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
- 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!)