Abram knitalong part 4: seaming and finishing

It's time to seam up our Abrams and add the finishing touches!

 
Olga's purple Abram, with its pretty, pretty neckband.

Olga's purple Abram, with its pretty, pretty neckband.

 

This is where you're going to be very, very pleased with yourself for taking the time to block these pieces so beautifully, with crisp clean edges that make seaming a breeze. I'll walk you through the various seaming and finishing steps here. Instructions for these techniques are in the Handsome appendix, but I'll also link to other people's excellent photo and video tutorials at each stage.

First, join the shoulders with a three-needle bind-off.

 

This three-needle bind-off tutorial from Purl Soho helpfully uses contrast-color yarn.

 

Next, lay your front and back pieces out flat, and introduce a sleeve to the mix. The center of the sleeve's bound-off stitches should line up with the shoulder seam you just made, like so:

 
(In this blurry floor photo, the sleeves have already been sewn on, but you get the idea re: placement.)

(In this blurry floor photo, the sleeves have already been sewn on, but you get the idea re: placement.)

 

Next, join the sleeves to the body.

Thread your needle with a nice long piece of yarn, and you're ready to sew. Beginning at the edge of the Front piece, join the curved underarm of a Sleeve to the curved armhole of the Front using mattress stitch.

Once you've joined the short curved sections, you'll reach a long straightaway on both the sleeve and the armhole. Here, you're working with perpendicular fabrics. That is, the stitches of the Sleeves are at a 90-degree angle to the stitches of the Back and Front. Kelbourne Woolens has a great photo tutorial for invisibly joining perpendicular knit fabrics. If you prefer video, Wool and the Gang has this tutorial, which helpfully uses their massive fat roving yarn.

 
 

Once you reach the curved, shaped sections of the Sleeve and Back piece, just return to using mattress stitch. Now your sweater looks like mine does above.

Then join the Front, Back, and Sleeves together at the side seam.

Beginning at the bottom edge, where your provisional cast-on is, use mattress stitch to join the Front to the Back, then continue on to join the Sleeve seam all the way to the provisional cast-on at the cuff edge. For guidance, I think Staci's mattress stitch tutorial is a good one:

 
 

Tack down the bottom and cuff hem facings.

Next, you'll unravel the provisional cast-on and tack down the released live stitches at the hem and both cuffs. I like to fold the hem facing up at the turning row and pin or baste it in place before I start sewing. I tug on the provisional cast-on chain to release the stitches one at a time. As each new live stitch is released, I run my tapestry needle through it, without twisting. Then I run the needle, from bottom to top, through the nearest purl bump on the back of the sweater fabric and pull the yarn through. Working through the purl bumps allows you to follow a straight line, so that the hem facing will lie flat.

Finally, add a neckband.

Here's a quick video tutorial from Berroco Yarns showing two different methods for picking up stitches around a neckline. I prefer the first method -- the ridge that it creates on the inside will be covered by your neckband facing when you turn it inward and tack down the live stitches as you did for the hem and cuffs.

 
 

I like to give my seams and hems a good heavy steam with my iron, then gently press them flat with my fingers.

And that's it! You have an Abram sweater all ready to wear!

Rushaan knitalong part 1: choosing your yarn

 

Let's knit Rushaan!

 
Rushaan pair
 

For those just joining us, this is the second of six knitalongs I'll be hosting this year -- one for each of the designs in Handsome: Man Sweaters for Every Body. I'll be making a version of each sweater in the collection for myself, using Jill Draper Makes Stuff yarns. Folks will be sharing their projects, questions, and knowledge in the Handsome Ravelry group.

The Rushaan KAL will take place over the months of October and November, and I'll be posting here about all the steps it takes to make your own sweater, from choosing a yarn to finishing techniques. Knit along with us and post your stuff! #HandsomeKnitting #RushaanKAL #ManSweaters

The first step is to choose the yarn we'll use for our Rushaan sweaters. I'm going to talk a bit here about the different yarns I've used for Rushaan, and the different qualities those yarns give the finished sweater. Then I'll share some tips for yarn substitutions, in case you want to use something else from your stash or LYS.

The original Rushaan sweater (seen below on, yes, Rushaan) was made with Quince & Co. Chickadee yarn.

 
the Rushaan sweater, knit with Quince & Co. Chickadee yarn

the Rushaan sweater, knit with Quince & Co. Chickadee yarn

 

Chickadee is a soft, springy, 3ply yarn made of 100% American wool. It's soft enough to wear next to the skin, and I find it an utter pleasure to knit with because of its smooth texture and bounce. When it's worked at 6 stitches per inch for Rushaan, the resulting fabric is of moderate warmth, perfect for folks who might overheat in thicker wool sweaters. It's also fairly lightweight, so it's a good choice for garments with seamless construction, even in larger sizes. (Though in the later stages of our knitalong, I'll suggest a few ways to add stability to your Rushaan sweater, even without seams.)

I used short-row belly shaping on this one, and this heathered colorway (Sabine) camouflages the short rows beautifully.

 
Close-up of Chickadee's fabric

Close-up of Chickadee's fabric

 

Jason's version of the Rushaan sweater was made with Mountain Meadow's Cody sport-weight yarn.

 
Jason's nubby textured Rushaan sweater in Mountain Meadow Cody

Jason's nubby textured Rushaan sweater in Mountain Meadow Cody

 

Mountain Meadow is a family-operated spinning mill owned by Karen Hostetler, dedicated to supporting local ranchers and revitalizing the American wool industry through eco-friendly operations and fair prices for ranchers. The "Mountain Merino" of their Cody yarn is fine, soft, and silky, and spun into a bouncy 2-ply yarn.

But my favorite thing about Cody is its slightly irregular texture. Not only does that texture produce a fabric that's really pleasant to the touch, but it also obscures minor wear, pilling, and fuzz -- my only beef with most fine Merino yarns. Compared to a smooth yarn like Chickadee, the fabric Cody produces has a more casual, rustic feel.

 
Close-up of the Cody fabric

Close-up of the Cody fabric

 

Finally, I'm making my own version of Rushaan with Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk yarn.

 
Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk yarn, in colorway Pine Shade. Photo (c) Jill Draper.

Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk yarn, in colorway Pine Shade. Photo (c) Jill Draper.

 

Mohonk is made from 100% New York State unregistered Cormo wool. It's spun into a 2-ply sport weight, with a little of its natural lanolin. It's spongy and soft and lovely to knit with, and Jill's kettle-dyed colors are to dye for (lol GET IT?). In terms of texture, Mohonk produces a lightweight fabric with less of Chickadee's smooth stitch definition, but that isn't quite as nubbly as Cody.

yarn content qualities cost
Quince & Co. Chickadee 100% U.S. wool smooth, sturdy, moderately warm, 3ply
$.05 per yard
Mountain Meadow Cody 100% Wyoming mountain merino wool soft, warm, nubby-textured, 2ply $.06 per yard
Jill Draper Mohonk 100% NYS unregistered Cormo wool soft, spongy, warm, 2ply $.09 per yard

YARN SUBSTITUTIONS

Some things to keep in mind if you're planning to make your Rushaan sweater with a yarn not described here:

  • GAUGE, GAUGE, GAUGE: Make a few swatches with different sized needles, wet block them, pin them neatly into shape without stretching until dry, and then measure the stitch and row gauge. You're looking for 24 stitches and 34 rows over 4 inches of stockinette stitch, after blocking.
     
  • FABRIC and FEEL: You should also verify that you actually like the fabric your yarn creates at pattern gauge. After you block and measure your swatches, spend some intimate time with the swatch that got pattern gauge -- squish it around in your hand, rub it on your face and neck. Imagine a whole Rushaan sweater made from that fabric, and be sure it's what you want.
     
  • YARN & FIBER QUALITIES: Make sure the characteristics of your yarn work with the design in a way you're going to like. If you want a sweater that feels a little dressier, choose a smooth yarn like Chickadee, or one with a little bit of silk or alpaca for drape. If you want something more rustic, then a woolier wool like Cody is probably more suitable for your Rushaan. (And for more information about choosing the right yarn for a project, check out one of my #1 knitting bibles, Clara Parkes's The Knitter's Book of Yarn.)

So go read the Introduction to Handsome and use it to take measurements, choose a size, and select your custom options.

Next up, we'll talk about the dreaded TUBULAR CAST-ON and explore some of the least fiddly ways to accomplish it.

Abram knitalong part 3: sleeves and blocking

Sleeves

The sleeves on the Abram sweater are worked in the same manner as the front and back pieces. You'll begin with a provisional cast-on, work the hem facing (ideally in a jazzy contrast color), work a turning row, then knit the main part of the sleeve with shaping.

And of course, you can customize your sleeve length with the custom calculators. If you like sleeves to hang down over your hands a little bit, add an inch or two to your Single Wingspan measurement.

I want to share a bit about how this sweater and its sleeves are designed. Abram uses modified drop-shoulder construction.

The most basic plain old drop-shoulder construction is a T shape, where a rectangular body meets rectangular arms.

 
drop-shoulder-construction.png
 

It's called "drop" shoulder because the body piece actually drops over the shoulder, with the sleeves attached beneath. It's a classic casual shape for a lot of cool sweaters, including many with oversized fits, plus Scandinavian ski styles like these vintage Spinnerin designs.

 
vintage ski sweater.jpg
 

But the major downside to drop-shoulder construction is that you end up with a bunch of excess fabric under the arms, which tends to get in the way unless the sweater is quite oversized. So some smart folks a long time ago decided to nip out a notch of that fabric, inventing what we now call modified drop-shoulder construction. It's got the casual ease of a drop-shoulder sweater, but with less underarm bulk.

Here's what your modified-drop-shoulder Abram pieces will look like before you seam them together.

 
modified-drop-shoulder-construction.png
 

Blocking

Once you've completed the Front, Back, and both Sleeves, you're ready to block! There are detailed instructions for wet blocking in Handsome, but I'll add some extra bossy tips here.

  1. PIN. Pin your pieces into shape as they dry. Wool fibers like to snuggle up together as they lose moisture, so your pins (and blocking wires, if you use them) are the only things keeping your pieces to the measurements you ultimately want.
     
  2. MEASURE. Measure every part of every piece, to make sure you pin it into a size and shape that matches the schematic and/or your custom measurements from the calculators.
     
  3. HAVE PATIENCE. Let the pieces soak in lukewarm water for a full 30 minutes. Take the time to squeeze out all the water you can. And let them dry fully before you remove them from the blocking board.

I used Jill Draper Makes Stuff Rockwell yarn for my Abram sweater. As I mentioned in Part 1 of the knitalong, it makes a pretty firm fabric at this gauge, so my finished sweater pieces are woolly and thick and crisp as h*ck. I can't wait to seam them up!

 
IMG_20170927_201615_865.jpg
 

Abram knitalong part 2: casting on! Back and Front

Once you’ve chosen yarn for your Abram, the Handsome introduction has all the information you’ll need to choose a size and select your custom options. Because the Abram sweater is so simple in design, there are loads of options for customizing its size and shape. You can adjust the body length and sleeve length, add body shaping (A-line, V-line, or X-line), and/or work a short-row belly. You'll also choose between the broad and narrow/average shoulders option.

For my Abram, I chose a size with about 3” / 7.5cm positive ease. I’m going with the narrow/average shoulders option, and I’ll be using the custom body length, sleeve length, and X-line shaping calculators.

Remember that, if you use custom calculators that make your Abram longer or larger than the pattern version, you may need more yarn than the pattern estimate. Be sure to buy enough yarn!

Casting On

The Back and Front of the sweater are worked identically from the bottom up to the neck shaping. (If you’re working a short-row belly, of course, it’s done on the Front piece only.) 

The Handsome e-book includes instructions for a crocheted provisional cast-on that begins with a long crocheted chain. The chain has little horizontal bumps in the back that look like purl stitches, and you pick up and knit your first row of stitches in those bumps. Once the Back and Front pieces are blocked and seamed together, you’ll unravel that chain to liberate a row of live knit stitches, fold the body up at the turning row, and sew the live stitches down to make a proper hem.

This is what my Back piece looks like, with the hem facing plus a few inches of body. You can see the crocheted chain of my provisional cast-on (done in rainbow sock yarn) and the purl bumps of my turning row. My main yarn is Jill Draper Makes Stuff Rockwell, and I'm using some pink mystery yarn from my stash for the hem facings.

 
Abram back cast-on
 

Check out Purl Soho’s photo tutorial for this provisional cast-on method, or Staci’s video tutorial (below).

 
 

I often use a different provisional cast-on method, in which you crochet the foundation "chain" right onto a knitting needle. The resulting cast-on is the same, but you avoid having to pick up and knit in all those little bumps.

Check out Ysolda’s photo tutorial for this method, or this Purl Soho video tutorial (below).

 
 

Shaping

Once your cast-on is complete, you’ll work the contrast hem facing, work a single turning row, and then begin the body of your sweater with the main color, working any body shaping from the custom calculator.

I’ve got very gentle X-line shaping on my sweater — just a single decrease row, then a single increase row, which takes my sweater in less than 1” / 2cm at the waist.

Once you reach the underarms, you’ll work the armscyes. Abram has a modified drop-shoulder construction, which means you’ll bind off at the underarm, work a small number of decrease rows, then continue straight on up to the shoulder shaping. This section — the armhole — is where the Back and Front pieces differ, since the crew-neck shaping dips lower on the Front than on the Back.

Starting a New Skein (with spit!)

Finally, I want to enthusiastically promote the felted join (aka the spit splice) as a method for joining new lengths of yarn. If you’re working with any yarn that has a large percentage of non-washable wool, this is an awesome way to avoid weaving in ends and I LOVE IT SO HARD. There are instructions in Handsome for working a felted join, but here’s a quick video tutorial from VeryPink Knits, for the visual learners. She shows the method I like best, which includes removing half of the plies on each end, so that the joined area isn't any fatter than the rest of the strand.

 
 

Abram knitalong part 1: choosing your yarn

Folks, it's time for our first Handsome knitalong.

Let's all knit the Abram sweater!

Abram - Abram + Olga

For those just joining us, this is the first of 6 knitalongs I'll be hosting over the coming year -- one for each of the designs in Handsome: Man Sweaters for Every Body. I'll be making a version of each sweater for myself using Jill Draper Makes Stuff yarns. Folks will be sharing their projects, questions, and knowledge in the Handsome Ravelry group.

The Abram KAL will take place over the months of August and September, and I'll be posting here about all the steps in making your sweater, from choosing a yarn to finishing techniques. Knit along with us and post your stuff! #HandsomeKnitting #AbramKAL


The first step is to choose the yarn we'll use for our Abram sweaters. I'm going to talk a bit here about the different yarns I've used for Abram, and the different qualities those yarns give the finished sweater. Then I'll share some tips for yarn substitutions, in case you want to use something else from your stash or LYS.

The original Abram sweater (seen below on, you guessed it, Abram) was made with The Fibre Company's Knightsbridge yarn.

the Abram sweater, knit in The Fibre Company's Knightsbridge yarn, pictured with Dr. Wiggles

the Abram sweater, knit in The Fibre Company's Knightsbridge yarn, pictured with Dr. Wiggles

Knightsbridge is a blend of 65% baby llama, 25% Merino wool, 10% silk. The silk adds to llama's naturally fancy luster and drape, while the wool gives the yarn a bit of bounce and lightens it up. When knit at 5.25 stitches per inch for Abram, the resulting fabric is drapey and very warm, but not overly heavy, even at larger sizes (plus, Abram's seamed construction adds stability to keep the sweater from losing its shape). My favorite thing about Knightsbridge is that the different fibers absorb dye differently, so each colorway is beautifully heathered. The color Beaverden looks like brown from a distance, but actually includes a super-cool melange of blues and purples when seen up close.

 
the many-colored Beaverden

the many-colored Beaverden

 

Stephen's version of Abram was made with Thirteen Mile Yarns undyed yarn.

 
Stephen's woolly marled Abram sweater in Thirteen Mile yarn

Stephen's woolly marled Abram sweater in Thirteen Mile yarn

 

Thirteen Mile Yarns are spun from a mix of fine wool breeds raised at Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool's Certified Organic ranch in Montana. They come in natural, undyed shades -- including two-tone marled combinations like the one you see here -- as well as plant-dyed colorways. In contrast to Knightsbridge, this fabric is lightweight and classically woolly. The resulting sweater is a versatile casual basic, especially in one of the marled colors.

Olga's femme adaptation of the Abram sweater is made with Catskill Merino sport weight yarn.

 
Olga's femme adaptation of the Abram sweater, in Catskill Merino sport. If you're planning to make this oversized femme version of the sweater, I'll include instructions for adapting the pattern at each stage of the knitalong.

Olga's femme adaptation of the Abram sweater, in Catskill Merino sport. If you're planning to make this oversized femme version of the sweater, I'll include instructions for adapting the pattern at each stage of the knitalong.

 

Catskill Farm's Saxon Merino wool is spun into a 2-ply sport weight at Green Mountain Spinnery, then hand-dyed at the farm in small, limited-edition dye lots. 100% Merino is a joy to knit with, springy and elastic and easy on the hands. The finished sweater is more likely to fuzz and pill than one made from Knightsbridge or Thirteen Mile yarns, but will be sturdy and wonderfully soft to the touch. Because the femme adaptation is oversized, I chose a yarn that has some body but isn't too drapey -- the silk and llama in Knightsbridge would make it too heavy for this version, putting stress on the seams and the sweater at risk of losing its shape over time.

Finally, I'm making my own version of Abram with Jill Draper Makes Stuff Rockwell yarn.

 
my first swatch of Rockwell

my first swatch of Rockwell

 

Rockwell is a 3-ply yarn made with Cormo-Merino crossbred Moorit wool grown and spun in New England. It’s spongy and round, and fluffs up beautifully with blocking. Rockwell comes in gorgeous “mono” colorways, as well as multi-colors like the one I’m using, which is made from three different natural colors of undyed wool.5.25 stitches per inch is quite a snug gauge for Rockwell, so my sweater will be very warm, thick, and sturdy, but still fairly lightweight.

yarn content qualities cost
Fibre Co. Knightsbridge 65% baby llama, 25% Merino wool, 10% silk drapey, lustrous, very warm
$.06 per yard
Thirteen Mile Worsted 100% certified organic Montana wool warm, lightweight, woolly, 2-ply $.08 per yard
Catskill Merino Sport 100% Saxon Merino soft, squishy, elastic, 2-ply $.09 per yard
Jill Draper Rockwell New England Merino/Cormo crossbreed warm, lightweight, spongy, 3-ply $.11 per yard

YARN SUBSTITUTIONS

Some things to keep in mind if you're planning to make your Abram sweater with a yarn not described here:

  • GAUGE, GAUGE, GAUGE: Make a few swatches with different sized needles, wet block them, pin them neatly into shape without stretching until dry, and then measure the stitch and row gauge. You're looking for 21 stitches and 30 rows over 4 inches of stockinette stitch, after blocking.
     
  • FABRIC and FEEL: You should also verify that you actually like the fabric your yarn creates at pattern gauge. For instance, Rockwell's fabric at that gauge is thick and warm, which is perfect for the sweater I'm trying to make. But if you'd like something that drapes a bit more or looks a bit less rustic, then it's not the right fabric for you. So after you block and measure your swatches, spend some intimate time with the swatch that got pattern gauge -- squish it around in your hand, rub it on your face and neck. Imagine a whole Abram sweater made from that fabric, and be sure it's what you want.
     
  • YARN & FIBER QUALITIES: Make sure the characteristics of your yarn work with the design in a way you're going to like. If you want a sweater that feels kinda fancy and drapes around the body, then something with silk, alpaca, or llama (like Knightsbridge) might be a good choice. If you want something lighter weight, then a woolly wool like Thirteen  Mile is probably more suitable for your Abram. (And for more information about choosing the right yarn for a project, check out one of my #1 knitting bibles, Clara Parkes's The Knitter's Book of Yarn.)

So go read the Introduction to Handsome and use it to take measurements, choose a size, and select your custom options.

Next up, we'll talk about those custom options. Then we'll look at the Back and Front pieces, including two different methods for crocheted provisional cast-ons.

introducing HANDSOME: Man Sweaters for Every Body

Hello! I am super effing thrilled to announce that Handsome -- the product of two years of research, design, and awkwardly measuring my friends -- is now available for purchase.

 
 

Handsome: Man Sweaters for Every Body is an e-book collection of six menswear sweater patterns designed to fit every size, shape, and gender of adult human.

The Handsome collection features:

  • a wide range of sizes (from 30" to 66" chest circumference);
  • extra sizing and style options in each pattern;
  • online calculators to further customize each sweater with body shaping, short rows, and personalized body and sleeve lengths.

I've created a Ravelry group for the collection, where folks can share and discuss their projects, ask questions, exchange ideas, and just generally have a supportive online community for Handsome-ing.

Over the coming year, I'll be hosting a knitalong here and in the Rav group. Every two months, I'll make a different sweater from the collection, customizing each design for my own self using Jill Draper Makes Stuff yarns. I'll also post photos and tutorials as we go, clarifying some of the more challenging parts of each design.

Please knit along with me! Here's the schedule so you can plan ahead:

Abram sweater

Aug-Sept 2017: Abram
my JDMS yarn: Rockwell

Rushaan sweater

Oct-Nov 2017: Rushaan
my JDMS yarn: Mohonk

Jerry sweater

Dec-Jan 2018: Jerry
my JDMS yarn: Mini Empire

Kale sweater

Feb-Mar 2018: Kale
my JDMS yarn: Windham

Robert sweater

Apr-May 2018: Robert
my JDMS yarn: Hudson

Elliot sweater

June-July 2018: Elliot
my JDMS yarn: Mohonk Light

For more information about each sweater in the collection, check out the Lookbook.

To buy Handsome right freaking now, just click here.

And to access the custom calculators for each design in the collection, visit the custom calculators page.