As previously mentioned, my Forecast is finished and photographed.
Pattern: Forecast by Stefanie Japel, Knitty Winter 2005
Yarn & Needles: Brooks Farm FourPlay, US 7 & US 8
Mods: Like many Forecast knitters, I used Winnie's mods.
Since picking up the needles 6 years ago, I have learned a lot of techniques that have made me a better knitter, and really improved the look of my garments. I thought about this as I made this sweater, as I used combination knitting to make neat ribs, as I knit backwards to speed the bobble-making, as I cabled without a cable needle. A beginning knitter could easily make this sweater, but I was struck by how some of these simple tricks made the knitting of this sweater easier and neater, more professional looking.
But this sweater is also an example of how an experienced, technically proficient knitter can end up with so-so results. A top-down raglan is usually a no-fail method for me, and Stefanie Japel's patterns are well-written and designed to fit a woman's body. So why does my Forecast, an almost universally flattering pattern, look so freakin' boxy on me?
It's the yarn. Now, I have to say, unequivocally, that I love this yarn. This was one of the most pleasurable yarns to knit with, period. The color changes are so rich and saturated, and the smooth hand and easy knitting were just amazing. I love it so much that after making most of a loser sweater, I ripped it out and immediately cast on for Forecast. So I essentially knit two sweaters in a row with it! And loved it!
But this is a classic example of how you can combine a great pattern and a great yarn and get so-so results. Forecast is all about the structure, while Brooks Farm is all about the drape, which didn't become totally clear to me until I blocked this sweater (I used the steam-block method), and the horizontal ribbing flattened out and the sweater became a bit flabby and lifeless. The sweater sags (don't look too closely at the bottom of the button band) and is just a bit too big. The silk content overrides the merino's memory and springiness. This yarn would be great for a very drapey sweater, but I would definitely NOT recommend it for this one.
On the other hand, it feels divine, and the yarn does look great with this pattern. When I initially used it, I just loved how it looked in garter, but was not pleased with how it was striping in stockinette, so I figured that the combination of garter, cables, and bobbles would break up the color repeats to interrupt the striping, and I was right. Most finished Forecasts I've seen are in a solid or tweedy yarn, but I would not hesitate from using a tonal variegated yarn for this pattern.
Overall, I'm pleased with the sweater, but know that good old Cascade 220 would have served me better for this pattern than the yarn I chose. I still have a lot to learn, which is why I can't wait for my birthday present from Ann to arrive!!!