Hinterland Watershed is a chunky, softly spun yarn made from 50% alpaca, 50% rambouillet (also known as french merino) and if we've met before, I was probably wearing something knit from it. I have previously designed the Gambier Jacket using this same yarn, and I was interested to challenge myself with a textured project. Unlike some other chunky yarns, Watershed is very light which makes it great for avoiding stretching or lengthening in a larger project like a sweater (which can sometimes happen with alpaca fibre). I found that bulking up the fabric with texture makes it wear even more springy and light... bliss.
I aimed for a fairly conventional fit with this cardigan with about 6" of ease in the chest circumference, though I specifically wanted the cuffs to fit on the tighter side — I like my cozy clothing to be functional, and I hate when big chunky cuffs get in the way of doing important things with my hands (like knitting, obvs.)
Seamed vs. Seamless
In comparison, the Gambier Jacket is seamless (except for the pockets). But because the textured fabric of the Pender would be so bulky, I knew that seams would create a structured fit that keeps its shape a bit better and "hugs" the body.
Because Watershed is a little bit soft for seaming, it works well to do short sections and / or add some extra twists to the yarn while working. It is also key to keep the tension not to loose / not too tight when seaming because of the thickness of the fabric. Goldilocks seaming, if you will.
Another benefit of seaming such a bulky sweater is that the sleeves, fronts, and back are worked separately, so the project is easier to manage while in progress.
Collar and button bands: Honestly, the button bands almost killed me (and probably my test knitters, but they were far too nice to say anything about it.) It took 3-4 times knitting and then several times rewriting the instructions before it all came together. Why make it so complicated? I really wanted the collar to stand up on its own. The construction starts with the back collar only, and then the sides of the collar are picked up at the edges of the short-row-shaped button and buttonhole band, which kind of tents the collar. This in combination with the twisted rib (which creates a more solid fabric) was successful in my plan for maximum neck warmth.
Sleeves: the set in sleeves were slightly challenging to plan, but I was happy with the shaping I was able to achieve by putting the decreases a few stitches in from the edge (even the sharp decreases at the beginning of the cap). This gives the seams a softer look, and didn't seem to mess with the fit — I'm pretty happy with how the shoulders do not look overly big in this very bulky fabric.
Cuffs and bottom band: I think the first idea I had for this cardigan was to somehow have the cuffs and bottom band "sideways." At the same time I wanted to only have seaming where it was structurally necessary, so I figured out a plan to pick up stitches while working sideways. I'm sure it has been done before, but it was new to me. It was a fun discovery and I'll probably use this method again!
I am most happy with the collar of this sweater, which looks kind of like a bomber jacket and really does stand up on its own. The sample knit travelled to Knit City recently, and it was so fun to see so many knitters try it on and enjoy the coziness... though I'm happy to have it back and will probably keep it on for the majority of this Winter.