Follow along with me as I design and knit
a sweater for my brother, Bob.
Bob lives in Maryland and has two pet Babydoll sheep. Their names are “Wooley” and “Lambchop”.
Quoting from Mylittlesheep.com: “Babydolls are sweet. They are peaceful, curious, intelligent, and like to interact with each other and “their people”.” You can learn more about Babydoll sheep by clicking on this link: Mylittle sheep.com.
The main thing knitters need to know about Babydolls is that they make great outdoor pets and their fleece is beautiful.
These two sheep have been completely sheared twice so far in their young lives. They also have their faces and undersides sheared a second time per year. If their fleece is allowed to continue to grow around their face, it can cover their eyes completely, causing “wool blindness”. The wool from the two complete shearings was saved, carded and washed. Babydoll sheep fleece has a very short fiber, so to enable the wool to be commercially spun, it was mixed with 50% merino. Each skein is about 220 yards and the yield was 55 skeins! That is a lot of yarn! So… I will start by making him a sweater. That should make a very small dent in the amount!
I took measurements from a well fitting garment that Bob owns. I sketched out a schematic with all of the vital numbers:
Then, I decided what stitch design I wanted. I chose a three-over-three left crossing cable and off-set the cable twist every 12 rows. The back will be plain stockinette stitch. Of course this means that I had to make a swatch with the stitches that I will be using in the garment!
Then I had to measure the gauge in both the stockinette stitch portion and the cable stitch portion. For help figuring out how to measure gauge, see my previous blog post, “It Really Is All About the Gauge”.
I got a gauge of 5.22 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch and 6.66 stitches per inch in the cable pattern. As you can see, the cable pulls the fabric in quite a bit, so I will have to do a bit of math to figure out the stitch count for the front and back. Math, math, math (doing the math)… The sweater will be 21″ across the chest for the front. 21 x 6.66= 140 (rounded) sts for the front. The back will be 21″ x 5.22= 110. The cable pattern is a multiple of 8 plus 2 (a 6 stitch cable and 2 purls between equals 8 sts in the cable pattern and I also want to have two purls on the opposite end to balance.) That means that for the front of the sweater I need to have 138 sts to make the pattern come out evenly. Since I need 140 sts for the front, I am going to add two knit sts on either side of the front that will blend in nicely with the back stockinette stitch. I will make the sweater in the round to the armhole. That means that the body of the sweater will have 250 sts. Whew. Time to cast on.
I want to use a measurement of 40″ circumference at the hip. I am using my stockinette gauge to calculate. I will use a 2 x 2 rib, which is a multiple of 4. So, 40″ x 5.22= 208 sts. Is this a multiple of 4? Why yes, yes it is! When I finish my border of about 2″, I will increase evenly to 250 on the last row of ribbing using a Knit Front and Back increase and then begin the cable pattern. I have decided to use the German Twisted Cast On (or HERE) to begin, it is nice and stretchy and looks good. I have an entire blog post detailing the German Twisted Cast On!
Finally, since there are 250 sts to cast on, I used two skeins of yarn to cast on so I wouldn’t run out of the long tail.