options KAL progress and a V-neck tutorial

November 09, 2015

I'm more than halfway though knitting Amy Herzog's Options Sweater KAL.  I've enjoyed learning Amy's techniques and have also incorporated my own fit and easy-knit techniques which I'll share below.  This post has the details about how I shape a V-neck and how I put in sleeves.  I hope these tips will be helpful on a sweater you're knitting now, or on the sweater you'll be knitting in the future. 

These pictures show un-blocked fabric.  A luke-warm swish in water, or even a steam-iron will work wonders on uneven stitches.  I went far with just one skein with the Pure Wool Superwash DK--137 yards got me almost half way up the back.  PWDK has quite a bit of life on the needles, but not too much, just enough to make it behave and snap into place.  This makes it great for touch knitting.  It is not needle fussy and I've found my Knit Picks Caspians are perfect for this project. The color is a heathered, pale sea-green called Marl.  Do you see the two sets of decreases just off the center?  Amy places her waist decreases and increases here rather than on the sides.  This gives a much more flattering fit and is going to be my waist shaping method from now on. 

I was finished with the back in no time and made no mods.  Working on the front now and I'm almost to the armhole shaping.  The completed back is underneath and has been blocked.  You can see how a light blocking evens out the stitches. 
This photo doesn't show the color very well, but here I'm finished with the front and back.  I pinned it together and slipped it on and it fits like a dream.  Yay!  Amy has not yet posted directions for the v-neck option for the pullover, but I have a confession:  I rarely follow the pattern's v-neck instructions anyway.  I do my own thing. Here's how:  You have options when you are creating a V-neck.  If you want a low V, start the V-neck decreases one inch before the armhole shaping begins.  If you want a medium V, start the v-neck decreases at the same time as the armhole shaping, and if you want a higher V, then start the shaping about a 1/2" or 1" after the armhole shaping begins.  How simple is that?  This is a simple customizing technique that will further help you create the sweater you want to wear. I wanted a medium V on this sweater and so began my neck shaping at the same time I began the armhole shaping.   See more below.

Here's what I do:  The neck shaping decreases and armhole shaping decreases are usually happening at the same time, but at a different rate.  To make this part simple to follow, on a separate piece of paper, write out row by row what decreases are to be made.  Keep this paper with your pattern.  When shaping the V-neck, start with an uneven amount of stitches (prior to the beginning of this shaping you may have to alter your pattern one stitch to achieve this) and knit to the center stitch, mark it, then complete the row.  You will have the same amount of stitches on each side of the center stitch. Next row, with WS facing, P to 1 st. before marked stitch, and turn, now working one side at a time.  (You can now put the stitches for the other side of the neck on a stitch holder if you wish, but I don't bother.) With RS facing K2, K2togTBL, K to end.  Repeat this neck decrease row every RS row 7* times, then 7* more times every 4 rows AND AT THE SAME TIME, make your armhole shaping as per pattern.  *These numbers may be different for you and can be adjusted.  This particular neck shaping was appropriate for my gauge and my size, yours might be different, but don't be afraid, read on!  There are several factors that will change this number:  your gauge, the depth of your neck and/or the size you are making.  In general, the first 1/3 of the V shaping will have decreases made on every RS row, and the last 2/3 of the V shaping will have decreases made on every 4th row.  This is just a general guideline, and not etched in stone.  Every pattern and size you are making is easy to adjust:  Before binding off, just make sure your front shoulder has the same amount of stitches as your back shoulder so they will match up when you seam.  Depending on the sweater, you might have to slow down, or speed up your neck decreases.  Often the neck shaping is finished several inches before you will bind off.  That's fine, just work straight until the front arm scythe length matches the back.  Work your second side exactly as you have done the first, but this time, with RS facing, knit to 4 sts. before center stitch, K2tog, K2 and turn.  That center stitch is left alone until it's time to pick it up for the neck ribbing.  This type of decrease is called a "full-fashioned" decrease and is my favorite type of decrease for a V-neck.  Before we move on to the ribbing, can you see how, by fudging the rate of decreases, you can also make a very open and wide V shape, or a long, skinny V neck opening? Now, on to the ribbing!

(The picture above is unblocked so it looks a bit lumpy.)  When your front is completed, seam both shoulder seams.  You will be knitting the neck ribbing in the round.  With short circulars, and starting at a shoulder seam, pick up and knit 1 st. for every back neck st.  Down the front, pick up and knit 2 sts. for every 3 sts., pick up the center stitch, then pick up the other front at the same ratio as before.  Make sure you have the same amount of stitches on either side of the V fronts:  if you have 30 on the left side of the V, you should have 30 sts. on the right side with the center stitch in the middle.  Begin your ribbing, it can be any ribbing you like, but here I have done a K2P2 rib to match the rest of the sweater.  You may have to add or remove a stitch or two to make the ribbing work out--I like to do this on the back neck.  You will be knitting in the round.  Round 1: rib to 2 sts. before center st., K2tog, K center st., K2togTBL, continue with rib.  Round 2: Rib, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches, always knitting the center stitch.  Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until your ribbing is a scant less than 1" (or whatever depth ribbing you prefer) and bind off.  If you are binding off on a round 1, make your decreases as before, binding off at the same time.  I know you've tried on your sweater many times since you've started, but now is a good time to do it again, as it's really starting to look like something!  Now, on to the sleeves!

The next few pictures show how I put in sleeves.  Rather than knit a separate sleeve and sew it in, I knit top-down, set-in sleeves.  This is a simple technique and is my preference for knitting stockinette sleeves.  You pick up stitches all around the arm scythe and starting at the very top where the shoulder seam is, knit short rows to complete the "bell" shaped top.  When the bell is complete and you are down to the bottom of your armhole scythe, you simply knit the sleeve down to your desired length, making decreases every 2", and finish with the ribbing or your desired cuff.  I've written a post that has the complete tutorial here to show how you can make top-down, set-in sleeves.  You'll also find a PDF that you can download and print out.  It's an easy sleeve method and I love the results as they always fit well.  I'd love to know if you try it and please tell me what you think.

I'm almost finished with the short-row shaping of the bell.

I'm pinning it together and just ready to pop it on to see how the sleeve fit is.  (It was perfect, so yay!)
This picture makes my sweater look super long, but it's not really.  I did add 2" to the length, and it falls to just below my hip and right where I want it. This simple, straight-forward pattern allows for many opportunities to learn new techniques for fit.   Once you get the fit right, keep good notes and I imagine you'll come back to this pattern again and again, making different sweaters choosing the different options.  I highly recommend Amy's pattern, especially if you are new at sweater making or new at customizing your sweater to fit well.  You will learn a lot!  If you don't have time to knit it at this time, download the free pattern and save it for when you do have the time.  If you're thinking about joining the KAL now, it's not too late.  Many people have just started swatching.
As for the yarn, I've enjoyed the Rowan Pure Wool DK so much that I purchased more to make the Floyd vest for my son for Christmas.

Here's the links!

Download Amy's free Options KAL pattern here.
Hopefully you can find Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK at your local yarn store,
but if not, it can be purchased online at most online shops including:
Jimmy Beans
Black Sheep
Fiber Wild

Here's the post that explains the sleeves.

 Lots of discussion on the KAL Ravelry page.

Amy Herzog's blog

You'll be happy you've watched these excellent YouTube videos:

Amy's first video, how to choose the correct size.
Make sure you watch Amy's second video with more details on fit modifications.
Is your hand-knit fabric sweater ready?

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  1. Thank you for posting your v neck method! It's very smart. I'm working on a Herzog pattern now (Greenaway). I think the shaping is sort of like making darts (in sewing).

    1. Right! The waist shaping darts are so much more flattering than the traditional knitted side shaping. After knitting hundreds of sweaters, it's nice to learn something new!

  2. Fantastic post! Thanks for the tips!

  3. Good post, Kristen. I'm knitting the Foyle pullover by Amy right now - just started the back. She has me shaping the back (and not the front) which is brilliant because I always have a bit of slack in the back. I'll do the sleeves top-down and will follow your method. I've done lots of top-down sleeves before and just want to try your instructions. The end result is always satisfying for me. I have got to retire so I can do more of what you do!

    1. Let me know how you like the sleeve method. I'll be curious if you like this way and if you got good results. Sounds like you in Amy's Custom Fit program? What do you think of it?

  4. Interesting way to put in sleeves. I'll have to try that on my next sweater because I don't like seaming at all but don't want every sweater knitted top down. I haven't started Amy's sweater but I will cast on soon!


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