On 6 April 2014 I picked up a pair of knitting needles and took up knitting again after 10 years. Almost exactly two months later, my first knitted sweater is done!
The last thing I had knitted, was a cream, pink and grey scarf back in 2004. I was bored out of my mind and didn’t do any crafting after that. That was until August 2009 of course when the crochet bug bit me. I guess the confidence I have after years of crochet, seeing pretty knitting on Ravelry, starting the craft group at work where I am surrounded by knitters and reading every now and then on a crochet blog that a crocheter has taken up knitting, wore me down. I wanted to knit something. Not a scarf mind you! I wanted something to wear but the pattern had to be easy, not too fussy yet with a something special, v-neck and something I would want to wear. I found the perfect pattern on Loveknitting.com – Stylecraft Stars 8948.
When I bought the pattern pamphlet I also bought 4.5 mm Pony aluminium needles. I didn’t need any yarn, as the Vinnis Nikkim that I wanted to use, is the exact gauge and yardage as Stylecraft Stars. What a great stroke of luck! When I saw that, I knew this was going to be a goooood pattern for my first knitted sweater attempt!
When my needles and pattern arrived, I decanted myself onto my spot on the couch, ready to do some knitting. Only problem was I didn’t know how to do the very first instruction of the pattern: Cast on with the thumb method. The what?! Thank goodness for my laptop and Youtube. I found the perfect instructional video on the Deramores website. The thumb method turned out to be very easy. Hurdle 1 overcome.
As I was knitting the ribbing I soon realised that I made a mistake. Not with the knitting, but with the knitting needles. My cotton yarn was slipping all over the place and I was gripping my knitting needles so tightly to try and keep the stitches from dropping, that I developed knitters-cramp very quickly. Back to the Loveknitting.com website for bamboo needles, (and stitch holder and row counters – in for a penny in for pound).
Those bamboo needles were a godsend! Everything was so much easier once I switched to bamboo.
Everything went swimmingly from there. Bearing in mind that the fancy bit of my sweater happened right after the ribbing, I kinda had thrown myself into the deep end right from the beginning, but I loved it. I got a thrill when I did a stitch count and was spot on!
I have to say that the finishing of the sweater was my biggest fear. To me there’s nothing worse than a handmade piece of clothing that looks…well, handmade. No matter how hard you worked on knitting, crocheting or sewing your pieces, it can all so easily look “cheap” if the finishing isn’t spot on. Thank goodness for another Deramores video where I learned to do the mattress stitch. I couldn’t believe how neat the join (or lack thereof) looked! I also found the Vogue Knitting website helpful when it came to inserting the sleeves into the body.
I did have a little flurry of upset when the sleeve opening on the front of the sweater seemed to be much larger than the sleeve. Thankfully, after a bit of Google-ing, I realised that that’s normal. I just had to ease the sleeve into the opening. Easier said than done. Then I had a brainwave: if the knitting was designed this way, it means they probably did it because a lady’s bust will fill out the front so I had to replicate this “filling out” when I sewed my sleeve into the opening. That means I shouldn’t try to sew it together with the pieces lying on a flat surface, I need something curved. My knee!! And it worked!
This is how the two sleeves of my sweater was inserted using a mattress stitch. I didn’t even notice the extra fabric at the body when I did it this way. For a first attempt, I am very happy with the way my sleeve sits in the opening. (Please excuse my penguin pajamas…)
After sewing everything together I just had the ends to weave away. For this I found this blog post on The Purl Bee very helpful. I used the diagonal on the wrong side method.
The very last thing to do was to block my sweater. This is the only part that I would do differently next time. The pattern says to block the sweater right at the very end, whereas I think I would have had an easier time sewing all the pieces together, had I blocked the pieces beforehand. What do you knitters think? Do you block your knitting when it’s all sewn up, or do you block the pieces before sewing?
The nitty-gritty of my first knitted sweater:
Pattern: Ladies Sweater in Stylecraft Stars 8948
Yarn: 8 balls of Vinnis Nikkim DK cotton in Avocado
Needles: Pony bamboo 4.5mm and Pony aluminium 3.5mm for the rib
All in all, I’m very happy with my first sweater and kinda proud of myself. I mastered a fancy pattern, managed to do a v-neck (which included a very intimidating s1 knit2tog psso combo) and learned to do mattress stitch to join all the pieces together. Credit should go to Stylecraft Yarns for writing a pattern this pretty, yet easy enough that a newbie knitter can master it.
Close-up of the pattern
Close-up of the neckline
Being so happy with the outcome of my first foray into wearable knitting, I already bought the pattern for sweater number 2!
I may have to think about changing my blog name to crochetandabitofknittingTime…. it doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it’s accurate :)