding sheen and a nubbly, fuzzy texture I'm really into. It was love at first swatch, pretty much. (Have I mentioned that you should swatch? Especially if you're combining yarns. There are a lot of fingering weight yarns in the world and a lot of silk-mohair laceweights in the last 18 months, but they are not all the same.)

So, why did it take me so long to find a sweater to make (besides that I'm known to be, uh, slightly overwrought about these decisions)? I really wanted a basic, simple sweater—partly because I haven't made one in a long time and also because when I look at my wardrobe, that's a thing I wear frequently and almost never knit. But when I went to find one that was in the ballpark of my gauge and had the silhouette I was looking for, I hit a major snag: size inclusivity.

This is not a choice I think everyone in the market for knitting patterns has to make, but I'm trying, in my small single-actor way, to focus on making patterns that are size inclusive. The conversation around size inclusivity is improving, but we have a long way left to go (and I don’t want to suggest that I am without sin in this regard—I have a lot of old magazine sweaters of my own that I am still working on expanding sizing on). But, I finally found one I loved, and was in fact designed for the very fingering weight merino-blend + silk-mohair combo I was working with: Jessie Mae Martinson’s new Cozy Classic Raglan, which she released at the end of last year.

She recommends 4-6” of positive ease at the bust and 5” of positive ease at the bicep. Because bodies think size charts are dumb and inconvenient, this puts me smack in between sizes. Because my gauge is a wee bit tighter than pattern gauge, I’m sizing up to the 42” and hoping I end up somewhere a little smaller than that. I measured a few sweaters in my closet before I started just to sanity check that sizing, and it turns out that’s pretty consistent with the majority of my most-worn read-to-wear sweaters. The pattern provides a couple of different options for the body (shaping or no shaping), but I’m going to figure out where I am once I get the sleeves separated, block the yoke, and then make a decision about how I’d like it to fit (and do any necessary math based on my actual, real life, I am knitting a sweater gauge).

I’ve mostly loved knitting from someone else’s pattern for the first time in ages, and I’m trying to resist the urge to modify on the fly. I did make one modification to the cast on, however: whenever I knit in the round, I start from a long-tail cast on, rather than a provisional or starting with the ribbing.  Being able to pick up the neckband against a cast on edge helps with structural soundness, which is particularly important in an in-the-round sweater. Otherwise, I’m knitting along as written, and learning some new-to-me techniques along the way (hello, lifted increases!).

My emotional energy for math and drafting will come back, I’m sure, but for now, I’m loving the way this is the perfect pick-up-put-down project for these crazy days. I hope you’re all staying safe and sane, and filling as much of the time as you can with the things that fill your bucket.

Take good care, and happy knitting,

Sloane

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