My first projects with Shelter yarn were the Habitat hat and the Wayfarer scarf. I love both, especially the scarf. But I wanted more; I wanted a sweater. After a quick survey of men’s cardigan patterns, I decided to try Elizabeth Zimmerman’s percentage system.
Elizabeth Zimmerman, in case you’re unfamiliar, is to knitting what Julia Child is to cooking. She made knitting approachable and brought it to the masses. Her books are valuable resources: instructive, encouraging, and inspiring. My favorites are Knitting Without Tears and The Opinionated Knitter. I referred to both books while knitting my cardigan.
Zimmerman developed a system of knitting sweaters where the chest/bust measurement and the knitted gauge are the starting points from which all other measurements and stitch counts are based. With this method you can knit a sweater with any yarn and at any gauge. She also preferred to knit in the round and to begin at the waist for the body and at the wrist for the sleeves. Never having done this, I decided to give it a try.
Knitting the pieces from the bottom up is nice because you have relatively small pieces on your needles until you join the sleeves and body to begin the yoke. From that point, every round has fewer stitches (I chose a raglan, this wouldn’t be the case with all methods) so you really move fast. Zimmerman’s percentage system was easy to follow and worked like a charm. My cardigan fits just right.
If, like me, you haven’t tried Zimmerman’s percentage system (referred to as EPS for Elizabeth’s Percentage System), I highly recommend it. You’ll need your calculator and a little patience, but ultimately, it’s liberating to knit the sweater you want rather than hoping someone writes a pattern for what you have in mind. I find I learn something from every sweater I knit. Even if your first time with EPS isn’t your dream sweater, you’ll be one step closer to knitting it.
And if you’ve yet to knit with Shelter, I encourage you to give it a try. It feels warm and woolly, and the colors are rich and beautiful to look at. Brooklyn Tweed has many wonderful knitting patterns to choose from. For me, I know Shelter’s a yarn I’ll come back to again and again.