When Annie Rowden released the Bracken Sweater for the Little Woolens collection, I was one of the many who said "When can I make one for myself?!" I fell in love with the texture created by the changing needle sizes and reverse stockinette. Like, to the point that I ALMOST bought the kid's version of the pattern with the intention of knitting it bigger for an adult. Thank goodness Annie announced that she would be releasing the Miss Bracken Sweater before I got that far! It wouldn't have been a pretty sight, I'm sure.
I knew I was going to make the Miss Bracken Sweater as soon as the pattern was released, but I took my time deciding what yarn I wanted to make it in. I love the recommended Quarry, but I was hoping for something a little brighter (of course, they have since released Quarry in red...). So when I realized that one of our yarn dyers, Swift Yarns, carried some of my favorite tonal colorways in a bulky weight, Big Swift, I knew I would have to give it a try.
After reading through all of the other projects that have been made with the Miss Bracken Sweater so far, I was a little worried that my yarn choice would be too heavy. Most people said that they loved Quarry because it is known for being so airy for a bulky yarn. But honestly, if I'm going to make a bulky sweater, I want it to be a little weighty! Not "I feel like I'm going to fall over" heavy, but "this feels like I'm wrapped in a blanket" heavy.
That said, I do think that the weight of the yarn needs to be taken into consideration. Big Swift is a 3 ply yarn that is pretty light and lofty when compared to other bulky yarns, which is why I think it works for this design. For example, if you tried to knit this in one of the wools from We Are Knitters, you might die of heat stroke since their yarns are so much more thick and dense. You definitely want a yarn with some bounce and movement to it, even if it is bulky. I would also recommend a yarn with good stitch definition so that you can really see the changes in the texture as you knit!
I decided on Winterberry, a deep, true red with some slightly cooler undertones. There are some slight tonal changes in each skein of yarn and I would recommend alternating skeins. Do as I say and not as I do...I didn't alternate skeins on this sweater and there is some slight pooling at the waist. It's not a deal breaker for me, but I think it would probably bug some people quite a bit. The pictures make the contrast look much more noticeable...in real life, it's not that bad at all.
I swatched a couple of times to figure out what sort of stitch definition I could get from using different needle sizes. When I used the recommended needle sizes, I couldn't really see the subtle stripe texture that I love so much and the fabric that was created was a little too loose. I went down one needle size to an 11 for the larger needle and actually went down to sizes to a 6 for the smaller needle for a more dramatic difference in stitch size...and I loved it!
My gauge was just slightly smaller than what was called for with the different needle sizes, so I didn't bother with making too many adjustments. I knit a size 37, the size that my measurements called for. It was definitely just slightly too snug when I finished, but the Big Swift yarn tends to grow when blocked and I was able to manipulate the wet sweater to the dimensions that I was looking for. It fits exactly how I had hoped now!
The only modifications that I made to the sweater:
- I skipped one of the a-line increases (the fourth one to be exact)
- I cast on an extra two underarm stitches on each side to give myself a tiny bit more room in the arms.
Otherwise, this sweater was knit as the pattern called for! It was actually a really fun knit and since it's bulky weight yarn, it goes REALLY fast. Even though it's all stockinette, the changing of the needle sizes keeps things interesting so I didn't get bored. I knit the sleeves right after I separated them from the body so that I could just knit straight through to the end. It was such a satisfying knit! Plus, I've already worn it three times in the last week since it finished drying...I think it's going to be a staple this winter.