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:
Pattern: Garter Yoke Cardi by Melissa LaBarre
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:
Pattern: Tea Leaves Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre
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