aidez, and a seaming manifesto (well, sort of...)

Me: Hey Stuart, could I impose upon you for a really big favor? Please please?
Stuart: Mmmm?
Me: Could you come outside in the snow for a couple minutes to take pictures of me in my new sweater?
Stuart: If you grab me a beer afterwards.
Me: Deal.

I offer you the above conversation merely to explain why all the pictures of me in stuff I knit are taken in the back yard with fences and neighbors' garages in the background. Maybe in warmer weather I'll haul the nice camera to the park to make a better setting. By then I doubt I'll want to model warm sweaters, though.

In any case, I present to you - Aidez! Pour moi!

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I liked this design the instant I saw it. The actual knitting did not disappoint, either. Not one little bit.

For one thing, the gauge is listed at 15st = 4" on size 10 needles, so it goes fast. For another thing, each piece of the sweater has a different cable pattern, so it never gets boring. Also, the back neck is just knit as an extension of the fronts, so there is no picking up stitches; once you knit the back and sleeves and front, you're done but for the sewing up.

Speaking of sewing up, I'm going to offer up my opinion here about seamed vs. seamless designs. For experienced knitters reading this, it's an old debate, so feel free to skip ahead to more pictures, such as they are. However, for non-knitters or new knitters reading and interested in learning more, please continue.

Two of the greatest knitters of the last century - Elizabeth Zimmerman (may she rest in peace) and Barbara Walker (still going strong at 80+!) - were advocates for knitting sweaters in one piece, either from the bottom-up (in the case of EZ) or the top-down (Walker wrote a whole book about that). Lately, many designers have followed suit, acknowledging knitters' desire to avoid things like too much purling, or having lots of work assembling a sweater after all the pieces have been knitted. There are, certainly, some advantages to knitting a sweater in one piece. Knitting stockinette stitch in the round is all knitting, and is usually faster than going back and forth between knit and purl rows. If it's done from the top-down, for example, you can try it on as you go, and things like adjusting length are easier when you're doing it all at once. And then there's the issue of seaming. A lot of knitters hate it, or think it's difficult, so they avoid it.

Now, I have made my fair share of sweaters in one piece. Anya's Owl Sweater from a couple years ago was a bottom-up design. I've made approximately a zillion and one top-down plain sweaters from Knitting Pure and Simple patterns for various children, including mine. My Equinox Raglan and Lace Leaf Tee are both top-down designs, and they are two of my personal favorites.

BUT. You have to be careful with one-piece designs, especially those large enough for adults to wear. Put another way, seams definitely have an advantage when it comes to certain issues like s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Seams provide structure and stability to a garment, which is particularly important for sweaters large enough to fit adults, sweaters made out of non-elastic yarn (like cotton, or even alpaca), and sweaters with cabled and/or textured designs that add bulk and weight to the finished item. I like seamless sweater designs for the following:

1. Children and babies. Seams add ridges that could cause discomfort to delicate skin. Smaller sweaters are less likely to stretch out of shape, and if they do, so what? Kids grow so fast, it hardly matters.

2. Plain, stockinette designs. Without cables or lots of texture, a plain st st sweater is less likely to be so heavy, particularly if it's made in a light, lofty yarn (see above re: Equinox Raglan).

3. Colorwork and fair isle. I confess I have yet to make a whole sweater with colorwork, but there are several in my queue, and I hope to get to one soon. I have, however, made hats and mittens aplenty with fair isle designs. Long ago, I made Stuart a sweater with a fair isle pattern on the top which he wore twice...I've learned a lot about his taste in clothing since then...lesson learned...anyway, it was done in pieces with colorwork back and forth, and let me tell you, that was a HUGE pain in the tush. Never again.

Another potential drawback to knitting a sweater in one piece is that if you screw up, there's that much more knitting to rip out to fix the mistake.

But now, back to my Aidez.

I didn't mind the seaming at all. With the different cable patterns on each piece, doing everything at once would have required a lot more concentration than it took to do just one at a time. And - not to beat the dead horse or anything - since this design has so many cables, it's denser and heavier than a plain st st sweater would have been, so the seams add to the structure of the overall sweater. This is particularly true for mine because I substituted a 100% alpaca yarn (huzzah for stash-busting!) for the regular wool yarn the pattern called for, and alpaca is prone to stretching out of shape.

Pattern: Aidez, free from the Berroco website.
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Chunky in a pale, heathery blue shade. I bought it on clearance at WEBS at least a couple of years ago without a plan (something I almost never do), and thought that this design seemed like a good match. I was right. I don't regret the yarn substitution (the original calls for Peruvia Quick) for a second. Knitting - and wearing! - the yarn is heavenly.
Mods: My gauge was slightly off, 16st = 4" instead of the called-for 15st = 4". I didn't want to knit looser, so I followed the numbers for a larger size. It's a smidge tighter than I had planned on, but I hate floppy sweaters, so I'm actually quite happy with the fit. I also made the whole thing a couple inches shorter than the original pattern.

I leave you with the silly shot from this afternoon:


revknits said…
I agree about the seaming - you have to think through the weight, fiber and texture for each sweater. Yours looks fabulous - I would never need such a heavy sweater here!
katie said…
It's beautiful, Suze!
Siga said…
Your aidez is very pretty. Well done.
Mrs. Allroro said…
Very informative. Thanks. Great sweater. And in regard to a previous post, (possibly from your other blog) please keep your hair like this. I love it. You look great!
Looks Great! I can't believe it's knit in such a fast gauge; I might have to make one for Beth.
Does it or will it have any buttons?
Jessi said…
So beautiful. I have got to learn to do this!!
That is a beautiful sweater indeed. I agree about the seaming and sizing also. Great fit.
ML said…
This sweater is really pretty on you! I covet all these sweaters you have been making. I am quite impressed with your skills. I think MJ might make me a scarf out of the lavender yarn you gave her. Hope you and yours are doing well!
cauchy09 said…
great sweater! i've got an Aidez on the needles that i can't wait to get back to. and I totally agree with you on seams. they have a purpose.
Anita said…
Congratulations on your doctorate and family and all your crafting talent! I also have a Ph.D. that is gathering dust as my daughter grows, and I craft like crazy and have actually resurrected my previous life as a pianist, but this time in collaboration with singers. If you happen to be on Facebook, look me up at Fiorellino Designs.
Nice to meet a fellow Ph.D. crafting mom!

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