A sweater knitting story, in three acts.

by Brenda Dayne on November 7, 2014

ACT I: A truth universally acknowledged about sweater knitting, is that just-off-the-needles garments with fit issues are unlikely to be worn.

It’s too big. That, my knitsibs, seems to be the general consensus. The sweater featured in Today’s Sweater, the one I talked (and talked and talked) about in Epic Bind Off, is just too damned big. Which explains why I made the decision last Saturday to frog the sucka, but reveals nothing of the pain that this decision caused. While I love that I can rip, and a little ripping is good for a knitter’s soul, ripping out large expanses of stockinette is a painful, nasty business.

There are a couple of ways to go with sweater now that’s down to yoke and sleeves. The fix I talked about last week, to work more decreases in bodice, might sort the body fit issues. Some. Probably. But the sleeves also suffer from excessive bigness at the underarms, and fixing the body won’t do a thing to help the sleeves fit. It seems clear I need to rip the sleeves as well, and work a shallower yoke.

Before committing to this course of action, however, I deemed it prudent to check the Ravelry project gallery for this sweater, to see if anyone else had similar issues. And, because I am nothing if not distractible, whilst there, I did a quick search on the Jaeger Extra Fine Merino, just to see what other people have been knitting in this yarn. Not that I was planning on abandoning Baby Cables altogether. No. Just to see. For curiosity’s sake.

There are lots of hats, but a dearth a sweaters, which is to be expected with a yarn that was discontinued long before Ravelry was born. There are many cabled projects, which is also not unexpected, considering the yarn.

Jaeger Extra Fine Merino is a cabled yarn, made up of twelve singles plied together in twos. The six 2-plies are then plied again, and the result is a yarn that’s rounded, bouncy and perfect for cables, which is why I chose it for the Baby Cables project in the first place. It came as no surprise to find so many cabled projects, but the one that really caught my eye was (quel surprise) a sweater. A sweater awash with cables. Fairly dripping them. It was this one: Silver Bell, by Debbie Bliss.


ACT II: If you’ll recall, the reason I worked all those increases at the side seams in the first place is that I wanted a less hour glass shape. Something fitted through the bodice and flaring out to skim the hips. An A-line shape. This shape.

I think it’s clear where I’m going with this.

Looking through the Project Gallery for the sweater, I see a lot of gorgeous Silver Belle Sweaters. Sweaters that nip in at waist, and flare out over the hips. Sweaters that are very, very flattering.

RCCHeryl’s Coral Belle, has the length that I’m going for (just below the “Good China”).

DebinVancouver’s version has more of an empire waist, but is nonetheless flattering.

HannahSmith’s Silver Belle was one of my favourites, with a perfect fit, and a cabled neckline and cuff mod that I’l probably steal. HannaSmith nailed it.

I am seeing some fit issues with the underarms on this sweater, and there are a lot of too-big projects that knitters aren’t happy about (I can relate) so that’s something to watch.

I searched for DK versions and, in addition to Rossero’s Jaeger Extra Fine Merino version, the one that sent me down this rabbit hole in the first place, there are enough other DK versions of Silver Belle that I feel confident a Jaeger Extra Fine Merino version can be attempted. Of course there are issues.

The gauge is wrong, so it means designing a version with more stitches. The largest pattern size fits a 40″ bust. I’ll spare you the rant on pattern grading. I think that’s too small for me, but because the bodice is knit cuff to centre back, the schematics aren’t much help in predicting the finished fit. The bodice construction is exactly like the Summer Soltice/Autumn Equinox sweater I frogged in order to reknit the yarn into Baby Cables and Big Ones Too. Silver Belle has enough going on that the project won’t be as boring to knit as Autumn Equinox, however, Silver Belle is worked in pieces, and sewn, and I am too enamoured with top down construction at this point to embrace seaming wholeheartedly.

And. I may not have enough yarn to knit the pattern as written. I had a kilo when I started. The frogged balls and the existing yoke and sleeves of Baby Cables weighed in at 800 grams.


ACT III: Enter MichBrum’s extremely clever mashup of silver Belle and February Lady. Top down. Check. Lots of cables. Check. That peplum with the shaping I love. check, check check.

What the Feb Lady mashup lacks are those gorgeous sleeve cables, an element of the original pattern I really like, but the placing of which presents some challenges with raglan shaping. At a total of 40 stitches across, the two charts make for quite a wide sleeve at the cast on edge. That means fewer stitches left for the back and front, and a change to the shape of the neckline.

This assumes that I work the raglan shaping every other row, like February Lady. This rate of increase is the easiest to work, but is not carved in stone. I’m devoting an entire chapter in my book to advanced, non-standard raglan shaping, where the increases for sleeves and body are not worked at the same rate. It can be done.


I swatched the raglan shaping with the smaller cables in the seam, and used just one of the larger cable charts on the sleeve, and found it wanting. I really think it needs two.

There’s also the issue of the cables at the bottom of the bodice, which need to be worked sideways. I could knit that cabled band onto the bodice, much like the cabled neckline edge of HannahSmith’s sweater, and then pick up stitches on the edge of the cable to work the peplum. We’ll see. Much to think about; many decisions ahead.

The result of all these mods is that I’m basically designing a sweater from scratch, using Debby Bliss’s cables. It’s going to require extensive tweaking. It’ll need lots and lots of math. It’ll be a TOTAL pain in the ass. I’m very excited. I can’t wait to get started.

I’ve been truly overwhelmed by the comments on the last podcast, as well as the Rav messages and email I’ve received this past week. From time to these past nine years I’ve learned that the podcast had a wider reach than I ever suspected. I’m still surprised, and quite humbled to discover that it touched so many people, in such remarkable ways. Thank you.


The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook is garnering much well-deserved praise. The give-away drawing is tonight, with the winner announced in the next post.


Episode 132: Epic Bind Off

by Brenda Dayne on November 1, 2014

In this episode: Milestones. Nine years ago today Cast On began, and today is the day that Cast On comes to an end. A special extended edition of the podcast, in which I talk at great length about my knitting, in Today’s Sweater, look back as well as forward, get by with a little help from my friends, sing badly, play my favourite music, tell an amazing family story, and say a fond, heartfelt, and tearful farewell to my beloved knitsibs. A truly epic bind off. With this episode, nine years of love and joy and knitting and work come to a natural end, and this epic body of work is now complete.


This is Bea’s adorable dress, made using Simplicity pattern 1787, from the Project Runway collection. I want one.


Today’s Sweater is Baby Cables and Big Ones Too, by Suvi Simola, knit in Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK, that started to be an Autumnal Equinox (real name, Summer Solstice), until I frogged it.

Using the shaping in some of the sweaters in Rowan Magazine Number 44, I inadvertently created a Telly Tubby.

What to do next? Baby Cables is a really big sweater, and I am not entirely happy with the fit. Is it too long? Too short? Do I frog and reknit, or just live with it? I can’t decide, so I’m turning the decision over to you. Answers in the show notes, please.

Massive thanks to my friend, Franklin Habit, for all the words, pictures and support so generously gifted to Cast On these nine too-short years. Franklin’s little somethings and big somethings can be found here, here, here and here.


Turbo thanks to my friend, Felix, for sharing her experience of the A4074 in words, sounds, wool, and for being my balcony person.

The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, by Felicity Ford (aka Felix) is a gorgeous, ingenious and wonderful book, written by my gorgeous, ingenious and wonderful friend. Purchase the book here, and read about the process of making it here.

photo by Fergus Ford

Photo by Fergus Ford

I’m giving away my second copy of Felix’s book. To win the one without tear stains, leave a comment. The winner of The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook will be chosen by random number generator at midnight, on November 7th, 2014.

Dave. There are no words, my friend. Except for these. THANK YOU. And SOCKS.

Thanks to Uncle Bob, and my dad, for giving me a connection to Amelia Earhart. Ive been obsessed with her ever since. Exciting as it is to think that a piece of her plane may have been found, the story is not without its detractors. As Uncle Bob says, “We just don’t know.” And may not ever.

Always and forever, love and thanks to Tonia, the Engels to my Marx; the Bernie to my Elton; the Teller to my Penn. You kept me fed while I made podcasts, and mixed perfect Manhattans when the hard work of making podcasts was done. I owe you. We ALL owe you.

The music I’ve shared in the podcast has been an important part of Cast On, from the very first episode. My life has been enriched by songs I’ve discovered in the making of Cast On. As with every episode, I’m grateful for the music shared in this last episode of the podcast.

Jim Fidler has wielded the magic fingers behind Merrigan’s Reel, the beautiful guitar work you’ve been hearing in the Cast On theme tune all these years.

The opening track, She Can Knit and She Can Sew, came to me on a Magical Felix Mix Tape.

The Today’s Sweater theme is a tune called Neighbor, and it’s by the Lascivious Biddies. The song is actually about Mr Rogers, the childhood friend of millions, who wore sweaters with great aplomb. Purchase Neighborhere.

The cover of the Indigo Girls song, Galileo, was performed by the Jeweltones, and came to me via a listener. I think they might be a show choir. They remind me of Glee.

Katy Wehr’s beautiful song about growing old with the one you love, played right after Franklin’s piece in the podcast, is called When You Are Old. Every time I hear it, I am reminded that true love endures.

Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight by Sessions Americana, is a cover of a old song from the 1930s. A year ago Tonia and I travelled all the way to Wexford, Ireland, just to hear them play. During the break I shared Uncle Bob’s story with Dinty Child, the man who sings the lead in the amazing song about Amelia. After the break Dinty shared my Uncle Bob’s story with the the audience, and then Sessions Americana played the Amelia Earhart song. Tonia and I sang along. It was magical.

Of course the podcast HAD to end with One Last Drink, by Enter the Haggis. How could I have ever thought otherwise?

Dearest Knitsibs, this last episode of Cast On was one of the most difficult that I’ve ever produced. I cried through most of the making of it. I cried while writing it, I cried while recording it (but cut those bits out of the recording, because I didn’t want you to be sad. So really, don’t be sad. Okay?) and I cried again while writing show notes and listening to the episode for the last time before the final export and upload. You and this podcast have been a huge part of my life, and I will miss making Cast On as much as you will miss listening to it.

Thank you, and farewell. It’s been a great ride. I love you.

Download Episode 132


Episode 131: And the knitting is easy

July 11, 2014

In this episode: Plagued by migraine this week and feelinng summertime lazy, the intro waffles around a bit before coming to the point. After a brief whinge about being hot (which I’m allowed, because it’s summer and I’m menopausal) it […]

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Episode 130: Coming Home

June 30, 2014

In this episode: I talk about Hannah Fettig’s Featherweight Cardigan, name some Welsh mountains and discuss what they have to do with my socks. I spend a lot of time talking about this thing I do with beads that solves […]

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May 16, 2014

It’s saying something when someone (and we’re not saying who) would rather spend a long weekend assembling Ikea bookshelves, than nip off for a weekend break in the beautiful city of Bath, with one’s beloved. But here’s the thing. Aaron, […]

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