I’ve knit a few grownup sweaters before, but mostly I just try to knit sweaters and end up abandoning or ripping them at somewhere about 70% of the way. The few I did finish (for myself) I’ve only worn a few times, out of some sense of obligation (I spent money, time and effort on it, it looks nice on the hanger, so I really should wear it, even though in fact I don’t like how it looks on me or I in it). For a while this meant that I was quite discouraged from attempting any new sweaters. But somehow, this fall, after defeating my lack of knitting mojo, I felt strong enough to go for it.
I turned to an old favourite that I had intended to knit years ago (this seems to be my leitmotif lately), and it proved to be a good choice. Cobblestone is probably one of the most popular men’s patterns out there, so I won’t ramble on about it too much. I was happy with how it was written and had no problems with it. A bit more difficult was finding a man who would want to wear it, though. When I first showed the pattern to some male friends, they all judged it too casual, and indeed it’s true that on some men it looks “like they should be working in an organic food store”, as one Ravelry user wrote of her version (I chuckled and agreed). But then my dad lives in the countryside, chops firewood, walks dogs, and even grows some of his own vegetables (organically) so I thought he wouldn’t mind too much.
Good old Cascade 220 was a natural choice of yarn. It is reasonably priced, I love working with it, and the Heathers palette has just the right amount of tweediness to it. When I found this beautiful dark brown with notes of purple (i.e. aubergine) colour, I knew I had my winner. In the end, even the friends who had originally scoffed at the pattern were asking if they could have one too. (That also taught me a few lessons about men’s ability to see past the version in the pattern photos… You know, it’s like it doesn’t even occur to them that it could be knit in a different colour than the one shown!)
A few words on measurements: I had taken detailed measurements of my dad in order to be sure I wouldn’t be missing any key figure when knitting this thousands of kilometres away from him. However, when I compared his measurements to those in the pattern, I had a bit of a shock. It seemed that all of his measurements were much much bigger than the pattern. E.g. for his size the pattern requested 44.5cm from bottom of sweater to underarm, and the measure I took of my dad for that section was a whopping 58cm! So, after thinking it over and concluding that my dad was not a monstrously disproportionate creature, I reasoned that the truth lay somewhere in between what the pattern suggested and what I had measured. I ended up having to make a lot of estimates and trusting my guts. I was also lucky enough to occasionally have access to a model of similar height as my dad, so I tried it out on him. I’d say in the end the measurements I actually knitted ended up being somewhere halfway between the pattern and what I had measured. I was on edge when dad opened his package on xmas and pulled the sweater on, but in the end, it fits like a glove. I can hardly believe it!
And since we’re talking about sweaters and fit, here is one important tip for measuring this sweater: always measure your progress with the sweater hanging, rather than lying flat. This is important especially towards the end, when you’re knitting garter stitch which stretches a lot, especially when faced with so much weight hanging on it. This sweater is heavy, keep that in mind!
In the end, both my fitting model and my dad had the same verdict: they loved the sweater but if they could change anything they would go for a more classical collar. I see their point. This collar is pretty low and requires that you wear a matching shirt underneath, as it will definitely show through at the neck. But hey, I wasn’t about to tell them that it was knit bottom-up and that the collar could be re-knit. I was too busy getting ready to knit some successful grownup sweaters for myself… ;)