Sweater Lovin’

I am a sweater knitter.

Sam recently came out in her love of sock knitting so I thought to do the same. Sweaters are my favorite knitting project. I will happily knit a sweater and not complain about the thousands and thousands of stitches. I love every moment of it. Right now, I have two on needles and a bunch that need “mending.” I love making clothing.

And I am a “designer.”

I put “designer” in quotations quite deliberately – I like to reverse engineer knitted garments I see or be inspired by and figure the math out on my own. Occasionally I will get an idea in my head re: a sweater I want and eventually math it out … but that is rare now. I have not decided if that makes me a designer or somebody who really enjoys math when applied to knitting problems. I love looking at something and puzzling out how to make it.

My first adventures in sweater making were … interesting. It was the first project I ever made beyond the garter scarves I had faithfully churned out for *years.* It was Red Heart Acrylic, in crème, because it was the only thing I could afford, and a free pattern I found. Turtleneck, with knit-one-below vertical bands up the front, and I did not *quite* understand how to read patterns (since it was also my first attempt at that) so I increased on the sleeves until the desired width and knit on. The result was an ill-fitting, every-mistake-shown, drop-shoulder, 80’s batwing inspired garment that I am quite glad that only hard copies of those pictures exist. Also – a really unfortunate hair cut.

But I was hooked. My first forays into sweater knitting did not end well – luckily I do not mind ripping back sweaters (even complete ones) and finding something that really speaks to me and the yarn. Eventually my skill set matched my imagination and I read. I read style guides to figure out my best fit for my body shape (I have an hourglass. I did not know how to style an hourglass.) and what I actually enjoyed about the sweaters I bought. I also attempted to begin to create my own personal style, which … I guess is best described as “preppy 50s housewife hipster chic.” I like neutrals for my clothing, I do not wear pants, and pops of colors in my accessories – hand knit or otherwise. I wanted my hand knits to fit this style. (And now for some gratuitous … and successful! … sweater pictures)

Audrey Hepburn insipired cotton sweaterCreme and burgundey bow sweaterCreme and Pink JCrew cardigan buttonsCreme and Pink JCrew cardiganWearing Purple and Tan sweaterPurple and Tan close up on buttons (More to come on some of the specific knitting adventures – I have ripped back, cut, hemmed, and fixed on the fly more times than I care to count. As a sneak peak – I give you the evolution of a sweater. I designed an off-the-shoulder sweater in a dark grey wool silk blend, only to realize that an off-the-shoulder neckline is not a friend to big girls. So I tried again – using a pattern out of Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel. Nope. Only to realize that the yarn and my imagination wanted a boyfriend cardigan! 😉 In between all of this, I spilled coffee on the nearly complete sweater and had a panic attack in the basement of the University of Washington’s art building. But like I said, another time!)

Sweater Collar with RibbonTweed SweaterGrey tweed cardigan - final Mending pile

(And this is my mending/frogging pile. Eventually I will get to it.)

This summer I realized that I loved wearing hand-knit sweaters more than cardigans (which I have plenty of) and I liked a much finer weight. No bigger than fingering and I set about spending most of my last summer break from graduate school knitting sweaters. Not hats, not gloves, socks, or scarves – those are my projects during the year when I thought sweater knitting would break my brain (it almost did during thesis writing.).Owls Sweater

I resized Kate Davis’ Owl Sweater (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/owls-2) to be in fingering weight. Chunky weight and big girls are not a good pairing.

Alphabet yoke

This is the yoke of my “teacher sweater” – alphabet letters! (I teach college history sometimes) Charting this out was a pain. So much of a pain. I used the basic shapes from the Owl’s sweater but added back darts to enhance the shaping. This was also pre-blocking.

Eventually, I decided that sweater knitting would not break my brain … even during the school year. I fell in love with Amanda Scheuzger’s Leadlight from Twist Collective’s Winter issue: http://www.twistcollective.com/2014/winter/magazinepage_041.php I have been drooling over the pattern for a while now but I wanted to change a few things – I learned I do not wear hand knit cardigans so I was going to make a sweater. The sweater would be tailored for my curves, add short rows for the bust, eliminate the front cables (nipple cables and big girls do not a pleasant picture make) and increase the bust hourglass cables to frame Norwegian stars – which are my favorite color work motif. Given all of these modifications, I intended to draw inspiration from to create my own interpretation:   And now for some pictures!

Coral Sweater MathCoral sweater - back Coral sweater math -chest Coral sweater updated

And more pictures to come! I tend to design-as-I-go, hence the different stages of my notes. Right now, I am a two repeats into the bust increases and about to do the short rows!

Happy knitting! lisa


2 thoughts on “Sweater Lovin’

  1. I’m mainly a sweater designer/knitter too (although I do like a pair of hand knitted socks in the Winter months). I particularly love your sweater with the intarsia bow on the back. Sweater backs are often neglected but get seen as much as the fronts by everyone but the wearer so I think we should make a design feature of them.


    • Thank you!
      I completely agree with your sentiment – sweater backs deserve just as much love as the front. One of the older women I knit with loves to point out ladies should look good coming as well as going. Every time I think about a sweater, I keep her in mind.


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