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The Gift Sweater KAL

Today, a new phase of our “Year of Sweaters” opens:

Gift Sweater KAL

Holiday season is here, and for many of us gift-knitting season is as also upon us. So for this part of our “Year of Sweaters KAL”, we wanted to take a close look at, and celebrate, sweaters as gifts.

Almost every knitter is a gift knitter at some point in their life. Many of us have also struggled with that decision, at one point or another. So much time, energy, and love are involved in using our hands to create a gift for our loved ones. (And often substantial funds, as well!) It’s nearly impossible not to have expectations and daydreams about the reaction the gift will elicit.


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(Some of my own gift-giving history.)

We imagine them swearing off commercial socks forever; immediately putting on the hat and not taking it off until April; exclaiming with unfeigned delight that they’ve never seen anything so beautiful.

I think, at the heart of it, we imagine them seeing the gift not just for the physical object it is, but as the combination of all that went into it.

And since the thing we have made is useful, we expect to see it used, throughout their lives.

That’s a lot of oomph to place on a gift recipient, and so sometimes as gift knitters we get disappointed. But there are those magical few, those knitworthy gift recipients, who meet our secret expectations and then some. And those wonderful people get gifts forever. Including, sometimes, sweaters.


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Sweaters are never the first thing we knit for someone, since any expectations or secret hopes we have about smaller items? Are tenfold with a sweater.

Sweaters are harder to receive, too. We all have store-bought sweaters we love to wear, so the bar is substantially higher for them as gifts. It’s all too easy (both for us and the recipients) to notice, on a sweater, when this pinches a little bit or that flaps just a bit too much. We have too crisp a frame of reference for what “good” is to let “almost there” slip by.

And yet, there are those special few in our lives for whom we want to knit the ultimate hand-knitted gift. And for those loved ones, CustomFit is a beautiful thing. Because CustomFit lets you create a gift for someone with laser focus on their own taste, in the perfect size, in materials they’ll love.

Forget finding the perfect pattern, the perfect yarn, and then hoping the pairing of the two will work out well. For your most wonderful hand-knit recipients, you can do better. So we hope you’ll join us as we knit-a-long for the holidays, creating sweaters worthy of our dearest and closest.

  • Jackie will be taking on the challenge of recreating one of her own sweaters for an admiring, and high-stakes, recipient.
  • Amy will be creating something new for a very dear friend. (And showing bits and pieces here, due to the very-public nature of the blog!)
  • Lauren will be doing plenty of gift knitting, but joining the KAL only in a “research” capacity this time around. (Her gift sweater is outside the realm of what CustomFit can currently do… …but well within the realm of what we hope it will do within the next year.)

The KAL will run from today, November 16, through December 31. As usual, there will be prizes, a thread in our Ravelry group, and posts & discussions on topics related to gift-sweater-knitting. And also as usual, we can’t wait to see what you create.

So are you ready for a different kind of gift knitting? Grab some needles, and let’s go!

Fall Festival KAL: We’re Almost There!

It’s been nearly three months since we launched our Fall Festival Knitalong! And we’ve knit many sweaters in the meantime. We’re excited to see yours, and draw for a few fun prizes, after the KAL ends on Saturday!

Jackie’s been busy growing a human, and that means worn-open cardigans are her friend. She’s almost finished with her Shepherd’s Wool FFKAL sweater (which is a relaxed fit, low hip, mostly-open cardigan in the tradition of Morning Coffee) and is looking forward to casting on with this beautiful Shibui mix for her CustomFit Featherweight next!

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I (Lauren!) have knit a bunch, but also frogged a bunch. Remember the status update where I said she only had to rework a cowl, and then would be finished with a whole sweater? Well…

That sweater has undergone some major re-envisioning. The cowl was a problem, yes, but that was more down to the neckline shape (too deep, too wide) and the yarn characteristics (heavy and smooth, not nearly as lofty as another cowl I worked with the exact same neckline in January).

After doing some hard thinking about how to fix it, I’m ripping out the front of the sweater. The back and sleeves will stay stockinette, but a textured front with a higher neckline and smaller cowl will result in a sweater I’m happier with! I should have known better than to copy Amy directly!

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Amy’s needles have been busy with several sweaters (plus swatches for many more), but the one she considers her “true” FFKAL sweater is still sadly lacking a button band.

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(Can you see it? It’s the gray one, third in from the right.) She’s teaching on Saturday, at the Metro West Knitters Guild of Boston, and so if she doesn’t finish by tomorrow it’s not happening. Will she make it?

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Now, the best part! We’ve opened a FO thread on Ravelry, and we’ll leave it open until November 20. Post your finished Fall Festival Sweaters knit using CustomFit there for a chance to win one of our awesome prizes:

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We’re giving away three Swatch Kits, all with full hanks of some of Amy’s favorite sweater yarns: Swans Island Organic Merino, Blue Sky Alpacas Melange, Shibui Maai, Rowan Felted Tweed Aran, and a sampling of indigodragonfly yarns! As a bonus, you’ll also receive a make. wear. love. water bottle — because staying hydrated while swatching is key.

Stay tuned for more info about our next KAL, coming soon!

make. wear. love. retreat: west coast registration is OPEN.

The Knitter’s Review Retreat is over once more, and Jackie and I are en route back home as you read these words, happy and inspired but ready for some family-time, too.

We had a wonderful event at the utterly fantastic Yarn Culture in Fairport, NY after the retreat ended. (No seriously, utterly fantastic.)

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But you don’t care about that at all today, right? You care about this:

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So here you go! A registration form, just for you. (By the way – if you didn’t see this post instantly, and you want to come to the retreat, don’t despair! Even if the retreat happens to be full when you contact us, the wait list is definitely not pointless – plans can and do change, and spots open up.)

As a quick reminder, after submitting your registration you’ll next hear from us on November 19, when we’ll contact everyone and take the next steps.

We hope you can join us, but either way – have a wonderful Monday, and we’ll be back shortly for more yummy knitting goodness.

make, wear, love retreat: west coast edition

Of all the things I love about my job (and there are many many things I love about my job), our annual retreats have to be right up at the top of the list.


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They’re an oasis in time, not only for the attendees, but for us as well. Because something special happens when a whole bunch of kindness of knitters come together: We let the rest of the world go, and soak up gorgeous surroundings, beautiful materials, and the inspiration of being around 80 other people who are our people.

We learn. We try new things and new ideas. I’ve felt privileged to be a part of that for the retreats we’ve run on the coast of Maine these past two years. At the same time, I understand that coastal Maine is just too far for some to travel, even for knitting.

So there was really only one thing for it: I knew we needed to add a retreat to our list in 2015, on the West Coast, in another beautiful coastal location I was lucky enough to call home, once: Pacific Grove, CA.


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We hope you’ll join us at the first make. wear. love retreat: west coast edition. It will be held on May 1 – 4, 2015, at the Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds.

The festivities will begin with dinner on Friday, followed by an evening welcome reception. The rest of your time will be a combination of traditional classes, intimate focus sessions, personal consultations, lectures, a curated marketplace… …and of course, quiet downtime to knit with friends old and new.

We’re very lucky to have three special teachers joining me to be your knitting guides for the weekend:


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(Fiona Ellis, Clara Parkes, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.)

Excited? We sure are. Stephanie, Fiona, and Clara represent an incredible powerhouse of knitting information and are wonderful teachers, all. (Not to mention the fact that they’re awesome people, and fantastic to spend the weekend with!) Combined with an exciting – but not exhausting – curriculum in a stunning setting with tons of great yarn near at hand?

A heady thought, for sure. Get more specifics by downloading our brochure, and here’s a quick timeline:

  • Registration will open at 12pm Eastern on Monday, November 10. We’ll link to a google form here on the blog. At that time, you’ll need to give us basic information like your name and email, tell us which classes you’d most like to take, and tell us a little bit about your knitting skill level. (Are you a newsletter subscriber? Check your mail, because subscribers will receive advanced access to the sign-up form starting at 9am Eastern.)
  • Attendance confirmation, class assignments, and schedule will be sent on Wednesday, November 19. A non-refundable deposit of $250 will be due at this time (we’ll send you a Paypal invoice when we send your confirmation).
  • In mid-January, we’ll finalize the remaining details of your retreat weekend (including meal preferences and personal consults) – and start counting down the days to the beach bonfire!

We hope you can join us. We can’t wait to pull up a chair in one of the most gorgeous places on earth, and dive into all things sweater.

Three yarns, three women, three sweaters.

Vogue Knitting Live was, of course, bundles of fun – even if I did spend every non-class moment curled up with some Sudafed. Teaching is one of my most favorite of things, and it’s always wonderful to see fellow teachers and exhibitors at these large events.

I returned home to the kind of Halloween fervor only ninja- and monster-obsessed little boys can muster, but I’ve still managed to get a fair amount of work done. In fact, I can finally share three more fall sweaters with you! The sweaters have been done for some time, but we haven’t been able to add them to CustomFit until this week. (It’s not really interesting to explain why – maybe I should just leave it by saying that sometimes even the programmers themselves have a hard time estimating the difficulty of programming tasks?)

So to everyone who saw these sweaters in person, a month agothanks for your patience. I’m very pleased to say that the make, wear, love retreat sweaters for 2014 are now available within CustomFit.


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The Harbor Island Cardigan.

The Harbor Island Cardigan is relaxed, friendly, and warm – just the ticket for chilly nights in front of a fire or for a walk along the coastline. Its long sleeves, longer length, and deep V neckline layer beautifully. A textured stitch pattern is fun to knit and subtly showcases a beautiful yarn.

The sample is shown in Indigodragonfly’s Sad Lester DK, an utterly gorgeous 100% BFL yarn that knits like a dream. It’s wooly, a little on the gruff side, and glorious to wear. We used the color “The New Black”, but Kim produces gorgeous, saturated shades – so find a color that speaks to you!

While the design was originally conceived with stitch patterning only on the bottom of the sweater. Lauren changed things a bit to balance her shape and make the sweater her own. Her extra-long sleeves are super snuggly, and the ribbing at the top of her sweater as well as at the bottom adds interest to the shoulder area and balances the stitch patterning at the cardigan hem. I like the way it looks so much, I’ve included instructions for both in the CustomFit patterns.

You can adjust fit, sleeve length and sweater length to suit your own preferences as usual; Harbor Island is shown here in a relaxed fit, low-hip length, and full-length sleeves. You can create your own Harbor Island directly within CustomFit.


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The Pilot House Pullover.

The make, wear, love fall retreats are always held in a beautiful spot in coastal Maine where I grew up, and I try to create sweaters that would be at home in the region. The Pilot House Pullover is definitely “dressing up” fare, in my hometown, but who doesn’t like to be a bit fancy every now and again? It’s a comfortable, simple pullover to knit, with a diamond lace panel and simple scoop neckline. The lace adds a nice visual touch without fighting with the gorgeously-shaded colors of a hand-painted yarn. It also provides interest for the knitter in an otherwise-simple design.

For this sample, I used The Woolen Rabbit’s Sporty Kashmir in the colorway “Forever in Blue Jeans”. This yarn is an incredibly soft, 3-ply Sport Weight and is made from 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. I highly recommend it! If you’re using this yarn, you should aim for a stitch gauge of around 6 stitches to the inch to get a fabric like the one shown.

I recommend choosing either a ‘close’ or ‘average’ fit for this pullover, which looks best when worn either next to the skin or with a thin layer. I’m wearing it with a close fit. You can make your own Pilot House Pullover right here in CustomFit.


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The Round Cove Cardigan.

The Roundcove Cardigan is as classic as it gets. Elbow sleeves, tiny buttons, and 1×1 ribbing pair with a gorgeous yarn and tailored shaping to create a piece you’ll wear day in, and day out, for years to come.

Of the three make, wear, love retreat designs, this is the simplest – and an excellent showcase of how utterly classic a simple sweater can be. If you’re nervous about dipping your toes into sweater knitting, this would make a gorgeous first garment.

This design will work beautifully in absolutely any gauge. I have a special place in my heart for fingering weight sweaters, though – and so the sample is worked in The Uncommon Thread’s Posh Fingering. It’s a delight both to knit and to wear – a lovely, light yarn in beautifully shaded tones made from 70% Superwash Bluefaced Leicester, 20% Silk and 10% Cashmere. (Yum.) It’s shown in color Plata.

Stateside, you can find Posh Fingering at the wonderful shop Yarn Culture (both brick-and-mortar, and online.)

This cardigan will look lovely at any fit. As shown, the cardigan was generated with an average fit – but as you can see, Jackie’s measurements have changed since she’s expecting! In these pictures, I think it looks more like a close fit in the shoulders and bust. You can create your very own Round Cove Cardigan here in CustomFit.


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I hope you love all of the sweaters as much as we do! Just looking at them reminds me of the wonderful time we all had, and makes me homesick. Happy Halloween to all who celebrate, and we’ll see you soon!

Rhinebeck!

Rhinebeck was, naturally, glorious.

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The trees were beautiful, our CustomFit meet-ups were super fun, I signed some books (which still gives me a thrill), and I spent some fantastic down time with dearly-missed friends.

…And since karmic balance is a real thing, I came home with one of the worst colds I’ve had in years. I don’t remember the last time when a simple cold caused me this much grief! I’ve spent a couple of days looking groggily at the people around me, sipping tea, and knitting. (I finished the pieces for that #FFKAL sweater, by the way, and immediately cast on for another garment which is now almost finished. I love that my fingers know what to do even when I’m not coherent enough to string 2 words together.)

And today I’m headed to Chicago, for Vogue Knitting Live. I love these teaching weekends, and it’s always a bonus to go somewhere I haven’t spent a lot of time, so I’m especially looking forward to this one. I’ll be bringing the one secret project I’m working on, to finish, and I’ll also be plugging away on this:

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My Tern (in color Barnacle) arrived for my Featherweight, and I had to take a half-hour or so and get started. Isn’t it a lovely color? I’m working the Tern at about 6.5 stitches to the inch, which is about as loose as I can ever imagine going with this yarn, and I can’t wait to be wearing this thing.

Sweater Week: Featherweight Fabric!

It’s the final day of Sweater Week (to go back to the beginning, click here), and today I want to talk about fabric – specifically, fabric as it relates to the CustomFit Featherweight cardigan.

Since CustomFit builds your Featherweight specifically to suit your gauge, you can make your CustomFit Featherweight in any yarn, and any gauge, that you like. Which is fantastic! But it begs the question – what would you like? How will your chosen yarn translate into an entire garment?

This post is about a few different directions you might take, and how the fabric could behave in each.

Speaking personally, the thing I loved most about the original Featherweight is the whisper-light character of the fabric. To create something so wispy with my needles was an enticing and unusual idea, when the pattern was first released in 2009. I grew up in Maine, knitting with thick, scratchy (I’ll admit it) wool because the outside wanted to kill me and wool kept that from happening.

Featherweight, on the other hand, was part of this growing awareness (for me) of sweaters being more than… well, more than just weather protection, I guess. Sweaters as garments, that I wanted to wear. Which sometimes meant something a little more lightweight, a little less heavy.

I’m keeping to the spirit of the original with my own version, while giving a nod to my intense love of drape. Quince and Co.’s Tern fits the bill perfectly: A fingering-weight blend of wool and silk, it will give me a whispery fabric that hangs well and has fluidity and a bit of shine.

Since I’m a wool-silk blend kind of girl, when I went diving in my stash bucket, I came up with a few different yarns that would make a very similar garment:

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(From gray swatch, clockwise: Tern, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Luscious Silk, Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Fine, and Mrs. Crosby Loves to Play, Hat Box.)

A fairly thin wool silk blend is (in my opinion) a great option if you’d like to keep your own Featherweight close to the original. The fabric will be fine, the silk adds glorious drape to the mix, and your sweater will feel light-as-air.

An alpaca blend would be my next suggestion for drape-seekers: Alpaca-based yarns and blends will be warmer than the yarns mentioned above, and might produce a sweater that’s a little less “Featherweight”, but the fabric will still have good drape and motion. Hannah is using Quince and Co.’s Owl, which I think is a glorious option. Her CustomFit Featherweight will be warm, snuggly, and still hang beautifully.

I went poking in my stash bin again, and found a few different alpacas that I think would be nice:

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(From purple swatch, clockwise: Blue Sky Alpacas Royal, Shibui Baby Alpaca held together with Staccato, and Rowan Lima.)

Or maybe you’d like a Featherweight that’s a bit more, shall we say, “instant gratification”? If a fingering-weight garment isn’t your thing right now, there are plenty of larger-gauge yarns that can produce a nice light fabric.

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Two that I want to mention in particular are Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri, which produces a gorgeously floaty fabric in a bulky gauge. You can see from the picture how light and airy this is – despite being 3 stitches to the inch! The other swatch pictured, in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, would make another larger-gauged but lofty alternative. Since Shelter is woolen spun, it produces a warmer, thicker sweater that is still very lightweight for its gauge. (Please note that since it’s low-twist as well, the yarn tends to be more delicate.)

Finally CustomFit opens up options for making Featherweight in an entirely different sort of fabric, too. Here are a few less-traditional yarns I’d love to see the sweater in:

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The dark green yarn is Shibui Knits Linen, a chainette-construction linen that’s futuristic and crunchy. You can see from the swatch how wonderfully the fabric moves, and I think it’d make a lovely Featherweight.

Moving around clockwise, the next in line is Harrisville Designs’ Silk and Wool, a nubby, rustic-looking but lightweight tweedy yarn. I love this yarn, and have used it for a couple of sweaters. The fabric is light and has nice motion without being fluid; I think it would make a really interesting spring Featherweight. (Next year’s Cardipalooza, perhaps?)

Finally, I think Blue Sky Alpacas Techno would make a really interesting version of Featherweight. Techno is a bulky yarn, but its construction – super-light alpaca fibers blown into a fine netting, almost like a luscious yarn sausage – make for an incredibly light and warm fabric. There’s so much air in Techno that it doesn’t produce a drapey fabric, but I think it would make a really great variation on the original.

Not sure what kind of Featherweight your yarn will turn into? Here are a few things you can do to test the waters before creating your own Featherweight pattern.

  1. Swatch. I know, this hasn’t been the most fun thing in the world, in the past. But remember: You can’t get the numbers wrong. So make a nice big swatch, enjoy knitting with this yarn, and then wash the swatch as you would wash the sweater. Let it dry thoroughly without pinning.
  2. Play. Play around with the fabric. Move it around, stretch and squeeze and poke and prod it. Try to imagine a bunch of it all together.
  3. Consider another swatch if you’re unsure of the fabric. Go up or down a needle size, and see how things change.

And then share here in the comments or in in the Ravelry group! What are you using, and how does your fabric feel?

Sweater Week: I’m a Copycat

My involvement, and eventual employment, with CustomFit began because I’m a copycat.

When I saw Jackie’s gorgeous Alpha sweater, I knew I loved it. Though she’s smaller than I am, and I’m a good six inches taller, we have a similar shape — broad shoulders, a small bust, a preference for longer sweaters. Fortunately for me, Jackie was gracious enough to let me know what options she chose in CustomFit!

So I started knitting away, copying this sweater…

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And by the time I finished, not only did I have a sweater I loved, but I worked for the company that created it too!

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I’m not a knitwear designer, and don’t have much of a desire to be — it’s so much more fun to let others come up with the ideas. And luckily for me, I work for one! This means, nearly a year after I started working for CustomFit and Amy Herzog designs, I’m coming full circle: it’s time to copycat Amy! My third sweater for the Fall Festival KAL uses the same design elements as one of her upcoming patterns … even down to the colorway of the yarn.

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And even though Amy and I have very different body types, when I tried on her sweater I was surprised by how great it looked on me! The sweater is done, but I’m not happy with the cowl, so I’ll be ripping while my colleagues are off at Rhinebeck. I’ll share final photos when I have them!  In the meantime, here’s a teaser…

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Sweater Week: Stonington

For the last sweater release of Sweater Week, I wanted to share something that makes me think of New England fall. Meet Acorn Trail’s little sister, Stonington:

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Stonington started with a yarn, and a desire to create a sweater similar to Acorn Trail, but that was simpler to knit.

The yarn is Harrisville WaterSHED. Watershed is a wonderful yarn to work with – it’s woolenspun, so it’s lightweight and lofty. But it’s spun a bit more sturdily, so it will wear beautifully over time. It comes in a beautiful color palette, and is rustic enough to evoke everything warm and woolen about knitting.

With such a classic yarn, I wanted Stonington to match: To be a classic cardigan shape with a definite fall look, but on the easier side, skill-wise. It is both extremely simple to knit and has just enough detail to produce a timeless, wearable sweater. The lines evoked by the 2×2 ribbed sleeves and ribbing detail on the cardigan’s fronts allow it to be dressed up, and the earthy tweedy wool makes the sweater equally as comfortable with an old pair of jeans.


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As written Stonington has a low-hip length and full-length sleeves, but as usual (now) you can change those options when you create it via CustomFit. And like all of my other designs being released this week, CustomFit is where you can get a Stonington of your own.

Click here to get started!

I hope we’ll see you at the festival on Saturday or Sunday, but either way: Stay tuned for a post from Lauren tomorrow, and another post from me (on Featherweight fabric) on Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

Sweater Week: Featherweight

It’s no secret that I love the process of helping knitters achieve sweater nirvana – i.e., a garment that fits well, and that they love to wear. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do.

And it always gives me a particular thrill when I’m helping them start with someone else’s design, and identifying the modifications they’ll need to make to get a sweater that they love. It’s fun when we’re doing it with pencil and paper; it’s been even more fun to help people “mash up” a CustomFit pattern with a traditional design they’ve purchased.

For today’s Sweater Week installment, just in time for Rhinebeck, we’re taking it one step further.

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Hannah Fettig’s wildly popular Featherweight Cardigan is now built directly into the CustomFit site.

What does this mean?

Each new CustomFit Featherweight pattern is created specifically for you. You’ll get a finished sweater with the same gorgeous look and versatility as the original, but the pattern is crafted on the spot exclusively to your exact specifications:

  • We create the pattern specifically for your gauge. This means you can knit Featherweight at any gauge you like – the only thing that matters is whether you like your fabric!
  • We create the pattern specifically for your body. This means you don’t have to worry about choosing the right size, adjusting for differently-sized hips, busts, waists, shoulders, and arms. The set-in sleeve construction of this version of CustomFit Featherweight allows us to make a Featherweight pattern that will fit you everywhere.
  • You get to choose whether you’d like the original ¾-sleeve and shorter-length Featherweight pictured, or whether you’d like to adjust the sleeve and sweater length. The pattern will be built to your exact choices.

Excited? We sure are!

To celebrate, we’re running a KAL!

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We hope you’ll knit along with Hannah and I, here in the CustomFit Featherweight KAL group on Ravelry. Let us and the community support you as you choose your yarn, cast on and knit your Featherweight! Make sure to check out the Nitty Gritty KAL details on this page.

(Also: Many, many beautiful Featherweight cardigans have been knit from the original pattern. And if you have this version and want to participate in the KAL, you’re more than welcome to! We’d love to have you. A CustomFit Featherweight opens up a bunch of new possibilities, though, so we hope you’ll check it out!)

The KAL is sponsored by the amazing Quince and Co:

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If you’d like to knit a fingering weight version, take advantage of our sponsor’s special offer: Buy 4 or mores skeins of Quince & Co. Tern and receive 10% off! Offer good 10/16 & 10/17 ONLY, coupon code FEATHERWEIGHT.

I’m so thrilled about this new step in CustomFit’s evolution. (Not to mention being excited about knitting my own Featherweight, which I’ve wanted to do for years now! I’ll be using Tern, which is one of my all-time favorite yarns.)

I feel strongly about the importance of marrying wonderful design with well-fitting sweaters, and am beyond thrilled to be working with Hannah, who I admire very much. Sweater Week will continue throughout the weekend, and I’ll be back on Sunday with a post about fabric, specifically focused on Featherweight in different gauges and blends.

Until then: Here’s to fantastic and fully-customizable sweaters!