It’s so wonderful to see a bunch of Ever-Change Sweaters coming to life in Pepper-Gaggle! I hope everyone has had a safe Christmas and New Year period and found some contentment in crocheting the Lower Bodice and Hemline in their quiet moments. The next two weeks are all about the Sleeves. The slip stitch embroidery that features on the Sleeves blends and balances the colours over the project and the future neckline edging will be the final icing on the colour cake!
A quick recap on sourcing the pattern and previous blog links:
All the essential instructions and video links are in the pattern documents, the MAL blogs are offered with tips to add clarity to the Pattern info or share construction concepts, and Pepper-Gaggle is where you can source specific help/advice and share your project!
The Pattern Launch Blog with details about the Ever-Change Sweater, the MAL and photos of finished tester samples can be found here.
The Prep Blog with details about how to choose size, check for adjustments to finalise required yardage and swatch to achieve gauge can be found here.
Week 1 Blog (Fdc to V-point tips) is here.
Week 2 Blog (V-point to U/arm rounds) is here.
Weeks 3-4 Blog (Lower Bodice and Hemline) is here.
Please note that my blog is written using UK crochet terminology!
And the End Goal these 2 weeks for the Ever-Change Sweater :
…is to complete both Sleeves including the embroidery and Cuff ribbing.
I offer two methods in the pattern for working the Sleeves in the Ever-Change Sweater: open rows (for ease of future embroidery) and closed rounds (if no embroidery). It IS possible to work the embroidery into a closed Sleeve if you change your mind later on, but OMG it’s difficult.
I worked my first prototype this way thought because I was a bit worried about how the fabric might relax during blocking and then the embroidery might pucker things. When I first sat down to work the slip stitch in the closed Sleeve, I lasted about 10 minutes before I threw it down in disgust and procrastinated for 6 weeks. When I was ready to take it on, I managed to get it done in a couple of hours, but it took every last bit of dexterity and patience! I do not recommend it. At all…. I don’t care how much you don’t like sewing seams, doing that is a better option than embroidering into a closed Sleeve. Like, really. And truly.
The good news from my experiences with my 3 prototypes though is that:
a) the fabric changes during blocking only for the Woolly Whirl/Whirlette yarn and this is only minimal, …and
b) because the slip stitch is worked on the diagonal it doesn’t restrict fabric flex along the length of the Sleeve, so no puckering (assuming your slip stitch tension matches the drape of the fabric).
I have devoted 2 weeks of our little MAL to making the Sleeves because it’s a bit fiddly and I wanted to make sure you all didn’t feel too rushed. This is the most intricate part of the project the Sweater with very specific locations to work the first round of stitches to add the Sleeves top-down.
I was so paranoid though about making the Sleeves easy to follow that I ended up including all the relevant photos and video links in the Pattern PDF. So, this blog post has a few tips but is more about concepts and inspiration than technique…. Let’s get started!
Basic Sleeve structure:
The first 4 rounds of the lower Sleeve are to set up the canvas stitch pattern and decrease techniques we will use for tapering the Sleeve towards the Cuff. Lower Sleeve Round 1 works 1 more stitch across each Raglan Line than when we added Lower Bodice Round 1, so Round 2 includes a (-2) decrease to compensate for that and determine the maximum upper arm circumference for the Sleeve.
Rounds 3-4 are straight, and below this, decreases are worked in rows/rounds such that the decrease is positioned on alternating edges. This keeps the seam centrally positioned and means that frequency of decreases can be every 3, 5, 7 or 9 rows/rounds - an odd number of rows/rounds. (If you change frequency to an even number of rows/rounds the seam will spiral around the arm, so don’t try that).
Customised Sleeve stitch count?
If you work more rows/rounds at the maximum circumference before tapering, you will need to re-distribute decreases over the Sleeve length, but for above reasons, make sure intervals between decreases are an odd number.
We can vary a great deal in upper arm circumference between sizes, but wrist circumference doesn’t vary a lot, so if you modified your upper Sleeve circumference (added sts) I would recommend including more decrease rows/rounds to end up with the same stitch count at the wrist level for your size category (or the adjacent size category).
Customised anything that changed armhole depth?
If you worked extra V-point to U/arm rounds to lengthen armhole depth or include enough decreases for your bust, you will need to remove the same number of rows/rounds from the lowest Sleeve to compensate (unless you desire a longer Sleeve).
Want to customise Sleeve length?
The lowest Sleeve rows/rounds are straight, so they are the ones most easily removed if you need to shorten your Sleeves. If you remove more than these straight rows/rounds, then you will need to redistribute the decreases to (or finish with) the stitch count at wrist level of a size category so the Cuff Ribbing instructions are easy to follow or will work.
What about the Sleeve embroidery - want to customise colours?
Here is a selection of projects from my test group - some with embroidery and some without:
I describe gradient colour management in the pattern PDF to use the lower Sleeve/Cuff colour as the background embroidery and upper Sleeve colour as the larger diamond foreground embroidery and this works with the gradient as you work top-down.
A few of my testers decided to do the opposite way around, and this creates more contrast for the background embroidery stitching at the lower Sleeve and Cuff area. Check out these images below for my pink blended version (as per pattern in Scheepjes Whirl Forbidden Fuchsia 555) and Femke’s blue contrast version (in Scheepjes Woolly Whirl Sugar Tooth Centre 479).
What about using a solid Whirlette colour for the embroidery on a gradient sweater, or a gradient Whirl colour for the embroidery on a solid colour sweater? This is what my mum did for her first Ever-Change Sweater: Scheepjes Woolly Whirlette in Bubble Gum 573 for the sweater and Woolly Whirl in Bubble Gum Centre 477 for a more subtle embroidery effect.
You could also come up with your own slip stitch embroidery stitch path or motifs! One maker in Pepper-Gaggle, Anna, has opted to experiment with using my Sashiko Happy Coat motif on the bodice which will be really interesting to see!
What about embroidering the Bodice?
Create your own masterpiece: the Ever-Change Sweater is literally a canvas that can be embellished with slip stitch embroidery anywhere. I focussed on the Sleeves to blend the colour junction created when working with gradient yarn (and truth be told I am just a sucker for design details on the Sleeve), but you could work slip stitch embroidery anywhere you have canvas stitch (the Main Fabric Pattern) and no shaping. Where there are increases or decreases the grid pattern of MFP holes is distorted and best avoided.
The Sleeves are narrow so as we have already covered, it’s not advisable to add embroidery later - but the Bodice is nice and open with great access, so you could add stitches during the project or later after its finished. Heaps of possibilities!!
Sewing the seam.
When you finish the embroidery, the next challenge is sewing the Sleeve seam. Using stitch markers is KEY to matching row ends when sewing it up. There are photos showing this in the Pattern, a schematic to show principle of my preferred sewing method as well as a linked video of how to sew it using this preferred method.
I know sewing can really throw you off, so I wanted to make sure makers had resources to know how to do it for a neat finish. You can of course, sew it any way you like, but please note my Schematic measurement table assumes a sewn Sleeve with an inversion of approximately 0.35cm of fabric on each side of the Sleeve, and if you have closed the Sleeve with a ss as you go it will have an extra 0.75cm circumference as there is no inverted fabric created by a seam.
Adding the Cuff Ribbing.
Well, you are already a master of this from working the Bodice Hemline! The cuff is the same, just with a decrease round and fewer stitches. Super easy!
...And that’s it for Weeks 5 & 6!
The final blog post in the MAL series will be Friday Jan 21st. Hit me up with your questions in Pepper-Gaggle in the meantime and share your Ever-Change Sweater on socials and in your favourite Facebook groups with the tags #everchangesweater and #everchangesweaterMAL. Word of mouth is an easy way to help a designer reach and inspire more makers and I really appreciate it when you share my patterns! Thank you so much if you do!
And lastly, Happy New Year!! I wish you many satisfying crafting hours in 2022!
Thank you to Scheepjes for contributing some of the yarn that I used in developing my first prototype of this design.