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  • Writer's pictureBecca Norman

Duotone Sweater: a knitting journal

Updated: Feb 23


My annual knitting tradition


Over the past few years, I've happily settled into the rhythm of knitting one sweater for myself each year, and smaller projects throughout the rest of the year. It works for me. Sometimes I knit sweaters for other members of my household (can't have them feeling left out ALL the time...) but I look forward to my one special sweater that's just for me all year.


Well, this year I knitted that one sweater, a cardigan, ( I tend to alternate between cardigans and pullovers) and felt like starting another sweater because it wasn't even winter yet and why not? My family was still in limbo with the transition between active duty Army and returning to Korea as a civilian contractor family. I had time to spare and nerves to settle.


An offer I couldn't refuse


My friend Rachel Costello posted a testing call for a new design that looked amazing, as well as a yarn discount from a dyer whose colors looked beautiful. I was in Missouri, away from my stash and other handmade sweaters, so I decided to go for it. The only problem was that I didn't know how much longer I would be there, and thus wasn't sure if I should have the yarn shipped to where I was, or to my American PO box in Korea.


In case you missed it: this video should get you up to speed on some of the craziness of this transition. It was far from a smooth ride.


Leap of faith


I decided to go ahead and order the yarn and have it shipped to my parents' house in Missouri. I had no idea when I would be leaving or when the yarn would arrive; I just hoped that, like everything else in my life, that it would work out in the end. And thank God, because I ended up being in Missouri for over a month past when the yarn arrived.


Yarn from Zeezee Textiles: Baby suri laceweight in "Matcha" and Natural fingering weight in "Cyprus"


They are so soft, especially the baby suri, and do you see that twist on the darker green? That gives it great squish and stretch recovery. It's non-superwash, which I've learned not to fear.


About that sweater...


This sweater that I found so irresistable is the Duotone, which is a pullover sweater with a drop-sleeve and bottom-up construction. Normally I'm not a fan of dropped sleeves, but for some reason this one really appealed to me. Like many Knitters, I favor a top-down construction because of the ability to try it on and test for length before committing to the hem.


Rachel designed this very thoughtfully with a provisional cast-on to allow for adding length after the fact if desired. And the sleeves were worked down from the shoulders, so that was easy. Best of both worlds!


It's worked with 2 strands held together, one fingering weight and one lace weight mohair or something else with a nice loft. I like alpaca because it's less itchy for me, so I chose baby suri. (Suri Alpacas have straight hair as opposed to curly and wooly, which makes it a nice mohair substitute)


There is a fun faux i-cord detail down the center front and back, as well as the sleeves, and I chose the version with the i-cord bind off rather than ribbing on the ends of the sleeves and body.


If you remember my advice for knitting when stressed, this one ticked all my boxes:


  • Mostly stockinette in the round

  • interesting detail with a 2-row repeat

  • soft

  • happy color

  • simple relaxed fit



First things first


The yarn arrived in hanks, so it had to be wound before I could do anything. I didn't bring my ball winder or swift in my luggage, but luckily I have some pretty mad ball winding skills, so I sat down on the floor to watch some nature documentaries with my kids, put the yarn around my feet, and set to work. It was a full body workout!


Second things second


Once the yarn was wound up into usable cakes, it was time for the gauge swatch. My personal tension tends to be tighter than average, so I started out with a flat square using the recommended needle size, then cast on extra stitches and switched to knitting in the round with the next size up. I like to measure my swatches before and after blocking, so I'll have an idea how much growth to account for when I'm knitting the sweater and checking sleeve and body length.


The fun part


Time to start for real! Knitting the body isn't really that interesting to journal about, but it's oh so satisfying and relaxing.


Sweater, interrupted


At this point, my husband had left to start his new job in Korea, but due to paperwork errors (so. many. errors.) The kids and I had to stay behind and wait for our approval. It was for the best though, because we were in the process of evicting a delinquent tenant from the house that was our first home together.


The day after my husband flew out, the eviction was approved by the court. What a relief. But oh my goodness, I was not prepared me for the state that house was in. I spent many many hours (between homeschooling my kids and cooking for a very full house since the other adults still had actual full-time jobs) cleaning that house over the following month, with lots of help from family and friends, as well as some paid professionals, and the job was still nowhere near done when it was time for me to fly back across the Pacific Ocean.



But did I mention how much I love my family? My brother, sister-in-law, parents, aunt, and uncle continued the restoration in my absence and it looks amazing now. Good enough for family to live in, which is good because I'll never trust a stranger again. Being a landlord isn't as luxurious as you might think!


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Home again


Back at home, I was happy to be reunited with my ball winder and swift. I wound up the rest of the yarn and set to the task of finishing so that I could give Rachel my feedback. She seriously worked so hard to make this pattern easy to follow and fit many different body types. And she's not paying me to say any of this.


Mods


Of course I went rogue on something! I always do. As much as I loved the i-cord bind off style, I had a feeling the ends would always try to roll up and it would bug me. I decided to add bands of double knitting just before the bind off, and after a few tries, I figured out how to get it just right. You can find that tutorial here.


I also added a couple inches to both the sleeves and body, since my arms seem to be longer than average (interesting, since I'm slightly shorter than average...) and I hate it when my wrist bones and belly show. Remember how I said I measure the gauge swatch before and after blocking? I knew there would be a very slight amount of growth once it was blocked, so I calculated how much length to add with this in mind.



Here for the links?


These are not affilliate links, but the ones below are:


These would be a more-budget-friendly option and still very nice for this pattern.

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