Sequence Sweater; or Accepting Slow Progress

After my interview with Cecelia Campochiaro about Sequence Knitting, I was very eager to cast on a project and use her innovative techniques. Let me explain briefly what ‘sequence knitting’ is: by repeating a simple unit of knit and purl stitches over and over again, it is possible to create a complex textured fabric. A simple sequence knit example would be a 2×2 ribbing. You cast on a multiple of 4 stitches, and repeat the unit ‘knit 2, purl 2’ until you reach the end of the row. On the next row, you can start again with the unit. By playing around with the unit, and the number of stitches cast on, you can create very complex patterns indeed. They would be a nightmare to follow in a chart, but by memorising the unit, it is, in principle, very easy to knit.

Sequence Sweater Arms Wide Open

Easy knitting makes you feel good!

 

So, when my partner Anthony wanted a new sweater, we went yarn shopping and he set his heart on The Uncommon Thread‘s BFL Fingering in ‘Fe2O3’, which is a colourway custom-dyed for Yarn and Knitting, Brighton’s newest yarn shop. The sequence knitting needs something that will show up stitch definition, and from pictures in Campochiaro’s book it was also evident that a hand-dyed yarn would look wonderful. The slight irregularities resulting from hand-dyeing, combined with knits and purls makes for a very vibrant and lively looking fabric.

Sequence Sweater Standing

A comfy sweater in a soft yarn

Anthony wanted a sweater with plenty of ease and nothing too warm, so I psyched myself up for a project that would take me a long time to make: frequently changing knits and purls and a fingering weight yarn meant slow progress. The sequence knitting was easily committed to memory and almost drop-shoulder shaping meant there was little shaping to worry about for the front and back panel and those two parts were easily knitted. However, in this particular sequence pattern, the number of stitches cast on were not a multiple of the number of stitches in the unit, which meant that at the end of the row your unit was not completed. On the next row, you complete the unit. So, for armhole, neck, and sleeve shaping I had to come up with a method of keeping track of where to continue.

Sequence Sweater Chart

A sequence knitting chart. The numbers represent a block of knits or purls in a unit, and the shading shows how it shows on the right side of the fabric

It turns out that Cecelia has used similar methods when knitting something that included shaping. The chart may look confusing, but the only thing you need to know is how to continue at the beginning of a row so you know how to complete a unit. After that it’s plain sailing until the beginning of the next row.

So although the front and the back panel were easier to knit, as I didn’t have to refer to these kind of charts very often, I found that feeling to be making progress was more evident when knitting the sleeves: with such skinny yarn it can feel like you haven’t done a lot of knitting at all, as the fabric doesn’t grow quickly, and it was nice to be able to tick off rows and see I completed another ten rows on my daily commute.

Sequence Sweater Neckline

 

The ribbing on the welts, cuffs, and neck is based on the particular unit of this sequence pattern; see if you can work it out

I’ve written before about slow crafting and taking time, and this is a good example of it. Slow crafting means accepting slow progress. This is probably easier to accept if you’re a process knitter rather than a product knitter (ie your emphasis is on the process of knitting/making, rather than on getting a finished object,) but being accepting of slow progress, allowed me to take the time for details such as the visible three-needle bind-off I used for all the seams. There’s an awful lot of stitches to pick up on each seam! However, the bold lines that are created this way really frame the textured fabric: well worth the effort and the week it took me to complete it.

Sequence Sweater Seams in 3-needle bind-off

Bold seams frame the sweater

Another detail I was very happy about is the neckline. After seaming together the panels, I crocheted a chain around the neck line. I then picked up stitches through the crochet chain. This gave a very flush transition from main panel to ribbing, and I like the way it subtly accentuates the neckline. The ribbing itself was knitted on graduatingly smaller needles so that it really pulls together at the edge.

I’m glad that Anthony was also accepting of my slow approach; he’s been patiently waiting for his sweater. But after nearly five months of knitting, it’s now finished. And as you can see, he’s lovin’ it!

Sequence Sweater Posing

Strike a pose!

42 Replies to “Sequence Sweater; or Accepting Slow Progress”

  1. Great to see the finished sweater being worn with such obvious joy! Thank you for sharing your thoughtful process Tom

  2. Anthony’s jumper is just so beautiful, the knits and purls look lovely and nubbly, and that is such a gorgeous colour. Your 3 needle bind-off is incredibly neat.

    The Sequence knitting book was on my Christmas list but sadly my boyfriend didn’t get the hint so I’m having to save up for it myself : (

  3. Love the sweater, love the color, love the details that make it amazing, like the crocheted row before the neckline pickup (something I ahve been thinking about, but haven’t had the right sweater to try it on yet…now I will.) I have been waffling about buying this book, but now it seems inevitable. Best of all, Anthony seems so happy in hs sweater, and it is so right for him in every way, that you just know he will wear it happily for a long time: the true test of successful knitting!

  4. The sweater is gorgeous; I love the color! I was undecided about buying the book, but Anthony’s sweater has convinced me that I need it in my library. Thank you for the inspiration!

  5. What a gorgeous sweater! Love the three-needle bind off seams and especially the crocheted edge in the neck. That color is one of my favs, and I can’t wear it so I’m lucky that my husband can, if only he would wear a whole sweater of it! (I somehow married a man who thinks stripes are way too adventurous. Brown, grey, navy blue, and the occasional fair isle yoke are about all he can manage.)

    But I digress–gorgeous project!!

  6. I too like that neckline detail – definitely going to copy that at the next opportunity. The seams on the jumper look great, too. They complement the interesting texture.

  7. Very interesting concept….hadn’t heard of ~Sequence Knitting~ until today. Love the colour/wool choice and nice to see a sweater recipient so happy with the results. Great job! Thanks for sharing!

  8. What a lovely sweater – all the details add up to a scrumptious garment! And you definitely have a deserving recipient there! (He appreciates your knitting!) Congrats!

  9. Beautiful sweater, and so exquisitely made!
    So this is not knit in the round but back and forth?
    Is it a sequence of k4-p2-k2-p2? Both on the right side and the wrong side?

    1. As this sweater was designed by myself from scratch there were no mistakes to be found, but I did learn things I might do differently next time, such as using a different selvedge to make picking up stitches easier. I also found things I’d use again, such as the crochet chain around the neckline to pick stitches up from.

  10. Slow knitting indeed! I tell loved ones that knitting something for them on size 4 us needles or smaller means I love them… especially something like a sweater. You give me hope as I am almost finished spinning yarn for a personal sweater to be knit on size 4’s. It’s daunting and the spinning isn’t even finished yet.

  11. Another example of your beautiful craftsmanship! Whilst any ‘pro’ appreciates all the work and thought that went into the design and execution – any novice will understand at one glance the professional finish. And yes, the color is just stunning!

  12. I follow your blog with a lot of interest ; and as usual I am full of admiration for this new sweater. I really love your perfect finish and your lovely details. Congratulations !

  13. A wonderful piece – I love your attention to detail. And the end product really benefits from it. It fits your partner perfectly, and it’s a great colour for him. Kudos!

  14. Extremely handsome! Glorious details… and I am full of admiration for knitting an an entire sweater at this gauge. I have had you in mind as I plan a big darning job… but no sock darning job approaches the size of a jumper!

  15. Superb sweater!! I too am a process knitter thank goodness because I get less and less time to knit as my boys get older and need me to drive them more places. Slow knitting is all par for the course , I find it very meditative and rewarding when I finally have a finished project.

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