Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Tale of Two Sweaters

I stopped smoking in 2006 and learned to spin and knit shortly thereafter as a way of keeping myself occupied and by making fancy things that didn’t smell like smoke. As happens with these things, it turned into an obsession. I started off spinning with a spindle but quickly found I was too impatient and got an inexpensive wheel. I learned to knit shortly after taking up spinning, mostly because I wanted to learn how to knit socks.
My most recent socks.

I spun this gorgeous sparkly taupe yarn (that I have no photos of, bad pre-ravelry me) from a vendor who doesn’t even exist any more. I had spun a small amount of the pound of fiber on the spindle but quickly decided I needed something BIG out of it. Once I got the wheel figured out, I decided it would be a sweater.

Now I’m a large woman and large women and bulky yarns are not supposed to go together, but I didn’t care. In January of 2007, I had spun the roving into 800 yards of shiny, bulky, soft wonderfulness. I got ready to knit.

I’d never knitted a sweater before. I decided to use the Basic Pullover pattern from the Sally Melville’s “The Purl Stitch”. Had I known then what I know now, I would have not chosen it because holy cow, knitting in the round is so much easier. I dutifully knit front, back, and two flat sleeves, and stitched it together. The seams are a mess. I used the spindle-spun skein to crochet a pretty border on the bottom, sleeves, and neckline.


The messy seams of messy doom.

The sweater is ridiculously warm, and very rustic-looking. It fits perfectly. I like it, even though I don’t wear it very often because it’s just too warm.

Five years later, I have made a few more things. I’ve made some sweaters. I’ve made some socks. I’ve made a shawl or two. I’ve spun some yarn, to the point that I’ve gotten a lot better at it. My friend Roz showed me the Warriston pattern, a smock of interesting construction and compelling details. Being wiser now, I ordered commercial yarn to make it.

Warriston was my first bottom-up raglan sweater. I learned all kinds of new techniques and tricks during it. It also had its share of frustrations as there are some minor fit and stylistic issues that happen frequently with larger sized knits. But it came out fine once I sewed the cowl down, and I can ignore the slightly gappy raglans.

Had to bump up the green in processing to get close to the actual color of it.

Both sweaters took me a little over a month to knit. Warriston had a long break due to hot weather-nobody wants a pound and a half of wool on their lap when it’s 80 degrees out. Warriston also used roughly twice the yarn, because that’s the difference in the length, the trim, the cowl neck, and the relatively finer yarn.


I actually really like both of them. They represent me as a knitter in all my imperfections. I grafted one armpit on Warriston backwards, and there are a few places where the pattern goes a little wobbly. The seams of the Basic Pullover are a mess, and the yarn itself is obviously an advanced beginner’s work. I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything, though.