Jerry knitalong part 4: fine and fiddly finishing

Friends, we have arrived at Jerry’s fine and fiddly finishing details.

There are four stages to the finishing on this sweater, in addition to the usual blocking and weaving bits:

  1. Knitting the back of the shawl collar and attaching it to the back neck
  2. Binding off the buttonholes
  3. Stitching down the collar and buttonband facing
  4. Setting in the sleeve caps and sewing the side seams

Let’s start with Task #1.

Finishing the shawl collar

I designed the collar and buttonbands as a single seamless piece. I also designed the shawl collar to be big and plush, because there is nothing quite so disappointing to as an otherwise cozy sweater with a skimpy shawl collar. I want to snuggle that thing around my neck while I step outside to smoke my pipe after Christmas dinner because my grand-niece Brenda won’t let me smoke it in the house. (I don’t smoke a pipe, celebrate Christmas, or have a grand-niece, but sweaters like this are aspirational, right?)

So anyway, the collar is seamless, and the construction is pretty cool. You return to the collar stitches you've set aside on the two front pieces, work some short rows to give the collar the depth it needs to lay nicely at the shoulders, and then continue to work across the back neck, SIMULTANEOUSLY joining the collar to the back neck as you go.

Here’s each step in photos:

01 pick up neck.jpg
 

Pick up and knit 1 st in each of the bound-off back neck sts, plus one additional st on each side of back neck sts. Mark center of sts with a safety pin or split-ring marker. Then set this bit aside.

After you work the short rows on the Left Front piece, you’ll get to Row 10. This is where you start joining the shawl collar perpendicularly to the back neck.

You’ll purl to the last stitch, slip that stitch, THEN knit the first picked-up back neck stitch, and pass the slipped stitch over.

 

You’ve now bound off one of the back neck stitches that you picked up, AND you’ve attached the two pieces.

You are brilliant!

04 half neck joined.jpg
 

Here’s what the pieces look like after you’ve worked your way across the left half of the picked-up back neck stitches ...

05 full neck joined.jpg

... and after you’ve repeated the whole process with the Right Front too.

You’re ready to Kitchener those two collar pieces together for a perfect invisible graft at the back neck.

Binding off the buttonholes

This buttonhole method is fussy af, but worth it. I experimented with lots of different ways to finish these — 3-needle bind-off, whip stitch, sewn bind-off — and this method achieves the best balance between getting a good result and not being a massive pain in the ass.

It’s difficult to describe this process in writing, so I’ve made a couple of video tutorials.

The first tutorial just runs through each step quickly.

If you find that you need more help than that, I've also made an awkward and very long tutorial that takes you through every. single. step. with much more explanation.

I hope these help you get the job done! If they don't, please earburn me in the Handsome Ravelry group, and I’ll do my best to come to your rescue.

I decided to do my buttonhole finishing inside out this time. So the loops of the bindoff appear on the back side of the buttonhole band, and the sleeker flat bars are on the front. If you'd like to do this too, the process is the same — you just work with the WS of the sweater body facing you instead of the RS.

Stitching down the facing

Next you'll sew the cast-on edge of the buttonbands and facings together with an invisible horizontal seam. The cast-on edges will get hidden inside the buttonband, like so.

06 invisible horizontal seam.jpg

I like to weave in my ends inside the buttonband before forging ahead.

And then you'll stitch down the facing — it's fast and easy once you get the rhythm. 

 1) Insert needle from RS to WS through center of outermost st of facing.  2) Insert needle from right to left under both legs of adjacent reverse St st and pull yarn through.

1) Insert needle from RS to WS through center of outermost st of facing.

2) Insert needle from right to left under both legs of adjacent reverse St st and pull yarn through.

 3) Insert needle from left to right under both legs of reverse St st above.  4) Insert needle from WS to RS through center of outermost st of facing in row above and pull yarn through.

3) Insert needle from left to right under both legs of reverse St st above.

4) Insert needle from WS to RS through center of outermost st of facing in row above and pull yarn through.

 Repeat steps 1-4 all the way around the whole collar and opposite band.

Repeat steps 1-4 all the way around the whole collar and opposite band.

And then you'll work another invisible horizontal seam on the opposite end. Done!

Setting in the sleeve caps

There are loads of helpful tutorials out there for seaming set-in sleeve caps. Here's a particularly good one, from Staci at Very Pink Knits.

On the Jerry sweater, this part of the assembly process is a little different from most handknit set-in sleeve caps, because our shoulder seam is not directly at the top of the armhole — it sits slightly toward the back. So there's just an extra step when you set your sleeve in: you mark the center top of the armhole.

 Mark center top of armhole—this will not align with shoulder seam. Mark center top of sleeve cap.

Mark center top of armhole—this will not align with shoulder seam. Mark center top of sleeve cap.

 Set in sleeves, matching sleeve to body at underarms andcenter markers.

Set in sleeves, matching sleeve to body at underarms andcenter markers.

From there, you just set in the sleeve as you would for any other sweater.

Then sew the side and sleeve seams using mattress stitch, steam block the collar, seams, and buttonbands, and sew on your buttons.

Congratulations! You have a Jerry!

Jerry knitalong part 3: back and fronts

Welcome to the third installment of the Jerry cardigan knitalong, in which I describe the bizarre shapes of these pieces and how they all fit together!

 
 Stephen wearing Jerry!

Stephen wearing Jerry!

 

Fronts

The Front pieces are the most complicated to knit, with a lot of increases and decreases happening at once: armhole shaping, v-neck shaping, and shawl-collar increases at 4 different points. (Luckily, the buttonhole rows on the Right Front are completed by the time you start shaping the upper body.) The shawl collar and buttonbands are all one piece with the Fronts, with a facing that's folded over and stitched down on the wrong side so that the collar and bands are double-layer fabric. This construction combines with the collar shaping to create a Front piece that looks like this:

 
 Right Front shape

Right Front shape

 

Shoulders

The shoulder slope and seams are also atypical for a handknit sweater, because all the shoulder shaping is done on the Back piece. This construction hangs nicely on all sorts of shoulder shapes. It's also a detail that's common in ready-to-wear sweaters -- because shaping and short rows are time-consuming, you'll frequently see machine-knit sweaters that displace all of the shoulder shaping to the back piece in order to knit the front piece(s) more quickly.

 
 Back and Right-Front shapes

Back and Right-Front shapes

 Jerry shoulder seam close-up

Jerry shoulder seam close-up

 

The sleeves are regular old set-in sleeves with a shallow cap. Sewing them in is a bit unusual, because you can't use the shoulder seam to mark the center of anything (as it's displaced onto the Back, as shown above). I'll share a quick photo tutorial in the Finishing post.

Coming up next: blocking, seaming, and a LOT of fun finishing!

Jerry knitalong part 2: that weirdo cast-on

Once you’ve chosen yarn for your Jerry, the Handsome introduction has all the information you’ll need to choose a size and select your custom options. You can adjust the sleeve length or add body shaping (A-line, V-line, or X-line).

For my Jerry, I chose a size with about 3” / 7.5cm positive ease. I’ll be using the custom sleeve length and X-line shaping calculators.

Remember that, if you use custom calculators that make your Jerry longer or larger than the pattern version, you may need more yarn than the pattern estimate. Make sure you have enough yarn!

Adjusting body length

The book doesn't include instructions for custom body length, but it can be lengthened quite easily. Just add length to the body by working extra rows after/above the last buttonhole, before/below the underarm shaping. This will lower the v-neck by whatever length you add, but it's a high V to begin with, so unless you're lengthening by several inches, that shouldn't be a problem. And if you have to add more than a couple of inches, you can just throw in an additional buttonhole. (Shortening the body length would be more difficult, but still possible for adventurous types -- you'd just have to recalculate the button spacing.)

To calculate out how much length to add to the sweater body, use the formula below. Measure your desired Total Body Length as instructed in the Handsome Introduction; the other figures can be found in the Jerry schematic.

lengthen Jerry body.png

casting on: the fine and fiddly details

Okay, I expect this is the first of many times I will say sorry-not-sorry for a fiddly detail on the Jerry sweater.

But I think taking extra care with the details is truly worth it for Jerry, and sets this design apart from other handknit sweaters. In the end, all of that patience and attention to finishing means you end up with an heirloom-quality sweater that looks really, really good.

That said, the cast-on is one place where I’ll tell you how to cut some corners if you so choose.

For Jerry, I've used a pretty cool cast-on for 2x1 (K2, P1) rib. Starting with an alternate cable cast-on, you cast on 25% more stitches than you actually need. Then, on Row 1, you 1) rearrange the stitches so that the knits and purls are in the correct order and 2) decrease those extra stitches away. The result is a fabulously flexible edge that blends nicely into the 2x1 rib.

 
JERRY edges.jpg
 

Below is a step-by-step photo tutorial for this cast-on. If it’s not your thing, please feel free to substitute the flexible cast-on method of your choice. I’d recommend a German Twisted / Old Norwegian cast-on. In fact, if you’re using custom body shaping, the custom instructions for the Back and Fronts will tell you to use the German Twisted / Old Norwegian method, since your new numbers may not work with the 2x1 cast-on.

If you choose to use this weirdo cast-on method — and I hope you will — here’s the step-by-step explanation of what the pattern instructions are asking you to do.

the initial cast-on stitches

First, the instructions tell you to use an alternate cable cast-on -- a cable cast-on that alternates between knit and purl stitches. Here's what that looks like on the Left Front piece, which also uses a regular cable cast-on for the stockinette buttonband. (The Handsome appendix includes written instructions for the cable cast-ons, but if you prefer video tutorials, I've linked to some good ones in the text above.)

 
 After the initial cast-on stitches of the Left Front

After the initial cast-on stitches of the Left Front

 

Row 1 and the c2k1p2tog

You'll begin Row 1 by knitting the first two stitches. And then you're ready to work the first c2k1p2tog -- cross 2, knit 1, purl 2 together.

jerry CO 2.png

Written instructions for c2k1p2tog are in the Special Techniques section of the Jerry pattern, but here's what it looks like on the needles.

jerry CO 3.png
jerry CO 4.png
jerry CO 5.png
jerry CO 6.png

Congratulations! You've swapped the first two stitches on the LH needle, crossing the second (knit) stitch over in front of the first (purl stitch). Now, on your RH needle, you have one selvage stitch and the first K of your K2, P1 rib pattern. The next stitches to be worked on your LH needle are: knit stitch (the second K of your K2, P1 rib), purl stitch, purl stitch. In the next step, you'll knit 1, then work those two purl stitches together.

jerry CO 6.png

Rib on!

If you're working the Back or a Sleeve, you'll keep chugging along with [k1, c2k1p2tog] until you've decreased half of the purl stitches and rearranged everything into (K2, P1) order. Then you'll just continue to work the cuff/band in 2x1 ribbing as you would with any other cast-on.

If you're working on one of the Front pieces, you're also dealing with the Stockinette buttonband, which is worked on an a different, larger circular needle. Here's what that looks like after several rows.

jerry CO 8.png

Again, it's fiddly! But worth it! And you only have to juggle the two different needles until the bottom ribbed band is complete -- the rest of the Fronts are worked on just the larger needle.

Shaping

Once you've completed the ribbed bottom band of the Back and Fronts, you'll work them in stockinette as written, adding any body shaping from the custom calculator. (I'll write up a separate post about the construction of the Back and Front pieces.)

Starting a New Skein (with spit!)

Finally — and I'm doing this for every single knitalong in this series — 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.

Next up, we'll talk about the construction of the Back and Fronts, and how it all fits together.

Don't hesitate to ask any questions in the Ravelry Handsome group! And please share your swatches and pieces and challenges and success there too. #HandsomeKnitting #JerryKAL #ManSweaters

Jerry knitalong part 1: choosing your yarn

OMG IT'S JERRY TIME

 
Jerry on Stephen.jpg
 

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

The Jerry KAL will take place over the months of December 2017 and January 2018, 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 #JerryKAL #ManSweaters

The first step is to choose the yarn we'll use for our Jerry sweaters. I'm going to talk a bit here about the different yarns I've used for Jerry, 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 Jerry sweater (seen below on, yes, Jerry) was made with Quince & Co. Osprey yarn.

 
JERRY.jpg
 

Osprey is a fluffy 3ply yarn made of 100% American wool. It's soft enough to wear next to the skin, and v pleasant to knit with because of its smooth texture and bounce. At 4 stitches per inch, it's a true Aran weight -- not fine, but not too chunky.

Stephen and Kevin's versions of the Jerry sweater were made with two strands of Elsawool Cormo woolen-spun sport-weight yarn.

Worked at the same gauge, a fluffy sport weight yarn held double makes a fabric that's more cohesive than an Aran weight, with stitches that are less clearly defined.

 
Jerry on Stephen - collar.jpg
Jerry on Kevin.jpg
 

Elsa's woolen-spun Cormo yarn might be my favorite yarn on Planet Earth. It's incredible. It's light, lofty, soft, and an utter pleasure to knit with. The fabric it creates is heavenly, and it only gets softer with age and wear.

Woolen-spun yarns have fabulous loft and lightness, but aren't as strong as worsted yarns. In this case, holding two strands double lends additional strength. (The Shetland wool geniuses at Jamieson & Smith have an excellent explanation of the two structures -- woolen/woollen and worsted.)

As you can see, the smooth Aran-weight yarn is a good choice for the vintage varsity style of Jerry's Jerry sweater. And the cohesive fabric of the fluffier doubled sport-weight gives Stephen and Kevin's sweaters a proper gramps vibe.

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

empire punkin.jpg

Empire may be best known for the ginormous 1280-yard hanks Jill puts it up in, but it's so much more than just massive yarn balls the size of a human infant. Empire is an Aran-weight yarn made from soft, springy 100% Rambouillet wool that's grown in New York State. It's strong and elastic and, as always, Jill's colors are magnificent. And if you need more than 1 Empire yarnbaby for your Jerry, but less than two, Jill also has a mini-Empire line, put up in regular ol' 213-yard hanks.

My plan is that the Empire will strike a balance between the smooth Aran-weight Osprey and the fluffy doubled Elsawool, creating a fabric that's chunky like the Osprey, but with less clearly defined stitches and thus a vibe more 1970s grandpa than 1950s grand slam.

And if you want to learn more from someone much more skilled than I am at assessing and writing about yarn, please read Clara Parkes's reviews of Empire, and of Elsawool Cormo.

I also swatched for this sweater in Cestari's Mt. Vernon 2-ply Worsted, which works up beautifully at this gauge. I haven't made a full Jerry with it yet, but it would be a lovely choice, similar to Osprey, so I'm including it in the comparison table below.

yarn content qualities cost
Quince & Co. Osprey 100% U.S. wool smooth, strong, 3ply, good stitch definition
$.08 per yard
Elsawool woolen-spun sport 100% Colorado/Montana Cormo wool light, lofty, 2ply $.13 per yard*
Jill Draper Empire 100% NYS Rambouillet wool elastic, strong, 4ply $.13 per yard
Cestari Mt. Vernon 2-ply Worsted 100% Virginia fine Merino soft, smooth, 2ply, good stitch definition $.06 per yard natural colors; $.08 per yard kettle-dyed

*Remember that doubled sport weight yarns will require twice as much yardage as Aran weight!

YARN SUBSTITUTIONS

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

  • YARN WEIGHT: As we've seen, the Aran and doubled sport-weight yarns create different fabrics and looks. This design includes some fine and fiddly details that are made slightly more fiddly with a yarn held double, so do bear that in mind. (In other words, if you don't tend to have much patience for finishing work, Aran might be your best bet.)
     
  • 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 16 stitches and 24 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 Jerry 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 sportier, choose a smooth Aran-weight yarn like Osprey with strong stitch definition. If you want something that makes a more cohesive fabric, choose something heathered, lofty, and/or sport weight. (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 general shapes of the Jerry pieces, how it's constructed, and the weirdo cast-on I unvented for you.