FO: Enso Sweater

Suzie Blackman
Monday, 15 January 2018

As soon as we launched our Dynamite DK yarn, I knew I wanted a sweater in the ‘Piglet‘ shade, a flattering peach with multi-coloured speckles. Hand-dyed yarns don’t always work for larger garments – the regular colour repeats can lead to unwanted pooling (though personally I relish it) – so we created the Dynamite DK shade range specifically with sweaters in mind, with random colour patterning and in this case, speckles, that knit-up with an all-over mottled effect.

After meeting Reneé Callaghan of East London Knit I’ve been wanting to try out her timeless patterns, and the Enso Sweater seemed like a great choice.

Enso sweater

Enso is a long-length fitted number with a round neck, curved hem and garter stitch side ‘seams’. It’s packed with elegant design details that make what could be a fairly mundane project an absolute pleasure, both to knit and to wear.

The construction is of a top-down, seamless set-in sleeve à la Barbara G Walker’s Knitting from the Top, the go-to reference for top-down sweater knitting. Although I’ve had the book for a number of years and read it cover to cover more than once, I found Walker’s description of this technique a little intimidating. However, Callaghan’s pattern is so approachable and easy to follow that it has left me wondering why I’ve never tackled this construction before. It’s both pleasing to knit and flattering to wear.

Seamless neckline and set in sleeve

Seamless neckline and set in sleeve

The pattern suggests a 3.5mm needle for what (in my mind anyway) is close to a standard DK gauge on 4mm needles, which is what I used. But it’s worth noting that the suggested yarns are both silk blends, and silk blends do tend to knit loosely because they have lower elasticity. If you’re using a pure wool DK, like me, and you knit with a standard tension, then I’d recommend starting swatching with a 4mm, or 3.75mm if you knit loosely.

The curved hem is formed using short rows, and relies on the hem ribbing being quite loose in order to lie flat on the curve. The pattern suggests using the same size needle for this section of ribbing as the body. I found that I also had to cast-off using a larger needle, and block quite carefully to get it to lie flat.

I also found that the first time I knit the hem, my picked-up short row wraps looked ugly. After some Googling I discovered that while there are several ways that wraps can be picked up, some of them look good, and some of them definitely don’t. There is an excellent photo tutorial on Purl Soho, but knitters should note that their wrap-and-turn instructions differ from Callaghan’s in that they suggest slipping on the knit side before bringing the yarn to the front. As with most knit-related topics, short row technique is a rabbit hole, but as long as your wraps look good then there’s nothing to worry about.

Curved short-row hem

I knitted the sweater in its entirety following the pattern to the letter, then I ripped back to the waist and elbows and made a number of mods – not because of any fault with the pattern but I’m more curved and much taller than the model, and it being a fitted sweater, it really does need to fit exactly.

Sleeve mods

  • I changed the sleeve decrease frequency to every 12 rows, and didn’t decrease around the elbows. Experience has taught me that that’s just how I need to knit sleeves for myself.
  • I added quite a bit of length to the sleeves, then after a few washes I decided to add another 5cm because my wrists were getting cold! There was a bit of vertical shrinkage of the sleeves after wear.
  • My cuff ribbing is shorter than specified, I just preferred it that way.

Body mods

  • The design has no waist shaping, which just doesn’t work for me. I wanted a good fit on the shoulders so I chose the sizing based on that, and added rounds of increases either side of the garter sections at 10 and 20 rows below the nature waist (narrowest point).
  • I added short-row shaping at the hip.
  • I reduced the length of the sweater overall. As per the pattern, for most people I think it would be almost a sweater-dress. I am tall and the length didn’t sit right on me, so I went for a regular sweater length. [Aside: This is the first time I have EVER had a garment be too long]
  • I worked the back curved hem as per the pattern, but with the front I worked four fewer sets of short rows to make it shorter than the back. On me this was more flattering than the original.

Nso sweater

The yarn is everything I’d hoped for. It is very smooth to knit but really softens up with washing (and is machine washable on a wool setting, which for me is a must for a sweater). It knits true to size, that is there was no shrinkage with washing, not growing in the way that some superwash Merino can do [this has ruined the fit of more than one sweater for me]. It’s really warm and feels hard-wearing. And the colour…

It's a Stitch Up Dynamite DK British Bluefaced Leicester wool in 'Piglet'

It’s a Stitch Up Dynamite DK British Bluefaced Leicester wool in ‘Piglet’

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.

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