It's a rare thing these days that I get to knit another designer's pattern. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy: whenever I can, I try to squeeze in some "just for fun" projects, either mindless vanilla socks (my favorite kind!) or something from a completely different discipline, like crochet or spinning.
Me being me, even when I do find the time to cast on someone else's pattern, I can't just follow it as written… Here's how I modified Elizabeth Felgate's Fervent from Knitty First Fall 2022 to fit my body and preferences.
From Negative to Positive Ease
Fervent is a top-down round-yoke pullover featuring a lace motif that resembles licking flames. The lace motif combined with the fiery red are probably the inspiration behind the design name, "fervent" meaning blazing, burning, or flaming.
The original design as pictured on the Knitty photos shows the sweater worn with 3" inches (8 cm) of negative ease (with even more negative ease suggested). To me this just looks uncomfortably tight — and too short — for the person wearing it. I seriously doubt the 4 inches of suggested negative ease was a conscious design choice: my suspicion is that the designer just knit the smallest size and then just couldn't get anyone else to model it for photos.
The biggest thing I modified on the sweater was to change the fit from the suggested 10 cm (4 inches) of negative ease to about 2.5–3 cm (1 inch) of positive ease. Luckily for me the S size was pretty much bang-on in terms of bust circumference so I could follow the stitch counts from the cast-on edge (96 stitches) to the bottom of the yoke (256 stitches) exactly as written. One minor thing I had to adjust the yoke was the transition from the K2, P1 ribbing to the lace pattern (that starts with P1, K2). Moving the beginning-of-round by one stitch was all it took.
Adding Raglan Increases
Although the bust circumference stitch count was OK for me, the sleeves were way too narrow around the bicep. This meant adding more stitches to the overall circumference after the yoke chart was complete. Rather than increasing stitches evenly around the whole garment (as is done for some sizes in the pattern), I placed the increases at four raglan points, increasing 8 stitches on every other round 4 times to 288 stitches (256 + 32). Even after casting on fewer stitches at each underarm (8 versus the 12 called for in the pattern), I had more stitches for the upper sleeves (64 versus 60) and the exact same number for the body (192 stitches).
Short Rows at the Bottom of the Yoke
The next thing I changed was short-row placement.
In the original pattern front-neck drop is created by six short rows placed right after the neck ribbing. As I've written before, I don't really care for how this looks and prefer short rows done after the yoke. Since I wanted to add raglan-increase rounds after the lace motif anyways, this was the perfect opportunity to move short-row placement to the bottom of the yoke. This technique of doing simultaneous short-row shaping and raglan increases is what I use in most of my circular-yoke patterns. And I had more room to work with, doubling the short rows from 6 to 12 and creating a front-neck drop of about 4 cm (1½ inches) versus the woefully inadequate 2 cm (less than an inch) in the pattern.
Fit & Length
When it came time to separate the body and sleeves, I didn't go for the same number of stitches for the front and back. Lately I've been experimenting with this uneven front/back split in my sweaters, moving approx. 3–5% of total bust circumference from the back to the front. (In this sweater this equaled to 8 stitches.) This allows for more room at the front chest for boobs and takes away some excess fabric at the back, reducing the need for sway-back shaping. My next sweater pattern, Tulip Route (to be released in August), will also have feature this uneven split for the body.
In the original Fervent pattern, waist shaping is optional. An 8-stitch decrease round is worked only once just above the narrowest point on the waist (if desired). I desired some more: I decreased 8 stitches twice (to 176 stitches) approximately 8 cm (3¼ inches) apart and placing the decreases roughly one thirds in from the sides of the sweater.
The sample sweater is so short there's no room for waist increases, though. Not wanting a cropped top I made mine longer and increased three times (to 200 stitches) at the same points approximately 7 cm (3 inches) apart.
The sleeves were done pretty much according to the pattern, except making them about 6 cm (2½ inches) longer and decreasing from 64 stitches to 48 at the cuff. All ribbing was done on smaller needles — K2, P2 for the hem and cuffs; K2, P1 for the neckband.
The original sample featured in Knitty was knit in Warth Mill Yarn DK, a rustic DK-weight 100% wool yarn. This yarn, although 2-ply, has a curiously energetic nature that results in the fabric biasing aggressively. In fact, at first glance of the photos I thought the entire sweater was made in twisted stitches. Alas, that's not case: it's just the yarn having an unbalanced twist. Perhaps not the best choice for garments knit in the round since that just exacerbates the biasing.
The yarn I used for my dusty lavender-colored Fervent couldn't be farther from the suggested yarn. Having never worked with Garnstudio DROPS Sky before I was curious to try it out. And it turned out to be quite a lovely yarn to work with!
Sky is a DK-weight chainette yarn made of 74% of baby alpaca, 8% merino, and 18% polyamide. The fiber composition makes this yarn extremely light and against-the-skin soft. The yarn comes in 50 gram skeins of 190 meters, thanks to the lightness of the yarn. And this also makes the yarn very affordable: my finished Fervent sweater weighs just a little over 200 grams. Priced at €5.90 EUR per ball, my sweater cost less than €30. Truly a bang for the buck!
But before you go out and clean off the shelves of this soft and inexpensive miracle yarn, a couple of caveats. The chainette construction coupled with a high alpaca content means that this yarn is v-e-e-e-r-y stretchy. It's always essential to wash and block your swatch the same way you intend to treat the finished garment but with this yarn it's doubly important. The yarn can stretch uncontrollably when wet so it's requires careful handling. In most cases you'd want to lay your swatch to dry flat but with this yarn I'd recommend hanging the swatch dry vertically to mimic the effect gravity will have on the finished garment.
The second word of caution about the yarn also relates to the chainette construction. It's very easy to snag one of the threads on a stitch marker, a sharp needle tip, or anything pointy. Working with my interchangeable ChiaoGoo Twists, every dozen or so stitches I would accidentally grab just a part of the yarn with the needle tips, drawing out long loops of fiber. This sweater is definitely not to be worn around protruding nails or sharp cat claws. And if you happen to drop a stitch? Game over, man, game over.
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