My sweater likes to recline on the futon...
And an action shot:
Pattern: Magknits' Sesame by Melissa Wherle
Size: 22" length, 36" bust
Yarn: Knitpicks Andean Silk in colors 'Slate' (6 balls) and 'Lettuce' (5 balls)
Needles: US 5
Start Date: January 10th
Finish Date: March 9th (with about 10 days in between spent on other projects)
On the pattern: It's a heck of a lot of stockinette knit flat... but it's definitely something I will wear a lot so I'm happy I chose this pattern. I think it's a great first sweater pattern for an intermediate knitter who's been putting off making a sweater. I wouldn't recommend it for an absolute beginner simply because a lot of the details aren't spelled out you. (For example, the pattern often has instructions like 'inc/dec on __ edge' leaving the knitter to choose which increases & decreases you want to use.) Pretty much, if you're comfortable making some knitting decisions and keeping track of things like the color changes, then it's a pretty easy pattern to follow. I'll also note there's quite a bit of seaming involved with this one, so it helps to get comfortable doing mattress stitch before diving into it.
Yarn notes: I really liked working with Andean Silk and the climate in Vermont is appropriate for a warmer yarn choice. It is a light worsted weight and Sesame is written for a DK weight, so I went down one needle size from suggested and was able to get pretty close to row gauge, but made sure to keep checking as the project progressed. I made no changes from the instructions on the back and front pieces. The sleeves seemed to be getting a bit wide, so I checked my gauge and seamed one up and tried it on, and decided to eliminate one increase and spread out the last three increases to every 10-11sts instead of every 8sts. I also shortened the collar, eliminating the last gray stripe, partially because I wanted to make sure I had enough yarn for a gray button band. There probably would've been just enough to do the full collar, but it would be close. I would definitely recommend getting an extra ball of the pattern's "color A" for anyone looking to make "Sesame" in Andean Silk.
Some knitting/finishing choices, not specified in the pattern:
For the color changes in the k2p2 ribbing I either knit or purled across the color change row so that the purls wouldn't show the color change on the side facing out. (Note: for the cuffs this means a row of knit sts across the wrong side of the sleeve cause they're flipped over!) I took a finishing class that happened to be offered at my LYS (Kaleidescope Yarns) last month and applied a bit of what I learned. I placed increases/decreases one stitch in from the edge to make seaming easier and substituted short row shaping and a 3-needle bind off for the shoulders. Another tip from the class was to seam in the direction that you knit and end in the armpit to hide any mis-matched edges. So I seamed from the cuff up the sleeves, then the front and back from the bottom up, then set in the sleeves.
The only other change I made was the button band. With a smaller collar I picked up less stitches and I also had trouble finding 1 3/8” buttons I liked, so I went with some a bit smaller (1/8"). To figure out where to place the button holes, I estimated about where I wanted to place the first one, then started working a buttonhole to see how many sts I'd need for each one (6 in my case). Then I did some math: you've got 7 button holes, 6 'between buttonhole' sections and 2 'edge' sections. To get the number of stitches between buttonholes, take [total # sts - (7x buttonhole sts) - (2x edge sts )] divided by 6. In my case it was [126sts - (7 x 6sts) - (2x 6sts)] /6 = 12. It worked out evenly for me, but if it didn't, I'd change the number of stitches on one of the edges. (I also only really sewed on 6 buttons, and didn't put any decoratively on the other side of the collar, like the original.)
That's it. Hope some of these notes might be helpful to anyone else using this pattern, and maybe it inspires a few more knitters to take the plunge into a sweater project. It's a great feeling after all that work to have something I really like and fits well! :)