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My Sweater Wardrobe

June 21, 2018

I had such good intentions of posting about this during Me Made May, but we were frantically packing for Iceland (and maybe there was some last minute knitting), and….well….here it is now!! Best intentions right? I, like a lot of knitters I hear from, knit a lot for other people. I LOVE to knit for my kids, I like to knit for my Mum, I knit a lot of samples for our patterns, and I have knit things at various times for just about everyone I know. Last year there were a bunch of new babies in my friend group and I knit wee sweaters and hats for them too. I don’t take the time though, to really knit something for myself. A couple of years ago I decided that needed to change (I mean, who shows up at a knit conference and doesn’t have a suitable hand-knit sweater?! Embarrassing), and this is a record of my progress this far.

First up, the most recent finish. This is my Strange Brew sweater, knit up in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor I picked up on my first trip to Alaska. (Side note: isn’t it nice to pick up yarn on vacation? This sweater will always remind me of the Net Loft). The thought behind this sweater is that I love to wear black and grey. I love to knit with colourful yarns, but what I wear 99% of the time is jeans and a hoodie, so I needed a sweater that fit into that wardrobe. I went with a dark grey body (I am mostly too spilly to wear light colours) and a neutral palette for the yoke. I was so very pleased with Bodhi’s Christmas sweater this year, that I decided I needed to size that chart up for me.

Just ignore that lovely piece of lichen trying to blend in with my hair….

After SWATHES of grey stockinette I had a little party in the yoke, and voila, a sweater for me! It’s the first sweater I didn’t have to immediately adjust in some way to fit more to my liking, which was also a huge win. I called on my photography buddy, Tessa, and we headed out to Buntzen for a few glamour shots.

The rest of my sweater wardrobe has been seen before, there is my lovely red Prairie Fire that I love to bits, my brown tweedy Antler sweater (that I snapped the back neck on yet again, so it is in the repair pile), and my mustard Flax sweater.

I really adore the colour of my Flax, and I’m mostly quite happy with it except….it’s too short. I ran out yarn (rookie mistake), and it’s a hand dye so my hopes of matching dye lots are rather slim. The sleeves are a bit too short for my liking, and the body is also a smidge shorter than I prefer. They are so close….only an inch or an inch and a half off…..but sometimes that’s enough to leave it on the shelf.

With a hand knit sweater it is just so worth the effort to make your sweater perfect. So, with that in mind, I think I’ll have to colour block that sweater. I’ll take out the cuffs and maybe an inch, and I’ll do a few inches in a new colour at the cuff and hem. Now, I said this to Emily and she immediately told me to throw some pink at it….my initial instinct was grey of course……thoughts?

It’s always good to have a photographer friend, this pic is from Sylvia

So I’m curious, are you a sweater wearer? Do you have a horror story about a sweater you have knit and couldn’t fix the fit on? Tell me your sweater stories, I am dying to hear them.


Sweaters to add to the wardrobe (Are you sensing a theme?!):

31 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2018 7:29 pm

    When I was a fairly new knitter, I had knit several baby sweaters and felt I was ready to knit one for my husband. I knew nothing of gauge or how to select the right yarn. I went to Michaels and chose an acrylic blend that I liked the look of. I spent weeks knitting him a raglan sleeve sweater in a marled gray with a red accent stripe and I was so proud of it! Unfortunately, it was waaaaaay too big and it sits on the top shelf of our bedroom closet. I’ve thought of frogging it but I’d rather remake it with a better quality yarn, now that I know better!!

  2. June 28, 2018 1:15 am

    I 100% agree. If you’re taking the time to knit a sweater it should be something you’re happy with and will get a lot of wear out of, even if that involves a bit of ***gasp**** frogging. This was my experience with my very first sweater. I knit the Ginny Weasley Cardigan out of my first big yarn purchase, some luscious Madeline tosh yarn. When I knit it at first I was just so pleased to have finished a big project and also so inexperienced that I wasn’t too concerned that it looked sort of wonky. I figured it would come right with blocking. After I blocked it and sewed on the buttons and put it on to wear to Rhinebeck, however, I was horrified by how it looked. I put it in the closet and ignored it for a year. After knitting two successful sweaters I decided to pull this one out. I don’t know what I expected, after a year it didn’t look any different. So after much crying and swearing I frogged THE WHOLE THING and knit it again. The overall fit was better but it still looked weird when buttoned. So I took it to a fellow knitter who told me it looked like I’d cast on too many stitches for the button band. So I frogged one more time and finally it’s perfect. I wear it all the time. So I definitely think it’s worth the time and hassle if the end result is something you love.

  3. June 23, 2018 6:00 pm

    Your sweaters are gorgeous! I think my favorite is the red one with the amazing textures. Most of my sweater mishaps involve proportions. If I make the thing to fit my bust size then it will never go over my hips. If I make it the right size for my hips then the top half is way too big. lol Sweaters hate me.

    • June 25, 2018 4:18 am

      To fit you well, you might find that knitting 1 size at the hips, then decreasing somewhat to knit the size down at the bust / shoulders works best for you! The ease of doing this would depend on the sweater design, but it might be the solution :)

  4. Anya permalink
    June 22, 2018 6:11 pm

    My husband wears a men’s XL, and I knit my first adult sweater for him. The pattern called for wool, but I used cotton—we live in a warm area, and I was enough of a newbie not to realize what a difference it would make. The pattern upsizing to men’s XL was also rather flawed, but it was mostly user error. :) Bottom up in pieces construction, and I realized about 3/4 of the way through the yoke that it was going to have an off-the-shoulder ballet neckline somehow(!). I did a bunch of unattractive decreases (I was just desperate to be done with the miles of cotton stockinette) and wound up with a seriously ugly crew neckline. The cotton stretched, so the sweater is loooooong, including the sleeves. It looks TERRIBLE. I don’t let him wear it in public. But here’s the thing—he loves it. He’s a guy, he’s all about comfort, and this thing is comfortable. :) :) :) Our oldest is 17, and he’s had the same girlfriend for two years, and our “OK, you’re like family” moment when she had stuck around along enough was being allowed to see The World’s Ugliest Sweater. :)

    • June 25, 2018 4:20 am

      AHHHH I LOVE this sweater story! Sometimes experiences like this just need to happen, as you learn about sweater knitting! Sometimes reading about a thing isn’t the same as learning it by doing!

  5. LilyJ permalink
    June 22, 2018 5:10 pm

    Hi! your Strange Brew is beautiful (the yoke looks like is actual lace -from the photos, at least-).
    For your Flax, I’d go with a moss green (not too bright… a bit subdued, with a hint of yellow if you can find it). Whatever colour you end up deciding for, I suggest to stay on the warm side of it, since it seems to me that your Flax is on the bright, warm side of mustard (but I don’t trust my screen 100%)
    And yes, I’m a sweater wearer, but I’ve only knitted one sweater so far, for my mother (guess which one? Flax light, and it fits perfectly!!!). At the moment I’m fighting stitch patterns while swatching for a summer top… the linen-viscose-cotton yarn I’ve chosen is driving me mad (and I’m discovering that I’m not a huge fan of lace, lol).

    Let us know what you decide!

  6. Angela permalink
    June 22, 2018 2:09 pm

    Just like you I rarely knit for myself, but I am knitting myself a colourwork sweater in 26 colours…….25 of them came from an Advent calendar swap. It is nominally a Christmas sweater, but designed for any cold day. I used Flax Light to give me the stitch count for casting on, but the rest has come out of my head……one day I’ll look and see how close it is to the Flax Light pattern ;)

    Your new sweater looks gorgeous, though I like your Antler cardi the best. How about a purple to go in your flax?

    My worst misfit must be when I cast on the number of rows instead of the number of stitches. I knit all the front and most of the front before realising it was just short of 50″ round (it was supposed to be 38″). I have one jumper that has been knitted 3 times already, each time to fit someone different!

    How about knitting yourself a North Shore? I think it would suit your colour choices whilst acting like a necklace framing your happy and friendly face. X

  7. June 22, 2018 1:21 pm

    I knit a cardigan for myself about 45 years ago (I was 19 or so…). I didn’t know that I had to swatch – I just knit the M size and used a good brand acrylic worsted weight yarn. Got it all done, only to find that it fit my (much heavier) mother perfectly. SO, I knit it again – same yarn, size small – and I still have (and wear!) that sweater today! It’s got a hole in the left elbow, and one in the collar, and it’s badly pilled in a lot of spots, but I wear it regularly. If I still could find the pattern I’d knit it again. (It’s too much work to try to figure it our from the existing sweater…) Besides, I’ve got MY Strange Brew about half-done…. (And I’m with you – I’d be tempted to use dark grey for your Flax too).

  8. Colleen permalink
    June 22, 2018 7:44 am

    I do the very same thing. I knit for everyone else because I love to. Then I have nothing to wear that is hand knit. These sweaters are beautiful! The red Prairie Fire is my favorite. The very first sweater I knit was Flax for my daughter. I want to say thank you for the wonderful instructions that always accompany your patterns. Whenever I tackle something new- I choose tincanknits.

  9. Brigid de Jong permalink
    June 22, 2018 7:04 am

    I am just finishing (again) a sweater I made and frogged. It is Purl Soho Cardigan and Vest https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/purl-soho-cardigan-coat–vest that I made a couple of years ago out of a gorgeous navy alpaca I got on a trip to Portland, OR (see, you’re not the only one who visits yarn stores on trips!) I was fairly new to sweater knitting and didn’t know about the drapiness of alpaca. Well. The thing grew and grew as I wore it. So I finally took it apart and am knitting it up again, this time adding a thin, thin thread of black cotton. It is working beautifully, giving it the structure it needs without changing the look. I also have an Apple Cider Donut https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/apple-cider-donut that I knit up out of Knit Picks City Tweed. Again, I made a rookie mistake of knitting the front bands too loosely so the bottom fronts pull down and aren’t even across the front of the sweater. I’m going to try hand sewing a piece of grosgrain ribbon along the insides of the bands, easing in some of the fullness to see if that will fix it. I love having a nice hand made sweater, and the ones I have been successful with are real treasures.

  10. June 22, 2018 4:14 am

    I made so many horrible mistakes with sweaters for me or hubby in the past that for years I only knit afghans. If you made it too big, no problem right. The first sweater I knit for hubby in a cheap acrylic (I mean cheap because I really had no business buying any yarn we were so broke). He wore a medium at the time, we gave the finished project away to his uncle because we both could fit in it. Years later when I had built up my confidence, I bought some alpaca to make him a real sweater. I loved the yarn but it relaxed and became twice as wide as I wanted it to be. Hubby is a doll and he “wore it to work” twice before I took pity on him and frogged it.

    Fast forward to last year. I am now designing patterns for Fleece and Harmony. I know my gauge and even went to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival without a sweater because of my fear of sweater knitting. I bought the Heart On My Sleeve Collection to support the cause and started convincing myself to knit for me. After much soul searching, I cast on the Ironheart. I did no body shaping but it fits and I love it!

    This week I finished the Binsey by Fiona Alice, so I have gone from no handknit sweaters to two. Hope there will be more by the end of the year.

    • June 25, 2018 4:24 am

      What a lovely story! So pleased to hear that you’ve confronted your sweater-knitting demons head on and have some lovely hand knit sweaters for you now!

  11. Hettie Steenkamp permalink
    June 22, 2018 2:45 am

    I please want to follow your group.

  12. June 22, 2018 2:05 am

    What a nice collection! I’d color block the mustard Flax in grey too, just to make sure it goes with everything.
    My very first sweater was a disaster that ended up in the frog pile. It was supposed to be a lovely drapey thing and ended up looking like a old mop. I happily used the yarn for a beautiful Flax for my son.
    I also tend to run out of yarn pretty regularly, that’s because I desperately try to use my stash when knitting so I often end up short. At some point this will end. ;-)

  13. Bindy permalink
    June 21, 2018 9:43 pm

    Very cool. It’s good to hear that a professional in the knit design world doesn’t have millions more hand-knit sweaters for herself than I do. I find it easy to start them, but harder to persevere with finishing them. It probably goes without saying that this drives my husband bonkers…cost and amount of room being taken up by UFOs!

  14. June 21, 2018 7:56 pm

    I have been trying to make myself more sweaters this year and for the most part I have been happier with them than I have been with any in the past. I have a gray sweater where the sleeves are too short and I have one knit row in my ribbing and I have yet to wear it

    • June 25, 2018 4:28 am

      If the sleeves are top-down, you could always rip the cuffs out, knit the sleeves a bit longer, and then re-knit the cuffs :)

  15. June 21, 2018 7:56 pm

    Dark grey. The red is amazing and the texture is lovely. Another color will pull focus and make it seem more home made than hand made. You need a color that will sit quietly in the background and let that red sing.

  16. Donna permalink
    June 21, 2018 7:17 pm

    Grey and mustard..the bomb!; But what about Teal?

  17. Liz permalink
    June 21, 2018 1:35 pm

    Those are all beautiful but the red and yellow really bring you to life! Love that red so much! 😍

  18. June 21, 2018 1:14 pm

    Great collection of sweaters and you look great in them. I’m the same, knitting for everyone else and not much for myself, and I’ve promised myself to change that so thanks for the inspiration. I’m not a great person for jumpers – cardigans and jackets would be more my thing – I’m too top heavy for them lol

  19. Maureen permalink
    June 21, 2018 12:38 pm

    I loved seeing your post. I always want to knit for myself but am afraid it wont fit because I
    am plus-size with a big bust. I guess I need to just plan and then GO FOR IT!!!

  20. Greta permalink
    June 21, 2018 11:54 am

    I’ve never managed a sweater for me.. the lady time I tried was about 35 years ago. The first sweater went to my 6-year-old niece, and the second to a friend who was about 4 sizes larger than me… I don’t wear pullovers, but am on the verge of making an attempt at a cardigan for me. Finally. Fingers crossed I’ve learned a few things

  21. June 21, 2018 11:44 am

    I knit a cardigan in my early knitting days without knitting a gauge swatch, had a lot of yarn, and ended up with a sweater that could double as a Smart Car cozy (I am not a small woman, I knit 3X sweaters most of the time). I ended up partially felting it and then cutting out some of the bulk of the body, underarms, and sleeves. It’s very warm and gets worn… some. Someone taught a “knit sweaters that fit” class at knitting guild last winter so I’m much more confident that the cardigan I have OTN at the present has a ghost of a chance to fit. I hope.

    • June 25, 2018 4:30 am

      Hahaha great story! I hope that the cardigan you’re working on fits they way you’d like it to :)

  22. June 21, 2018 8:04 am

    Before now, I haven’t really been a sweater wearer. However, I am currently knitting my first sweater, a Flax, and I definitely see the merit of becoming a sweater wearer.

    Thank you so much for this pattern. I never thought that I’d be knitting a sweater. :)

    I don’t really have a horror story. Unless you count the length of time it has taken me to knit mine. I started knitting 27 August 2017 and I am only now finishing sleeve one as of today, 21 June 2018. The delay in completion had everything to do with not putting myself first in knitting. Everyone under the Sun wanted me to knit or crochet them something within that timeframe. So, in a way, this sweater is me putting my foot down and telling everyone, “No, I deserve to come first too”.

  23. mellenknits permalink
    June 21, 2018 6:23 am

    I tend not to make sweaters for myself, since I often have trouble with the fit, particularly in the bust. I’ve made and given away at least 2 sweaters that look lovely on the blocking board, but not on my body :(
    But your post reminds me of the beautiful Tin Can Knits patterns in my library, and how customizable they are! Maybe it’s time for another try!
    As for your Flax – I’m not a pink girl, but I do think the mustard could benefit from a shot of bright turquoise or deep purple.

  24. darkautumnknits permalink
    June 21, 2018 6:21 am

    If you’re going to knit new cuffs on your flax, I think that either a creamy white or a warm chestnut brown would be perfect, especially for someone like you and I, who doesn’t really wear wild colors. If I was doing it, I would just frog the ribbing, knit in stockinette until I run out of frogged yarn, and then start the ribbing in the new color. If you decide to be ambitious and fun, you could knit a collar and stitch it down over the existing ribbing so that all the edges match. One sweater detail I love is double folded collars and cuffs.

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