Pattern: Stonecutter by Michele Wang, from BT Fall 2013.
Yarn: Merino wool/silk/cashmere blend yarn from Lambspun. I recycled the yarn from a cardigan I knitted for Mom about 10 years ago. Green was her favorite color, and though she loved the cardigan, she didn’t wear it much because she thought it too nice for everyday wear. I found it neatly stored away in her closet, brought it home, took it apart, and waited for inspiration to strike.
Modifications: I made it pretty much according to pattern but with usual adjustments for length of sleeves. The sweater grew with blocking, but I don’t mind the extra room.
Thoughts: I like Michele Wang’s patterns; she does interesting designs that are aesthetically pleasing and fun to knit. Having said that, today’s knitters seem to expect over-written patterns, and this one is no exception. I continue to be surprised by 16 pages of instruction: does anyone really need 4 paragraphs on how to wash and block knitting?
On to specifics: I also continue to be surprised by many knitters’ enthusiasm for the tubular cast on, particularly the perception that the tubular cast on gives a sweater a more “professional” finish. I have not seen too many hand-knit sweaters where the tubular cast on looked truly polished, and the model for this pattern is NOT one of them. The cast on looks very bulbous to me and does not flow into the ribbing. Obviously, the cast on is a design choice, and I prefer the traditional long-tail cast on for an edge that is flexible, clean, and does not draw attention to itself.
The designer also spent too much bandwidth on the selvedge: I personally do not find the “wrapped chain stitch selvedge” particularly neat or structured. In my experience, careful sewing together of edges can correct pretty much any minor imperfections in the knitted flat pieces. This is another area, as with the cast on, that knitters should be able to figure out on their own.
Finally, I must comment on the Elizabeth Zimmerman “sewn bind off” recommended by Michele Wang. Clearly I did not use this method: it is fiddly, and for this particular neckline, unwarranted. The usual bind off gives a neat and flexible finish that disappears into the gentle roll of the reverse stockinette neckband.
I am not against designers having their personal preferences, but there are many knitters tackling these patterns who are not experienced, and who may think that because a designer says to do this or that, that these methods are in fact the best. The best, of course, is whatever works and produces the result desired.