Thursday, September 04, 2014

Old Favorites #1 and #2 for #projectsweaterchest

Hi, Knitters,
The photos in this post are from old blog posts of mine from about 4 years ago.

I had a really interesting email from Jeanette Huisinga, the owner of The Yarn Studio in Casey, Illinois. She raised some good points that I think are probably true for a lot of yarn shop owners. Jeanette sees that the majority of her customers are most comfortable knitting accessories, not sweaters. She says that many of her yarn reps say the same thing. In reference to my post about my Project Sweater Chest or #projectsweaterchest and my favorite handknit sweaters, Jeanette asked that I share my favorite sweaters, tried and true designs, in hopes of getting more people knitting sweaters. 

I think that's a great idea so thanks for writing with the suggestion, Jeanette. I went through my sweater chest yesterday, which is a large cedar chest, and pulled out the sweaters that I wear day in day out. It turns out that I have 10 favorite handknit sweaters right now. My plan is to take the next five blog posts and share two favorite sweaters in each of these posts. I am using the term sweater to also refer to cardigans.

So here it goes!  The 10 sweaters I list are not in any particular order.

Starting with two cardigans by Melissa LaBarre that I knit in 2010...... 

Favorite handknit sweater #1:

Yarn: Peace Fleece in the Grass Roots colorway

Needles: US size 7

I love the turquoise buttons I chose because the tweed flecks in the rustic yarn are the exact same turquoise color. It's a good match. I can't remember where I got these buttons.

I laughed when I found this old photo of the sweater in progress. I am always telling my students to clean-up as you go when knitting their projects so that when the knitting is done there isn't much left to do. I actually do what I say! I love that I had the buttons sewn on before I even started the sleeves, that's so me.

The cardigan is knit seamlessly from the top town with a yoke-raglan combination. The design is supposed to be a much more fitted cardigan but my version has positive ease and it is extremely comfortable. I may have left out any waist shaping if there is some in the pattern.

I wear this cardigan all of the time in the cold fall and winter months. I'm excited to wear it again during the colder months ahead. It is incredibly cozy and the Peace Fleece makes me feel comfortable and warm. I love this yarn.

The Garter Yoke Cardi is a very good beginner sweater. The pattern is clear and easy to follow. The concepts are basic and the end result is a very wearable and casual cardigan. The look of this cardigan can be changed a lot by the choice of yarn and the fit. A double thumbs up from me!

Favorite handknit sweater #2:

Yarn: Madeline Tosh DK in the Burnished colorway

Buttons: from Purlsoho

Needles: US size 6 and 7

I made this cardigan in 2010. I went on a book tour visit to Nina, a yarn shop in Chicago, and I wanted to purchase a yarn to remember the fantastic event at the shop. It was a great day. I was on the WGN midday show, my husband was with me, and then Nina's was a full-house for the signing. The yarn choices at Nina's are fantastic. I stumbled on the Mad Tosh DK and was intrigued by the Burnished colorway. It looks different in different lighting. The yarn literally changes colors. Sometimes it looks more on the brownish rusty side and sometimes it looks a brilliant green.  

I know that many people have gone away from the button-at-the-top only cardigans but I still LOVE them. The thing is that so often I don't button the lower half of my cardigan buttons anyway. I think the original pattern only calls for 3 buttons so I added a fourth button which makes it a little more secure. I love that the buttons are tiny.

If you don't prefer the buttons at the top you could easily add more buttonholes on the button band. That would be simple to modify.

The other thing to note is that this cardigan doesn't have short rows at the neckline and it has a wider neck opening. I know Paula of the Knitting Pipeline (and my favorite person to knit everything she knits), didn't like the fit of her Tea Leaves because she felt like the neckline was falling off of her shoulders. Mine isn't like this as it sits very nicely on my shoulders. Who knows why? Maybe the gauge was different or the sizing selected, it could be for many reasons, just be sure to consider the style of the neckline if you are planning on knitting this one.

The Tea Leaves Cardigan is a good first cardigan for people to try but remember that all of the ruching or those ruffly sections on the yoke have a doubled stitch count. The rows get very, very long in this section. More practice, right?  

I wear this cardigan day in and day out in the colder months. I throw it on with skirts and jeans. It goes with everything. It is incredibly comfortable and not too heavy. Since it is superwash wool, I have washed and dried it in the machine and it comes out as good as new. Tea Leaves is a definite winner!

Okay, so we have #1 and #2: 

I will make a compiled list in one place to refer to at the end of #10. I will also share some of my clunkers from the past which I think will make you giggle a bit. Lastly, I am going to share my future sweater knitting plans and the list is looooooooong and by that I mean super long.

More fun to come on the sweater knitting front! Have you started any sweaters? The Knitmore Girls Jasmin and GiGi, a favorite podcast of mine, have joined me or better yet we have joined together on the quest to improve our sweater chests. If you are on Instagram please post sweater photos with the tag #projectsweaterchest so there is an easy way for all of us to look at what others are working on. Jasmin has already talked it up on her podcast. Be sure to check out the amazing Knitmore Girls! 

And you don't need a sweater chest to participate. It could be a drawer, a bin, a closet shelf..... anything.

I hope you'll join in.
xo ~ susan


Anonymous said...

I am wondering where I could email you regarding a question about sock knitting. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Where can I contact you regarding a question about sock knitting

Susan B. Anderson said...

Terese, there is a link to my email on my blog sidebar, about halfway down. Also, you could ask your question here on the comments:)

AnnM said...

I love the Garter Yoke Cardi and have several skeins of that exact Peace Fleece yarn. I've actually started another vest with it, but am very tempted to frog it so that I can do this one instead. Looking forward to the rest of your sweater favs. What a great idea! Ann (alohaannie on Ravelry)

Sara said...

LOVE this post so much! I can't wait to see your other favorites!

Marta said...

Huh. People really don't knit many sweaters? I seem to knit MOSTLY sweaters! I love that you and others are doing this "campaign" this fall. It's great moral support for those who are new to sweater knitting! I'm not on Instagram, so I can't contribute photos that way, but I just finished Tin Can Knits Raindrops sweater -- super easy, but in a fingering weight, so it takes longer -- and I'm currently knitting Jane Richmond's Beacon Hill, which I LOVE.

Laura Nelkin said...

Such a great idea! I LOVE knitting myself sweaters... and am planning more for this Fall/Winter! I'll keep an eye on this series : )!

Barb said...

Oh I love this from you! Already I would like to knit both of these. I'm looking forward to the rest of the list of your favorites, your future projects and it will be fun to read about those not-so-successful sweaters, too.

Thanks so much.

p.s. I hope Terese post her question here because I always learn something from these questions & answers.

Elyse said...

The Yarn Studio in Casey is my fave yarn shop! I don't get there often but I have family that lives in a nearby city, so whenever I visit I try to go.

Anyway, I have knit 1 sweater (for a baby). I typically knit accessories. When I am looking at a pattern I see potential but I don't feel knowledgeable enough to choose appropriate yarn. In the shop I don't see sweaters with potential (they are cute but in weird yarns or pretty yarns in odd-looking sweaters).

I would like to make a sweater but for some reason it just never really occurs to me to get the shop owner's opinion on types of yarn and I don't find inspiration in the sweaters on display (across the shops I have been to, not just there).

Andrea said...

I also knit the Garter Yoke Cardi - the same pattern you did, but it's never fit as well as I wanted it to. I think I need to find bigger buttons for it, so they hold the sweater together a little better. It technically isn't too big or small, and the yarn is a beautiful hand-painted turquoise (total splurge purchase)but I think the buttons need to be addressed. If you have any other ideas, let me know.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I really enjoy your blog and video podcast. Thank you!

I have a question: Do you have any favorite, go-to sweater patterns for men? As a male knitter, I realize that I'm in a minority, and I definitely fit the "I like classic, not overly wild clothing designs" stereotype shared by many (but not all) men. That said, I'm not a big fan of the many lumpy, "it's good enough for a guy" patterns out there -- I like to have some style and a good fit, LOL!

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!


Rhonda said...

I'm a sweater knitter too! I mostly knit sweaters with a scarf or wrap thrown in once in a while.
It's been fun to see my hutch shelves fill up more and more with sweaters!

Susan B. Anderson said...

Dear Seattleknitterguy,
I am knitting this one by Ann Budd called Goat Herder Pullover for my oldest son soon:

Also, Jared Flood's Brooklyn Tweed had a complete men's collection come out and I knit my son a sweater from there. There are some great sweaters for men from Brooklyn Tweed. Cobblestone Cardigan is another I'd like to knit for one of my sons.

Also, my beloved Paula of knitting pipeline knits for the men in her life, 3 adult sons and her husband, and she uses Elizabeth Zimmermann's formulas very successfully.

Good luck and I hope that helps a little.

Anna K. said...

Thanks for posting this! I'm one of those folks who has knit a lot of things, but never a sweater. The intimidating thing for me is figuring out the sizing. I'm not the best at calculating gauge and I'm a bit of stranger when it comes to the idea of ease. If you have good resources to recommend about those things, I'd love to hear them!

You've definitely inspired me, though. I'm headed to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend--maybe I'll pick up some yarn for a sweater there!

Anonymous said...

That's great, Susan, thank you! I've added the Goat Herder Pullover to my Ravelry library. And wouldn't you know it, I've already purchased the Cobblestone Pattern from Brooklyn Tweek -- it's one of the frontrunners.

Finally, I heard that Brooklyn Tweed has a new line coming out on September 9th, so I'm holding out for that collection before I make my final decision. I'm about to join my first sweater KAL, and to knit my first sweater ever, so decisions, decisions.

Thanks again,

Diane said...

I love this post because I'm a new knitter and I've been really hesitant to tackle a sweater though I love the idea of it. This post gives me more incentive to actually pick one -- I appreciate knowing you feel these are suitable, (esp the first one) for beginners.

Mim said...

The Yarn Studio is my LYS, if you consider 40+ minutes away local. It is a great shop and the owner Jeanette is fantastic! I don't knit many sweaters myself because I'm too warm even in winter for them :( I have been thinking of knitting coats or jackets in place of sweaters.

Tricia said...

I love that you're doing this! It will be really cool to see your favorites. I just finished "James" by Amy Miller and I LOVE it. After I finish the Monkey socks I'm working on, I'm going to start "Princess Fiona", also by Amy Miller. Both are pullover sweaters, but I also love cardigans. I took a class at my LYS and knit "Dark and Stormy" by Thea Coleman over last winter. Still have to sew those buttons on, but I LOVE it! I've learned so much in the various classes I've taken and it's given me more confidence to knit sweaters, that's for sure.

Reneelynn said...

I also have knit the Tea leaves cardigan and am doing the kids version for my 3 year old grand daughter. I didn't have any problems with the neck fitting either. Looking forward to seeing your other favorites!

Kristi said...

I haven't been brave enough to knit a sweater yet and I think this will be great inspiration for me, thank you!

Auntie Shan said...

Thanks for the Link to "NINA"! -- WOW. - I took a quick look of Their website... Almost thought that I'd linked into some high end Boutique! [not quite your average "fuzzy" yarn shop, eh?] - Then again, IT is IN Chicago, a city known for innovative "Design"! - The next time I'm "in Town", I will *definitely* make a point to STOP BY!!

Anonymous said...

I love to knit sweaters, but at this point in my life, I am just too warm to wear them. :-( I knit allot of socks---even cowls and shawls are too warm for me indoors. That said, I did buy some Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn at Stitches Midwest to knit a "Hazelwood" cardigan---it is designed to be knit with three handpaints, and it is an A-line shape. I'm thinking I can wear it as a coat in the fall. I love Peace Fleece, too---the colors are so beautiful, yet the yarn is a real workhorse. In my fantasy life, I am very thin and wear allot of handknit sweaters made in Peace Fleece.

Sylvie said...

The turquoise buttons might be from The Sow's Ear - there was one just like that in the clearance/lonely buttons bin a few months ago, in a little bag that looked like it was probably a few years old.

Susan B. Anderson said...

Sylvie! I think you are right! I was thinking they were from the Sow's Ear but I wasn't sure.

Thanks for the information!

Anonymous said...

Anne Marie
a fantastic idea to do this sweater postings...I also knit mostly sweaters....but they are prob why a lot of people don't knit them. I
I can't wait to see your list ..the first 2 are already great....
I am interested in that you put the tea leaves in washer and dryer as that scares me....any suggestions tips on what temp cycle etc you use..maybe you could comment on this in the next blog....might get more people knitting them. I have knitted mad tosh super wash but only hand wash which is a pain..

Penny said...

I love knitting sweaters! From a business standpoint, I would think that yarn shops would promote knitting of sweaters as classes and second projects for new knitters. Looking forward to your posts on your sweaters!

caseyknits7 said...

I love this post and I love your simple sweaters especially for those who are for the first time knitting a sweater. You really relate to the average knitter out here and I love that! And I think we need more sweater patterns that are, well written, not 10 pages long, and I would love to see more traditional patterns. Thank you for sharing your list of sweaters!

dane said...

de bien beaux modèles de jolies couleurs c' est très sympa bravo biz a bientôt

The Martini Knitter said...

I thought about this post all day yesterday and I did see that someone posted that they enjoy knitting sweaters too. I'm the same way! My stash is full of sweater quantity. I do have it organised and since reading your post I'm rethinking a few of my choices. My first sweater I knitted was the lea leaves cardigan and this cardigan is tied with Owls; these are my favourite. So you got me thinking if it's the yarn that I knit with that make these my favourite? I like certain yarn lines and so I go searching for patterns that use that yarn. Also I might have a new favourite - while on vacation in the US we had tons of driving and flying to do as my 2 girls return to the US for university and I just finished Wendy Bernard's Basket Yoke Pullover. It knitted up beautifully and it feels really good on - of course it will be a few months before I can wear but I like knitting sweaters. Sorry for the long comment I'm just excited for the upcoming posts.


JackieLemon said...

This is such a great idea. I'm excited to see more of your favorite sweaters, since these are two of my favorites also. My Tea Leaves cardigan is my go to sweater.

My knitting group is always amazed that I make sweaters since most are just knitting accessories. I think it is the fear of it not fitting after lots of time and money invested. I encourage top down with lots of trying on as you are knitting. Or taking the measurements of a sweater that fits and using those when picking out a sweater pattern.

Unknown said...

I've just cast on the Tea Leaves Cardigan with Sun Valley Fibers MCN and am loving it! I totally understand about the rows being super long in the yoke section (that's where I am right now). It made me feel better to hear that you like yours and see your pictures because my yoke looks different than the pictures in the pattern but it looks the same as yours so hopefully I'm doing it right. I'm fairly new to sweater knitting but I love it and I can't wait to knit many more for this fall and winter!

Unknown said...

I've just cast on the Tea Leaves Cardigan with Sun Valley Fibers MCN and am loving it! I totally understand about the rows being super long in the yoke section (that's where I am right now). It made me feel better to hear that you like yours and see your pictures because my yoke looks different than the pictures in the pattern but it looks the same as yours so hopefully I'm doing it right. I'm fairly new to sweater knitting but I love it and I can't wait to knit many more for this fall and winter!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, May I ask a question regarding the Polly knit along from a few years back...I'm a little behind, huh? I'm doing the cardigan version and under begin raglan increases, you don't mention ending your row in kfb as the pattern does. I'm wondering if I am to do that. Thanks so much in advance for your help. BTW, I love all of your sweaters and that is what encouraged me to finally get to this, my first sweater project! PJ

Susan B. Anderson said...

Hi, PJ!

How fun that you are finishing this up! That was a long time ago and I can't even remember about that kfb.... my thought is that I would recommend that you do what the pattern says to do. I don't think I strayed from the pattern if I remember correctly.

If you have more questions you could always write to the yarn company that sells the pattern. They have staff that will answer any questions about their patterns.

I hope this helps a little!!! You'll have that finished in no time!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Susan! I'll try that. Should be fun :) PJ

Anonymous said...

BTW, I just did the math so for the cardigan there would be no kfb in the beg and end of row as there would be if it were worked in the round. Anyhow, thanks again for your input and have a great day :-) PJ

Susan B. Anderson said...

Hi, again, PJ,
Oh good, I am so glad you figured that out. I don't have access to that pattern any longer to look anything up as it isn't my design and I don't work for that company any more. I do remember that it's a super cute sweater/cardigan though designed by my friend, Merri!

Hopefully it's smooth sailing from here on out! Good luck and have fun!