Thursday, February 05, 2009

My First Sweater - The E. Z. Way!

For a long time, I had ideas about what my first sweater would be, but I was afraid to commit. That's a lot of yarn, after all, and what if I bought too little and couldn't finish it? Also, I knew I wanted wool, so that was going to be even more costly. Finally, though, I had a windfall. A Big Lots opened up near the library where I work, and they had this beautiful Lion Brand Magic Stripes on sale for $1.50 a ball. It was superwash wool. How could I pass that up? So I bought a dozen balls and then went home to figure out how I was going to make the sweater.

I'd seen Knitting Without Tears in the library before and looked at it a number of times. It wasn't long before I decided that was the way to go. I chose the Seamless Raglan and began at the beginning.

Right away, I departed from Elizabeth by doing ribbing at the bottom. I just don't see myself wearing a sweater with a flat hem. I also didn't switch back and forth between sleeves and body as she suggests, though I probably should have. I did the sleeves after the body, working both together on a long needle in the manner of Magic Loop socks, and that was by far the most boring and time-consuming part of the project. When I finished increasing and was just going back and forth to finish the sleeves I almost gave up. It almost looks like I could have given up earlier, because the sleeves are a bit too long for the body.

When I joined on and worked the yoke, the project became exciting for me again. Just like E. Z. says, those decreases make every row go faster, and it really felt like I was getting somewhere. I had some angst when it came to the neck shaping, and Zimmermania turned out to be my savior. Several of you had similar concerns to my own, and you helped me get over that hump. As you can see in the second photo (besides that I look ridiculously fat in the face) the collar still didn't come out just as I wanted. It's too square and gaps too much at the sides. Oh, well. Probably nobody will notice but me, and I haven't even washed and blocked it yet.

Many people looked at me funny when I said I was making this first sweater for myself. Some of them just thought it looked too small (especially the sleeves) but I think some thought I was selfish. Should have been making one for the kids, right? Well, my thinking was, I knew I was going to make mistakes. I knew I might get discouraged and take a long time to get done. I might even give up completely if it became frustrating enough. I wanted all of those problems to fall on me, not one of the kids who was patiently waiting for a sweater from Daddy. It turns out, now that I look at Ravelry, that it took me almost exactly nine months. My wife asked if I felt like I had a baby, and I had to think about that for a minute!

Now I have a ton of the yarn left, so someday soon I will cast on and make a similar sweater in a kid size. That will be a lot of fun, I think.


  • Congratulations on finishing your first sweater! I think it looks fantastic (you should see the first one I ever made, which lives in a drawer for posterity and is never worn because it didn't turn out so well).

    I don't think it's at all selfish to knit for yourself. Lots of people have hobbies that can't be shared at all, and I'm willing to bet you do plenty of knitting for others as well.

    By Blogger Ping, at 7:10 PM  

  • It's totally awesome!! Very well done! You can use the leftover yarn to make matching thick housesocks. Hey, I think it's good to knit for yourself---because if you don't you'll end up like I did with absolutely NOTHING for yourself. Finally, this year, I've started making a couple of things for myself. (God, if only I had the hundreds of socks I've knit for others....)

    By Blogger Bo..., at 7:34 PM  

  • Karl, it's gorgeous! And it fits!

    By Blogger Jean, at 12:19 AM  

  • looks great. I love this yarn, made a hat for my grandson out of it a couple years ago. Unfortunately, the Magic Stripes have been discontinued. I can't figure out why.

    By Blogger Mary Ann, at 4:16 AM  

  • Congratulations! It looks terrific!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:21 AM  

  • Magic Socks is regular sock yarn, so you sure can make yourself some socks to go with the sweater! It would also make nice hats for the kids! I figure anything that takes that long out to be for YOU, so enjoy it!

    By Blogger Suna, at 6:29 AM  

  • Oh, it looks just marvelous, congratulation!

    By Blogger LenaL, at 1:02 AM  

  • I like your sweater. Knitting something for yourself is a good idea. I am working on an afghan for my son and am on Year 3. I should have started small. I hope to finish it this year!

    Congrats on the great yarn find and the great sweater!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:03 PM  

  • Wow! What a milestone...and very nicely done. I love the jaunty stripes.

    By Blogger Portlandia, at 3:40 PM  

  • Very nice sweater. Congratulations.

    By Blogger Sheila, at 11:07 AM  

  • Beautiful sweater!!!!

    By Blogger AliP, at 7:24 AM  

  • You did a great job, I really like it!

    By Blogger Kaartijer, at 8:12 AM  

  • Beautiful and well done. I love the colors and hope I will..... one day... tackle my first raglan sweater as well. Can't wait to see your next project.

    By Blogger Moncha, at 7:07 PM  

  • At Big Lots huh...I found lots of lion brand discontinued yarn at a local "Big Lots" type of store called Ollies. for a while last year i would go in and find half an isle of these giant boxes of lion brand yarn. Industrial giant boxes. I found magic stripes but this store only had one color called spring colors i think..the ball did not look promising to me but eventually i could not resist and bought a dozen at 2.oo a ball.
    (your store was cheaper) I made a pair of socks out of one ball. turns out they are one of my favorite pair. I wear them all the time, they wash and go through the dryer and always snap right back. The colors are nice too when i look down at them...pink, orange yellow and green stripes with black and white.. You were lucky to find such a nice versitile colorway.
    Lion brand has come out with a new sockyarn line and all new colorways. Its not that expensive brand new, Half as much as the hand dyed sock yarn to which i am addicted.

    By Blogger KnittingPotter, at 4:37 PM  

  • wow, i hope to be able to knit a sweater one day! right now i can only knit scarves. :) your sweater is beautiful!

    By Blogger jess gonacha, at 7:32 PM  

  • Nicely done, sir. Keep on making stuff for yourself. It's the sad truth that nobody appreciates hand knits except other knitters, and nobody will *ever* appreciate your own work as much as you do.

    By Blogger ilex, at 9:49 PM  

  • This sweater is lovely and good for you for making it for yourself.

    By Blogger Alpaca Granny, at 1:19 PM  

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