Sunday, February 1, 2009

Res Completa: Bohus Forest Darkness

From the moment I first read about Bohus Stickning a couple of years ago I made it my knitterly goal to one day knit a Bohus sweater for myself. Both sides of my family are mostly Swedish, and though in the generations since my great-grandparents landed in the US we've lost the language and most of the traditions, I've always felt proud of my heritage and tried to stay connected to it in any way I could. So when I realized there was a way I could express my Swedishness in knitting, I knew I had to do it. It took me awhile to build up the courage needed to tackle a whole sweater knit mostly on size 0 needles with some amazing colorwork I was afraid I would ruin completely....but I finally did, and I am so happy.

Pattern: Bohus Forest Darkness, originally designed by Annika Malmström-Bladini (1953) and updated by Solveig Gustafsson
Yarn: 2-ply angora/merino blend, hand dyed by Solveig Gustafsson
Needles: US 0 (2mm) and 1 (2.25mm) circs and dpns
Start to Finish: November 2 - December 21, 2008

Mods: Firstly, I knit the whole thing in the round rather than splitting for back, front, and sleeves after finishing the yoke. I'm not a big fan of purling (still not sure if this is because I'm a Continental knitter or what) and couldn't imagine doing so with so many stitches on such little tiny needles -- it would have killed me! Anyway, I knit it in the round and also inadvertently skipped the short rows, which I'm a little disappointed about. From there, I made a number of changes to the way the sweater was shaped. I'm almost ashamed to admit this because I feel it was sacrilegious for me to muck around with this amazing pattern rooted in so much tradition, however: a) the smallest size of the original pattern is 38" and I'm a 32, and b) the original had no waist shaping, which I knew I needed if I was ever going to wear the sweater. I also made the sleeves 3/4 length (about 11.25") because I thought it would be cute (more sacrilege). That said, below is my best estimation of what I did. Unfortunately, the notes I thought at the time were detailed and clear I can now make absolutely no sense of, so I'm going mostly off of physical inspection of the finished sweater (which is totally giving me a headache, as teeny tiny stitches in black yarn are really hard to see). So, after the yoke I had 400 stitches and I...

- Marked off the front, back, and sleeves with stitch markers, using the same number of stitches for each section as the pattern called for
- Knit 5 rounds straight
- Increased on either side of each marker, for a total of 8 added stitches
- Increased in same manner every 6 rows 3 more times (32 stitches added total)
- Knit 6 more rounds straight
- Put all sleeve stitches on scrap yarn
- Knit the next round straight and cast on 8 stitches under each set of held sleeve stitches (this joined up the back and front and added more stitches in the armpit area), placing stitch markers in the middle the added underarm stitches. These markers marked the sides of the sweater, and the one on the left marked the beginning of the round

To shape the waist:
- Knit 7 rounds straight
- On 8th round, decreased on either side of the stitch markers like so: k2tog, slip marker, k1, ssk
- Decreased in this manner every 8 rounds 9 more times (total of 40 stitches decreased)
- Knit 16 rounds straight
- On next round, increased on either side of each stitch marker
- Increased in same manner every 4 rounds 6 more times (so...k 16 rounds, increase round, k 3 rounds, inc round, k 3 rounds, inc round, etc.) for a total of 28 stitches increased
- Knit 3 more rounds straight
- Knit 14 rounds of 1x1 rib
- Bound off loosely

For sleeves:
- Transfered all sleeve stitches from scrap yarn to needles, and picked up 8 additional stitches from the 8 cast on in the armpit area while doing the body (7th bullet above)
- Placed marker in between the 8 newly picked up stitches to show beginning of the round
- Knit 7 rounds straight
- On 8th round, decreased on either side of the stitch marker (k2tog, k1, ssk)
- Decreased in same manner every 8 rounds 11 more times for a total of 24 stitches decreased
- Knit 6 rounds straight
- Knit 12 rounds of 1x1 rib
- Bound off loosely

And there you have it.

My lesson learned from all of this is that I have a hard time shaping for my body from the top down. I didn't realize until most of the sweater was done that I had miscalculated where my waist actually is, making it a couple inches too low. What this meant for the fit of the sweater is that it's baggy around my ribcage, then a little too fitted just below my real waist (sort of apparent in the photo below).

It almost makes me want to redo everything, but I don't think that's going to happen. Anyway, were I to do it again, when the body shaping started I would have decreased more frequently (every 5 or 6 rounds), then would have increased less frequently (again, every 5 or 6 rounds). Live and learn, I guess.

All in all, I loved knitting this sweater, and though I wish I had correctly placed my waist, I do love the finished product. I mean, it's a Bohus! Its pattern, yarn, and history come straight from the land of my ancestors and that in itself makes me a little misty eyed every time I look at it.

(P.S. One last thing -- Chris over at Pursuit of Fiber is having a blogiversary contest with some fantastic prizes. Go check it out here!)


Clumsy Knitter said...

Your sweater is beautiful, and the misplacement of the waist shaping doesn't show. You should be very proud of yourself! That is the exact kit I want to get...someday. :) Nice job.

Anonymous said...

i think i've said it before, but i LOVE this. absolutely beautiful. happy february!

Jodi said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I love the soft glow of Bohus knits, and yours is just striking. 3/4 sleeves seem like a great idea to me.

BTW, have you heard about the Bohus exhibit at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis?

I'm planning a special trip home to MN just to see it. Scandinavian solidarity!

Renee said...

Your sweater is gorgeous! Love the colours.

Aline said...

Merci! for all the notes on this fabulous (fast) knit. This answers all the questions I've wondered about since falling in love with your sweater over on Rav. What an outstanding work of art. Just to say, I think your 3/4 sleeves are very stylish. Gives it an updated look that I think I would opt for when I get my kit. Cool ancestors!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous sweater! The colors are beautiful. You have become such an awesome knitter!

B's Momma said...

Beautiful! Knitting a sweater on size 0 and 1 needles!!! I could never have the patience for that so kudos to you!

Leah said...

That is beautiful! So inspiring, and it looks really wearable

Team Knit said...

that sweater is incredible!! I can't believe you knit that in less than two months on 2mm needles- very impressive. I love the colours you chose!

- Julie

sheepish one said...

hilary, beautiful sweater, beautiful. although not traditional, as you said, the 3/4 sleeve looks fabulous, especially on you, and updates the sweater wonderfully.

the yoke is what really gets me, though, with its gradient colors and perfectly bohus pattern... just breathtaking.

you are my knitting idol.

Nettie said...

Whatever mistakes you felt you made, this sweater is phenomenal!!

I can see no wrong anywhere.

It's just beautiful!

Gudrun Johnston said...

Really love the colours on this...looks fabulous!

Meghan said...

That is seriously gorgeous and impressive! Congrats!

Kathleen Dames said...

Oh, beautiful, job well done. I am longing for Scilla.

erngrn said...

Its beautiful! I don't forsee myself having the patience to knit an entire sweater on 0's!!

Unknown said...

You've totally inspired me to finish my Bohus! I'm also a 32" not a 38" and I started my Bohus but was too nervous to make changes on my own because I was sure I'd mess it up. But with your guidelines, I can't wait to finally finish my gorgeous sweater so I can finally wear it!

Susan said...

What an incredible sweater. It is so beautiful and soft looking. Despite your few issues, it is only you who knows. This is perfect by any other standard. Fabulous for sure!

Elena said...

Oh, it's such a lovely awesome bohus pullover!

Anonymous said...

oh i had no idea you made so many mods--3/4 sleeves are so perfect for this. everything about it is awesome hehe

Philigry said...

so beautiful on you. what a great goal! it must feel so good to be wearing that. i love it.

Philigry said...

so beautiful on you. what a great goal! it must feel so good to be wearing that. i love it.

Imcombobulated said...

It is stunning.

LizKnits said...

That is absolutely beautiful!

Eliza said...

that looks great! I love the geometric shapes around the yoke. so cool!

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Hilary, it's just beautiful and the more so because it's an expression of who you are and where you came from. It doesn't hurt that you look fantastic in it either - LOL

Anonymous said...

It's fabulous! Love the colours too.

Teresa said...

This is the most beautiful bohus I've ever seen. No kidding. It's stunning. I love your colour combinations (and an fyi: you mentioned in a comment on me blog recently that you wanted to learn more about colour theory? I'm not so sure you need to learn it, I think you need to teach it!)

I love the shaping too. I understand the difficulties of doing that from the top-down! You did a lovely job, and I hope you enjoy every second of wearing it :)

a friend to knit with said...

wow. wow. wow.
that is absolutely gorgeous!!!
and it fits you PERFECTLY!

Anonymous said...

The sweater is a BlueRibbon winner, and shaping is more effective from the bottom up. Love the 3\4 sleeves. I'm thinking them on a sweater I'm knitting with the fine lavender yarn your Mom brought from S.A. You are brave knitting on zero needles with Black yarn. Grams

Alison said...

That's just georgous! I'm so bummed I just missed the exhibit in Mpls. Oh well, que sera, sera, and all that...

Yours is so lovely, enjoy it!
Happy knitting!

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful sweater! And thank you so much for all of your invaluable knitting notes!!

Joanna said...

*beautiful* Seriously, it is really gorgeous. The colors are amazing!

Lara said...

Absolutely beautiful! I would love to knit one of these someday.

Anonymous said...

I'm nearly speechless. That is an incredible sweater. I admire your patience with such a large project on size 0 needles. Way to go, girl!
I love the soft halo of the yarn too.

the Lady said...

Very beautiful.

Dr. Steph said...

It's beautiful. I'm having the same troubles with the waist shaping and this has helped a bunch (sadly, I do have rip back...)

Anonymous said...

Hi! I love this sweater and I cannot find the pattern you mentioned or anything that resembles it. Do you think you could possibly send it to me? My email is
I am knitting it all in a block color so don't worry about the details in the top bit. I really like what you did with it with the sleaves and the fitting, I will pay for the pattern if you like I really want to knit this sweater!