I just finished making this. It is my first sweater. It is also the first full thing I’ve ever knit. I’m rather happy with the result. It actually looks more boobtastic on me because I tend to wear my belts a bit higher (short torso and all) and have a bit more curve than this form does.
So my recent crafting timeline looks something like this.
Two months ago, I visited my buddies in Turku. We visited a local yarn store and talked a lot about yarn, crochet, sheep, and general winter craft stuff. I returned home with a deep need to Make Things again. I immediately dug out my yarn stash and crochet hooks, which hadn’t seen the light in nearly a decade, and started churning out small project after project until my hands felt like they were ready to fall off. I also started using my Ravelry account for the first time in months, and ended up with a to-do queue that would probably clothe a small island nation.
A month and a week ago, I went to visit my very first Finnish friend and expressed regrets over never really learning to knit. She, figuring there was no time like the present, whipped out some needles and a ball of yarn and patiently demonstrated Continental knitting for me right there and then. I think she might have had to correct every other stitch I made in those first few agonizingly slow and clumsy minutes, but I finally saw where everything was supposed to go. Something actually clicked and made sense this time around, probably because I’d been scrutinizing stitch structures so closely for the past month. Later that week, I went out and bought my first pair of straight knitting needles. This was quickly followed by a pair of circulars.
After doing a few stitch sampler blocks for my in-progress patchwork afghan, I went for my first project. The first thing you’re supposed to knit is a scarf right? Well, I tried. It wasn’t meant to be. Figuring it as an all-or-nothing sort of deal, I set my sights instead on the real goal of learning to knit — full-sized garments. Finding the simplest-yet-still-wearable sweater pattern possible, I cast on and tried my luck. The first week of sweater-making went well, right up until I reached the neckline and botched the entire thing by not understanding what “add second ball of yarn” meant. The entire project had to be frogged because my stitches were too tight to pick up after dropping and I learned a hard lesson in monitoring my stitch tension. Some time during all of that, I mail-ordered a cute little kit of KnitPro interchangeable circulars.
Starting over again, the sweater grew a lot faster since I knew what I was doing and my hands had developed enough muscle memory for me not to worry as much with my stitches. I learned to increase and decrease. I learned how to join yarn by felting so I wouldn’t leave a messy knot in my wool garments. I learned how to add a second ball of yarn so that my neck hole could actually fit a head through it. Ten days after my second start, with only a few further fumbles, I had an entire sweater. Sure, there were a few inconsistencies — I used a needle half a size larger than recommended because the store where I shopped didn’t carry the size I needed at the time. I compensated by making the sweater a size smaller. Turns out I could have gone two sizes smaller, but live and learn. I also misread the pattern a bit and ended up with a garter stitch side seam stripe rather than just an edging along the bottom vents. This ended up looking like a nice design detail, actually, and helped hide my less-than stellar handseaming. Chose to not add a garter stitch cuff to the wrists, since the arms were already quite long on their own and I rather liked the rolled edges. I ended up with something closer to a tunic — a few inches more and it could have been a mini-dress, really. Done up with a belt, big necklace and leggings, it actually fits right in with the stuff currently in stores. Go figure.
The real kicker? All the lecturing I got from teachers back in school was right, much as I hate to admit it. Blocking does wonders for smoothing out the details. This was how the sweater looked immediately after finishing. It was all fuzzy and smelled like five different hand lotions plus two cats. The stitches were kinda bumpy and the hems were flipping up in odd places. I’m usually far too impatient to block things neatly, so I tossed the thing in the washing machine on wool setting, figuring it would have to get a taste of what I was going to put it through normally. I put it onto the dressform to block dry and come back in the morning to find a light, comfortable sweater tunic with lovely smooth stitches! This might just be enough to convince me to hand-block my next sweater, if it comes in pieces. Woohoo!