Posts Tagged ‘fishtrap’

The finish of some projects is rather anti-climactic. Some projects are highly gratifying. Some make me grin like an idiot.

This one had me skipping with glee. May I proudly present…. Fishtrap


Pattern: The Seamless Saddle Shoulder Fishtrap Aran by Elizabeth Zimmermann, pattern and design input gleaned from Knitter’s Almanac and Knitting Workshop, both by Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Time Frame: Planning commenced September 17, 2007. Yarn received and knitting begun end of September. Knitting finished November 8, 2007, finishing finished November 27, 2007.

Yarn: KnitPicks Swish DK, 100% Superwash Merino Wool, color Mist. 17 skeins / 850 gms / 2091 yds. This is all I had left, and a pretty accurate color.  Hems were knitted with sock yarn leftovers held double.


Needles and Gauge: US sz. 5 / 3.75 mm needles – 16″ for sleeves and neck, 24″ and 32″ for body. Hems were knitted on US sz. 4 / 3.50 mm. Gauge over stockinette with larger needles was 5.5 sts per inch.

Normally I’d call the next topic “modifications” but EZ’s pattern in Knitter’s Almanac served as a jumping off point for me, much more than a pattern. So I’ll call this next topic…

What I did: First, I sketched, and planned, and used my calculator a lot.

When the yarn arrived I started the first sleeve as a swatch. My gauge was drastically different than my planning so after refigureing the proportions and pattern placement I knit both sleeves and body up to the armpits. After assembling all the pieces I started normal Saddle Shoulder shaping as laid out in Knitting Workshop.


Both saddles were knit longer than the original EZ design, because I had way too many stitches to start the neck. My original plan for the neck was to knit a third saddle raising the neck-back, as directed by EZ. As you may have read, it did not turn out quite how I’d hoped.


Aside from the problems with fit, I just didn’t like the way this looked. This neck shaping looks fine in stockinette, but cutting up the patterns and continuing only half just didn’t float my boat. That was ripped.

I went back to EZ’s seamless neck shapings and decided to try a modified version of her shirt-back yoke. In this version, the saddles are continued all the way across the neck-back and grafted together. The saddles EZ used for that design were much wider, but this worked just fine too.


There is still some flare and puckering due to gauge differences between the saddle and the body of the sweater, but it smooths out beautifully on a person.  I opted to join the 2 saddles with a crocheted slip stitch, thinking to create a ridge of Vs as a nice design element.  If you are more experienced that me you probably know this is the same as an inside out three-needle-bind-off.  It’s ok, but if I was to go back I’d probably graft the 2 saddles instead.

This is a bird’s eye view of how the yoke comes together.


The Neck: After picking up stitches from the sides of the saddles I purled one round, decreasing strategically to make the transistion smooth. Then I knit a few rounds plain – the only plain knitting on this thing – then purled another round decreasing to 90% for the neck hem.

Which brings us to hems. The neck hem was continued from the purled round. Body and sleeves were cast on using the crochet cast-on on 90% of the target starting point, hems were knitted afterward on the resulting live stitches.

My good friend asked me to make this sweater for her husband, as a Christmas gift, to match their twin sons’ Fishtrap sweaters. The bottom hem says: Handknit for Sean – Christmas 2007 – Someone Loves You. The names of their twins were knitted into the cuff hems, and the wife’s name into the neck hem.

Things I learned: The crochet cast-on.  How to cable from the inside.  How to make make twisted purl stitches that match Ktbl.  How to keep knitting on an interminable project…

Things to do differently next time:  If there is ever a next time I would use a much sturdier wool, Merino has a too short a staple for something this heavily textured, I’m worried this is going to pill like crazy.  I was adamant about knitting this with wool, and my friend was adamant about it being soft and throwing it in the wash.  The superwash from KnitPicks was a good (and cheap) compromise, but next time I’ll choose something stronger.


Verdict: Fishtrap was a joy to knit. The design challenges were just that, challenges, not obstacles. I will probably think twice about knitting another 48″ Aran, but it was still a good experience, and I learned a lot.

I decided not to sign my name on the hem, but I couldn’t resist a little bragging.


What do you think?


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So.  Thank you all for the great advice and compliments on Fishtrap.  Trying it on an appropriately sized person was the best advice… so I did.  Recipient is out of town but I got my dad to try it on and…

The neck was too small. Yes, it went over his head just fine, but it was too close fitting and looked constricting. So I ripped and tried again. This time I tried carrying the back half of the shoulder saddles across the yoke back a la EZ’s Shirt Yoke sweater (Knitting Workshop).


That is the right half of the yoke back saddle. See how the flare is now happening across the shoulder instead of up the neck? It looks awful but I think this is a positive thing, because I’d like the yoke to be firm, and the body to spread underneath when the hunk shoulders stretch it out. Does that make sense?


See how they meet in the middle? I like this. So why the raw stitches?

I ripped again.


I’m not sure if you can see it in the top 2 photos but I knit the yoke back saddle with only pattern stitches.  So the selvage edge is not nice at all. So I will be knitting it again with one plain stitch at the selvage edge so I have something tidy to knit the neck stitches up from.

Rip, re-needle, re-knit, repeat.  Obsess much? 

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The Cord is Cut…

… Fishtrap is off the needles.

For those of you who don’t know- this is the January Fishtrap Aran by Elizabeth Zimmermann as published in Knitter’s Almanac.  I have made a seamless Saddle Shoulder version using EZ’s instructions as published in Knitting Workshop.  I’m knitting this for a friend’s husband. 


It is by no means finished, but it is off the needles… for now.  I’m having some difficulty with the neck back.


It’s like a turtle shell.  Too tall, ridiculously flared, awkward, ugly, and needing adjustment.

The problem arises from making a sweter with way more stitches than EZ’s recipe intended- I didn’t do enough tweaking in my translation.  EZ mentions making the Fishtrap as a Saddle Shoulder in Knitter’s Almanac, but she doesn’t give any further thoughts, like perhaps the ratio of pattern knitting to stockinette so I could stop fudging with the decreases to make the transition smooth from patterned body to plain neck.  That’s what’s causing the flare… but the neck back is still way too tall.

I know it needs to happen, but (whine whine whine) I don’t want to rip this yet,  because I’m pleased with so many other aspects. Like the fact that it’s off the needles.

And the mitered neck front.

And the awesome patterned saddles.

But this neck thing just needs to go.  I know this will fit differently on it’s much larger and musclier recipient… but I’d like to get this right!

EZ might tell me “it’ll block out” but this yarn was chosen for it’s Superwash capability- after delivery, this sweater will never be blocked again, it will get taken out the dryer and worn. So that option’s out.

I’m planning on adding a hem to the neck, so perhaps it would pull it in sufficiently. But…  it might make the neck too tight!

It’s taking a time out right now.   Please please please send advice!!!!! 

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