St. Brigid Sweater – Simplified: Finished!

To those who’ve been waiting for for the photos of my St. Brigid sweater, my apologies.  I finished it about a month ago, and it just now had its photo shoot.  I often take months to finish Aran sweaters, and when I do, I want to have the photo shoot someplace befitting all the work that went into the knitting — it’s usually not enough for me to simply plunk it over my head and have my husband snap a few photos on the front stoop.  Also, it’s been warm this fall — too warm to wear Hebridean 3-ply, anyway.

After weeks of waiting for cooler weather and thinking about where to take photos, the opportunity arose when we were in Mystic, Connecticut.  We were checking out the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with our older son in nearby New London.  Mystic afforded the perfect weather and backdrops for some nice photos of the sweater.

With the St. Brigid sweater finally finished, I thought I’d re-cap the highlights of this knitting adventure.  There’s more on this blog (tag: St. Brigid sweater) and on my Ravelry page, if you’re interested.

Leafing through my new copy of Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting, I knew there were at least two sweaters I just had to make for myself:  Na Craga and St. Brigid.  I duly made the Na Craga, which didn’t require a tremendous amount of alterations to the pattern to fit my 5-foot-tall body.  The St. Brigid, on the other hand, was a different story.

The St. Brigid sweater, as envisioned by Starmore, is a lovely, complex piece of Aran knitting that looks stunning on the type of body that can support this broad canvas of fabric, such as a 5-foot-10 model.  Alas for this pipsqueak of a knitter, to make a sweater that didn’t look like it was wearing me, I’d have to either 1) knit it in a finer yarn, or 2) find a way to cut out some of the cables so that I ended up with a smaller finished item.  Even if I knit the sweater so tight that it could get up and walk to the blocking boards by itself, I would still not have a small enough sweater.

I considered knitting it up in 2-ply Hebridean, but was anxious to have the finished sweater in time for autumn.  I knew that knitting it up in 2-ply would take much longer, so I opted to simplify the pattern as written.

Of course, the centerpiece of the sweater is the large Celtic scrolls that are front and center.  I wanted to keep the side scrolls, as well, plus the interesting cabled collar.  I therefore separated the main and side scrolls in the body of the sweater with a simple four-stitch rope, and added on enough moss stitch on the sides to arrive at an 18-inch width.  For the sleeves, I used the Celtic side scrolls and kept the cable that ran from saddle to cuff, which would tie in with the cabled collar.

If I had it to do over again, I’d make the sleeve width a bit narrower — say, 7 inches on either side of the saddle, rather than 8.  I took in some of the width during finishing, but it would have been better to have it narrower from the get-go.  Also, I forgot to use moss stitch for the sleeve increases, so they’re in stockinette.

Another issue I had with the sleeves was that they ended up a bit long, at 18 inches, due to the length of the repeats.  If I had it to do over again, I’d go ahead and end the sleeves a bit short, then add on some cabled cuffs in a length that worked, as I did for the bottom of the sweater.

The sweater ended up being a bit too short for my liking, so I added on a cable border at the bottom.  I had to be sure to sew it on loosely, so that it didn’t bind me at the hips.  I have narrow hips, so I’m happy with the way the border looks.

The cabled collar is an interesting focal point.  I decreased to about 80 stitches or so, which made a good, snug turtleneck.  I then made the neck about four inches and then turned it in and sewed it down.  I wear this with a silk funnel-neck filament-weight top underneath, which provides a thin, smooth, breathable underlayer.

I thoroughly enjoyed knitting up the yarn.  This is the second sweater I’ve made with Starmore’s yarn, and I have not been disappointed.  The yarn is easy to work with, has a lovely color, and does not stretch inordinately during blocking.  I don’t think it’s terribly scratchy (but then, I do wear silk or cotton underlayers with my woolens).  It’s warm without being oppressive.   I’m looking forward to years of wear.

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