Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Crocheted cable sweaters

It's been a while since I stitched up a cable sweater, but a friend wanted me to make one for her.  So I pulled out a bunch of handy Aran-style sweaters from ages ago and thought about how to proceed.

Crocheters have a bunch of different ways to create cable effects.  Since I am aiming for a wearable garment, comparable to a knit, I prefer to mimic the structure of knitted cables, working on a ground of double crochet.

Back in ancient history (70s/80s?), McCall's Needlework and Crafts magazine had a series of 6 contests, each with a different yarn company, challenging readers to interpret a specific garment shape with a specific brand of yarn.  This bright pullover is from the contest co-sponsored by DMC, with a challenge to make a short-sleeved pullover with a square neck.  I had wanted it to be blues and greens, but could find only red/orange/yellow thread.  This won 3rd prize (the first 2 were knitted), and has the structure of a traditional flat 4-piece garment.

I didn't finish the turtleneck pullover one in time for the deadline for another one of the contests (I entered only 2 in all), but it was fun to make -- a picture sweater with a blue sky leading to a mountain top with skiers shown as cable lines down to the trees.  I used front/back post double crochet for a mock ribbing a lot back then.

Then I started working out the specifics of top-down construction and threw in cables.  This one has increase lines in the regular raglan positions, but it also has increases at the top of the shoulders, so the sweater has little pointy bits at the top of the shoulders, making it weird to wear.  Learning curve.
Then there was the toddler sweater using a sport weight yarn and following the traditional gansey shape described in an article in Threads magazine.  It had both cables and lattice with different stitches.

The last big cable sweater I made had a lattice fabric, with different pattern stitches in the lattice space, also using a sport weight wool.  By then, I had worked out the concept for the top-down, one-piece construction, with the saddle-shoulder shaping that isn't as casual looking as the standard top-down construction.  With the large grain fabric of crochet, it is fairly easy (once you see your stitches) to choose what line you want the increases to form.  The project starts with all the important bits right away, and then once that is done, it's just straight stitching until the piece is big enough or I run out of yarn.  Understanding the construction, then, means I can throw in any pattern stitches I want, and the sweater becomes a doodle.

After looking at my past, I worked up a sampler of possible stitches to figure out what I wanted to do.  The yoke start looks kind of scary because there is so much going on:  shaping, neck shaping, pattern stitches, all at the same time.

This current project for my friend uses Plymouth Homestead, a worsted weight wool.  This is less than one skein (100 grams) of yarn:

I generally figure 600 grams of worsted/DK yarn for a medium lady's sweater, which ends up about 40 inches around at the bust, about 22 inches long at the center back, and with long tapered sleeves.  At the end of two skeins, I had finished the yoke and was about 3 inches down the body.

The edges look a bit wobbly, and since crochet stitches are  not perfectly up-and-down, there is a hint of torque.  But it seems to work out in the finishing just fine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I HAD this magazine and kept some of the pullovers in it. And I REMEMBER this pullover. Amazing. I wish I had kept that magazine intact or had bought a second copy.