Sunday, January 12, 2014

Finished: My First Sweater!

I finished my first sweater just before midnight last Friday night.  To say it was a huge accomplishment (to me) is an understatement!

This is the Basic Pullover pattern from Knitbot Yoked, by Hannah Fetig.  Hannah is famous for her simple, well-written patterns, and this sweater is no different.  It consists of basic increases--kfb, which is easy peasy once you actually do it--lots and lots of stockinette, and 1x1 ribbin for the neck, hip and sleeve bottoms.

I knit this with madelinetosh tosh DK in Robin's Egg, purchased at Eat Sleep Knit.  I mostly knit with tosh anyway (of many weights) but this was a fantastic yarn for this sweater.  The variegated yarn kept the stitches interesting and the weight is perfect.  I tried it on for fit when it was done and it was so warm!  I could've really used it for the polar vortex but sometimes timing is off.  Oh well.

Oooh, lots of blues!
The only complaint I have about this yarn is that is grows like crazy when blocked.  My swatch didn't grow, I'm guessing because it's so much smaller, but holy crap, it was going to be huge if I let it air dry.  I blocked it Friday night and Saturday morning I got up to throw it in the dryer with a damp towel.  That shrunk it back down to the correct measurements, which still have about 2" positive ease.  I'd rather err on the small side with knits because I know they'll stretch, but I think it worked perfectly.

I also learned for next time to not weave in my ends until after I'm done blocking.  Some of my joins and woven ends popped out after blocking, which is just a pain.  As a result, I've already had to darn an elbow (where I joined a skein) and I may need to knit a cute patch for it at some point.  I'll see how it goes.

I alternated skeins for this project, which I think worked out well.  You read horror stories on Ravelry about sweaters ending up different colors and dye lots being inconsistent.  I didn't want to spend almost a month knitting this only to find it was unwearable.  It was worth the extra effort of keeping track of two balls of yarn.  You can find my Ravelry notes here.

Swatch board!
I started knitting this December 12--that's when I cast on my gauge swatch.  I finished January 10.  When talking to Nick, that seemed like such a long time, especially when I could go to Target or J. Crew or whatever and buy a less expensive sweater in under five minutes.  The logical, rational side of me can see that knitting sweaters isn't saving me time or money, and I'm sure a lot of people would wonder why I'm choosing to make my own considering those reasons.  I get that.  But there was something about the process of creating it, much like sewing my own clothes or quilts or even roasting my own damn chicken instead of buying a rotisserie: I can take solace in the production, in the materials, in the end product.  I can walk away proud and with a new skill.  I'm not someone who cuts corners--in fact, I tend to make extra work for myself to ensure I'm doing something correctly or well--and I think this is in line with that.  I spent 30 days on this sweater and now I'll have it forever, even if it won't always fit or be in style.  It's entirely mine.

Most knitters would agree that 30 days on a sweater is average, if not somewhat fast, considering I work full-time.  I could've probably finished it sooner, sure, or I could've taken much longer and really savored every stitch.  But I don't find peace in the process.  I'm a production knitter and sewist.  I enjoy knitting and sewing, but what I'm after is that piece of clothing or that new quilt, and that's what makes me happy.  Seeing that sweater on Poppy makes me ecstatic.  I made that!  I chose the yarn, I bought the needles, I made 1 + 1 = 2.

I definitely see myself knitting more sweaters in the near future, even though spring in the South will arrive sooner than later.  They're a long-term project with a high return on investment, and plus, they're fun to make.  If you haven't made a sweater but you're interested in knitting them, give it a go.  Start with a baby sweater if you want, just to get a feel.  It's such a success that you can't help but make more--the achievement is an addiction.

Have you been knitting more?  Are sweaters your thing?  I want to hear more about you!


  1. great sweater and fantastic job! it's really common for superwash wools to grow after washing. when doing a sweater i always try to knit at least a 6" swatch if not even bigger at 8" and wash it first, even though it's kind of a pain. it's better than having an ill-fitting sweater at the end. when do we get to see the modeled shots?

  2. You did such an incredible job on this!!! I was excited to see that you had begun knitting a sweater a few weeks back and have been stopping over at your revelry project to see how you were coming along. I can't believe you are finished with it! I totally understand your theory on making vs. purchasing. I had to laugh after reading your chicken analogy because just yesterday we were at the grocery store and decided to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner that night because neither of us really felt like cooking. I wanted to knit and Dan had very important football games to watch. As we were picking up our other groceries I decided that we may was well roast a chicken rather than buy a precooked one because it didn't take THAT much more effort and the results would be so much better. Dan agreed and we ended up having possibly the best roasted chicken I've ever made. I was damn proud of that meal! (and FYI, we made Jamie Oliver's chicken in milk- but with coconut milk instead- I got the recipe from The Kitchen. I remember you had been contemplating this recipe and I highly recommend it!)

    Back to knitting: I'm not ready to knit my own sweater but have started adding some simple looking knitted short sleeve tops to my queue. I hope to get to that point by the spring time. In the meantime I'm going to give knitting a baby sweater a go. It will be a gift for my nephew's 1st birthday and I just purchased the yarn last night. I don't think i'll have a problem completing it in a month and look forward to branching outside of knitted accessories. :) Can't wait to see what you knit next!!!

  3. I'm making the Baby Sophisticate Sweater by Linden Heflin. I had a hard time deciding on what to knit it in but decided to use Malabrigo Worsted in a fun burnt orange color. :) I think it will be a nice starting project. I would stop at Loop for yarn but it's a pain in the neck to get to for me. I work on the opposite side of the city and by the time I am finished with work I just want to hop on the train and head home since my commute takes so long. I think that when the weather warms up I might make a trip over there. It is a lovely store- I've only been in loop once but used to frequent their sister store Spool for fabric when it was still around (they were right next door to one another). Spool always had great classes so maybe I should look into the ones at Loop! I purchased a really adorable button there a few years ago when I made the Oliver + S birthday dress. I remember wishing I was a knitter when I was in there!

    I preferred the chicken with coconut milk over the original. I'm a big fan of Thai food so it was right up my alley and it turned out really moist. The original was delicious but I think I over cooked it a bit. If you like thai food, I would recommend trying it with coconut milk (the other ingredients are different as well) but the original was really fantastic also and a nice comforting meal for this cold weather. :) Let me know if you try either of them!! (after I typed this I realized your response was via email. Sorry!!) :)

  4. You're on a knitting kick lately, eh? So pretty! I love the yoke. I've never knit any of her patterns before, but I love how yours turned out.


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