FO Log: Hay Sweater (2018 FO-03)

Does anyone else get the urge to cast on all the sweaters as soon as the temperatures hit 20°C or is it just me? I'm not complaining, though, because it means I get to look forward to an array of newly knitted additions to my wardrobe come September - and besides, sweaters are still my all-time favorite things to knit.

Hay Sweater Clare Mountain HLH Designs

Sweaters are made even better when they have meaning for me. "Meaningful" sweaters can be made out of a yarn I bought on a very special trip or that is dyed by someone I know, knit from a pattern written by a dear friend or, and that's the very best kind of sweater, both. My recently finished Hay Sweater hits exactly these notes - and on top of that, I relished every single stitch.

Let's backtrack a little bit: About two months ago, I posted a few handmades that were looking for a new home on Instagram. My friend Am, the dyer behind NYC-based yarn company Oysters and Purls, messaged me and asked if I'd be up for a swap: the Meerdaal Scarf sample against a sweater quantity of her yarn. And as if it couldn't get any better, just around that time my other friend Clare Mountain released her Hay Sweater pattern (first published in Laine Magazine No. 3) as a single pattern on Ravelry. It just was meant to be.

Am and me decided on her new 100% Corriedale base which is a wonderful springy sportweight, and settled on a raspberry pink hue, slightly leaning towards the colder end of the color spectrum. I bought the pattern, Am visited me in Berlin with a suitcase full of yarn, and we were good to go!

A few notes on the construction of the sweater: Hay is knit bottom up in the round with the front and back being shaped separately once you reach the armholes. Then you pick up the sleeves and knit, knit, knit them until the very end, and to top things off you pick up the neckline and finish the sweater with a bit of ribbing around the neck. So far, so good, but as with all my favorite patterns, the devil is in the detail (in the best possible sense)!

Ribbing: Clare doesn't do things half-assed, so a proper tubular cast on is in order - and it's worth it. She then combines two types of ribbing (which she does again for the sleeves) which I've never done before and was, frankly, a bit sceptical about. But! It's SO good. 

Body: Stockinette and lace, hello!! And lace just how I like it: Not to prissy, geometric, potato-chip-y. You just want to get to the next ridge. And the next one. And then possibly one more? Also, the lace panels make their way up from the side of the body to the top of the shoulders which looks amazing in the FO.

Hay Sweater Sleeves Clare Mountain HLH Designs

Shaping: Oh damn, how I love a good boxy sweater, and Hay also delivers in the department. The overall shaping, by the way, is incredible - I made a size 2 after measuring one of my favorite sweaters, and it fits exactly how I wanted it to fit. Take the time to measure yourself and a favorite garment and then do the maths with your swatch - it's going to pay off a million times! (Not just for this pattern, of course!) 

Sleeves: Kind-of drop shoulder, but not really, and with enough decreases that the boxy fit of the sweater really pops against the slim arms. Just the way I like it!

Neckline: Necklines are one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to knitting patterns. Often, they are either too loose, meaning they fall off the shoulders, or too close to the neck for my taste - or they gape. I don't know how she did it, but the neckline on Hay is nearly damn perfect.

Which brings me to my only tiny issue with the pattern: It is very well written, but I wish it included the rate at which to pick up stitches both for the armholes and for the neckline. Granted, I did the calculations myself as it's not very difficult, it still would have been nice to have it written down. 

Overall, though, two big, big thumbs up, Clare, for a wonderful, super wearable, so-fun-to-knit sweater pattern! I highly, highly recommend it to anyone, especially also beginner knitters.

Now, let's talk about the yarn. I've never knit a garment in 100% Corriedale before, only the sample for the Soft & Strong Socks (which, yes, are the same colorway). The yarn is springy, a tiny bit rustic (just the right amount), and blocks out beautifully. Knowing that it's 100% grown and processed in the US and has been dyed by hand with lots of love by a friend makes it extra special, but even without the latter part I'd highly recommend it.

I alternated skeins every two rows to avoid color-blocking which is something you should generally consider doing when you're knitting with hand-dyed yarns. I really like the subtle variation of color this created in the fabric, and it wasn't nearly as much tangling hassle as I thought it would be.

Last, but not least, I was also very positively surprised by how little the finished sweater bled during blocking! I find that sometimes, especially with naturally dyed yarns, your blocking water seems to retain more color than the finished object itself, but Am does a great job at preventing that from happening!

Speaking of preventing something: You should most definitely NOT do what I did when I admired the finished sweater and that is cut a hole in it. Yup. In the middle of the body. Because you wanted to get rid of that teeny tiny bit of yarn fluff that was stubbornly hanging on to the yarn. But! SHOULD that ever happen to you, I can only highly recommend this tutorial by Patty Lyons. (Bonus points for anyone who sends me a screenshot with a circle around the former hole!)

So! That's FO #3 for 2018, and yet another sweater to add to my "I'm looking forward to colder weather" pile!

Lace Detail Hay Sweater Clare Mountain