Sweet and Tart

Welcome to another Wearability Wednesday post, in which I re-visit a hand-knitted garment and discuss its wearability.  The garment in question today is the turtleneck which I finished in early February 2015 and blogged here; below is a photo taken just after finishing.


The pattern, Lightweight Pullover, was designed by Hannah Fettig.  I took much inspiration from Hannah’s design and the many projects on Ravelry.  (This is a very popular design.)   Once I got going, however, I did my own thing as far as the numbers go – increasing and decreasing where needed, and not paying much attention to the pattern specs.   I took minimal notes, which you can find on my Ravelry project page, here.  I did change the waistband and the cuffs to seed stitch, which I think adds much to the look of the garment.

Of all of the hand-knitted garments in my wardrobe, this is probably the one that has been worn the most in the last year.  Partly, this is due to the fact that I knit it after I put on weight.  (I gained about 10 kilos during 2013-14; many of the knits I made before that are temporarily in storage.)  But mostly, its because it is a very serviceable pullover that fits well into my wardrobe and my lifestyle.

I frequently wear it with jeans.  It is easy to throw in a suitcase and thus it has been worn all over the globe in the last two years.  Below, I am wearing it while examining wool fleeces in the basement of a shop in Llandudno (blogged about here).


I like that it is lightweight; it is knit in fingering weight wool and this makes it easy to wear and to layer.  I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the fabulous colour Tart. Note that the pattern calls for sportweight wool, but after seeing dozens of Lightwieght Pullovers knit in Tosh Merino Light, I decided that it gave really nice drape.


I also often wear this garment to the office.  It can be quite easily dressed up or down.  Usually, I will pair it with grey or black, as with these grey trousers:


Or this black pencil skirt:


These are all great features and means it gets worn a lot.  But, of course, there are some negatives as well.  This is the first garment I knit in Tosh Merino Light, and I find that it pills. A lot:


While Tart is a gorgeous colour, I have found it to be a little bit less versatile than I originally thought.  I would normally pair a deep wine with black, grey, navy or brown.  In actual fact, I find that it works much better with blacks and greys than with browns and navys.  Here is a shot with navy; I’m not sure it comes through well in the photo, but the grey tones in the yarn cause it to clash just a bit with the navy (I know this is nit-picky, but it does make it less adaptable in my wardrobe).


I also have concerns about the fit through the shoulders and arms.  I think it is about a good a fit as a raglan can be, but I am starting to think that a set-in shoulder has a much better fit.  And, it is perhaps a bit too tight (alsa, the weight gain!).  But what bothers me most is the slight felting under the arms:


Surely, I can’t be the only person who sweats?  The only solution I see is a looser fit under the arms; perhaps more length in the armscythe?  (And a bit more width in the bicep?)

The verdict: this is a fabulous and versatile piece in my wardrobe that sees a lot of wear.  If I were to make it again, I think I would try a different yarn (one that would pill less), and I would add a bit of give to the upper arm.  I think I would also do something with the cowl – make it a bit longer or give it more volume, perhaps?


Now, it is time to watch the Gilmore Girls (I had never even heard of the show before this summer and am now mid-way through season five – no spoilers please) and do some Christmas gift knitting.  Enjoy your Wednesday!

18 thoughts on “Sweet and Tart

  1. I can totally see why you get so much wear out of this lovely sweater. Very helpful also to hear about how well (or not) the Tosh stands up – I have been considering using this yarn for a while but may now think again.

    • Hi Liz, I must say that people seem to swear by Tosh Light. It is a totally gorgeous colour, and it IS wool, which we all know pills. Although I didn’t mention it here, I find the most problematic thing about the yarn is the colour differences between skeins. I find it very hard to alternate skeins when I am knitting in the round. I did it here for a few inches at the beginning/end of a skein, rather than all the way through. You might want to try the yarn with a single-skein project first.

      • Thanks for this heads up – and a great idea about how to dip one’s toe into Tosh, as it were! 🙂

  2. First off, I’m thrilled to see the return of a Wearability Wednesday! This pattern has been on my radar forever, and you have prompted me to revisit the idea. You mention some give in the upper arm. Is it just too tight, or something with the raglan? If it’s to tight, you might want to employ Elizabeth Zimmermann’s percentage system — if the body at full bust is 100%, upper sleeve should be 30%. This style of sweater would be an excellent candidate for an entry into Custom Fit, as well. Now I need to contemplate a yarn choice!

    • Hi Susan, thanks for the comment and the reference to the amazing EZ. I didn’t actually consider her percentage system when I was knitting this, but looking back on it now, I hit the target almost exactly – I had 244 stitches at the chest, and 76 for the sleeves. (I did, however, cast on 10 stitches each side at the underarms which contributed 20 to that 244; I would have to go back and check my EZ to see how that jives with her system.) I think I should have knit another few rows (with associated increases) before dividing off the sleeves. Two more sets of increases would have given me some ease in the sleeves, but would have also provided more “move” in the armhole.

  3. It’s a lovely colour and you look great in it!
    Knitting in premium yarn is a big investment, how often do you wash it and what do you use? How long does it take to dry? Do you hang it to dry?

    • Jen, thanks so much for reminding me about these – I used to address wash and care in the WW posts, and simply forgot about it here! I don’t tend to wash wool sweaters too much. I air them when I can, as this is really important, but probably wash once or twice a season at most. This means that this garment has been washed probably 4-5 times. I use Soak, and cool water. I let it soak for at least 10 minutes and then very gently squeeze out excess water, place between towels and press on it to remove even more water, and then dry flat in a room with good air circulation away from sunlight. I think it dries fairly quickly – within 24 hours. Thanks again for asking!

  4. I love the way you go into detail on these sweaters! I have the same problem as you with the underarm felting, but I don’t want to knit a deeper raglan as then the pullover or cardigan looks too loose and not work appropriate (in my opinion) – I would also struggle to fit it under a suit jacket (I wear just a camisole underneath these types of sweaters for work).

    I have found the gleaner to be the most effective depilling device – I have tried the lilly brush, sweater stone and gleaner. I haven’t tried the electric ones as I don’t think I want anything that rough.

    • Hi Kate, I agree with you about fitting it under a jacket; being able to do that makes a garment much more versatile for me. A deeper raglan would definitely interfere with that. Thanks for the suggestions about de-pilling. I have a lilly brush and so far have not found it very effective (although I’ll admit to only trying it when under severe time constraints – like when I’m trying to run out the door!)

  5. that is a gorgeous sweater and looks stunning on you, no matter what you pair with it! Love that color. Interesting that you don’t like it with navy, but you do like it with jeans – is it just that navy, perhaps? Anyway… good info on the yarn – pilling drives me nuts, and all the lovely soft yarns seem prone to it.
    As for the cowl, I guess I would go for more volume or a closer fit – more like a turtle neck – it looks so nice in the photos where it is standing up a bit more.

    Also, the wool photo – is that your lovely gold kid silk haze wrap you have around your neck? I look at that pattern and remember you writing about knitting it forever, so I haven’t taken the plunge yet. But it is so pretty….

    • It’s funny about jeans – they go with everything in my opinion, which makes them different from navy or any other blue. Maybe that’s from being a child of the 60s, hmm? And yes, that is my kidsilk haze wrap! When knitting it, it seemed to take forever, but perhaps knitting such things is like childbirth – so easy to forget the effort once its done!!!!!!

  6. This is fantastic! The last time I read a wearability post of yours I said to myself “gotta do some of these posts” because, seriously, this is the kind of thing that is useful to people in the sweatersphere. The sweater looks fantastic on you. I have felt tempted to buy Madelintosh yarn but maybe I won’t. You’d be surprised to hear this, but not all merino wools are made equal. Some, depending on how they’re spun, do not pill, and are far less expensive than Madelintosh. I’ve learned this quite by accident. As a matter of fact, since I’ve moved to Europe, I’ve learned a lot about merino because it’s a fiber that just permeates the yarn market at all levels due to the sheep population. Anyway, look at you wearin’ the heck out of that sweater! I also appreciate your honesty about how you took the Herzog numbers slightly lightly and knitted the sweater by adding your own finesse. I think this says so much about how when you’re knitting a sweater you should pay attention to what you’ve got in front of you, not just the pattern or the theoretical numbers plotted out.

    • Hi Tony, thanks so much for this comment. Hmm, so much here to comment on. I agree that its very useful for knitters to talk about wearability – it could save us so much time and money (and heartache)! I also agree with you about wool – since I have been in Europe, I too have been surprised by the wide variety of wool available on the market, and the many very good smaller producers putting out great product. I am also learning that some of these great wool yarns are easier on the pocketbook. I am trying to spread my yarn dollars around, while still trying to support local, and smaller producers. Sometimes, I forget all of this, and just go with the pretty! Lastly, I could not agree more with your comment about following patterns. One of my pet peeves is knitters complaining that they knit it exactly according to the instructions but the sleeves are too long/short. What is it with that? Don’t get me started…..

      • I hear you on all of that! And of course, what would life be like if we didn’t go for the pretty every once in a while? I’ve just been super cautious about merino wool because (in my humble opinion) it can pill easily or not easily, depending on where it comes from. I will no doubt grab a pretty skein or two of squishy Madelinetosh in the future, but it will be for a scarf or something like that, not a sweater.

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