Last month I started a knit-along to make a “Swirl” sweater. The Swirl is the brainchild of Sandra McIver, whose gorgeous book knit, Swirl! contains four different sweater constructions, with multiple patterns for each construction. The sweater is knit in the round for the most part, starting from the outside and working inward. This creates a roughly circular (or really more octagonal) piece with a gap in the middle.
Stitches around that gap are then used to create the back and front bodice and sleeves. The finished product is one single piece that needs only to be seamed from cuff to cuff. The four constructions – round and oval, each with either centered or off-centered gaps – create larger or smaller collars. The centered Swirls have collars so large they can be worn as hoods, while others can even be worn upside down to even more versatility to your piece. The off-centered swirls have narrower collars and hang lower in the back.
Because the sweater is worked from the outside in, your cast-on will be a test of patience; one German Ravelry user described the it as a schwere Geburt – literally a difficult birth. I chose to do the pattern from the book’s cover. The cast-on for the medium-sized Swirl was a whopping 569 stitches. I thought I could do the standard long-tail cast-on and even consulted a variety of sources for tricks to accurately gauge the length of tail needed for a cast-on of this size. But it still ended up taking me three attempts to get it right. The two-skein cast-on or casting on with both ends of the yarn from a single skein is definitely recommended here.
The other major difficulty with a cast-on of that size is joining without any twists. I was lucky enough to have the help of my knit-along leader to get this aspect right the first time. Other participants in the knit-along shared stories of their exasperation of finding a twist only after making some serious headway in the project. That’s a lot of hours lost if you have to frog multiple rounds of more than 550 stitches!
Session two of the knit-along meets in less than two weeks, and so far I’m pleased with my progress. If it turns out well, I’ll definitely try out some of the other shapes and fibers featured in the book. Though knit, Swirl! is now out of print in the hardcover, it can still be purchased as an ebook on the knit, Swirl! site, as can two individual patterns from the book. Or you can find it used on Amazon.