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

Hand Knits by Peg's Knitting Arnoldussen
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Bogstad Knockoff for DIL

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.

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.

DIL fitting front viewDIL fitting back view

27 December 2017: Finally, after all these months, I have an official photo shoot of DIL wearing her custom sweater, long story. She wasn't available to me when I blocked it, so I did the best I could and then mailed it to her. Not a good fit. We had no visits scheduled, so I waited for the Christmas visit and insisted she bring along, which she did, and I reblocked, and now it works perfectly for her. Thank GOD!

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