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Knitting for yourself

July 18, 2019

I haven’t always knit sweaters for myself. For a long time it seemed like an infinite amount of knitting. I’d knit sweaters for our patterns in our usual sample size (M-ML) and tons of kiddie sweaters, but a sweater for me (I’m somewhere around an XL-XXL) just seemed like too much.

This made no sense of course, if you add up those sweaters for the kids and pattern samples (not to mention the BLANKETS) of course it adds up to more than a few sweaters for me! So one day I decided I needed a sweater too. A sweater, while a large project, is indeed a FINITE amount of knitting and wearing a hand knit sweater you lovingly made for yourself is a beautiful thing.

My Prairie Fire was one of the first sweaters I knit for myself that I really really LOVE

In the past couple of years I’ve embarked on a sweater wardrobe for me. I’ve learned a lot of things about how I like my sweaters. I like a little positive ease, I like them longer than most, with loooong sleeves too (I like the to hit just before my thumb). I make sure to take the time to try on my sweater as I go, even though it’s annoying to put all the stitches on waste yarn and try ‘er on. With sweater success has come confidence, and I currently have more than a few WIPs with my own name on them.

Making Adjustments

Not every sweater has come out perfectly the first time. Trying it on as you go helps to make sure the sizing is right (the yoke depth is as you like it, the ease at the chest is what you want), but sometimes after blocking and wearing my sweater a few times I’ve needed length adjustments. A longer cuff, a little short row shaping at the hem to make it longer in the back, that kind of thing. I learned the importance of making those adjustments, rather than letting a perfectly good sweater languish in the closet, unworn.

I cast on my very own Mountain Mist sweater as soon as Strange Brew went to print and I got to wear it in our family photo!
I like my mustard yellow Flax sweater, but I’ve decided I need to lengthen the cuffs and hems to make it the length I like to wear with jeans.
My Strange Brew sweater knit up in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor

What’s next for the wardrobe?

I started with worsted weight sweaters, they seem to go so much faster! I have a DK weight Strange Brew sweater in my wardrobe now too. I usually run a bit warm, so this year, even though it once again feels like an infinite amount of knitting, I want to add a sock weight sweater (or 2!) to my wardrobe because I think they will get a lot of wear. But first I’m going to have to finish the 4 sweaters I have on the go!

On the needles I have just a few sweaters….okay, this year has been a bit of a cast on frenzy! I’m working on a bulky weight Almanac sweater in Brooklyn Tweed Quarry, a sock weight Trek sweater in Sweet Fiber Super Sweet Sock, a Love Note (for the Love Note KAL) in La Bien Aimee singles and silk mohair, a Cartography in Spincycle Dream State and Stone Wool Cormo, and a Compass sweater in Quince and Co Owl. They are all in various states of finish, but I think I’ll have them all done by September when the fall comes to call here in Vancouver!

I also stepped out from behind the camera a bit for our Paris collection! I got to wear both of our new sweater designs, Penny and Love Note about town while Emily snapped my picture. Both sweaters are cropped, and I loved wearing them over a dress (with big pockets of course, they are from Haven for those who want to know).

My cropped Penny fit just the way I wanted, I was so pleased!
Me and my Love Note in the super soft and lovely La Bien Aimee singles and mohair silk.

What are your sweater fears?

Here at Tin Can Knits we would like to help all knitters feel confident and adventurous. We take a can-do approach to knitting and hope it inspires confidence in you and your knitting if you need it too! We often hear from knitters that they are particularly nervous about garment knitting. We want to know, if you are afraid to venture into garment knitting, is there something holding you back? Tell us, what are your sweater fears?

30 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2019 8:43 am

    It is always about my skin crawling when fabric other than cotton touches it. I stick with vests because I can wear a blue jean top under it and it won’t touch my skin at all. But vests are so old laddish!

  2. July 22, 2019 7:24 am

    I love knitting sweaters, mostly for the grandson. My first ‘for-me’ sweater was a top down raglan in a color and yarn I love, but…… I hate the neck. Like most sweater patterns, the necks are too wide. They end up like ‘boat necks’ and sometimes nearly droop over my shoulders. I lack the skill to modify the patterns for a smaller neck, and don’t know anyone else that can help me learn to do so. So my wishful thinking of knitting another sweater for myself remains just that. :(

    • July 22, 2019 10:34 am

      Hi – Hmm, I might just have to do a tutorial on this, but the basics of fixing a neckline in a sweater that has been knit top down are: put a small needle through all of the sts just before the ribbing. Then snip one stitch above the needles (towards the neckline) and undo a round, removing the ribbing. Then you can do a decrease round and re-do the ribbing tighter to get a closer neckline. Just beware of binding off so tightly it won’t go over your head.

  3. Sarah permalink
    July 21, 2019 7:04 pm

    Hi- Thanks for such a great and inspiring post! My question: Once you’ve already soaked and blocked a sweater, can you really just unknit the bind off and add length with new (unblocked yarn)? Do you reblock after? I’ve wanted to try this, but for some reason thought it wouldn’t work. Thanks for any tips you have!

    • July 22, 2019 10:32 am

      Hi Sarah – I do indeed just use the yarn. It looks a little off until I block it again, but it’s been just fine. If you are worried though you can absolutely soak the yarn and dry it to get the kinks out before knitting with it again.

      • Chickadee permalink
        July 26, 2019 8:53 am

        I never knew you could do this either! It has been keeping me from attempting a sweater – I’m tall and I figured I’d never get the lengths right. Good to know, thank you for the tip!

  4. Alison A permalink
    July 20, 2019 12:16 am

    I love this feature. It’s so nice to know we all have the same struggles!
    I want to knit myself a cardigan, I already have masses of sweaters made for me by my kind mum in law. I’m nervous……at nearly sixty I can crochet reasonably well, but my knitting skills and commitment to knitting projects are lacking. One of the mistakes I constantly make is buying cheaper yarn……but it’s scary spending a lot on yarn that might become just another back of the cupboard WIP!
    Thank you for the great article.

  5. KiltQuest permalink
    July 19, 2019 9:00 pm

    Thank you for this post! I used to knit myself sweaters…in my teen years…in horrible half-plastic yarn from KMart, and I wore them to death. I haven’t since I’ve been an adult, but I am loving the new cropped sweater look and I think I may just have to try again. Also I always run hot too! Is the trick using sock weight yarn? And would you have any suggestions for someone who is horribly itchy in wool? (True confessions…this obviously is not improved by the hot problem!! 😆)

    • July 22, 2019 10:30 am

      You might want to try a linen or perhaps a blend? That might solve the itch factor! A finer weight yarn will definitely be less warm, but wool is always on the warmer side.

  6. Megan permalink
    July 19, 2019 3:26 pm

    I’m also an XL/2XL and I can’t afford the types/brands of yarn I would like to use because of the cost of a sweater quantity in my size. I’ve thought about saving up to buy good yarn for a sweater, but I’m afraid that it wouldn’t fit well, or it would end up looking more homemade than handmade, and then I wouldn’t wear it, and that big investment of time, effort, and money would be wasted.

  7. Bindy in Australia permalink
    July 19, 2019 3:21 pm

    Great post. Thanks! I appreciate the ‘experts’ letting us have a peek at their thinking processes and growth areas.
    I’ve knit some cardigans but not a sweater (or “jumper” here in Australia). I think of cardigans as a bit more forgiving on fit because I can button them a few different ways; pulling in at the waist, only button the top button, etc., so I can ‘massage’ the fit and silloette that I want. That’s not the case with a sweater, so I feel like they’re a bit less forgiving and I really need to get the shaping totally right.

  8. Jennifer permalink
    July 19, 2019 11:22 am

    I fear I need total hand holding to make a sweater. I wanted one for 50th birthday but hardly got started when it got set aside and now it’s been over 6 months since I’ve picked it up. Just a big fear of sweaters but I want one soooooo bad.

  9. Renna Hanlon permalink
    July 19, 2019 8:33 am

    Being an XL size myself, I’ve always held back, thinking how much yarn and how much time it would make to knit a sweater for myself. That, and the fact that I’ve never knit any sweater in any size before. I’ve had the Flax on my radar for a few years, having heard it’s a good starting place for sweater knitting. I think your article today has given me the kickstart I need to just go for it!

  10. July 19, 2019 8:28 am

    I am knitting my first sweater for myself and so excited! It’s the Love Note pullover. My LYS is doing it as a KAL, so I’m getting expert help. I’ve got the body done, so at our next meetup, I’ll learn how to attach the sleeves.
    I love your flax sweater and think that wouldn’t be too hard for me to do on my own.
    Thank you for creating these lovely patterns for us!

  11. July 19, 2019 2:09 am

    I am so glad that you are talking about size, I am also XL or XXL and it takes a while to knit a sweater that big….. But often I find that designers have sized their patterns up, but often the arms are too tight for me or the shoulders do not hang correctly. I now only knit top down so that I can try on constantly. Please keep making your wonderful patterns for us too……….

    • July 19, 2019 10:01 am

      Trying on is especially important in those early days of knitting for yourself I think. Once you build the confidence to customize a little (and I mean that in the way that everyone who makes garments for themselves customizes) you will be unstoppable!

  12. Kathleen Chalmers permalink
    July 18, 2019 9:01 pm

    How to add length to a yoke knitted in the round?

    Please help.
    Kathleen

    • July 19, 2019 10:02 am

      Hi Kathleen – if you are working top-down you will want to add rounds at the end of the yoke to get a little more depth. If you are working bottom up you will want to add it after you join the body and sleeves.

  13. Dianne Ritter permalink
    July 18, 2019 4:14 pm

    Two things really….
    1 – All that knitting and it either doesn’t fit correctly or looks horrid on me
    2 – sewing up seams :0/ I know it isn’t an issue with top down or bottom up sweaters – there are just tiny underarm seams – but on a regular sweater that isn’t knit in bulky yarn – ugh!

    • July 19, 2019 10:03 am

      Hi Dianne – Number one is always a bit scary right? I would recommend looking at your favourite sweaters in your wardrobe and thinking about what you like about them. What neckline do you prefer, how much ease does it have. For a first sweater maybe knit top-down so you can try on as you go, I find that builds my confidence. Haha, seams aren’t my favourite either!

  14. July 18, 2019 2:02 pm

    My sweater fears are many…
    1. That I’ll get bored before it’s done
    2. That I won’t wear it because it’ll need special care
    3. That for all the work I put into it, it’ll still just be meh and I won’t love the fit
    4. That my measurements will change before it’s done
    5. That it’ll obviously be homemade (unprofessional) looking
    6. That I’ll ruin the nice yarn while I’m wearing it

    Of course, fighting these perfectionistic impulses is a great reason to make a sweater! I just… Haven’t yet lol.

    • July 19, 2019 10:09 am

      Well, let me assuage your fears!
      1. It’s always possible, but push through, it’s worth it!
      2. I find that once I’ve put a lot of work into something I will take the time to give it that hand wash. Although I don’t wash my hand knit sweaters all that often, wool has some magical properties so it doesn’t need SO much special care.
      3. I think this one is most knitters biggest fear, try top down so you can try on as you go, then you won’t get any surprises at the end.
      4. That happens for sure, it happens to me! Knitting is stretchy and if you choose a sweater that looks good with a little positive OR a little negative ease you should be good (The Flax is pretty forgiving in that sense).
      5. Hmmm, that’s an interesting one. I find a good block makes everything look more pro!
      6. Wear it an love it! I just knit myself a white sweater and I’m super spilly so I’ll let you know how that goes, lols

      Go forth, take the risk!

  15. July 18, 2019 1:46 pm

    My issue is with my arms. I have a XL body with 2X arms. So I found that I have to knit the size for my bust (40) and knit the sleeve by the pattern, then, try on. If too snug I frog it to beginning and redo with next size needle and try again. Usually if the pattern has a decent fit I can go but usually the size up 1 works great. That’s why I love top down. This is an easy fix with the top down.

    • July 19, 2019 10:11 am

      Hi – There are definitely ways to mix and match the body and arms on a lot of our patterns, if you ever need help just drop us an email!

  16. July 18, 2019 9:15 am

    I’m knitting my first sweater. It’s a Flax pattern. I think it might be a bit bigger than I want but I’m just so excited that it’s not too small and I can actually try it on. Thank you for the pattern!

  17. Nicola Silver permalink
    July 18, 2019 7:11 am

    I am a die hard sweater knitter, but a less enthusiastic sweater-wearer, and I’m not sure how to change that.

    • July 19, 2019 10:12 am

      I find I have cast on a lot of worsted weight sweaters for myself but would really wear a sock weight sweater a lot more. Might I suggest a cute outfit created around the sweater?

  18. Diane Cooper permalink
    July 18, 2019 6:37 am

    As a plus sized woman, and a slow knitted, the thought of knitting something for me is a daunting task!!
    Thank you for sharing that with us!
    Is there a style of sweater/pattern that you would recommend as a good starting point for me? Obviously we are all plus in different areas, so it’s not an exact science! But maybe a more forgiving one?
    Diane

    • July 19, 2019 10:13 am

      Hi Diane – so true about being plus in different areas! Try something top down, any of the top down Strange Brew patterns, the Flax pattern, Harvest or Prairie Fire, they are all more forgiving because you can try as you go and making adjustments are fairly straight forward for those ones.

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