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)
(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!)
(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.).
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.
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!
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