Petite Knit: Aros Sweater

I’ve long been a sucker for a stripe-y jumper. They’re a true classic and, before I started to make my own knitwear, they were a constant presence in my wardrobe. Aside from a couple of pieces here and there, like the Laguna Sweater by WAK (review here!), I haven’t really made that many striped pieces. Life is too short to weave in that many ends… And then I started to see the Aros Sweater by Petite Knit on Instagram and I knew I had to give it a go!

Overall, this has probably been one of my more chaotic knits. Strange choice of words, I know, but I started to work on it as the pandemic started and so I think I’ll always associate the Aros Sweater with this time in history, more than the many other projects I’ve worked on this year. Some aspects of this pattern are also quite tricky, so my well-made plans for this sweater didn’t quite work out… I’ll go into the details as I talk through my experience working with this pattern. As such, it’s probably my ‘least perfect’ sweater.

Even so, I’m still really pleased with my finished Aros Sweater and think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it. It’ll be lovely in the Spring when the weather begins to improve and the colours are immensely cheering.

So, let’s get into the details!

Pattern Profile

The Aros Sweater is a top-down knit that is initially worked back-and-forth in rows around the shoulder panels and then joined in the round and shaped with standard raglan increases. You then pick up the stitches for the folded collar once the yoke is complete. Petite Knit classifies it as a pattern for ‘skilled knitters’ (4/5 stars in her difficulty scale), which I think is probably fair. It’s a nice challenge for knitters who want to try other methods of working in the round, beyond a standard raglan knit.

It’s worked in simple stocking stitch on 4mm needles, with 1×1 rib in the collar, cuffs, and hem on 3mm needles. You have the option with this pattern to work it in stripes and, if you wish, to make it into a dress rather than a simple sweater. I’ll get back to why this is might be an appealing idea if you are making a stripe-y version shortly.

This pattern is available in sizes XS-3XL, to fit a range of bust sizes from 90-135cm, with approximately 6cm of positive ease. I made mine in the Size S and the fit is perfect.

What yarn did I use? If not the one recommended in the pattern, why?

I used We Are Knitter’s Baby Alpaca (or the Baby Wool, as it also seems to be called) in the shades Dark Turquoise (now discontinued), Light Blush, Aquamarine, and Natural. To better harmonise the warm and cool colours, I also used two stands of beige alpaca yarn that I had in my stash from an alpaca farm near to where I’m from. I used the wonderful website to work out my colour scheme and I really love it. For some reason, it reminds me of ice cream – anyone else?

I chose this yarn for a few reasons. First, I had some in my stash already and it needed using up! 🤷‍♀️ Second, it comes in a range of really cute colours so it was easy to work out a colour scheme. Third, I really love this yarn! I need to write a full review of this yarn at some point. SFuffice it to say for now that it’s a beautiful product to knit with and it wears very nicely.

So, in total, I used a combination of 5 colours to make my Aros Sweater. It’s worth noting that Petite Knit uses 8 colours. This matters. I’ll come back to why later in this review…

The pattern itself recommends Sunday by Sandnes Garn held together with a stand of mohair, also by Sandnes. However, SG yarns can be a real pain to get hold of in the UK, so I stuck with WAK for this one.

How clear was it to follow?

As hinted above, I had some issues with this pattern! The construction of the body itself was very simple and I had no trouble following the pattern in this regard, at least. It was nice to learn a new method of top-down knitting and the instructions were really clear. Petite Knit’s patterns are always very well written and this was no exception.

The issues I had came with the stripes. The technique for changing colour was clear enough, so I have no problems there. However, the stripe caused a lot of other problems with this sweater for me. Allow me to explain how…

Reason 1: the collar

First things first: I know the collar is wonky. I KNOW. It drives me slightly crazy and I think I will need to go back and make it neater at some point. At the moment, though, I just don’t have the time or patience, so it’ll have to wait. The instructions themselves are okay… Petite Knit tells you how many stitches to pick up and how they should be distributed. As you can (hopefully) see from the photo below, there are 4 clear sections along the neck edge: the back, the rows along left curve, the front. This is all fine.

However, what isn’t made clear is that picking up the stitches will distort the stripes. It’s an issue I’ve seen in a lot of these sweaters when I’ve looked through the Tag on Instagram. The error is partially mine – I can see that I haven’t picked up the stitches evenly between the two sides as the stripe under the collar isn’t evenly distorted – but I know it isn’t just me. At time time, though, it felt like that the stitches were even. Some advice in the pattern could have been helpful here, I think. Even just a note saying that if you are working stripes, be extra careful would have been good! I have blocked the sweater but, alas, it’s affected the tension too much to be corrected through blocking. It will need to re-done.

Reason 2: colour harmony

This kind of feeds off my gripes about the collar… There’s also no advice about colour placement with the collar. I cannot tell you how long I spent trying to work out which colour to use for the collar! (It was a long time.)

I ended up choosing the Light Blush shade as I wanted the overall impression of my Aros Sweater to lean warm and pink. But this section uses quite a lot of yarn and (to me, at least) the sweater looks really strange if the collar, cuffs, and hem aren’t all the same if the stripes have otherwise been regular. It’s one thing if the stripes are random, but that wasn’t the look I wanted. To my mind, it’s all about creating a harmony between the colours that give a little bit of extra balance to the design. As such, I knew I needed to finish the arms and body on Light Blush, too. For all intents and purposes, then, this was the ‘main’ colour of my sweater.

I ended up not having enough of the Light Blush shade left to have long sleeves and had to make the body slightly more cropped than would have been ideal. I know that I could have just ordered more of this shade but, for one thing, it was out of stock for ages and, at a certain point, I just wanted to have this sweater finished. I’d been working on it for about 7 months and couldn’t (/didn’t want to!) wait any longer. So, I ended up making my sweater with short sleeves. It’s fine and still very cute, I think, but it isn’t how I imagined the sweater being. I can see myself ordering some more Light Blush in the future and making them longer.

Do you feel the *harmony*?
Reason 3: yarn quantities

Okay, this issue is possibly beyond the remit of the pattern. With regard to the amount of yarn you’ll need to make the Aros Sweater, the pattern only gives you the total amount. So if you’re making the Size S, like I did, you’ll need 250g of Sunday by Sandnes Garn (or any equivalent yarn). If you’re making the sweater in one colour, this is standard and easy. If you’re making it with stripes, things are a little bit more complicated.

To work out how much I would need, I divided the total by 5 (for the 5 colours I would use for the stripes) and ordered my yarn accordingly. In practice, this meant that I had two skeins of the Baby Wool for each colour. Fine, good. In practice, I ran out of Light Blush as I needed it for the collar, cuffs, and hems, but had SO much yarn left over for all the other shades. I could make another Aros Sweater – possibly even with long sleeves! – with the left overs. Remember how I said it might be appealing to make the Aros Sweater into and Aros Dress, as Petite Knit herself did? This is why! It feels very wasteful to have all this extra yarn in my stash.

Reason 4: assumed prior knowledge

I don’t think that these problems were just me being silly. In hindsight, it’s clear to me that I’d need more of the ‘main’ shade and perhaps less of the others… But I don’t think that this isn’t made explicit enough in the pattern. I think of myself as a pretty experienced knitter and I would have liked the advice. I appreciate that striped patterns are difficult to write – I’ve made lots of stripe-y Piedmont Mittens recently and stripes add a surprising amount of extra complexity! Different knitters will choose a different number or thickness of colours for the stripes, etc.

I feel like this pattern assumes a lot of prior knowledge, which is at the root of all the issues I experienced knitting my Aros Sweater. A big part of specialist writing – be it academic writing or instructive pieces, like knitting patterns – is knowing your audience, their needs and their priors knowledge. You have to be able to tailor your approach to meet your audience where they are. So, in this case, I feel like the pattern assumes that you know that the collar will distort the stripes so you need to be extra careful; that you know that if you want the colours to harmonise, they need to match in certain places; that you know you will need more of your ‘main’ colour and less of the other shades, unless you want to make a dress.

If you had similar issues, make sure to let me know. I’d be keen to know that it wasn’t just me!

Overall impression of the finished garment

I hope that I don’t sound overly critical or salty in the previous part of this review. Even with these issues, I do really like the finished piece and have worn it a lot already. I think it’ll be so perfect in the spring when it starts to warm up. I think that the finished piece looks very cute and I just love the colours so much. It’s very feminine and almost feels like a vintage piece, to me. It’s almost more like a knitted t-shirt than a full-on sweater.

This would be a great piece to make if you’re looking to expand your understanding of top-down knitting. The shaping of this sweater is so lovely. The resulting fit is very neat across the shoulders and super comfy.

I like wearing this sweater with some high-waisted barrel leg jeans and boots for a contemporary feel. It also looks very cute with an A-line skirt. Better still: under dungarees!! This really accentuates the short sleeves, if you choose to make them so.

Would I make it again? 

Hesitantly… Yes. But NOT WITH STRIPES! There’s definitely a place in my wardrobe for a plain Aros Sweater, or even an Aros Dress. Again, I had no trouble with the construction itself, but with the added complexity of the stripes. I just don’t know that I can face dealing with it all again!

Of all the Petite Knit patterns I’ve now made, this was probably the hardest. It’s certainly not one for beginners, but I’m also definitely a better knitter for having made the Aros Sweater. 🤷‍♀️

Tell me: have you made this sweater? If so, did you find the stripes to be as troublesome as me? Should I give it another go?

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