Looking back over the past two or three fall/winter seasons, I noticed something: I have knit a lot of sweaters! I went from someone who had sworn off knitting because I just could not size larger projects correctly back to someone who almost always has at least one project on my needles. I’m still not awesome at sizing. I’m a loose knitter and sometimes my gauge changes as I go along. And I definitely don’t love knitting as much as sewing, but I do like its portability and how easy it is to knit for just a few minutes here and there. Finding affordable yarn in a fiber I like is a struggle, but I’m getting better at that, too.
All of these things came into play with the Engle sweater by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks.
I love the colorwork designs incorporated in the different patterns from this designer–they stand out in a way that is really pleasing to me.
The Engle is knit from the top down in a thin but fluffy yarn on larger needles, and incorporates colorwork.
While looking for an affordable yarn for this project, I discovered the brand DROPS Design, which is based in Norway. They have a lot of different yarns in various fibers (plus lots of free patterns) for an affordable price. The US distributors that carry the full range of their yarns are actually based in the UK. One of DROPS’ offerings is Brushed Alpaca Silk, which has a very similar percentage of alpaca and silk to the yarn recommended by the pattern. I loved the colors, and the yarn was very affordable.
There was a great little line drawing included with this pattern that you could use as a coloring page to try out color combinations.
I was so happy to see this! On my Soldotna Sweater, I had made my own coloring page, but here was one made for me! After some coloring, I ordered cerise, black, off white, and curry from Purple Sheep Yarns. Shipping was reasonable, and the yarn arrived quickly.
After swatching, I ended up using size US 8 needles for my colorwork, US 7’s for the stockinette portion, and US 6’s for my ribbing (except on the sleeves, where I forgot). Optional techniques used: Twisted German Cast On (nice and stretchy for the neck edge), Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.
I began knitting my sweater in the summer, I think (maybe July?), but it was clearly coming out too large (my loose knitting was wreaking havoc). I unraveled it and cast on again on August 23, 2020 after taking a break and redoing my calculations. My measurements had put me in a size 4, but with the gauge I was knitting at, I could knit a size 2 and achieve a size 4 (in theory). Unfortunately, with my loose knitting and the lack of elasticity in alpaca and silk, which don’t have the bounce-back that wool does, my sweater was large and grew a bit. It was so beautiful, though, that I kept going, and hoped for the best.
Now that I knew I was knitting a bit loose and now that I remembered alpaca’s tendency to grow and relax, I got into my groove and decided that I wouldn’t knit the sleeves quite as long as the pattern directed, since I expected them to grow a bit with wear. For that reason, I opted not to do the sleeve color chart, even though I really liked it. It seemed like the colorwork would be a little too close to my yoke.
By the end of September/beginning of October, the sweater was finished. My loose knitting and the relaxed sweater meant that I didn’t actually have to knit quite as long as expected before it was long enough. The shape turned out a little boxier than I had expected, but I love it! It’s so soft and warmer than you would think. The drape is nice, too, and it hasn’t really grown or stretched beyond what you see here.
So, while I won’t say I sized this just right, I do love this sweater and have worn it a lot over the fall and winter. Knitting loosely with this yarn creates a very interesting, light, and soft fabric and a beautiful sweater.