Summer of Basics

Summer of Basics FO #1: Birch Bay

Woman with brown shoulder length hair wearing a intricately cabled handknit sweater in Greenwood Hill farm oatmeal colored merino wool.

As promised, here is my first finished project from the Summer of Basics! I am IN LOVE with this sweater, and am so happy it is September, because I am going to wear the bejesus out of this bad boy come fall.

The yarn is Greenwood Hill DK, a really super squishy 100% merino I purchased in Rhinebeck ten years ago. (I only know this because Ravelry told me I created the stash page for it in January of 2008. Crazy.) Since I finally used up this sweater quantity, there is about a 99.5% chance I will buy a new sweater’s worth for myself this year. It is that good. A funny aside, when I was poking around on Ravelry a bit ago, I saw this project by Margaret from Green Mountain Spinnery and her notes that they spin the Greenwood Hill. I am in love with pretty much every single yarn the Spinnery creates, so it came as zero surprise to me that they played a large role in creating another yarn I have loved for a decade.

Since I was the judge for the Best Modification/Alteration category, I thought it was important to put my money where my mouth is and do some nifty modifications to the three items I created. As I mentioned previously, the start of this sweater was Birch Bay by Julie Hoover, a gorgeous design with just enough unique detail.

The biggest and most obvious is the cable pattern. I am totally obsessed with this cable, and as the brainstorming for this sweater came right on the heels of finishing up all the details on Baby Jane and Nico, I wanted to keep working with it. The math was pretty easy – I just worked out my gauge in the cable and figured out my cast on stitches based off of the width as given on the schematic. In order to keep the knitting reasonable and the sweater from being too bulky, I only worked the cable on the front.

I was able to obtain the pattern gauge on US 7 needles in Stockinette stitch, so I followed the cast on numbers and short row shaping when working the back. Instead of binding off (although the sloped bind off as detailed in the pattern is my new favorite thing), I put the shoulder stitches on waste yarn after working the short row shaping and joined them using a three needle bind off after blocking.

Instead of ribbing on the sleeves, I worked them in stockinette stitch, and decreased down to the cuff to shape the arm. I did not work the back neck shaping in order to reduce the cowl effect and get more of a classic turtleneck. The cuff and hem ribbing are broken rib, and the turtleneck is regular k1, p1 ribbing, as the reverse (fold) on the broken ribbing isn’t as visually appealing.

As you can probably tell from the photos, the sweater is a little less oversized on me than in the pattern images. I am currently a 36″ bust (which will most likely shrink a little once Lucy decides she’s done with nursing), and 5’5″ tall. I have a pretty short torso and am a classic pear shape – my hips are a full 5″ wider than my non-nursing bust. I worked the numbers for the 1st size (46″ circumference), and knit the body 1″ shorter than in the pattern. The end result is a finished sweater with less ease (only about 10″ instead of the recommended 16-18″). I’m really happy with the fit, as it is comfortable and oversized, but I don’t feel as if I am totally drowning in it and will still be able to fit it under jackets come winter.

Linette is also a wizard – I am notoriously ridiculous and impossible in front of a camera, and she managed to get a bunch of usable – dare I say good – shots of me! I will leave you with this gem, though, taken right after I exclaimed “this sweater is like wearing a HUG!!”

Tomorrow I’ll share with you my finished Archer!

4 thoughts on “Summer of Basics FO #1: Birch Bay

  1. linette says:

    Haha! Love the post and you Kate! There is no wizardry in my picture taking capabilities, you are just a natural 😉
    Also, I wish I had that sweater, it’s gorgeous!

  2. Terina says:

    This sweater is so beautiful! The fit, the wool, the cable, everything – you look amazing in it.

  3. Wendy says:

    It looks fabulous. Good job!

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