Gakusei zip-up cardigan

Gakusei 1

This project arose out of my ongoing obsession with Plucky yarn – the pattern is Gakusei, and I knit it in Plucky Sweater yarn.  I used Lonesome Highway as the MC (4 skeins), and Brooch and Bashful (1 skein each) as CC1 and CC2.

Plucky Sweater yarn is DK weight, and it’s knit on US 7s, so it’s a pretty lightweight fabric, and both the body and arms are knit in a K4 P1 ribbing, which produces a really cool end result – a lot of stretch, but without a ribbing appearance.  I was drawn to this pattern because of the opportunity to play with color, and I particularly like the contrast color in the side panels.  I added additional stripes on the arms, just to bring a little more color into play – I knit 3 rounds of Bashful and then another three rounds of Lonesome Highway before switching to the 6″ section of Brooch.

Gakusei 2

The only design feature I’m not sure that I like is the Brooch elbow patches – they’re knit in K1 P1 ribbing, and because it’s on US 7s, the fabric ends up feeling a little too loose.  I think if I was to do it again, I’d either stick with the K4 P1 pattern on the elbow patches (like I did with the Bashful stripes) or I’d go down one or two needle sizes on the K1 P1 ribbing, to tighten it up a little bit.

Gakusei 3

I knit size medium – it’s 38″, which won’t give me any positive ease, but given the style of the sweater, I wanted a pretty snug, sporty fit.  The pattern gives you the option of no closure or button bands, but I thought it would look best with a zipper closure.  It was hard to find the exact length and color of zipper I needed, especially in a separating zipper style – I finally located a 23″ zipper in a pink color that I thought went well with the CC yarns and contrasted with the Lonesome Highway nicely, giving the sweater another spot of color play.

Here’s how it looked before I added the zipper:

Gakusei 2

I like it – as long as I’m standing still! – but as soon as I start to move around, it’s just too loose and open in the front.  So, I added a zipper – you can order separating zippers in many colors, and any custom size, from Zipperstop on Etsy.  I learned that you should go with a zipper 1″ smaller than what you think you’ll need, because if the fabric stretches at all while sewing it in, the zipper will bulge and buckle.  I first tried a 22″, then ripped it out and went with a 21″, which looks better, although I still get some buckling (probably because the fabric isn’t very heavyweight – at least, not enough to pull down the zipper).

I learned to sew a zipper in with machine sewing – so much faster and neater than my previous hand stitching attempts!  Overall, I like the short, sporty look and the lightweight, stretchy feel to the fabric – we’ll see how much the bulging in the zipper bothers me after I’ve had a chance to wear it a few times.

Gakusei 4

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