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Dear Kay,

Bang Out a Sweater is proving to be a sprint for many knitters. It’s almost unbelievable how fast everybody’s sweaters are coming together, and it’s only February 11.

I’m so committed to my knitting lifestyle that I don’t much care whether I finish anything or not, considering I will be knitting something pretty much every day until the end of time.

But wow! What a surprise to finish a pullover in less than a week. How cool.

I wove in the last ends, looked at my new Main Squeeze pullover, then put it on and wore it snipsnap just like that, no blocking or anything. I made clothing! Wow!

Tidbits and Notes

Things I noticed along the way:

Yarn substitution. The thing I wondered about the most, before I began, was how my yarn choice was going to turn out. I went with Organic Studio Chunky, the merino from Neighborhood Fiber Co. that comes in Karida Collins’s delectable colors. It has turned out to be very beautiful.

The six plies of merino, worsted spun, make for a yarn unlike any I’ve used before. So smooth, a little dense. I’m told that all those plies and this spin will reduce the likelihood of pilling. I believe it—this is sturdy stuff.

Altering a pattern. The pullover version I made draws on notes from Cristina Shiffman, who modified the original Main Squeeze Cardigan pattern by Jen Geigley from Field Guide No. 12: Big Joy. This worked out great.

Working in the round. Cristina’s version is knit in the round rather than flat. The sand stitch pattern requires one row of knit/purl, alternating with a row of knit only. The thing is, when you knit this stitch pattern in the round, the knit row has to be worked in purl in order to read properly on the right side. I didn’t mind purling those rows (see paragraph 1: I KNIT ALL THE TIME WHO CARES WHAT IT IS), but Kay is working her Main Squeeze body inside out so that she can knit those rows. Very clever!

Omitting the ribbing at the bottom. I liked the simplicity of sand stitch all the way.

Yarn required. I used almost five skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Chunky to make the third size. I’d predicted four, so I’m not sure if my row gauge was off. At any rate, it was fun to end up with a sweater using only 570 meters of yarn. There is variation in color from skein to skein, so subtle that I didn’t notice it while I was knitting. But I am never bothered by this—if I wanted a perfectly uniform color, I’d go to the mall!

Ooky decreases. When I have another two days to make another one of these, I will pay more attention to the snugness of my decreases at the yoke. Frankly subpar, too loose. Must snug up! Ech! Let’s call it a design feature and move on.

Neckline. Really love Cristina’s modification to make the neckline eight rows of ribbing, with the raglan decreases on rows 6 and 8 so that the neckline is nice and flat.

Blocking. I did in fact block this sweater—a full soak with my Soak wool wash—and there was one hair-raising moment when I laid it out to dry and it appeared to have grown about half a foot in all directions. I know that superwash yarns tend to do this. But I didn’t really want this thing to grow half a foot, so I smoodged it back into the dimensions I wish it would be, left it alone, and sure enough: it dried back much closer to size. The sleeves grew an inch in length (a good thing for this sweater). The fit is still as good as when I tried it on before blocking. On my next one, I might just steam block it to minimize the drama of it all.


I’m OK with having unfinished objects all over the house. I don’t mind it when I give up on a project. But I have to say, it was ridiculously thrilling to make a sweater in a week. If you’re feeling like you can’t quite git r done, then give this Main Squeeze sweater a go. You may dazzle and amaze yourself, which is what knitting is all about.



Leave a Comment


  • Ann, love your thoughts and tips! Thanks and Happy Tuesday, everyone!

    • Happy Tuesday to you, Michelle, and everyone! We’re having a day! How great is that?

  • Thanks for the reassurance that it’s ok to have UFOs all over and enjoy the knitting and the yarn regardless of finish. Though it is pretty nice to get a FO once in a while too. Your sweater looks great and great on you.

    • Thank you, Kayt. My strategy is to have knitting available to me at two-foot distances, everywhere in the house. It just moves things along.

      • Me too – and the car!

      • I am doing the same! Many projects, and Boyfriend is starting to call Main Squeeze “his” sweater! Love to everyone!!!

  • I also opted to make the pullover version, and it was instant gratification- one week easily! If I make another one – some day- I’m going to try the yarn substitution as you did. As much as I love the Rowan Big Wool, it is piling. It also “grew” during blocking, but like you I kept pushing it back into place. Steaming is a great suggestion!

    • Can someone tell me where you got the modifications to make a pullover. I need a pattern. I can’t make my own up.

    • I’m now fascinated with yarn substitutions. It’s a bit of a game, and a bit of a gamble, but sometimes a pairing of yarn and pattern seems worth exploring.

  • Hmmm. I suppose resistance really is futile . . . I was thinking that banging out another sweater in Feb after my improbable January sweater bang-out was excessive, but . . . hmmm.

    • Excessive? Maybe. Satisfying? YES! ; )

  • I always give my sweaters knitted in super wash a short trip to the dryer before shaping them on the table. I use the permanent press setting which leaves them slightly damp. When they are about 90% dry, I lay it out on the blocking mats, to give it the final shape. I have\n”t lost a sweater this way, ever, and it eleminates the stretching problem of superwash wool.

    The color on this one is fantastic!

    • I also put the sweater in the wash on gentle with the wool wash and then in the dryer on a light setting. Then block the shape when it is nearly dry. Never had a superwash wool, shrink yet.

    • I am totally intrigued by this method. I’ve never put a sweater in the dryer, ever, so it has such a spicy tingle of danger to me. I do think this sweater could handle it, maybe to the almost-dry stage you suggest.

      • I, too, use the dryer and have never had any problems.

  • I liked the look of your Main Squeeze pullover, without the ribbing at the bottom, so I followed your prompt and think I’m going to love the look when it’s done. I’ve just attached the sleeves to the body and am moving on up to the neckline. Thank you all for the heads up on the steam blocking. That is now my plan. This is a fun knit, for sure!

    • I like the idea of no rib at the bottom. I am almost finished with the cardigan but the next time I’d do it with out the rib. Thinking of knitting the band picking up a row at a time.

  • Such a fun read. You have convinced me. I will make this. (And I already bought the Field Guide, just out of sheer sentimental joy for Big Wool, out of which I made a favorite hat years ago…Amazing how some things just come together.) Chloe

    • I was going to pass on this…but you look so swell and make it sound fun…! Ingenious to leave off the bottom band…a choice you have to begin with!!! I’ve knit with Fiber Company DK and loved working with it and the results. Maybe I’ll knit this after all.

  • My Neighborhood Fiber worsted weight sweater also grew quite a bit. I panicked! And then when it was stil a bit damp, I put it in the dryer for little bits of time and now it’s perfect.

  • It’s very early in the morning and I am in bed, surrounded by my knitting. My reading has suffered because there are so many wonderful things to knit . Thank You so very much for bringing your world into mine on a cold and snowy day.

  • Has any one tried to turn the pullover into a V neck. I would really like that look. Any suggestions about how to approach this modification?

  • Ann you always make me feel better!!!! Why is it that its so much fun to start a project when you have other UFO’s. It must be in our DNA but we all do it. Maybe we knitters are more inspired and more hopeful in the long run. And also thanks for easing my guilt at giving up on a project, too! I’ve recently had 2 in a row and was really getting worried about myself but again now I can go about starting a new beautiful Kabel Treasure Baby Blanket to replace the one I just finished that pilled so much I could never give it as a present. UGH . I’m rambling now (or ranting) Oh, and I love , love your sweater. Next project 🙂

  • I am going without the ribbing as well, but starting with a tubular cast-on for more stretch. Also, I want to shape a “tuck in” at the waist by going down a needle size (#11’s) for about 3 inches of rows, then going back to #13’s again. Loving the look and will post pix later.

  • I love this yarn and would buy it from you along with a few other shop items, when will you accept PayPal?

  • Superwash wools, at least the ones made in the US, are meant to be finished in the dryer. Honest.

    Steam blocking is not a reasonable alternative, as if you steam enough to penetrate the fabric you’ll have gotten it wet enough to stretch to gargantuan proportions. Plus, unless it’s been washed you’ll set any stains that might have happened in the process of creation. I learned my lesson on a Malabrigo hat for my sister that came out of its Eucalan soak large enough to fit a basketball. Into the dryer it went & came out perfectly. I’ve never looked back.

    Check the hang tag on your yarn, but in general, tumble dry on medium (permapress setting works well) ’til the piece is damp-dry & finish flat. If there are any edges or bands that won’t stay where they’re supposed to be, that steamer will come in handy.

    • Just chiming in to add that at some point, you might need to actually wash your sweater (which looks great, btw), and the whole superwash growth issue will come back. I try to avoid SW when I can, but when I can’t, they go into the dryer for a bit. A couple tips: turn it inside out to lessen any abrasion of the RS surface, and if you’ve got one of those racks that sits inside your dryer, that works a treat.

  • As a fellow Nashvillian, I’m wondering about wearablity – will you save this for travels to colder climates or do you think you could wear it here without melting?

    • Yes, I also am concerned about the “warmth factor”, how does it feel here in Nashville?
      My overall body response to pullovers is = too warm, no matter the weight and density of the sweater (and it’s probably due to my overall increased inflammation response to most warm things, including weather.)
      So, is this yarn a bit “looser” or light-weight and somewhat cooler compared to the Rowan big wool?

      • Hi Virginia and Annette! The fabric of this Main Squeeze is pretty loose, using this Studio Chunky yarn rather than Big Wool. It’s not exactly a mesh, but it’s definitely less solid a fabric than Big Wool. So it’s still a very warm sweater, but not as much of a blanket as a Big Wool sweater is. Nashville today is perfect weather for this thing–45 degrees and cloudy.

        • Thanks!

  • I believe I read here recently a life-changing hack (by Cat Bordhi?) for preventing the looseness of a purl stitch after a knit stitch, as in ribbing—taking the yarn in a purl around the needle the opposite way for that stitch. Yes it seats the stitch backwards, but it shortens the distance between the purl and knit stitch, making those gaps go away. Brilliant! I just applied this principle to my top-down raglan sweater at the raglan increase points and where the front band transitions to stockinette from moss stitch. Very tidy indeed!
    You may be able to use a version of this “reverse purling” technique when working your decreases, too. Either way, your pullover is lovely!

    Thanks for the tips and tricks. I always learn a lot reading this blog.

    • Yes! Patty Lyons teaches this too also in relation to the stitch before a cable to tighten things up!!!!

  • I’m pondering the summer wonderfulness of banging this pullover out in an aran-weight linen yarn on the big needles that mean plenty of air circulation. . . Okay, enough pondering, I’m a’gonna do it!

    • Aran weight linen!?! Where do you find such a magical thing?

  • Congratulations!, Bonus: It’s Gorgeous!

  • I’m making mine a cardigan out of Malibrago Rasta! What stunning yarn to knit with! In Ravelry Red!!! So much fun to go for it and get it done! Obsessed!

  • Ooooh, I love the sand stitch hem! Next time.

  • Love this!!!! Thank you!!!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your notes and tips. I also want to say thank you for saying this “I’m so committed to my knitting lifestyle that I don’t much care whether I finish anything or not, considering I will be knitting something pretty much every day until the end of time.” I could not agree more. Once you know how to knit, you’ve found a friend for life 🙂

  • Really liked this sweater and appreciated your critique of the project

  • The sweater looks very nice on you Ann and the richness of the color adds a wonderful dimension.

  • Is there a pattern for this particular sweater by chance ?

  • So much knitting, so much fun! A few thoughts:

    i don’t trust my knitting to the dryer; I had a superwash which did bounce back to the proper size, but the yarn got fuzzy and was not the gorgeous smooth stuff I started with. So just patting a sweater back into the right shape and letting the super-wash-ness do it’s thing is the way I go.

    The other thing: If you only steam block your next sweater, you still have to have that fraught moment when you wash it eventually!

    And! I like your attitude about projects. I’m a pretty monogamous knitter, and I found myself in the weird space of having finished a project and then had NOTHING ON MY NEEDLES when I was about to leave for Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat! So I cast on a Love Note sweater with minimal swatching, and no blocking of the swatch. I have no idea how this will turn out, but it’s supposed to have 4 to 12 inches of ease, so I think it’s not too critical…fingers crossed! And it’s stash yarn, so I’m kind of zen over it anyway.

  • I learned to knit in the round and have never knit a flat piece

  • Now, I am OK with your thoughts with UFOs, too.
    Thanks for making me feel better..

  • What are raglan decreases?

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