Originally, I had planned to add a typical button band to my cardigan. But, of course, I changed my mind (because I like to make things difficult for myself). Once the sweater was nearing completion, it occurred to me that a vertical button band would totally break up the beautiful, simple horizontal lines of the sweater. So what’s a girl to do? What could I use to close up my sweater invisibly?
My first thought was to use hooks and eyes. I bought a couple packs of great big hooks and eyes (sized to be used on a coat), and attached them to the front edge of my sweater.
I sewed 20 stupid little hooks in place, and then I tried it on. And then, I just about cried. It looked terrible! It was all weird and pucker-y. It pulled at every single hook when I wore it. (Of course some of the terrible-ness came from me sewing the hooks on incorrectly-too far from the edge, but a part of it was just the nature of the hooks. Hook-and-eye fastenings work best with stiffer fabrics, not soft, stretchy wool sweaters.)I immediately cut off the hooks and eyes. I’ve still got them, so maybe I’ll use them for another project down the line, but definitely not another sweater.
Instead, I bought myself a nice long separating zipper and sewed it carefully by hand along the front plackets. Because the zipper has absolutely no stretch to it, I made sure to sew it in very carefully.
When I closed up my sweater this time, I was overjoyed with how it turned out. The edges match up perfectly! There’s no unsightly gap or puckering, and I even managed to make sure the zipper didn’t buckle or pull at the front of the sweater. Victory!
My Stellar’s Jay Sweater is roughly based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s EPS (Elizabeth’s Percentage System) sweaters. EPS sweaters are based on the idea that the size of someone’s arm is roughly proportional to their bust size, which is roughly proportional to their neck size. It’s not perfect for people with more unusual body types, but I’ve found that most people can make the EPS work for them on the whole. It’s a great basic sweater recipe that you can customize, tweak and otherwise futz with to make yourself the sweater you’ve always dreamed of.
My Stellar’s Jay Cardigan is knit from the bottom up, which means that make the body first, from hem to armpits. Then I cast on the sleeves at the cuffs, and knit up the arm.
I wanted a slightly fitted, tapered sleeve, so I cast on 22% of the stitches I used for my torso. It sounds weird, but EZ spent years perfecting her formulas, until she figured out that a cuff should measure about 20-25% of the torso in diameter. (Crazy, right?)
Then I slowly increased (increasing 2 stitches every 8 rows in a line along the inside of the arm) until I reached 64 stitches, which was my planned upper arm measurement (about 35% of my torso measurement). Then, I knit along, without any more increases, until my sleeve was long enough for my arm.
The result was a gently tapered sleeve, that perfectly fit my arm.
The next thing to do was to join the arms to the body.
On Friday, I waxed poetic about the tubular cast-on and tubular bind-off. How they look the same, how they’re perfectly stretchy, and how they are ideal for cuffs and collars. But, I didn’t show you any examples.
Now, it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is (metaphorically speaking. I don’t have enough money laying around to just start eating it).
Behold, the hem and the collar of my (almost finished) Stellar’s Jay Cardigan.
See how they match perfectly? The k1p1 ribbing makes a lovely subtle edging, and the tubular cast-on/bind-off stops the sweater from pulling even a little bit. Sure, my perfect edges are something that only an obsessive knitter would notice, but as a slightly obsessive knitter, they’re something that makes me very happy.