Finished: First Sweater!

I finished!!!

first sweater

My very first knitted sweater is all done.  Well, mostly done.

finished Agnes sweater

There are two pockets in the pattern, but I only made one.  So far?  I think so far, I think I’ll go back and make the other.  But I just really, really wanted to be finished.  So I only made one.

finished Agnes sweater

I learned a LOT by knitting this sweater.  I love this design as a first sweater project because it’s simple, simple, simple.  Mostly knitted stitches, not a lot of purl.  And all done in the round, so no turning the work and flipping back and forth, like you might with a scarf.  Just around and around and around.

knitted stitches

I have some questions still.  Of course, because this is the first large project I’ve ever made–a bunch of scarves, that one lace shawl that ended up looking like a baby blanket, half a hat, a zillion dishcloths, but never anything as large as this, never a garment.  So obviously I have questions still about how knitting really WORKS.  Turns out, I knit continental style, holding the yarn in my left hand.  Since I learned from a kids’ book in the front seat of a car on a road trip when my daughter decided she wanted to learn and needed someone to teach her, it’s no surprise that I do it unusually.  And that I feel a little insecure about how I make my knits and my purls.

knitted fabric

I’ve been reading a lot on the side–mostly looking at other knitting patterns, because what are we as makers if we are not dreamers?  And when reading Amy Herzog, I was really struck with her idea that when we knit, we ought to think about the fact that we’re making fabric.  And is the fabric we’re making something we want to wear?  I hadn’t really thought about knitting that way previously, that I’m building fabric, and should spend my time building fabric that I love.  Do I love this fabric?  I don’t know.  When I knit, my little Vs–the shape the knitted stitches make as they loop around one another–are slanted on one side but more straight up-and-down on the other.

twisted knit stitches

So I thought I was doing it wrong.  See how in the section of my finished sweater above, there are columns of Vs?  And that the one leg of the column seems…tighter than the other?  I’m not really sure why that happens.  I figured I was making my stitches wrong, but someone posted a video of themselves knitting continental on Instagram yesterday, and I make my stitches the exact same way, so it’s not that I’m twisting them, I don’t think.  Maybe I hold my yarn too tightly?  Because I get the same result when I knit and when I purl, it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

ribbed knit sleeve

Ribbing is a little tedious to knit, but I love the look at the end.  I love the depth of the ribbing on this sweater, and how it creates a “real” sweater look.

ribbed cuff Agnes sweater

I made the body of the sweater a little longer, based on another bit of advice I gleaned from the knit-along on Instagram, and added an extra inch-ish to the sleeves.  I’m disappointed in the length on the body, to be honest–it hits me between the waist and high hip, which is WAAAAY too short for me.  Is it my imagination or do lots of knitting patterns have very little length to the body?  And do all knitting designers plan their patterns for ladies with no boobs?  I suddenly understand so much more deeply why people get frustrated when they sew with Big 4 patterns–they don’t account for anyone over a B-cup, but when you didn’t expect it and don’t know how to accommodate it or make changes, it’s disheartening.

Agnes sweater pocket

I love the fabric of the pockets, which is a thinner yarn and a smaller gauge.  But they add some bulk.  And this is already a bulky sweater.  Which probably explains why I bailed on the second pocket.  Because the body is so short, and the pockets add bulk, it means that my waist looks a bit wide and I look…fluffy.  I don’t hate it, but I’m not sure it’s the look I’m going for.

ribbed neckline

Am I sorry?  Or disappointed?  Not even a little bit.  NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT.  I am so, so, so excited that I made a sweater, I actually jumped for joy.  I feel like I learned a ton, and that the investment of time and money was completely worth it.  I don’t know how often I will wear this–there are about 1.3 days per year in Atlanta where it’s actually cold enough to warrant a sweater of this bulk–but it’s a great color and might be perfect for my oldest child off at college.  It’s just so snuggly and cozy.

All told, this took between February 6 and March 12 to knit.  Yes, I made notes.  Because that’s how you collect data with which to congratulate yourself later.  And I am.  Congratulating myself.  Knitting a sweater is a big deal, and I done did it.  Go, me!

I have yet to block the finished product, so that’s my next task to tackle.  Learning to wet it and drain it and pin it out and let it dry so that the stitches fill in.  For all I know, those Vs will loosen up and it’ll look just like a sweater from a super-high-end store.  Feel free to lend advice and fill in with your knitting knowledge–I’m soaking it all up!


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  • Karen
    March 23, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Loved seeing your progress and posts on Instagram and love the final product! Mine ended up a bit short too although I’d added length…a sweater cannot be long enough I don’t think. Great job!

    • Deborah
      March 25, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Isn’t that funny? I figured it was my generous bustline that was at fault. Maybe it’ll be cute with a long white button-front blouse underneath, and leave the tails out? Otherwise, it’s off to my daughter, who has the figure for a shorter design. Ha! 🙂

  • woollythinker
    March 24, 2016 at 6:15 am

    Those slanting stitches? It’s not you, it’s the yarn. Single-ply yarn is a bit unbalanced and that’s just how it knits up. Knit exactly the same way using a different yarn, and you’ll get a different fabric. It’s not a mistake and it’s not a problem. You should be really proud of your knitting, actually; it’s very even and your ribbing is fantastic!

    I don’t know if short waists are a common problem in knitting patterns, it might just be a current trend or… I don’t know. It’s a really good idea to check the schematic – and check your own row gauge – so that you can adjust if needed; adding length at the waist is super easy, but you shouldn’t second guess the designer without checking. I have made the mistake of lengthening a pattern on the assumption it would fit me better that way – it didn’t. The designer knew her stuff!

    And yeah, adjusting for bigger busts is a whole other thing. (Not all designers design for small busts, but as you know, that is standard sizing. Looking at projects made from a particular pattern on Ravelry is enormously helpful to give a sense of how that design fits on different body types. Many knitters will provide detailed notes on how they’ve modified it to fit them, if needed. Also, browsing a designer’s Ravelry portfolio may give you an idea of what kind of body shape they’re primarily designing for.) Controversy rages over whether it’s better to adjust using vertical darts (my preference) or short rows. Ysolda Teague’s book Little Red in the City is very helpful if you like the short row option.

    • Deborah
      March 25, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Ohmygosh, this is so unbelievably helpful!!! I am so relieved to hear it’s the yarn and not my technique–like when Tim Gunn tells people the fit is the fault of the clothes and not their body. Whew! I am already working on another pattern (!!!), and it was a little short-waisted, too, so I added another inch and have my fingers crossed. We’ll see if I tried to out-smart the designer and failed! As for the busts, I read what Amy Herzog said about doing her decreases at the dart point rather than the side seam, and it revolutionized the way I think about knit garments and fitting. Suddenly a sweater seems more like CLOTHES than they ever did before. Thanks for all the insight and advice!!

  • Amber
    March 24, 2016 at 10:07 am

    I taught myself how to knit, so I’m less confident that I’m doing anything right. When you first posted about this sweater, I was inspired to learn a new pattern that was previously so confusing. Seeing your completed work now has me thinking that maybe I should advance beyond afghans. Your sweater is lovely!

    • Deborah
      March 25, 2016 at 10:15 am

      I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I figured: what do I have to lose, right? It was really fun!! I hope you’ll make one so we can compare notes! 🙂

  • Diane
    March 24, 2016 at 11:30 am

    I think it looks AMAZING! What a fabulous project. And how clever to include a little Whipstitch yellow (sort of) and a pocket.

    I’m seeing argyle socks in your future!

    • Deborah
      March 25, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Haha! I’m not sure I’m up to multiple colors or turning heels yet. But it’s a lot funner than I expected!

  • Whitney Ellie
    March 24, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Looks beautiful, you should be proud! ! The first sweater I made I counted the rows wrong and the arms ended up being twice as long as they were meant to be….I still plan on going back one day and fixing the issue but it’s more fun to start new projects then adjust old ones!

    Out of curiosity, have you soaked and blocked it? That can help add length and even out stitches (although I agree with wollythinker on the wool probably having something to do with it)

    • Deborah
      March 25, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Not yet–I was thinking the right thing would be to finish the other pocket first and block it all at the same time? So I haven’t worn it yet, either. And my sleeves are too long, too! But I almost want to frame it, I’m so proud of what I made. Will have to take more pictures after it’s blocked!

  • divebunny
    March 24, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Have you signed up for Ravelry?

    • Deborah
      March 25, 2016 at 10:12 am

      I sure am! I signed up back when I was only knitting dishcloths in the hopes that it would inspire me to make actual garments. I’m @WhipstitchDeborah over there!

  • Christine Haynes
    March 29, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Beautiful!!!! So proud of you!!!

    • Deborah
      March 29, 2016 at 8:10 am

      Yay!!! I’m 50% through with a cardigan now, dude. After that: stripey summer sweater so we can go twinning.

  • M
    April 5, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    You rock! The color is beautiful and you are to be proud of yourself for not only teaching yourself to knit but actually finishing a project. Congrats!

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