Pink Pullover, or Sometimes You Don’t Know Until You Wear It…

Hey, another sweater! This is my first sweater with more to it than just miles and miles of basic stockinette (plain knitting) stitches. This is also the last of the knitting project updates for a while. We’ll be back to sewing content very soon!

The pattern is Petra, by Quince and Co. Quince and Co puts out a new pattern every week! As a pattern designer, I’m impressed by that. Imagine if I could put out a new pattern each week! I know, knitting patterns work differently, but it’s still impressive to see the constant flow of exciting new stuff.

The yarn is a cotton and wool blend from Spud and Chloe. Watermelon is the name of the colour, and I almost picked the turquoise instead but the shop staff told me this colour was pretty on me. (As I’m holding up first the turquoise, then the watermelon up to my face in the mirror…) I’m a sucker for compliments, so I went for the watermelon yarn.

Here is the link to my Ravelry notes if you’re interested. That’s four sweaters so far! Hurrah! I had a friend tell me that I’m inspiring her to take up knitting. It’s my life goal to inspire people to knit and sew, and she already sews, so that’s one less person to convert! (Just kidding.. sort of!)

The funny thing about knitting with cotton/wool, after knitting with 100% wool is that the cotton blend doesn’t stretch and spring quite as much. So I found myself pulling harder on the yarn to try and make it springy, which ended up hurting my hands a little. Originally I was pretty excited about this yarn, I loved the colour and thought cotton and wool would be a good idea for the summer.

This is a good pattern. I like that it adds texture and interest up at the shoulders, emphasizing them to balance out the hips. Easy enough and once the yoke is done, it’s back to miles and miles of plain stockinette knitting. Great for watching movies!

So here’s the thing, this sweater grew. It grew after blocking, and grew and grew throughout the day as I wore it. These photos were taken at the beginning of the day (note the wet hair tips from a rainy bike ride!) and after only ten minutes of photo-taking I could feel the sweater getting looser. By the end of the day, I rode my bike home wearing a pink off-the-shoulder sweater. (Random side note: people are nicer on the road when you wear pink. Or a poofy skirt. I’d guess it’s because I’m obviously female that way, and people are being courteous? Any other cyclists notice this too?)

Mr Sewaholic said it was impressive that over the last year, I hadn’t knit up any major failures. (Yet. Although, with knitting, you can always turn it back into a ball of yarn and start over, instead of declaring it a dud.) Even then I wouldn’t consider this a complete failure, I’ll have to style it like an oversize, off-the-shoulder sweater. Ballet-dancer style.

This is an example of how you can do all the proper planning, figure out the right sizing and make a garment to match your exact specifications, and have it still not work out as planned. Not only did the neckline grow to be even larger than the body, but the elbows left elbow-sag marks on the outside, wrinkles on the inner elbow. I bet it wouldn’t do that in the right yarn. I’ll have to make this one again using the recommended yarn – that’s the chance we take when we try something other than the recommended materials!

I’ve had this happen with pants (major sag after wearing – some that required a washing after each wear to shrink them back to shape) but not often with things I’ve sewn for myself. Maybe it’s because I prefer stable fabrics, where it’s easy to predict what might happen after wearing and washing. I’ve bought tee shirts in the past where the sideseams work their way around your body because they were cut off-grain. These are the kinds of factors we try to eliminate on our sewing projects, as much as possible!

Have you ever made something (knit or sewn) that completely changed after wearing?

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61 Responses to Pink Pullover, or Sometimes You Don’t Know Until You Wear It…

  1. Michelle April 30, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    Such a pretty sweater on you! So sad that it grew.

    I am battling with a grown (linen/cotton blend) skirt at the moment. Have owned it for 2 years, but recently said enough was enough. I am actually taking in the back by an inch on each side and reattaching the zip. It kept sinking past my hips, and I have BIG hips!

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      It’s the natural fibres that seem to grow! Plant ones, like linen and cotton. I have a linen dress that ‘grew’ only in the back from sitting in it all day! (So much that it was hanging an inch below my coat hem.. oops.)
      Good for you for fixing up the growing skirt! :)

  2. Sara April 30, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    a large swatch (like 8″ square) washed and then hung to dry with clothespins at the bottom for extra weight can simulate the stretch of a garment. that might help you figure out your gauge in advance for next time.

    cotton is a heavy fiber so it tends to stretch in a large project like a sweater. it hurts my hands to knit with it too.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Good to know it’s not just me, with the sore hands thing! I was wondering if I was being too forceful or something. It certainly ended up as a heavy sweater! Funny, I don’t think of cotton as being heavy when I sew with it.
      Thanks for the tips on simulating stretch with clothespins!

  3. Katrine April 30, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    That sweater is so pretty! I love the color on you. I knitted a sweater. Once. I’ve tried again since then and somehow I’ve been unable to pull it off again.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      Thank you! Sweater knitting is much harder than anything else, I find. Fitting our bodies is complex, especially when you have to factor in stretch and weight and ease and what will happen when you wash the garment. (And when you can’t just nip it in or let it out a little bit when it’s finished, like you can with sewing!) I like what someone said lower down about knitting loose, open front sweaters. Easier to fit!
      I’m too new to knitting to have any helpful tips, except for if you really want to make sweaters, keep on trying. I nearly gave up after ripping out my first sweater the second time and thought I should stick to hats and scarves. But my stubbornness and desire to have cute sweaters won and I kept at it until it worked out. :)

  4. Dani April 30, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    I actually avoid knitting with cotton and cotton blends a lot of the time for exactly this reason. Sometimes a sweater with lots of seams can help the stability of the piece (you can even make “fake” seams in a piece that has been knit in the round by just mattress stitching up the sides of the sweater). It looks really pretty on you though! Maybe a short trip in the dryer would help

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Ooh, interesting. I haven’t knit any seamed sweaters yet – well I am in the middle of one right now, actually, but haven’t started the seaming yet – but that’s interesting to know it can help with stability. I learn so much from you guys!
      I worry that if I put it in the dryer it will shrink too much – but perhaps, it will be like jeans, you have to re-shrink them back to shape after they stretch out from wearing.. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Lynn in VA April 30, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    Very cute sweater! You can try stabilizing the neck. I’d hand stitch some narrow ribbon inside but close to the edge to keep it from stretching when you wear it.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      Interesting idea! I wonder if that would stop the neck from stretching enough to get it on though. Thanks for the suggestion! You guys are full of useful ideas, I really appreciate all of the help for a knitting newbie!

    • Christine April 30, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Great idea! Grosgrain would work well.

    • Jessica May 3, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      I’ve also run a piece of yarn through the inside of the neckline to cinch things in a bit for several sweater necklines (be sure to try it on before you snip though, to make sure you left enough elasticity). I guess it wouldn’t be as stable as grosgrain but the color would match!

      Very pretty, love your sweater ambition :-). The color IS nice on you and it’s a beautiful pattern. I had the same experience with a cotton/wool blend that I tried – I knew the cotton would cause it to sag, but I wasn’t expecting the creasing and elbow marks. Still, cotton takes colors beautifully. I finally realized that when people said that linen gets softer the more you wash it, it also correspondingly grows (as it gets more limp?) … hasn’t put me off from knitting with linen, but it does mean that I, ah, put in some additional petite mods with the idea that it will then stretch out. Well, at any rate I’m in the middle of experimenting with that, we’ll see how it goes. I did knit a sweater in a cotton/acrylic blend that has actually shrunk lengthwise, somewhat, with repeated trips through the dryer, but grown in width. So funny how different fibers behave.

  6. June April 30, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    I love cotton yarn, but you have to work with it, not against it – in other words, don’t hope that cotton/wool blends will behave like wool! :) Elbow sagging, growth because of its own weight, and lack of elasticity are all “features” of cotton.

    Thus, use cotton for more structured garments with seams at the shoulders and down the sides, stick to elbow-length or shorter sleeves, and assume ribbing will not pull in. Instead of knitting with negative ease to accentuate the bust and waist, add short-row shaping for the bust area and/or add waist shaping or knit in darts. I don’t knit with anything heavier than DK weight, either, because a cotton sweater made with worsted-weight or thicker yarn ends up weighing 3+ pounds.

    I also unwind all yarn into hanks and prewash, just as I would fabric. I do this for all yarns (not just cotton). I don’t actually know anyone else IRL who does this, but I think it helps get a more accurate gauge.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      This is fantastic! Work with the yarn, not against it. Now I know I can’t just sub a cotton-wool yarn for a wool yarn and expect the same results. (I know these things when it comes to sewing, I should realize that the same theories apply to knitting and yarn as well!)

      Excellent points on what to use cotton yarn for, and how not to use negative ease for fit, but rather build in shaping. This sweater probably does weigh three pounds but I didn’t think of it when I was picking out the yarn!

      Interesting that you pre-wash all of your yarn. It makes sense when it comes to fabric and sewing so I can see how it would make sense for knitting as well! Thanks for all of the helpful feedback!

  7. didyoumakethat April 30, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    Oh yes, cycling in summer skirts is always a VERY different experience to cycling in winter waterproofs! My one beef with knitting is that you can spend months and months patiently knitting something up, sewing it together, only to try it on and find that it just doesn’t work. That’s heartbreaking. That’s also why I like the odd knitted cushion cover/rug/accessory project as they are less likely to fail on this score.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      Ha, yes. Even today it’s grey and rainy and I rode in my rubber boots and raincoat, and people were much less courteous! You would think, it is pouring rain and I’m out there getting wet, people would be nicer.

      You’re right, you can spend forever making something and not know until the end whether it’s going to turn out. Like anything, we win some, we lose some. That’s why I also like knitting things that don’t have to fit – but I do want more wool sweaters in my wardrobe, so that’s what keeps me interested in sweater-knitting!

  8. Miriana April 30, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    That’s cotton yarn for you. I’ve just had two knitted items stretch hideously once washed. I ended up sewing up one to make it smaller (it’s still not as nice as it was before I washed it) and I’ve ripped out the other and am knitting it small. I’m now sufficiently paranoid that I make stuff deliberately small. Bamboo is a big stretcher as well.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      Ooh, thanks for the heads-up on bamboo yarn. It makes sense as it’s also plant-based, like cotton and linen. Sorry to hear your cotton knitting projects didn’t turn out as planned!

  9. Jane April 30, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    Lovely sweater, sorry to hear about the stretching! It goes really well with your skirt, is it one of your own designs?

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      I know! It’s too bad. No, the skirt is one I’ve purchased, a simple cotton elastic-waist skirt I bought last summer. It would be easy to replicate with a neutral cotton voile print and some wide elastic!

  10. Annabelle April 30, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    One of my first sweaters was also a cotton blend – and it did the same thing. I love cotton for sewing, but it is much more difficult to use for knitting. (But that doesn’t totally stop me from using it, I’ve got a baby sweater that I’m knitting in bamboo cotton right now). I find that if a pattern call for wool, it’s best to use wool yarn (not necessarily the same yarn the pattern call for, but something that is 100% or nearly 100%). You’ve made so much knitting progress in the past year, that there is no reason to fret ove a not perfect project. This sweater is lovely (and the yarn shop people were right, watermelon looks great on you!).

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      Thank you! I do love the colour. Funny how cotton is one of the easiest fabrics to sew, but not the easiest to knit with…
      I’ll try to stick to the recommended yarns going forward, or at least something that is comparable. Or something that someone else used with good results!

  11. Eleanor (undeadgoat) April 30, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    I’ve never knit a garment out of a cotton or cotton-blend yarn for just this reason–every coarse-gauge cotton sweater I’ve purchased has stretched out horribly! My biggest knitting fail was a bottom-up raglan-sleeve sweater that I sort of made up–I started with a pattern for a knit-in-pieces set-in-sleeve sweater, used a heavier yarn than it really called for (I was substituting wool for cellulose but a heavier weight than was strictly necessary) and ended up with a lot of stretching at the neckline and puddling at the armpits.

    While I’m leery about Spud & Chloe Sweater, though, I don’t think that pattern would do anyone a lot of favors–it looks to me like the designer thought raglan + boatneck = set-in, but if you’re going for “seamless set-in” you need to really change your rate of increasing or you get armhole puddling and/or a lot of tension across the upper shoulder. Sure it looks fine on the model but we only see her from one angle so it may well look terrible in the back. A knitting pattern that is only shaped at the side but appears to hug the figure is absolutely lying to you, frankly I would not be surprised if that model’s back was covered in pins and clothespins, or if that sweater is actually many sizes too small through the shoulders and restricts her movement. Looking on Ravelry I only see one finished project with photos and it doesn’t look good.

    Are you familiar with Ysolda Teague? (ysolda.com) She designs really lovely accessories, which I like because I can do decorative stitches without having to worry about fit to multiple areas of the body or too fancy of shaping, and her sweaters are just beautiful. Her directions are crystal-clear and her self-published patterns are much easier to alter to fit than are standard patterns. Her collection Little Red in the City has the clearest guidelines on fitting a sweater pattern that I’ve ever seen, and no raglan sleeves that are meant to be close-fitting!

    A great source for high-quality patterns from a variety of designers is Twist Collective (twistcollective.com) and knitty.com always has pictures from many angles so you can decide if the sweater is flattering to the model for yourself and not have a stylist decide for you! Twist and Knitty also have lots of helpful and empowering articles.

    If you can get your hands on it, Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti is in my opinion one of the best beginner knitting books out there because it teaches you how to analyze a pattern before you plunge in. Of course, now we have Ravelry, but that’s not too helpful for a brand-new pattern!

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      Wow, thanks for the feedback! So you think people pin the backs of sweaters and garments on models – that’s cheating! :) We did it at my previous job though, pinned the backs of garments – even pants! Models have skinny little thighs and we’d have to binder-clip the excess pant legs in the back. (Way to make me feel self-conscious about my normal sized legs!)
      Ravelry is great for patterns that have been around for a long time with many finished projects, so I can find someone who’s shaped similar to me and see if it looks good.
      Thanks for the helpful suggestions of books and patterns! I suppose there’s still a lot for me to learn when it comes to knitting. :)

  12. Nothy Lane April 30, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    Hi Tasia,

    I love the colour. Watermelon is a nice colour on you! I prefer not to knit at all, but when I do, I always avoid cotton yarn. I find it is very unpredictable. I’m looking forward to your post returning to sewing (although I understand the need to branch out a bit).
    Nothy
    http://www.aftagley.blogspot.com

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      Yes, there has been a lot of knitting action on the blog recently! Mostly I’ve been sewing stuff that I’m waiting until the right time to share, so the knitting projects are a great way to fill in the gaps. It sounds like plenty of people avoid cotton yarn! And here I was thinking that people knit with wool in the winter, cotton in the summer. I much prefer working with wool anyways, so it’s reassuring to hear you guys prefer it too.

  13. fern April 30, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    Pretty sweater, very nice job! Yes, cotton yarn grows (or, sags) – - it is very sad when that happens. I’ve had some sweaters made from superwash wool that have also grown a lot after washing them, and sometimes they have sproinged back into place over time and sometimes they have continued to grow and grow.

    Interestingly, I’m a long time knitter who is just learning how to sew (and found your blog via my sewing searches) and you seem to be a long time sewist who is learning to knit. So fun!

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      Well, welcome to the world of sewing! :) I’ve been sewing for years but only learned to knit last year. I think sewing and knitting work well together, I’m really happy to be able to do both!
      It might continue to grow and grow!? Scary stuff. I’ll perhaps try some of the suggestions to reinforce or dryer-shrink the sweater and hope it starts to behave!

  14. Lauren April 30, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Well, that IS a pretty color on you – it really brings out the pretty rosiness in your complexion :) Bummer about the stretching of the sweater – I’ve been warned many times about the dangers of knitting with cotton, and it makes me hesitant to try anything that has any cotton in it. Which sucks because 100% wool – while lovely – is just too hot for the majority of the year!

    Anyway, I think it bears mentioning that you absolutely inspired me to learn how to knit… it was something I was always interested in, but seeing your pretty knit goodies made me actually take the plunge. And pushed me past the basic garter stitch, knit flat squares & actually make some real projects – including my first sweater. So THANK YOU for that :) I’m joining your cause & trying to convert some sewers into knitters myself now :)

    Oh, and I know what you mean about how drivers treat cyclists based on what they’re wearing – people are so much more courteous when you have on a skirt or something equally frilly. I’ll accept it!

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Well that is wonderful! Your sweater turned out so beautifully. I love the golden colour! I was just looking at it the other day. Your first sweater is a lot more adventurous than mine – i haven’t tried anything that requires buttons and buttonholes! Glad that my adventures in knitting encouraged you to give it a real go too!
      I wish I’d been warned about the dangers of knitting with cotton, but you know, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyways!

  15. Phoebe April 30, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    So sad about your sweater! I avoid knitting with cotton after experiencing the same issues myself. As for drivers being nicer to obviously female cyclists – there’s a lot of evidence that this really is true! I believe they call it the Mary Poppins effect. By the way, how are you liking your Pashley? I am seriously considering getting one after my next move in a couple months, and I’m curious if you’re still happy with her.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 9:36 am #

      Yes! I still love my Pashley. I rode my bike all winter long, in rain and snow, and she was super reliable. Having the brakes and gears all hidden internally made my rides cleaner, too. I haven’t ruined any clothing on the bike! The seat is super comfortable, the puncture-proof tires are brilliant, everything about the bike is solid. I never worry about anything, just hop on the bike and go! Great in the rain, solid in the snow.

      The only things I would say are points against the Pashley are weight (she is HEAVY!) and slowness up hills. She just won’t go quickly up a hill, and if you’re with other people they’ll be much faster going uphill than you. I don’t mind walking the bike if I have to, but if you’re looking for speed she is not the fastest. The weight is great for stability, but not great if you have to haul her upstairs!

      Hope this helps!

      • Jessie Kwak April 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

        There’s was a lot of good discussion about the Mary Poppins effect a while back on Lovely Bicycle and on Let’s Go Ride a Bike (http://letsgorideabike.com/blog/2011/03/my-take-on-the-mary-poppins-effect/). I definitely notice it in the rare times that I wear more girly attire on my bike. My husband and I joke that he should get a long fake pony tail to attach to the back of his helmet so he can get more respect on the road.

  16. Nadia Lewis April 30, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Yeah, there are a lot of “grower” yarns: cotton, silk, alpaca, even merino… Most superwash wools will grow considerably as well.

    It’s like buying jeans — you start figuring out how much “too tight” you want them. Or, you learn to knit things like open, drapey cardigans to get the most of the way they will grow and drape.

    With regards to bikes, I just bought a robin’s egg blue Bobbin Birdie and spent the weekend riding it around East Van in a 50′s sundress and large straw hat. People were definitely very nice to me — one person even called me “hipster Julie Andrews” — ha!

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      Your bike sounds fantastic! I didn’t know you could buy Bobbin bicycles here, that’s great! I cannot wait for more sundress-and-bike weather :)
      Good point about learning how ‘too tight’ to make things. My first two sweaters grow a little but more in the comfortable, worn-in-jeans way. Soft without getting slouchy. They’re both superwash and get huge after washing but shrink up as they dry.

  17. lauria April 30, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    I highly recommend that you get “The Knitters Book of Yarn” by Clara Parkes. You certainly know a ton about fabric already and I’m sure know how the weave can change how a fabric reacts. Clara Parkes has put together that information for knitters! So it talks about the different properties of the fibers as well as looking at how the yarn is spun so you can see how this wool will likely respond rather than that one.

    I’m knitting a sweater and put it on two needles to put it on yesterday and I’m not convinced that I’m going to love it when I’m done. I think I’ll finish it anyway. I can always give it to someone with a smaller bust if I need to! (Because that’s what I don’t think I like about it.)

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 9:51 am #

      Thanks for the book suggestion! I like the idea of learning more about how wool and yarn will respond. You’re right, I can’t always explain *why* a certain fabric will behave, but often just by touching and looking at fabric I can get a good idea of what it will do in a dress, a fitted blouse, a gathered skirt. Thank you!

  18. Rachel April 30, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    That is just lovely!!! I am about to knit a sweater. I think I finally got my gauge right. I hope to get it cast on tomorrow, but I think it is going to take me 3-4 months.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 9:40 am #

      Thank you! Good luck with your sweater project. Three to four months works out perfectly as it’ll be ready in time for Fall then! :)

  19. Sigrid April 30, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    I think the sweater looks lovely, but that’s a shame about the growing. I bet you could reinforce the shoulder seams with that elastic tape for sewing knits and it would hold its shape a bit better.
    I had the same issue with some cotton corduroy pants I made that didn’t really have enough substance or any stretch to them. After a few hours they look like saggy PJ bottoms. The problem is that I find it hard to find good bottom weight fabric to make pants with, sigh.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      I know, it’s hard to find a good, predictable bottom weight for pants – and then if you *do* find a good one, you might never find it again…
      Good idea about finding a way to reinforce the neckline/shoulder area somehow, I’ll see what I can come up with!

  20. Julia April 30, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Yes, cotton is tricky. You really need to treat your swatch as you would your finished object (as in wash it, hang it up with a little weight, carry it around in your purse….). I am not working much with cotton either. For the warmer month, I really like knitting with wool on bigger needles (sock weight yarn on 3.75-4mm needles), drapes really nicely and isn’t too warm.

    • Tasia April 30, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      I agree, I’d rather wear lighter-weight wool than heavy cotton. This sweater ended up really thick, which probably contributed to the weight and sag problem. Thanks for the tips on treating the swatch like the finished object!

  21. Gwen April 30, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    You can single crochet or slip-stitch around the neckline to get it back to its proper size and keep it from stretching further. Actually, you can also slip-stitch along the inside of the raglan lines and/or the side seams (or where the side seams would be on a seamless sweater) to stabilize them. It actually make a huge difference and keeps the growing in check.

  22. sophie (monbouton) April 30, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    It’s disappointing to see so much work ruined by the yarn. I’m usually careful with cotton as it has a real tendency to grow especially when it’s knit in anything else than a tight gauge. I tried once this yarn from Spud and Chloe and it did grow a lot.
    did you have a look at the comments about the yarn on Ravelry? It’s sometimes interesting because knitters might say if they encountered problems with the yarn and this way you avoid huge disappointments. Makes me think I should add more comments to yarns I’ve used :)

  23. Isabel April 30, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Tasia,

    You did a spectacular job on this sweater and you are entitled to be very proud of your work. Your knitting is even, consistent and you definitely picked the correct needle size for your yarn and your personal knitting tension.

    So yes, you have discovered the problem with cotton and cotton blends, they grow. Please consider these suggestions for reclaiming your sweater’s proper shape: Because the yarn you used does have some wool in it, you should first steam block your sweater to give the wool in it a chance to shrink up a bit (don’t wet it, just lay it down on your blocking area and try to pat it back into shape as you apply steam from about 1/2″ above the surface. Make sure you let the area dry before moving it) . After that, you should either:
    1) slip stitch around the problem areas of your sweater (on the inside, of course!), easing in the extra length and width until you get your correct measurements OR
    2) Pin those areas of your sweater to pieces of tape cut to the correct measurement and sew the tape to your sweater, again easing any extra length or width to the tape.

    When one knits with cotton, you HAVE to stabilize all edges before you wear the item. But you can definitely fix it. I have been knitting for 50 years and I teach knitting, so this is realistic advice.

    I love your blog. You have inspired me to sew again and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your patterns.

    • Ginger April 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      I agree that steam blocking is the way to go– I would do that before I would put it in the dryer (someone suggested that above, but I find that the dryer shrinks things too unpredictably). I don’t get as precise as Isabel, but I find that laying the sweater flat and hovering over problem areas with the iron can really help. Good luck! It’s a gorgeous sweater, so I hope you’re able to get some wear out of it!

    • Francesca May 2, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Wow Isabel, what great tips!
      Tasia – I second the recommendation for Clara Parkes’s book. You learn from expeprience though… I knit a sweater with loads of rib all the way up to the bra line in Blue Sky Alpaca’s suri alpaca mix – hairy alpaca, bamboo, and something else – don’t remember what. Fabulous fibres if you want drape, not so fabulous if you want fitted! For a kntter with supposed experience it was the hugest mistake. It became A-line and droopy! this was before Ravelry …… After reading CP’s book and other stuff – articles in Interweave Knits and so on – I learn tabout drape and elasticity. Cotton will retain its shape ifyou use fine gauge and small needles, Kim HArgreaves does that well. But like others have said, you need to stay close to the yarn recommended.

      Ravelry is a great resource – investigate yarn, see others’ reviews of it – look at things made in it if there are no actual comments on the yarn, people tend to comment on how the yarn acted when they used it in their projects. When you like a pattern, look at yar ideas – that will give you the different yarns people have used, andyou can see how their projects worked in those yarns.

      Just keep in mind – wool is springy, silk, bamboo, alpaca, cotton, linen are drapey. They stretch and grow. Fine needles and yarn can counteract that and you can get some gorgeous effects with them. But you can’t do the big needle thing with them – ever.

      I just acquired my first Sewaholic pattern after reading a lot of great reviews on patternreview.com – Pendrell – very nice work, lovely explanations, now I am going through the stash deciding what to try it out on :) Look forward to more of your clever patterns:)

  24. Nethwen April 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    “I’ve bought tee shirts in the past where the sideseams work their way around your body because they were cut off-grain.”

    This explains so much! I never knew if it was because the fabric was cut/sewn incorrectly or if it had something to do with they way I wear the garment.

  25. Linda April 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Tasia, that sweater is worth saving…I would try running elastic thread around the neckline on the inside just below the bind off or start at the neck edge. It saves cuffs, too that have grown.

  26. Buffy Ramm April 30, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Great job on the sweater!! It’s really cute!
    I have been knitting several things over the last few months, and nothing is really turning out how I thought it might. I am having the opposite problem with my current sweater project! It will now have to go to someone two sizes smaller!
    That happens with sewing too!
    the cotton will shrink back when you wash it. But it will grow again as you wear it again. I have a purchased cotton sweater that does that.

  27. Rachel April 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I made some ruby shorts that fit great when i made them (http://mymessings.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/ruby-shorts.html), and for about half an hour, and then they stretched and now the waistband is waaay too big. Even washing hasn’t let them shrink in again. I really need to take the buttons off and re-sew them on so it’s a bit tighter, but they took 40 mins to sew on, so i’m loath to cut them off!

  28. Becky April 30, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    I have to substitute fibers all the time because my skin is very sensitive to wool, to the point where I can’t handle it for more than about 30 seconds. So most of my knitting has actually been with either cotton or acryclic. Oddly, I can handle alpaca, at least a 30% content, so the one sweater I’ve knitted so far was an acrylic/alpaca blend. It definitely grew the first day I wore it! So I enlisted my best friend, who is a crocheter, to run a row of that around the neckline, through every other stitch. It worked really well, actually–it cinched it in just enough, and I’ve worn it a couple more times since and haven’t had that falling off the shoulder problem. The sweater is still really long, but I wanted it that way, so it’s ok!

  29. Jo April 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Haha, terrifying! I am just making my first knit garment ever, and it’s a cotton/wool blend! Eek! Fingers crossed mine doesn’t grow! Good tips in the comments about stabilisation though!
    Also that is a super cute colour, and it looks great on you!

  30. Lucy April 30, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    That is what kind of puts me off knitting garments – I’m ridiculously slow, so I’m fearful of putting all those evenings of effort into something that I can’t wear. That said, I had great results with the Make Up Your Mind pattern on Ravelry, even though I had to substitute yarn due to the recommended yarn’s already outrageous price being downright bankrupting once you added in shipping from the US to NZ! You were supposed to use a specific cotton/nylon blend, but I found a bamboo/nylon with a different ratio and it was lovely. I guess the nylon helped the bamboo to keep its shape. It did slacken a bit after a few wears but was fine again after a wash.

    I ended up ordering it from the UK. I could get the same stuff in NZ, but it was literally double the price here and I needed four balls – and it was actually cheaper to ship it 18,000km than 105km. Madness.

  31. Fabric Godmother May 1, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    Love this sweater! But glad to hear there is more sewing stuff coming, I am hopeless with knitting, I am just so slow!!!! I think I have only ever finished 1 garment, meant for Mr Fabric Godmother, ended up for father of fabric godmother as it grew quite a few sizes on the way!
    And I totally know what you mean about pink and skirts on a bike, it’s the same when I ride my blue shopping bike with a basket on the front I get so much more road space than when I am in lycra and my black road bike!

  32. amy May 1, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    Like others have written before me, I avoid cotton for knitting like the plague. Unless it is extremely (like sock yarn) small gauge and the pattern calls for much seaming, I don’t think it’s worth the effort to knit with it. I reserve it solely for infant gifts since they don’t struggle much with gravity and also they grow out of things to very quickly. Also it makes for good toys or pillows.

    As others have suggested, you could try sewing ribbon around the neckline after re-blocking it. Block the neckline somewhere between off-the-shoulder and its original placement so that when you sew in the reinforcement ribbon, you can still pull it over your head.

    One last thing, I don’t think that the trouble is trying to substitute yarns for a pattern, but changing the content of the yarn from the content suggested. If a pattern suggests pure wool, I’d use pure wool. If it suggests a particular blend, I’d try to get as close as possible to that blend if I’m not going to use the pattern’s suggested yarn. Like sewing pattern designers, knitting designers experiment a lot with drape before finalizing their choices/ design. They chose a particular fiber blend for a particular pattern after experimenting.

  33. Nadia May 2, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    I love that sweater! I would definitely wear it as an off-the-shoulder type deal. What I immediately thought to try to solve the problem was maybe threading a slightly darker pink ribbon through the neckline? Comme ca? http://www.yarnmarket.com/newsletter/spotlight/images/debbie-bliss/andes-ribbon-tie-sweater.jpg
    No idea if that would work with the stitch (? knit? whatever) that is used on the top there, but it could look neat.

  34. Monica May 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    You could try facing the neckline with ribbon or a t-shirt knit, and attaching stay tape to the shoulder seams. You could also try machine drying your swatch to full the stitches somewhat, although the vertical shrinkage will almost certainly be too much.

    Cotton sweaters are the bane of knitting, unless they are very small, knit tightly, or out of sportweight or thinner (or all 3).

  35. Anne May 4, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    With a neckline that has plenty of room to get your head through, I often tightly crochet around the edge. It has stopped the growing neckline problem for me, and my husband refuses to wear ‘feminine neck’ sweaters, so his are always done as tight as possible and leave little stretch to get over his head.

  36. Maureen May 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Just ordered the Cambie pattern!! The steel grey dress looks so sophisticated, both designs are gorgeous and so unique.

    Failures – oh yes. I made a vintage pattern with cotton yarn instead of the wool yarn which is now longer available. I got as far as sewing it together – well, it also grew, and grew, and grew.

    I pulled it down and bought a pattern for the yarn! It is a lacy design and is looking nice.

    I do love the pink on you.

    Maureen

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