[Graphic Elements pullover shown in size 45.5" with 9.5" of positive ease and no mods to the written pattern]
When designer Tamy Gore first posted a preview photo of her upcoming pattern in Dapple, I knew that I would be knitting it as soon as possible. The bold geometry, the modern asymmetry, the easy drape and shape — I was done for!
[Graphic Elements IG preview post, photo c/o @tamygore]
Fortunately, I was able to test knit this design and get it on my needles immediately. Though I do think Tamy chose one of the best possible Dapple color combinations (who doesn’t love a good grellow?) I decided to go with a more monochromatic scheme for mine. All the colors interact with one another in this design, so choosing shades with high enough contrast to be easily read is crucial (check out BT’s resource on Color Theory for additional advice). Here, Blaze acts as my dark, Honeycrisp as my medium and Plinth as my light.
[The humble beginnings of a new favorite sweater!]
I started with the Rib Cable cast on which is a BT staff favorite for polished yet stretchy cast ons in 1x1 rib. It’s sturdy enough to hold the weight of this top-down, seamless sweater, but not so rigid as to be uncomfortable in a neckline.
If you, like me, find your ribbing to always have slightly wonky knit stitches, let me share my secret: twisted purls! Whenever I knit ribbing in the round, I work my knits as normal, but I work my purls by wrapping the yarn clock-wise around my needle. This trims the excess yarn from that stitch and has the complementary effect of tidying up its knit-stitch partner. Suzie Sparkles Knitting has a great visual on this technique in her blog. I use it on my ribbing everytime.
Another important tip for this sweater — and any colorwork sweater with panels of stockinette and stranding — is to go up a needle size for your colorwork. No matter how relaxed your hand or precise your consistency, most of us have a slightly tighter gauge when we work colorwork. The stranded floats create limits on the fabric that don’t exist in stockinette, so those sections inherently have less stretch. I used a US 7 for the body of my sweater and a US 8 for the colorwork yoke, ultimately yielding the same gauge. I was dubious about this advice and did not heed it when I knit my Tecumseh sweater from Caitlin Hunter. That poor thing has ruffles and bumps all over the stockinette portion in contrast to the taut colorwork rows. Never again. I used a larger needle for my Graphic Elements and the fabric is flat and cohesive.
[Bless this lumpy Tecumseh - it taught me a lot.]
I seriously can’t recommend Dapple enough for this sweater. I know you may think that I’m biased because I work for BT, but I promise you that I was a slow convert to cotton. I feared Dapple would be scritchy and drying on the hands, since that had been my only previous experience with cotton yarn. Well, count me pleasantly flabbergasted when I began knitting and realized that Dapple’s merino + organic cotton blend felt more like a velvety sweatshirt than it did chalky chaff. It blocks to even greater softness and creates a unique, tonal fabric. Yum.
[Super soft Dapple in Anchor, Blaze and Honeycrisp]
Anytime I work with tonals, I always alternate my skeins using the Helical Knitting technique. This keeps the color unified throughout the garment, even when there are variations from skein to skein. And it's super easy!
When knitting a sweater top-down, the body is separated from the sleeves and each is finished separately. Have you ever seen sweaters with a distinct line of color change cutting across the yoke at the armpit? That occurs when skeins vary in color and a new skein (of slightly different saturation) is used to work the sleeves and body after the split. With tonal yarns, a helpful tip is to pay special attention to the skein you were using at the time of the split. Use some of that skein to transition into the body and then use up the rest when you go back to finish your sleeves. Dividing that skein between body and sleeves will ensure you have a smooth color transition after the split with no unsavory bisection.
[I usually knit about an inch or so of the body using the pre-split color and then break that yarn, saving the rest to start both sleeves.]
Graphic Elements is a supremely engaging, easy to follow pattern that is well written and gratifying. I had the pleasure of test knitting alongside my dear friend Emme (who you may recognize from several BT pattern photos) and between the two of us, we have your Christmas sweater needs covered!
[Emme used Canopy, Seafoam and Anchor for her version. Photos taken at Ritual Dyes dreamy Portland shop]
Designer Tamy Gore has been kind enough to offer a discount on this sensational sweater through 12/17. Purchase Graphic Elements on Ravelry using the code DAPPLE for 20% off the pattern and browse her other beautiful patterns while you're there!
Truthfully, I couldn’t love this cozy sweater any more. I hope you love yours too.