Wednesday, September 24, 2008

5 Free Sweater Patterns for Handspun Yarn

8.09.08-Ravelympics skein #1
Last night, I gave up on a sweater. My beautiful handspun sweater just isn't working out. After completing the body and 1 sleeve, I realized I need more yarn. And the yoke isn't right (too much fabric at the shoulders). And the whole thing is too stiff, not drapey enough. Most of these issues could have been solved by following a pattern (well, except for the drape, I just needed to use a bigger needle and knit it at a different gauge), but because I'm designing it myself, all these little things have to be figured out. If I had chosen a pattern suited for handspun, many of these mistakes might have been avoided.

But that's only if I choose the right pattern! Here's a few things to keep in mind when choosing a pattern for handspun yarn

  • Gauge with handspun is variable. One skein might be heavy worsted, while the next is bulky. Knit for the bigger yarn, or else your work will be stiff in areas. Of course, it maybe be a little thin in some areas, but that's usually preferable.
  • Handspun yarn usually has a lot of texture. Play this up with a simple textured stitch or St st.
  • Along with texture, handspun yarn can be quite colorful. Cables and pictoral lace are easilyobscured by all the color going on, so avoid "overkill".
I had a time of mourning as I folded the sweater and put it away (I'm not ready to rip it out yet). But I'll come back to it. I'll probably cast on for a sweater using that same handspun in a few weeks. If I use a pattern next time, these are a few I'd consider:
  1. Cathode (Rav link) - top downs are the easiest to adjust for gauge & Cathode is excellent since you can use just a bit of handspun for the body and trimm it in commercial yarn.
  2. Cavern (Rav Link) - Tingel's Cavern really won me over to this simple top down cardigan.
  3. February Lady Sweater (Rav link) - this uber-popular sweater (over 2000 projects in Ravelry) is simple to adjust, especially if you want it big and roomy.
  4. Incredible, Custom Fit Raglan - this is first customizable pattern I ever found. Not really a pattern, as much as a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.
  5. Top-Down Calculator (Rav link)- Not even a pattern. Plug in your gauge and your measurements and out pops customized directions! Amazing!
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