Friday, January 2, 2015

A Perfect Sweater for Indy

Last fall, I made a perfect fit sweater for Indy as part of Save the Children's Pins and Needles Challenge for Make the World Better with a Sweater Day on December 12.  I now want to share with you the details behind Indy's perfect fit sweater.  (It is not too late to make a donation to Save the Children!

On November 12, I started researching fun free sweater knitting and crochet projects.  Save the Children had just asked me to participate in their Pins and Needles Challenge, and I had no idea what I wanted to make.  I realized that Indy would need a sweater of his own to participate in Make the World Bette with a Sweater Day with Lucky, Keith and myself.  

I  had the perfect fit dog or cat sweater in my queue for years, and the Pins and Needles Challenge was the perfect time to start knitting it.   I selected size 10 knitting needles and some unknown fiber content yarn that I'd had in my stash for a while.  The colors would look beautiful on Indy, and I knew that the garment would not require a lot of care because Indy wouldn't wear it that often.

I haven't been able to find any information about the yarn anywhere...  The business card says hand dyed wool 18 oz on the back.  I know that my friend picked it up for me in Maine somewhere for my Bachelorette party.  

Call me crazy but I decided to knit directly off of the yarn swift.  There is just too much yarn for my ball winder and I'm feeling pressed for time.  This was the plan until the yarn started sliding down the swift and I realized that I"d better quickly just ball it.  There are numerous knots in the ball.  The resulting ball is as big as my head!!  The yarn is 15 wraps/2" so 7.5 wraps/inch.  I call this a bulky weight and therefore I decided to knit the sweater on size 10 (6.0 mm) knitting needles.  I chose this size needle for 2 reasons.  1) it would work well with the yarn and 2) i have this size in both ciruclar and dpn.  Otherwise I might have chosen size 11.

Now it is finally time for me to start knitting.  I whipped up a swatch.  9 sts/3" and ~4 rows/inch.  I calculated Indy's measurements (as a 25 lb miniature American Eskimo) as follows:

Dog’s neck: 14"
Dog’s ribcage: 21.5"
Between dog’s front legs: 3"
Circumference of dog’s front leg, at very top base of leg: 6"

Pattern notes:
  • Collar - cast on 42 sts and knit ribbing for 4 rounds.  (~1")
  • All increases - M1 stitch after the 1st stitch and before the last stitch of each round.  (I counted started with first stockinette round, increases happened on even rounds.)  I calculated that there should be 26 stitches increased, which would work out to be exactly 26 rows before splitting for legs.  After the 26 rows, the piece measured 6.75" from the cast on edge.
  • For legs, round #27 - K4, BO 10 K to last 14 sts, BO 10, K 4.   In the next round (#28) I cast on 10 sts in each opening with the backwards loop cast on. (I can always pick up 21 sts around the leg holes.)
  • Around the rib cage I might run into some problems.  I think I allowed for ease when i took my measurement of 21.5" (I can get the tape down to 19" with the fluff.)  
  • Round 34 - K5, K2tog.  K until last 7 sts.  SSK, K5.  (66 sts)
  • Round 37 - repeat 33.  (64 sts)
  • Round 40 - repeat 33 (62 sts)
  • Round 43 - repeat 33 (60 sts)
  • Round 50 - started binding of for the bottom.  BO the last 10 sts of Round 50 and the first 10 sts of Row 51.  This is where I was at the time of the last update.  
  • Row 52 is the first p row.  
  • Even rounds - S1, K2tog, K until last 3 sts, SSK, S1
  • After row 63 (WS) - 30 sts remain.  
  • Round 64 - Picking up the stitches for the border. K 30, pick up 7 sts, PM, pick up 20, PM, Pick up 7
  • 3 rounds of ribbing (with applicable decreases) and then bind off in ribbing pattern. 
  • Sleeves - Pick up 20 sts from around armhole. 3 rounds of ribbing then bind off.    

When photographing the sweater on Indy, it didn't show up too well on my phone.  I had to keep trying on the sweater on him (using a stitch holder so it would fit) to check the length.  I'm not concerned it will be too short, but rather too long.  It is hard to gauge because Indy's fluff covers up the neck of the sweater, but I think it will be okay.  The pattern is a perfect fit, right?   When I tried the sweater on him in the middle of row 20 I knew that the length will be okay.  I should have had more trust in the pattern!  

There is a lot of debris in this yarn.  I tried to pull things out as I went, but I know I missed some pieces.  This makes the yarn PERFECT for an Indy sweater.  He has an undercoat so the roughness won't be uncomfortable at all. 

Unfortunately I HATE HATE HATED working with this yarn.  If it were in the Ravelry database I would give it 1 star for being so scratchy.  It looks fantastic though.  I think this is the first time I'll throw away remnants versus using them up.  It is too scratchy I don't even want to donate it.  I'm itching THOUGH my yoga pants from just the sweater sitting on my lap.  I used 188 g to make this sweater - 330 g remain!

I tried a hair conditioner bath to see if it would help the texture.  If the texture can be saved I'll reskein the rest of the yarn and bathe that before using it.  Otherwise, in the bin it goes.  (How is that stash busting for you?)  I put the sweater in the sink with some pumps of my Pantene Conditioner and it immediately felt silky smooth.  I remained skeptical, and left the sweater to soak overnight.  (I don't think it would need that long but I wanted to go to bed and after putting the sweater on and off Indy so many times for measurements I didn't feel like touching it any more.)  The sweater is much softer, but still a little too scratchy for me to want to use it on a human accessory, and Indy doesn't need ANOTHER sweater in the same color.  I was able to give the rest of the yarn to one of my friends in crochet club who is excited to use it.  I'm so glad that it found a good home!  

Meanwhile, Indy looks super dashing in his first hand knit sweater.  I love the way it fits him and he didn't seem to mind wearing it at all.  He loved posing for the camera!  

Now I want to design Indy a sweater... but I know that this will take some time.  Maybe I will be able to make a set so Lucky and Indy can match.  Have you ever made your dog a sweater?