diy: first sweater

Hey look, fall is here! 

Hey look, fall is here! 

Fall has always been a favorite season of mine. I mean it's pumpkin season, need I say more?! :) (Somehow, I got all of the pumpkin-loving genes in my family, and this time of year brings indulgences of everything from pumpkin beer to pumpkin mac n' cheese. Mmmm, that's going on the menu this week for sure.) But it's more than my pumpkin obsession that places fall in top season priority (okay, tied with spring). There's foliage, the magic of Halloween, cozy nights snuggled up under the blankets, and of course, sweater weather.

Like many, I relish the autumnal dip in temperature as a reprieve from the blazing heat of summer. Tank tops and shorts find their way to the back of my closet, and out come long sleeves, pants, and sweaters. As this is my first official fall as a knitter, 'sweater weather' is even more exciting. I get to wear a 'made by me' sweater this year! (And maybe more than one, we'll see how fast I can knit now!)

First Sweater

If you have been following along with the blog, then you'll have seen the progress of the sweater I've been working on. It's called Flax, and the pattern is by Tin Can Knits. Flax is one of eight free patterns in Tin Can Knit's 'The Simple Collection,' available on their website and on Ravelry. I have since saved all the other patterns in the collection for future projects ranging from a hat and shawl to mittens and socks.

First Sweater :: The Supplies

Luckily, apart from the yarn, I already had all of the supplies to make Flax. It was actually the first time I got to use some of said supplies, such as stitch markers! 

The pattern called for aran/worsted weight yarn. I looked into purchasing the exact yarn that was used in the pattern, SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted, but for my sweater's worth of yarn it was going to cost over $100. I simply could not reconcile spending that amount of money on my first sweater, that depending on how it turned out (wonky? frumpy? ridden with mistakes?), I may only just wear around the house. 

I was a little nervous to substitute the yarn. I wanted the sweater to follow along exactly like the pattern so that I wouldn't have to worry about different gauge, tension, fit, form. I went to yarn.com and searched their inventory of super wash worsted yarn, and found the most perfect stand-in, Plymouth Yarn Select Worsted Merino Superwash. It was on sale, less than half of what I would have spent on the envious, 'I'll get to use it someday' yarn, and it had all the same specs, so I bought it. (Probably the biggest selling point was that it was purple with teal threads, and those are my absolute two favorite colors!)

First Sweater :: The Construction

You can really see the teal and purple mix of threads in the yarn when it's got the beautiful sun shining on it!

You can really see the teal and purple mix of threads in the yarn when it's got the beautiful sun shining on it!

So, with all of my supplies ready, I set about reading the pattern. Coupled with the actual instructions of the construction of Flax, Tin Can Knits has included tutorials and links within the pattern to explain things like: casting on in the round, kfb, binding off. It was almost like every time I had a question about something in the pattern, there was a link for the explanation. Brilliant. 

Flax is a top down sweater, knit in the round. This creates a lovely seamless garment. The one really tricky part? The sleeves (okay, I guess that that makes two tricky parts - each sleeve). The sleeve stitches are held on waste yarn while the rest of the body is knit, and then picked back up to knit at the end. Picking them back up was the most challenging. 

I actually referred to another tutorial about picking up stitches for sleeves of a raglan sweater because my stitches had stretched quite a bit and I feared that the underarms would have huge gaping holes had I just picked up what was there. The tutorial I found recommended picking up even more stitches (grafting) from the underarm to eliminate the potential holes. On both arms, I was not happy with my first attempts (but only decided that about 20 rows after picking them up), so I had to tink (knit backwards) both sleeves to get them to be passable. (I still won't be doing any renditions of YMCA while wearing this sweater because I need some practice with the whole grafting thing...)

I was in a little race to finish my Flax before we went on our vacation, as I knew it would be sweater weather over there, and I wanted to wear it. Thankfully, I completed it just in time and I packed it neatly and oh so carefully at the top of our bag. 

You know, the bag that the airport lost and couldn't exactly locate for four days. 

Luckily, we eventually recovered the bag, the sweater was in tact, and I got to wear it on a couple of occasions during the trip. Alls well that ends well. 

First Sweater :: The Ends

The simple pop of garter detail in the sleeves is my favorite.

The simple pop of garter detail in the sleeves is my favorite.

Speaking of the ends. I didn't actually block my sweater before wearing it. I have never blocked a garment before, and I didn't really deem it necessary. But I noticed that while I was wearing it, the ends of where I joined yarn in the middle of the garment started to poke out. (Do these get 'sealed' in during the blocking process? I have no idea!) I am a little nervous as to why this is, seeing that I definitely secured them and weaved them in the best way I know how. I am assuming (and really, really hoping) that it's because I didn't block it before wearing it, and once I do block it, I won't have that problem. I will be taking the sweater to my next knit night to get the expert opinion of some knit companions just to be sure! 

In the end, even despite my challenge with my yarn ends and those patchy underarms, I am over the moon with how the sweater turned out. I cannot recommend the Flax pattern enough, especially as a first sweater knit. The garter detail on the arms is a simple yet beautiful addition to an otherwise stockinette knit, and does not require any special stitch knowledge. A 10/10 for me. Knitting Flax has given me a huge boost of confidence in my knitting ability, and I am already dreaming of my next sweater. And since sweater weather has (finally) arrived, it couldn't be a better time to snuggle up with a lapful of yarn. 

To all my fellow sweater weather lovers out there, happy fall, and of course, happy knitting! 

(All pictures thanks to Dylan who did not complain one bit when I asked him to take some 'finished' photos of me in Flax. What better place for that than while on a black sand beach in the Faroe Islands?!)

Perhaps allowing the salt air to blow through the sweater while wearing it is akin to some sort of blocking?

Perhaps allowing the salt air to blow through the sweater while wearing it is akin to some sort of blocking?