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.