More on Sweaters…

30 Oct

So, in a previous post I put up some of my earlier attempts at making a sweater. Even though I used to make sweaters and make up my own patterns, something has shifted within recent years since I once again picked up knitting (I took a 6-7 year hiatus from crochet and knitting at one point in time)…

I bought a pattern book, The Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits.

Maybe it was the allure of the lavender-colored bulky yarn on the cover or the wide range of sweater types they have patterns for, but I thought about, lusted and saved for this book for a couple of months a few years ago.

I have been unable to think up my own sweater patterns since.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas, it’s just that I realized that in terms of technique I had gone as far as I could go. Straight lines and whipstitched seams are fine for a while, but I knew I had to tackle raglan and set-in sleeves as well as invisible seaming at some point. I also knew that I had to learn about the different shapes and styles out there to expand my understanding of sweater construction. Even so…

Almost every sweater I have made from a pattern since then hasn’t really turned out as well as I would have hoped. There is just something about trial and error and going with the flow that appeals to my sense of sweater-making. The good thing, though, is that because I am inherently lazy, I am finding new ways to seam, make things in the round, pick up stitches, and work raglans top-down.

So that maybe some day my sweater-making mojo will come back with some fun and innovative ways of doing things.

On another note, I notice that a lot of people I know are afraid to make sweaters. It might be the fact that it’s such a large project or that the seaming is daunting. I say start making sweaters as soon as you can. You can always knit them straight and seam using whip stitch for your first attempt or, if the sweater is bulky, use embroidery thread and crochet the seams together.

Another way to learn about sweaters, design and construction, is to make baby sweaters. Most of us have little ones we want to knit for, and a baby sweater is a small investment in terms of time, yarn, and energy. It’s really motivating to have a completed project in hand without worrying about being completely perfect. (I mean, is the baby or his/her parents really going to care that you haven’t seamed perfectly?)

With this in mind, I decided to tackle my ultimate least favorite aspect of sweater-making these days — mattress stitch seaming, (How I truly pine for those days of whipstitch ignorance!) and decided to make a sweater for my little one-to-be, Alex.

It’s a basic pattern from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies. (A book which I have to say has a bit of an unrealistic view of babies — most of the patterns call for cashmere blend yarn — can you imagine handwashing sweaters all the time what with the ever-present mishaps kids have???) It was a great way for me to practice seaming and other things that I have avoided mastering.

Baby sweater
Alex’s First Sweater

So, for all you sweater-phobes out there, I totally recommend that you start off simple (cardigans are really fun, but also a basic drop sleeve pullover can be a great way to start.) If you don’t have a baby to knit for, there are so many charities that accept baby sweaters to give to preemies and underprivileged kids in hospitals such as Stitches from the Heart.

Oh, and as an aside, when I was sewing in ends for this at SnB the other night, everyone was commenting on how tiny this sweater was (newborn size). But my thought was, “Wow, something with shoulders that big has to somehow get out from inside of me!”

As with most things, I guess, size is relative.

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