For my next trick, I decided I was ready to make something for myself. Something that real knitters make. Something that would prove that I had finally made the leap from someone who only dabbles in a craft to someone who could call herself A Knitter.
It was time for my first sweater.
Last December I received a copy of Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation for Christmas and immediately ran out to the neaerest yarn store to get some yarn for the flower sweater. I liked the simple shape and I wanted to make it in a dark brown, without a flower.
I am very tall (5'10") so I wanted the sweater to be a bit longer than the pattern called for, and I have very long arms so I wanted the sleeves to be longer too. I came home with a LOT of dark brown Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted and cast on.
Several months later, after nearly causing irrevocable damage to my hands (I used to hold the yarn WAAAAY to tightly and have since learned how to hold it better), I had a sweater. Behold, the beautiful thing!
You may notice that the arms are very long. There is a reason behind that. It's true, I am very tall and do have long arms. I wasn't particularly self-conscious about them until I was on the 3rd date with my new boyfriend, The Brain (now husband). We went rock climbing, and when he saw me come out of the changing room in my tank top, he immediately burst out with, "Wow! Your arms are so long! You must have a really positive ape factor!"
Gee...thanks. I know I have long arms, but come on! It's not like my knuckles are dragging on the ground!
Anyway, the sweater was completed, albeit with different types of shaping on either sleeve (I did one side with the shaping right on the edge, and the other side with the shaping 2 stitches in from the edge.) The blue and orange squares are felted and waiting to be cut into shapes and sewn onto the sweater. I hate hand stitching so this may never happen.
Overall, I am happy with the way the sweater turned out. It is very soft and feels like a snuggly sweatshirt when I put it on. Unfortunately, I finished it just in time for the warm weather this year. I was in Pittsburgh for grad school and spring starts a lot earlier there than it does here in Minnesota. Now that I am back in Minneapolis for the summer, it is H-O-T here! A lot of people don't realize how hot it can get in Minneapolis. I think we have one of the greatest temperature ranges of any major city in the world (I heard this somewhere recently). Plus, I am moving to southern California in August so I may never get a chance to wear my nice warm sweater!
Too bad, but it was fun to make and of course I learned several things while making it:
1) If you insist on pulling the yarn as tight as you can because you fear droopy, uneven stitches, you can count on getting hand cramps so severe that you cannot take the cap off your chapstick. I am addicted to my chapstick and The Brain was tired of taking the cap off for me, so you can understand why something had to change.
2) Placing your increases and decreases a few stitches away from the edge makes things look nicer and makes it easier to stitch up seams. Wow...all those books that told me to do that were right!
3) Soaking wool for blocking makes it smell like a dirty sheep. This was a shocker. I even went to my LYS in Pittsburgh to make sure I didn't have contaminated yarn. Yeah right, like the yarn company made it out of decomposing sheep or something. They probably enjoyed laughing at me after I left.
4) All yarn is not created equal. If you knit a big square with angora, and felt with angora, it will still be fluffy...just like angora. Just because you felt it does not mean that it will magically look like the flower in the book that was felted using wool.
5) It is best to have someone else help you take your measurements. I know I have long arms, but I should have known something was wrong when my calculations told me to add seven inches to the arm length! I would be more upset except that I have never in my life had sleeves that are too long and I kind of like them that way.
6) If I can knit up my own sweater, I can do anything!