Bamboo Drape Sweater. FO Details.

FO – Bamboo Drape Sweater

Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

Hello dear friends! It is nice to be back after a little break. My weekend and the beginning of the week were so busy, I couldn’t find time to sit and write down the notes for my recent FO – 3d project for my Machine Knitting Challenge 2016. This project was so bizarre – it went completely the other way I expected and it was a pure experiment without a clear plan in my head. Usually I see exactly what I get in the end, but this sweater took its own road.

Project Notes

Pattern. No pattern, whatsoever. I planned the sweater in my notebook before starting, but after I cast on I realized it had to be changed completely, so I just started experimenting on the machine and see where it takes me. Only when I finished I took some notes, sort of an afterthought pattern. It was a very liberating creative experience when you don’t follow any notes and just trust the fabric to take some kind of wearable shape.

Machine. The sweater is made of 6 separate blocks of fabric that were knit on Silver Reed LK150 knitting machine. As I told you in my first tutorial on the machine knitting, the machine has its limits. When I decided to experiment with bamboo, I knew I wanted a super oversize sweater to show off the drape of the fabric. The initial idea was to make four pieces – 2 big ones (one for the front and one for the back) and two small ones for the sleeves. But after starting the project I faced some challenges.

Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

I lost the yarn label and I have no idea what weight it is, but it is something between fingering and lace. As I mentioned before, my machine can knit a wide range of yarn weights, but not all of them. I knit lace weight wool on it and there was not a problem, but bamboo is very slippery and it was pretty challenging to keep stitches from slipping off the needles, especially in the beginning.

The other difficulty was the gauge. There are 150 needles on the machine’s bed and to get the oversize look I would have to cast on almost 300 stitches. So, I at that point I realized I had to “break” the front and the back of the sweater in pieces to get the width. I was lost at first, but then thought that it would be a great way to play with texture. Initially I planned the sweater in simple stockinette, so the plan has changed. I decided to break the front and back pieces in 3 for each.

I divided the stitch count I needed for the front width in 2. To get 32-34″ width of the front I had to cast on 292 sts. I made a rectangular central piece 140 sts wide (almost all  the needles on the machine were in work), then I made two pieces 76 sts wide. The same was done for the back.

Then I put 6 pieces together by hand. First the front. The central big rectangular part has a reverse stockinette stitch on the public side, two small pieces are on each of its sides, with usual stockinette on the public side. I put these pieces together using a crochet slip stitch seam. I always use it when I need to put two different stitch patterns together. I love it more than the mattress stitch in this case. The same was done for the back and then side seams were done using the mattress stitch. Here is what I got at the end.

Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

You can see the slight contrast between the central piece and the side pieces.

Yarn. 100% bamboo. This was the first time I worked with this fiber. You can read yarn review here – Fiber Experiment. This is definitely not the easiest fiber to use.

Pros:

Drape. The fabric created by bamboo is unbelievable! The drape is perfect for oversize garments that will flow around your body and won’t make you look bulky.

Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

Sheen. Yarn has the natural sheen and the color changes depending on light. It really looks alive and vibrating!!

Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

Feel. It is a wonderful feeling to wear bamboo next to your skin.

Cons:

Slippery. I wouldn’t recommend 100% fingering bamboo yarn for a beginner knitter. You really have to have absolutely perfect tension. It is very hard to make stitches even and as in most plant fibers blocking doesn’t fix the unevenness 100%. Even in machine knitting you have to carefully watch your tension. I will show you my “off” spots later. If you still want to try it, I would suggest the following:

  • Use bamboo or wooden needles, they will help with slippery stitches.
  • Use a stitch pattern that doesn’t have to be smooth and even like stockinette, so even if your stitches are not perfect, it won’t show that much.
  • Try to use bamboo blends, with merino for example. This way you will be able to enjoy all the advantages of the bamboo, but minimize its cons.

Weight. Compared to wool, it is pretty heavy, so I presume it will stretch a little bit over the time.

Design Details

Fit. Super oversize sweater. I would say it has around 30″ of ease.

Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

Neckline. I didn’t shape the neckline at all. Just bound off central stitches.For trimming I used the technique I showed you last month (Perfect Neckline Trim Tutorial) – first I made a chain of slip stitches along the neckline and then I made a single crochet in each loop. Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

Hem. This was the most time consuming part. I planned to leave it raw first to let it naturally curl, but the reverse stockinette part was curling inside and I didn’t like the look of the raw edges in stockinette section. So I made a chain of crochet slip stitches along the hem and knit 1*1 rib holding two strands of yarn together. Again, for the extra stability. You can only imagine how “fun” it was – 64″-long hem knit in fingering weight yarn.

Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

Sleeves. Initially I was planning to make sleeves, but when I seamed the garment and put it on, I realized that the sides of the sweater fall low enough on my arms, so the only thing I did was knitting 10 rows of 1*1 rib holding two strands of yarn together to get a firm ribbing. I also picked up stitches for the rib from the slip crochet chain – it just makes everything look better.

Texture. I love the ridges that seams created between reverse stockinette and the classic stockinette sections. Overall the sweater has 6 vertical seams. It took forever, but I know it will be worth it in the long term. As I mentioned above the fabric is pretty heavy and extra seams will prevent it from overstretching and will also hold the shape of the garment.

Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

Tension. As I said, it is very challenging to keep the tension even when knitting with the thin bamboo thread, even when you are using the knitting machine. I tried my best, but there are still some “off” spots. They are not many of them, but there are there :(.

I love my new sweater and I learned so much working on this project!
Machine Knitting. Oversize Sweater

Have a great week! See you at Yarn Along! I am re-reading “Cather in the Rye” and can’t express how much I love it!


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35 Comments

  1. It’s beautiful!

    One of my first sweater’s was knit in bamboo, it was terrible and I ended up ripping it apart. Perfect tension I DID Not have! 🙂

  2. This is so beautiful!!

  3. You are so talented! A very stunning color indeed, and I love the sheen! Well done. As always, I am tremendously impressed.

    • Thank you so much, Andrea! I wouldn’t call myself talented, just very stubborn, haha 🙂 The sheen is my favorite detail of this FO! I am glad you can see it on photos.

  4. Gorgeous!!!! This is similar to Boxy…..one of my favorite sweaters of all time. Love this so much!!!!! What a drape!!!

    • Thank you, Steph! Yes, it does remind me of Boxy. I had a completely different picture in my head when I started, but with all the changes the sweater had its own journey 🙂

  5. I just treated myself with 4 skeins of 65% bamboo-35% cotton yarn, the only bamboo blend yarn I could find (I looked like crazy after reading your previous post on the yarn).
    I absolutely love its softness and shine but I’m a little sceptical now….
    I’m a very tight knitter and usually I don’t have tension issues. I was thinking of knitting a simple summer top in stockinette. What do you think?

    • Yay for the yarn stash enhancement! As for your question. When I say that I wouldn’t recommend 100% bamboo for beginners, I mean absolute beginners, as their first yarn. And I am mostly referring to thin yarn, like I used, which is very close to lace weight. You are definitely not a beginner and judging by your FOs, you have a very neat and even tension, plus the yarn you got must be heavier than lace weight. I tried to knit this yarn on 2.5 mm needles (metal ones) and it was super slippery, I didn’t have much trouble with the wooden ones. As you can see the hem ribbing and the sleeve are knit by hand and they look pretty even – I was holding two strands together, so I think you won’t have any problems with your yarn! And as always swatch is a the best adviser – try it with different needles – bamboo/wooden/metal – to see what works for you best. I definitely didn’t want to scare you off bamboo – it is a wonderful fiber!

  6. What a beautiful sweater. And it looks like it will be fun to wear! Stubborn or talented, your knitting is inspiring, Alina. 🙂

  7. What an interesting garment, looks so smooth and flowing. Can’t wait to see it modeled!

  8. That is so clever! I love your process and the finished project look great. Can’t wait to see it modelled 😉

  9. Such a gorgeous lightweight sweater! That drape and sheen is amazing!

  10. gosh that sheen of the bamboo is gorgeous!! Lovely shawl and a beautiful color 🙂

  11. Oh my gosh, this is absolutely incredible. I’m not certain which impresses me more: the garment itself or your bottomless pool of patience. The sweater is just gorgeous and the drape is perfect. I even love the color. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Ooh I love this, the shape is really interesting 🙂

  13. It turned out beautifully, and was really brave of you to try out all these new things at once: new fiber, new non-planned pattern. I don’t mind a couple of “off” spots in tension on a hand-knit at all. I think it’s part of the aliveness of hand-made things.

    • Thank you, Alexis! I absolutely agree about off spots in hand-knitting, I do find them appealing. It is weird, but I am much less forgiving with my machine knit fabric 🙂

  14. Oh that is so beautiful! Thanks for the tips for knitting with bamboo. I would love to try that fiber.

  15. what a beautiful sweater! And that really is the best of both worlds- learning a lot on a project AND having it turn out to be a huge success. I bet it looks amazing on, too!

  16. That’s beautiful! Love the shine and the drape!

  17. Wow another stunning piece! You have amazing talent. I love seeing what you come up with next.

  18. Surprisingly individual friendly website. Astounding information available on couple of gos to

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