It’s been a while since I finished what I can safely call one of the most successful garments I ever knitted. Obviously, I’m talking about my Mae sweater. That one many of you loved when I posted pictures of it on Instagram. It’s a stunning design by Andrea Mowry (@dreareneeknits) — who has loads more of amazing patterns for sale — with some color-block-and-long-sleeve-adjustments by yours truly. Wanna know how I made it (and how it looks on)? Read on.
IN ALL ITS GLORIOUS GREYNESS
I had this large quantity of Drops Alaska in my stash, that I once purchased for a specific project that I can’t remember now, haha. It isn’t the softest, but wasn’t the most expensive either (on the contrary). Therefore, I wanted to find a pattern for it that I wouldn’t mind screwing up. Something that would teach me a lot of new skills, and something that I could play around with as I pleased. As many of you know, I’m always drawn to modern-looking knitwear patterns: simple designs with just a few cool details. Andrea has designed many that tick that box, but considering my yarn weight and quantity, I ended up with Mae, an oversized tunic in broken stockinette stitch.
Mae pattern sample // photo by Andrea Mowry
Obviously, the double v-neck drew my attention. It looks pretty sexy, plus I never knitted a v-neck before, so win-win. I also loved the hemline, which hangs lower at the back and higher at the front — a feature I generally look for when buying clothes. And on top of all that, I never knitted a garment in the round before, let alone with faux- and exposed “seams” and all that good stuff. In short, the pattern didn’t seem too complicated, but still called for many new-to-me techniques.
Yarn and gauge
Especially with such a large project (oh well, actually always), I’d rather be prepared. So I swatched. And that was actually quite difficult, because I wanted to make a flat swatch, while the pattern itself is worked in the round. I must say it took my quite some time to distill from the pattern how to do broken stockinette on a flat piece of knitting, but as these things tend to go, there was this eureka-moment and everything seemed so simple after that.
Even though Drops Alaska is qualified as a worsted / aran weight, it’s quite a lot thicker than the yarn used by Andrea (138m / 100g compared to 201m / 100g). I had to go down a needle size to match the gauge of the pattern. And I actually liked that, because it gave me the dense fabric I love in garments. After that, all I had to do was follow the pattern religiously (I knit the size medium, fyi). Except for the sleeves, that is, because I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make long sleeves. The yarn is just too woolly for a short-sleeved garment, it screamed to be turned into something warm and cozy like a sweater.
This pattern was a dream to knit up, really. I couldn’t recommend it more for knitters who are looking for something just a little bit more challenging than your regular “square” sweater. To compare it with my Long Island sweater: even though that one has some lovely shaping in the body through increases, I’d still say Mae is a little more advanced and professional-looking. And just a tiny bit more difficult.
All the things that were new to me, the short row shaping, the faux seams and the v-neck, were surprisingly simple and fun to knit. The short rows in particular opened up a whole new world of garment shaping for me and now I wanna add all the short rows to all the projects I’m designing myself. I know it sounds scary to many knitters who never tried short row shaping before, but if that’s you, please DON’T be scared and give it a go, because it’s so satisfying.
Talking about satisfying, I was extremely content with knitting the ribbing of the v-neck. How that works out in the middle, in the “point” of the v, really eased my perfectionist mind, haha.
Because I was afraid of running out of the darker grey, I switched to the lighter grey somewhere in the middle of the shoulder shaping. Looking back, I probably had enough to finish the whole body. And if not, and if I could do it again, I would probably have changed colors before separating for the v-neck. That way, the whole neckline would have been in light grey and the color change would perfectly line up with the sleeves.
The long sleeves were a total success, I wouldn’t change a thing about them. And in case you want to turn the tunic into a sweater as well, here’s how: I picked up 44 stitches around the armholes (the pattern calls for a different number) and made sure I picked one up right in the middle of the shoulder seam and one in the middle of the faux side seam. With the larger needle size, I knitted the sleeve in broken stockinette, just like the body, including the faux seam stitches so that they run continuous with the shoulder and side seam of the body. I didn’t do any decreases, because I like my sleeves to be a bit oversized. Once they reached the desired length, I switched to the smaller needle size and knitted the ribbed cuff the same way as I knitted the hemline of the body.
During the day, it’s still 28ºC / 82ºF around here, but the evenings are slowly starting to get cooler and I just can’t wait to get a proper wear out of this sweater. The Drops Alaska is ever so slightly itchy though, so if you’re very sensitive to wool (and you’re gonna wear it without a top underneath), I’d recommend choosing a different yarn. If I’m gonna knit this pattern again (and I think I will some day), I’ll also opt for a more drapy yarn, because Alaska makes the fabric around the hips a little stiff and wide (if I’m making any sense here, haha). On the overall, I think this was a very successful knit and I can only dream to design stuff like this myself some day. <3
If you’re interested in more of my projects, make sure to add me as a friend on Ravelry! I try to regularly update my projects’ page as well as my yarn stash, and I also sell my own designs there (currently just one haha, but more is in the making!).