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Willow – The First Sweater of 2019

And the first finished sweater of 2019 is in the books.  Done, worn, loved.  But, it was a close call, finishing this one, and until I wore it to work, I wasn’t quite sure it was going to all come out right in the end.

I loved Willow when I first saw her –

I’ve always wanted to knit a gansey, but while they look simple, usually the construction is deceptive, and they’re actually pretty complicated.  This sweater, on the other hand, is not complicated at all.  And, unfortunately, that lead to fit problems, but I’ll get to that.

Not only did I love that traditional gansey style pullover, I loved the rustic yarn, and I had been coveting Purl Soho’s shockingly reasonably priced Good Wool. But, I guess you can’t charge a fortune for undyed yarn that’s practically fresh from the sheep. The yarn is listed as light worsted, and the gauge on the sweater is supposedy worsted, but at 16/4 inches, I’d call that aran, but that’s just me, I guess. What do I know? Well, I should have known there was no way I was getting gauge with Good Wool, but I thought it was worth a try, and I put it on my holiday wish list, wishing for 4 lovely skeins of Driftwood grey.  And, voila – there they were under the tree!

Totally perfect for this sweater. But, gauge was indeed wishful thinking, and I had to double the yarn. And, voila, I was off and knitting. With help from the pups of course!

Unfortunately, with the yarn doubled, I had to order more yarn.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Driftwood was sold out!  I called the warehouse to find out when it would be stocked again (fingers crossed that it would indeed be stocked again), and they said, whew, late January, and the color should be close if not identical because a sheeps a sheep.  Right.  The sheepies were with me, and the yarn came in early, and I really only had about a one week break in knitting.

Everything seems easy peasy, right?  Ok, let’s go back to that simplistic construction issue.  Traditional gansey’s have an underarm gusset, which makes them wide enough to get your arm through.  This design leaves out the armhole gusset, and instead advises you to knit big.  The model above is wearing a 48 1/2 on a 32″ bust.  This makes no sense to me.  That’s 16 1/2 inches of positive ease.  So, I went with the advice to knit big, but I didn’t go that big because I was already doubling my yarn, and I was being a little cheap.  I knit the 42 1/2, and I’m a 38.

So, I finished the sweater, took it off the needles, and put it on.  Oh my!  I could barely get my arm through the armhole.  I knew it was feeling  a bit small while I was knitting it, but it was crazy small.  No wonder that model is wearing a sweater that is 16 1/2 inches too big for her.  I looked at the diagram, which I guess I should have done in the first place, and realized I should have picked my size based on the armhole, not the bust.  But, all hope wasn’t lost.  There’s always aggressive blocking!

As you can see, I had to stretch that armhole as wiiiiiiiddddddeeeee as possible.  If the armhole had had a gusset, this wouldn’t have been a problem.  But, if it had a gusset, it might possibly have been steeked, or there would have been more short rowing (and there are plenty of short rows already in this sweater).

Because of the soaking I gave the sweater, it took a good three days to dry.  And, those three days were a bit nerve wracking.

But, in the end, success!

My arm fits through the hole, and it’s actually really comfortable – it fits perfectly.

And because the yarn is doubled, it’s really warm and lovely.  I would totally use this yarn again, although probably in a DK gauge item.  If I had to knit this again, I would definitely go up in size, and probably use a true worsted weight yarn.

In any event, I love it, and it’s in the weekly rotation, along with my Weekender, which now that it’s cold, is fabulous!

So, if you’re cold, put on a sweater – like this one!

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