Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Norwegian sweater project

Norwegian Sweater Inspiration

Yes, I know this is supposed to be a blog celebrating all that's British, but let's ignore that for a minute so I can tell you about a knitting project I have planned for this summer.

Back in the 80s I owned a navy blue LL Bean Norwegian sweater that I loved with all my heart even though it was huge on me. I wore it through college, on casual days at work, even as a jacket of sorts on cold winter days -- it was that warm. I'm not sure what happened to it -- it may be packed up in a box out in our storage container -- but I've been longing to wear one again.

In the 1990s, LL Bean discontinued selling this classic sweater but, due to customer demand, brought it back a few years ago. Sadly, they seem to have changed the sweater a bit. The old sweaters had a bit of rayon in them, and the cuffs on the newer sweaters aren't as sturdy and sprongy as the old cuffs. Reviewers complain of the sweater feeling lighter and less rugged than the classic sweaters of years past.

So I've decided to knit my own this summer.

The LL Bean version is boxy -- there's no shaping around the waist -- and at my age, I do need a little shaping to avoid looking like a linebacker for the New England Patriots. Shaping will be easy enough to accomplish if I knit my own version. I was thinking of using Elizabeth Zimmerman's EPS system to create my sweater, but this will create raglan sleeves and the LL Bean version has set-in sleeves. Ideally I'd like to knit the sweater in the round as opposed to knitting it flat; stranding on the purl side is no fun. But it seems like if I knit in the round from the bottom up, I'll have to cut steeks for the armholes ... unless I figure out how to knit it top down.

Screen shot 2013-04-23 at 1.19.24 PM

I bought some test wool last week when I was down at my mother's house in Mystic, some Nature Spun Sport in "blueberry" and "cream" for swatching. The blue is a little bluer than I wanted, but yarn that was marked "navy" looked almost black, so I went with the lighter color. It looks like the pattern is easy enough, a square of four rows and four stitches width. The only trick will be shaping on the sides. The LL Bean version is seamed on the sides and some of the white stitches are crowded together, so I don't think my un-seamed version will look too weird.

Hmmm. I'm never done something this adventurous before, so any advice is welcome!

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