Journal: Hand Knitting Norwegian Sweater Project Inspired by Dale of Norway Bogstad Sweater

Hand Knits by Peg's Knitting Arnoldussen
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INTRODUCTION: This is to be a hand knitted garment inspired by Dale of Norway's Bogstad sweater, and I am using the pattern I wrote for this type of construction while knitting my version of Dale's Peace. Dale has since developed and published their own hand knitted version of Peace, but I've evaluated it and was disappointed. In my opinion, it's not just the lovely motif design that makes Peace so beautiful. It's also the styling, the particular balance and proportions of the color design components, the embellishments. Their hand knitted version included a gauge change that required changing the proportions of the motif design. The placket border was eliminated, the collar was squared off. And, because of all this, the pattern only works for Peace. My pattern, by contrast, is designed generically, in a sense, so that it can be used with any Dale ready-to-wear design having the same gauge and general styling, including the cardigan designs that are shaped the same. One need only chart a Dale color design from photos, and then it can be used with my pattern. At some point, I'll also knit one having my own motif design.

22 July 2015: I'm mostly just kind of waiting for daughter-in-law to send me a garment to use as a template for knitting her Boggy sweater. I'd taken her measurements while she was visiting here, and we put daughter's Pauper (my personal Peace design) sweater on her so I could evaluate needed adjustments, but she forgot to leave the template garment behind when she returned home (out-of-state).

I'm going with Bendigo Classic, either 2 or 3 ply -- haven't decided yet. I really wanted to get something from Dale, but they won't make their fine gauge yarn commercially available. But then, when they published the first version of their Peace pattern, I ran the text through a translator and discovered that they get their wool from Australia! Oh LOL! For all I know, they get it from Bendigo. Based on density calculations of their commercial yarns, I discovered that Bendigo densities were perfect matches. Further, Dale's Baby Ull (yarn recommended for their Peace pattern) is a superwash wool, as is Bendigo Classic. Anyway, I've no reason to believe that something labeled "Dale" is superior to something labeled "Bendigo."

I did try to work with Dale, inquiring as to whether they would supply a yarn. I sent many emails, and they are well aware of my pattern and Pauper sweater. They declined, so I have moved on. I've purchased Bendigo yarns in the past and have always been completely satisfied.

Yarn densities, grams/meters:

  • Malabrigo Lace (2 ply): 0.12
  • Jamison 2 Ply Lace Weight: 0.15
  • Bendigo 2 ply Classic: 0.17
  • Purl Soho Line Weight (3 ply): 0.221
  • Istex Looband Einband (2 ply): 0.222
  • Marion Foale (3 ply): 0.229
  • Bendigo 3 ply Classic: 0.25
  • SandnesGarn Lanett Babyull (3 ply): 0.27
  • Finullgarn (2 ply): 0.29
  • Dale Baby Ull (4 ply): 0.3
  • Rauma Strikkegarn (2 ply): 0.342
  • Bendigo 5 ply Classic: 0.346
  • Dale Daletta (4 ply): 0.354
  • Bendigo 8 ply Classic: 0.5
  • Dale Heilo: 0.5

Note that the 4 ply Baby Ull density (.3) is precisely between the 5 ply Bendigo (.35) and 3 ply Bendigo (.25), what one would expect from a very similar 4 ply yarn.

Bendigo Classic 2 ply cone yarn

21 October 2015: I ordered yarn on 10Oct15 and it arrived today. Bought Bendigo Classic 2 ply, one cone of each color, all the way from Australia. Order total was $70.21 USD. Should have more than enough yarn for DIL's sweater. I need to finish a nearly finished basket and then do a bit of swatching to evaluate my knitting gauge on this yarn.

Test swatch

24 October 2015: Knitted a swatch tonight. Used a Peace motif just because I have yet to print a Bogstad chart; it's still just virtual/digital. It was certainly must easier on the hands to be knitting with a yarn having a gauge appropriate for my needle, as compared to when I knitted the Peace inspired thing. Nevertheless, it looks like I'll either have to concentrate on knitting loosely or else buy a larger circular needle -- or maybe sift through what I've already got. Another problem is the color choices. There is not much contrast between the two shades, making it challenging for my eyes to differentiate the two under the miserable fluorescent bulbs we've got. I should try an incandescent bulb, but we only have a couple left. Fluorescent lights are famous for distorting color.

26 October 2015: Well, last night I cast on 420 stitches on a size 00 circular needle. It was brutal. Just making certain I had an adequately long enough tail without a pile of ridiculous excess was hard enough. Then, getting an accurate count of all those teeny stitches! I had divided the total by four and worked one quadrant at a time using round markers to section them off. I need to think in quadrants anyway, so might as well just start that way. I do believe my count is actually accurate. The remaining tail was about 2 inches -- pretty good guestimate of length. Tonight I might even knit. I'm using reading glasses, which means the TV screen is a blur. No great loss.

28 October 2015: After much evaluation and gauge checking, I decided to shred my start and do over. Am now down to 400 stitches on size 000 needle.

Hem progress

1 November 2015: Been cranking away and have completed what's pictured. So much easier knitting with this gauge appropriate yarn, even if the stuff is threadlike and, therefore, a little difficult to manipulate. It flows on the needle so much better, and I don't have to keep the tension unnaturally tight. On the down side, there isn't a lot of contrast between the two yarn colors, making the color changes kind of difficult to see. The fluorescent light bulb in my work-lamp isn't helping. Here in my office, I can see the color changes better. Have fluorescent bulbs here, too, but there's a frosted glass shade over them that diffuses the harshness of their light so that the color does not have the washed out effect. I don't know how else to explain it.

Completed bottom border

3 November 2015: Have completed the bottom edge border and am starting the diamond motifs. Project is mostly going smoothly. Occassionally a stitch ply gets pulled apart or some stitches come off the needle. Then, because the stitches are so tiny, getting everything straightened out and picked up proves a bit challenging. My reading glasses help a lot at those moments. I usually work without them, but they are a blessing during times of desperation.

Slow progress

9 November 2015: Just plugging along knitting whenever I find a bit of time. Progress is slow but kind of steady. One always wonders if the thing will actually fit. A couple days ago, I put the project on 2 needles so I could spread it out and compare to the template garment. It was the same size as the bottom edge, so I guess that's a good sign.

I guess this is as good a place as any to write a commentary on my hands-on encounter with the DON RTW Peace sweater. I knitted daughter's Peace/Pauper having never seen anything but photos of an actual Peace. I'd no idea what the yarn was like. Finally got to see and evaluate some Peace sweaters and take photos late last summer. Found the yarn to be more like heavy thread in terms of gauge; it was so fine. Of course, since these were machine made, they had side seams and raw seam allowances. The edges were machined off to prevent raveling, and the garments were seamed. That was it. The seam allowances were just wads of excess knitting on the wrong side. They were not tacked down in any way. Of course, with the yarn being so fine, bulk was minimal. Still . . . there was not a facing to be seen.

Then, in October, I spent a few days renting a cabin at someone's farm. The farm owner was Norwegian descent and had relatives back in the native land. A relative had hand knitted a Norwegian sweater for his wife, and they showed it to me. This was truly a delight! The only Norwegian sweaters I ever see are the RTWs and my hand knits. So, here was a genuine Norwegian hand knit for a change! First thing I did was turn it inside out to see what the knitter had done with its construction. Big surprise!!! There were no facings! It was finished off just like a Dale RTW, no steeks, just machined off and then seamed. It was obviously a hand knitted sweater knitted in the round, as opposed to a machined sweater. Nevertheless, it seems the Norwegians don't bother with steeks or facings, or at least this one didn't.

I'll stick with steeks and facings. They make sense to me.

Tacking the hem

12 November 2015: These sweaters look so much better with the hem turned up and tacked, so I started that process tonight. Have been knitting just a little the last few days. Way too much other stuff going on.

29 January 2016: For a few different reasons, I took a long knitting hiatus: The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons were upon me and I became ultra busy. It was difficult getting the gauge I needed with this yarn and the needles I had. I needed to start over and wasn't savoring the thought. I wanted to remeasure DIL, and she was coming for Christmas. So, okay, today I cast on my third attempt -- shades of Peace -- and am starting over. Ironically, I cast on the same count as my first attempt. Sigh. Too bad I hadn't just stayed there.

10 February 2016: Cranking away on DIL's sweater. It was time to calculate the number and placement of decreases needed to shape the waist, so I did that tonight. DIL is both very curvy and very petite, so I'm taking this sweater down 7 inches from the hip measurement to narrowest section of waist. Am using a shirt of DIL's, having a very good fit, as a template. The sweater will be roomier than the shirt, but I can use it to capture the correct silhouette. Am also using daughter's Pauper sweater, which I've had DIL model, and took a lot of notes to determine modifications.


11 February 2016: Working from a template: This shirt fits my DIL like she wants the sweater to fit, so I shape accordingly.

DIL model

19 March 2016: I took a month-long hiatus just because I was feeling anxious about whether or not my sizing and shaping were actually accurate. My DIL is not available to me for fitting, but only a shirt of hers. Well, we drove down to visit this past week, a 14 hour drive. I brought my puny efforts along, and put it on DIL, and this is it. It's working!

Shirt template comparisonSweater comparison

I also found knitting time during our visit week, and here's my latest efforts, simply more length and a bit more shaping. There was a final try-on the evening before our departure, and all was well. YES!

To achieve proper shaping, I use both a DIL-shirt and the Pauper sweater. The shirt fits DIL well, and so she's loaned it to me. She's tried on the Pauper sweater, and I took detailed notes of what needs altering and what can remain the same. The two garments plus DIL's measurements and my notes serve as forms in lieu of her person.

Progress: shirt template comparisonProgress: sweater comparison

27 March 2016: Have had a few days to complete the decrease portion of the torso shaping. Soon I'll need to work increases.

Sweater comparison and progressShirt comparison and progress

30 March 2016: Am managing to knit about one inch per day, which is a row of diamonds plus the separation rows. Have begun increases for the upper torso shaping.

Further progress: shirt template comparisonFurther progress: sweater comparison

2 April 2016: On evenings when I have time to knit, I can usually get about one vertical inch knitted. And so does the project grow.


3 April 2016: Though I don't have access to my DIL, currently there are three beautiful young women at the house, all of whom agreed to model the sweater for me.

Just the old Pauper sweater comparison againJust the old shirt comparison again

8 April 2016: Just still plugging away. Nothing is new; nothing has changed. Wish DIL were here to fit it on. The fit part is always a big mystery without her.

Getting close to the armholes - sweater comparisonGetting close to the armholes - shirt comparison

13 April 2016: Am inching ever closer to the armholes and getting anxious, as that's a milestone. Will probably set it aside at that point and start the sleeves. Would really like to put it on DIL now and see if it fits her form or is weird.

Wishing DIL were available for a fitting.

15 April 2016: Oh, how I wish I had access to my DIL. This thing so needs a fitting right now. Sigh. Have I mentioned that I've switched my work light to a "daylight" LED bulb? It helps some. So do the reading glasses, especially when a stitch slips off a needle and I have to find it. They usually manage to run at least one stitch, and I'd never get them picked up again without those reading glasses. Should also mention that I use editing software to create more color contrast on these photos; the detail is not so easy to see in reality.

The beginnings of a sleeve.

2 May 2016: I've not quit knitting, though I'd slowed down some. I did quit journaling. Decided I really couldn't continue the bodice until I've put it on the subject, so I've moved on to a sleeve. Because DIL and I agreed to make a modification to the colorwork and construction of the sleeves, it's required some intense calculating.

Back in the latter part of April but before the winter pricing would end, I decided to go on retreat to Door County. I found a nice vacation rental for not a huge amount of money, packed up junk and knitting, and escaped for a few days all by myself. There, overlooking the edge of the bluff, I did my calculating and started the sleeve cuff. The hem was boring and established, so I then abandoned the project until about a week later.

Unlike Peace, Bogstad does not have slitted/buttoned cuffs, but DIL and I decided to do it anyway, so that was one change. Another change is to continue the strong horizontal bar at the base of the yoke into the sleeves. Doing so meant having to redetermine the placement of the stars that accent the sleeves, so that one would center on the bar yet be spaced the same as the other stars, so that's the calculating I had to do, besides just determining an appropriate CO count for the cuffs to properly fit DIL. Here's hoping I've achieved all of the above. If not, I'll just have to rip. Whatever.

One star completed and hem nearly completed.

6 May 2016: I completed one star this evening and most of the hem. Still need to finish a little more tacking down, and then I must close the edge gaps along the slit. Ran out of yarn tail, so that's what stopped me.

Bodice fitting on eventual recipient.

11 June 2016: I've not worked on the sweater for over a month, several reasons: 1) way too busy doing other essential things, like spring planting and yardwork. 2) I really didn't know where I was at with the sweater. Without the recipient to model it on, it could easily wander into disastrous realms. Well, the recipient is here, about four months pregnant, but still having enough of a normal shape to function as a reliable model. I checked both the bodice and sleeve start. Both work! The sleeve has just the right amount of roominess, and the bodice follows her figure nicely. Oh deepest sigh of profound relief!!

Sleeve progress and model.

15 June 2016: A last minute fitting before my guests leave: The sleeve is fitting well with a comfortable amount of fullness.

More sleeve progress.

22 June 2016: It takes a lot of time to grow a sweater.

Back to bodice

4 December 2016: Okay, here we are ages later. Why? Because my DIL is not available to me for fittings. I've got lots of measurements but lose my nerve after awhile. The last thing I want is for this complex, time consuming garment to not fit! So, I drove down to Tennessee for the birth of first grandchild, and stayed long enough for DIL to shrink. The sweater pieces are fitting just fine. The sleeve is long enough for shaping the cap. The bodice is long enough for shaping the armholes. I decided to start the armholes first, and have, and am working my way through the decreases. Sweater is spread on top of a template garment provided by DIL, and it fits that too. I'm using it to determine placement and frequency of decreases. We're good.

Making tracks

13 December 2016: It's a satisfying feeling to be rolling right along with this project once again.

Making more tracks

15 December 2016: A couple more days pass, and a bit more knitting gets accomplished. Every little bit is a triumph! The lack of color contrast has continued to be a problem throughout this project. I find ways to compensate, but the process requires more counting than I prefer.

Templating using Pauper

18 December 2016: Using daughter's Pauper sweater as a template for DIL's Boggy. Daughter did not cough this up without some resistance, and I have to make good use of it quickly. It's sweater weather, and she wants it back. I get that. I was desperate.

Wrapped steeks

24 December 2016: In my "glorious" opinion, this is the stage at which a cut sweater looks its absolute worst. There's nothing pretty about wrapped steeks or the way they pull a bridged space together. This sweater will look bunched up and distorted until the steeks are cut. Can't wait! The knitting is finished; I'll get to sewing off and cutting sometime next week. For now . . . it's Christmas!

Completed body

29 December 2016: Finally found some time again to work on the sweater. I sewed off the steeks but only cut some of them. I joined the shoulder seams. I finished hemming the sweater, and finished off the cuff of the sleeve. Feels good.

Embroidery and start of neck

30 December 2016: It was a struggle all day to fit sweater work time in among all the other stuff I needed to do. Managed to complete the embroidery, pick up the neck, and work a few rows of collar.

Collar progress

1 January 2017: Following a tedious late afternoon and evening of taxes, I got to curl up in my recliner with the warm, soft knitting project and watch the Pack win their game. Am currently knitting the collar.

Completed collar

2 January 2017: It's crying out for blocking, but the collar is at least finished. Took a few hours to finish the knitting and sew it down.

Have cut the placket steeks

3 January 2017: I cut the placket steeks first thing this morning and simply rolled the steek edges under. Next step is creating a facing for the placket. Later . . .

Completed collar and placket

4 January 2017: Don't like staying up past midnight, but I was on a roll. Picked up the placket edges, knitted the facings, tacked it all down. Did not want to quit when I was getting so close to the end, so just powered through. Blocking will help a lot, but I won't do that till the whole project is finished.

Boggy bodice on a humanChange of pose and lighting

8 January 2017: Daughter came over today to eat our food, blacken our fry pan, claim our apple cider vinegar. Under the circumstances, I decided the least she could do as recompense was to temporarily donate her body as a living manikin, so I could determine whether or not the DIL sweater fits a female humanoid. She insisted I chop off her head, 'cause I couldn't get her out of silly-grin mode.

First sleeve was already coming along nicely before I finished the bodice, and it continues to progress without issue. Soon I'll have a sweater with one sleeve.

First sleeve is nearly finished.

13 January 2017: First sleeve is nearly finished. Anxious to put that behind me and sew it in. I always take notes while knitting sleeve 1, so sleeve 2 does not make a second set of demands on my brain. Brain wants to kick back/be lazy now. (-:

Sleeve cap lays in nicely along armhole opening. Just need to b ind off top of cap

Late in the day, the sleeve is a bind-off away from finished, and a test lay-in shows its cap fits nicely into the armhole opening.

The original Bogstad sweater design did not have a horizontal bar carried over from the chest of the sweater into the sleeve. DIL and I decided to add that for variation and to kind of more effectively tie the sleeve colorway to that of the body. We also added slits to the cuffs and will use buttons to fasten each slit together. We liked that aspect of the Peace design so made it part of our Boggy. I'm still waiting for the pewter buttons I ordered from Norway. Do have a clasp here though.

Sleeve is grafted in.

14 January 2017: It's the wee hours of Saturday morning, and I've managed to graft in the sleeve. Bed is calling . . .

One armed sweater on modelShift of view

Later, during daylight hours, I went to visit daughter for the purpose of doing a DIL-sweater fitting. This is the latest rage in fashion knitwear: the one-armed sweater. It's especially coveted by the hot flash crowd, as the exposed arm helps to quickly dissipate the sudden raging furnace conditions brought on by a flash. Once again, I had to chop off her head, this time because she was cleaning, and makeup is not part of that equation.

Front, finished, unblockedBack, finished, unblocked

31 January 2017: Triumph! I finished knitting last night and grafted the second sleeve in today. Feels so good to be nearly at the end. The hardware needs to be put on (it's just laying loose on the sweater). There are still yarn ends to bury. It's still crying out to be blocked. Soon. Probably tomorrow.

Blocking the sweater.

1 February 2017: Blocking the sweater -- real stunning. I keep a shower curtain devoted solely to art projects and blocking. The inside facings have been finished off and all yarn ends fastened and tucked. I've crocheted loops for the cuff buttons. Will attach all hardware when the blocking process is finished and the sweater completely dry. Haven't fitted it on anyone yet, but previous fittings were a success, and not much has changed.

Officially finished frontOfficially finished back

3 February 2017: The sweater is officially finished, as there is nothing left to do on it. Blocking is finished; hardware is attached. The knitter is relieved! I will have daughter do a final fitting, including photo shoot. Then, at some point, it will be presented to its real owner, DIL.

Daughter fitting front viewDaughter fitting side view

5 February 2017: Daughter was agreeable to a final fitting session. This is not her sweater but is customized for a daughter-in-law who is more fuller figured and a couple inches smaller. This fits daughter the way I would expect it to, so I am pleased with the results. Am hoping daughter-in-law provides me with photos when the sweater is in her possession. That will be the official final fitting.

To be continued . . .

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