Trying to warm up

There’s really no reason a knitter should ever be cold, is there? And yet, I feel as if I have been frozen since August. Last month, I decided to take action. I cast on for two plain, stockinette sweaters in my battle against winter.

By the numbers

I knit this cardigan without a pattern, using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in “Mist”, a tape measure, and a well-worn Wool of the Andes sweater as a gauge swatch. The result is utterly uninspiring. Wool of the Andes is such a mediocre yarn. The more I use it, the less I like it. I find it wildly inconsistent: some dye lots bleed profusely, some skeins are riddled with knots, and most egregious of all, I cannot make a consistent gauge from lot to lot (my gauge ranges between 18 and 20 stitches over 4″ on size 8 needles). It is the only yarn I have encountered with which I cannot make the recommended gauge every time I use it. So, you ask, what is the difference between 4.5 stitches/inch and 5 stitches/inch? Take a look at the shoulder line of this cardigan. It falls over my shoulder. I hate that.

Made by gauge swatch and tape measure

If I did not loathe this yarn so much, I would reknit the armholes with far more rigorous shaping. However, this is a plain, simple, quick, and cheap cardigan (can you argue with $14?), knit for warmth around the house more than anything else. My time is better served with the Skye Tweed sitting in my stash, wouldn’t you agree?

Wool of the Andes is a worthless yarn

The second sweater is one I started in early November, Beth Silverstein‘s Francis Revisited (Ravelry link), recently knit by Lolly and Parikha and Sarah. I decided to make the sleeves longer and use garter stitch in place of the seed stitch.
Francis visited, revisited, and revisited

Unfortunately, I cannot settle on a satisfactory bottom hem. At first, I knit garter stitch rows but they looked too loose and sloppy so I ripped them out. I tried again with a purl row followed by a rolled edge. This one strikes me as awkward (and still sloppy) with the long garter stitch sleeve cuffs. Perhaps I will try garter stitch knit on smaller needles? You will see more of this next week. I am not done with it yet!

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22 comments so far

  1. Sharon on

    I hear you about the WOTA. I’m still working on my DROPS sweater, and my gauge is all over the place. I’m hoping blocking will help fix most of the woes.

    How about garter stitch for the hem, to match the sleeves, but with a split on the sides so it’s a little more flattering?

  2. Heidi on

    Another non-fan of the WOTA. It’s too bad. But I do like the style of that cardigan!

  3. liz K on

    Look at it this way. You can forever release WOTA as a yarn to use for garments. I sort of like it when I narrow down my choices.

  4. Theresa on

    On the plus side, you did a lovely job with the buttonbands.

  5. lolly on

    THe cardigan looks really nice – sorry the yarn was such a pain. The style of it reminds me of a cardigan I made a few years ago and really enjoy wearing (The Sesame from the late Magknits). I can’t wait to see your Francis. I really like the look of the garter cuffs!

  6. Kelly on

    I’ve never knit with WOTA so I can’t say I know what you went through but your cardi does look great! That would be an everyday cardi for me!
    Can’t wait to see Francis, I like rolled edge.

  7. Chris on

    The cardi looks good, no matter how maddening the yarn!

  8. gleek on

    that’s a great, simple cardigan :) too bad the yarn was not so great.

  9. Danielle on

    Too bad your WOTA experience is so unsatisfying, because we can all use a few more good basic wool sweaters!

  10. grumperina on

    I was having a conversation today with a young (in terms of experience) knitter. But old enough that she has discovered the goodness of KnitPicks – like you say, how can you argue with a $14 sweater? But similar to you, she was complaining about knots and dye issues. She asked if I could recommend something else for cheap yarns… I told her: Little Knits for name brand close-outs, and elann for their house-brand yarns. Because, at basically the same price, they are such better quality compared to KnitPicks. The house brands at WEBS (Valley Yarns) and PatternWorks also come to mind, but I’ve never tried them so I can’t fully endorse.

    Anyway, the moody gray-blue is fabulous, I hope you won’t hesitate to wear it!

  11. Holli on

    I think your cardigan looks nice, considering how much grief it gave you while knitting it. The button band looks great and for $14 – it’s a great knit to wear around the house. I’ve never knit with WOTA – and I really appreciate your ‘review’ … now I know it’s one to avoid.

  12. stacey on

    The cardigan looks functional and warm – a bit like WOTA…..I’ve never knit with it, but a couple of friends had the same complaints. Guess you can’t expect tons from a $14 sweater!

  13. Jill on

    I hate WOTA too. I knit my drops sweater with it last year and it looks like crap this year and I’m currently knitting my brother a cabled vest out of some stash WOTA and then it will be out of my life! I agree with Grumperina that Elann house-brand yarns are better than WOTA.

  14. mai on

    i think the sweater fits you well! WOTA is pretty crappy though, you’re right. but i guess that’s why it’s so cheap!

    i love the garter stitch cuff on francis!

  15. Jenna S on

    I guess I’m lucky, because I haven’t had an issue with WOTA at all. I don’t love it (except for the price), but I don’t dislike it either. The finished sweater looks great though!

    Also, when can I look forward to the new baby jacket you previewed awhile back? I absolutely adored it and would love to knit one for my son.

  16. nikki on

    Thanks for the warning about Wool of the Andes. (I do like Knit Picks for one thing – the classic circular needles.) Sometimes a simple, feel-free-to-rake-leaves-in-it sweater is all that is needed.

  17. tiennie on

    This is wonderful on you! So comfy warm looking.

  18. Cassy on

    I have never used Wool of the Andes. I probably won’t try it now. That’s very interesting about different gauges with different lots. You definitely can’t beat the price though. Fourteen dollars? Wow.

  19. Susan on

    I made my dad a WOTA cardi for Christmas a couple years ago. He loves it, but it does pill. I didn’t have the gauge issues, fortunately. I’m forever done with knitpicks yarn, though.

  20. leslie on

    i love your cardi. i think it turned out great, and is probably one of those sweaters that will end up in high rotation. the one you wear all of the time!
    looking forward to seeing francis.

  21. Ann on

    I think the cardi looks great & I love the collar. It’s good to have a nice & warm cardi like this to wear at home.

  22. =Tamar on

    Could you crochet a line along the shoulder (where a seam line normally is) to stabilize it (shrink it up) to where you like it? Since it is so flexible it ought to handle that much condensing without unsightly wrinkles. (Also crochet is easily removed if you decide you’d rather let it hang.) Sorry, this is my urge to fix everything.

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