KWL Sweater Profile: The Pullover

A sweater you’ve made yourself that also happens to be spectacular clothing is knitting nirvana.

But when looking at the latest pattern magazine or collection, it can be really hard to separate the aspirational (I want to be in that place, wearing that sweater!) from the practical (what will I wear with that?). Navigating our (often emotional, or sub-conscious) reactions to a pattern photo and helping knitters create garments that slip seamlessly into their daily life was my primary motivation for writing Knit Wear Love.

The book is centered around 8 “meta-patterns”: Pullover, Cardigan, Vest, Cowl, Wrap, Tunic, Tank, Bolero. Once the silhouette is identified, you can focus on making a sweater that’s truly your style – not in the fashion magazine way, but in the “what do I actually like to wear” way.

Each meta-pattern is written for three gauges, with two different style options (each of which work with all of the gauges) – so you can choose your own yarn, your own style, and get a sweater you really want to wear. I showed three very different samples for each silhouette in the book, to start to excite your imagination.

This is the inaugural post in a series of in-depth looks at each meta-pattern. For each, I’ll share the three samples and styles, talk a little bit about the silhouette itself and what materials can make it shine (or definitely will not work), and do a candid shot of how I’d personally style the sweater.

To start us off:

The Pullover.


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For me personally, pullovers are the quintessential sweater. They’re warm, they’re incredibly versatile… …and I feel like for many knitters, they’re pretty intimidating to knit. I’d like to help change that.

The KWL Pullovers

I wanted to start the book off by showing three radically different interpretations of the same meta-pattern:

  • A clean and even a little preppy pullover – the classic style seemed a good fit;
  • An edgier, brighter garment – modern geometric color patterning and an asymmetrical neckline fit the bill;
  • A softer interpretation – I had a ruffled romantic shirt in college, and built the design around that neck detail.

And yes – all of these pullovers were made from the same pattern. But you could, of course go further – love the texture of the classic, but live in a warm climate? I think it would look great in a fingering-weight wool cotton blend. Like the look of the neckline and lace of the romantic version, but hate the ruffle? Leave it off and make the piece more modern in an aran-weight wool. We’re working the modern pullover we’re making for our hand-crafted garment exchange in a super-crisp silk.

Or depart from these samples even more, while keeping the numbers the same – imagine how the v-neck pullover (sans ruffle) would look in a crunchy fingering-weight linen, or the crew-neck pullover in something soft and fuzzy. It’s all up to you.

Pullover Tips & Tricks

Whatever pullover you’re making, I have just a few tips to ensure yours will be a huge success:

  • Make your first pullover a layering piece. The pullover-as-shirt is really tempting, but also the riskiest sort of sweater. If you’re new to pullovers, try a more relaxed layering piece instead. You’re less likely to notice small fit issues (and even if you do notice them, they’ll be less troublesome!).
  • Get up close & personal with your swatch. Your swatch is your chance to tell how that sweater is going to wear in real-life. Play around with it, stick it in a pocket for a few days. Bring it into your closet and use it to select specific pieces you’ll wear with the pullover.
  • Sanity-check the details. Do you like the neckline, or want to drop it? Is the sleeve length something you wear all the time, or does it tend to drive you batty? Details like necklines and sleeves are easy to change… once you figure out that you should.

Amy’s Fave

I have to say, pullovers are my favorite sweaters. I find them to be great layering pieces, and less fussy to wear than cardigans – no button bands to fuss with, no bits of the sweater flapping around with the breeze. Out of the three samples I made for the book, the modern is by far the best match to my own personal style.

I pair it with clothing differently, since my own style is a little more casual and sporty than we wanted for the book. Today, I wore it with a simple jean skirt, some chunky jewelry, and a pair of Converse:

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How about you – what are your feelings on pullovers? Do you have a favorite? If so, what’s it made from?

As always, happy knitting!

Knit Wear Love – Release Day!!!

There seriously aren’t enough exclamation points in the world for how I feel today.

Knit Wear Love is finally available!

The patterns are described on Ravelry and here on this site, the blank pattern worksheets are available to help make your sweater knitting more brainless and easy, and I can finally start wearing the sweaters.

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(The cozy in today’s studio brought to you by: The Casual Cardigan.)

You can get the book from Amazon, directly from my publisher, or from your favorite independent bookstore. Or better still: Visit one of our wonderful CustomFit yarn stores to pick up your copy.

As you knit from the book, or daydream about knitting from the book, we’d love to keep track of what you’re doing! Use the hashtag #knitwearlove so that we can see all of your sweater awesomeness.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more sweater talk, but for today – I’m going to celebrate, and knit, and breathe a huge sigh of relief. It’s here!!!

We have a winner – and a new KAL!

You all did such a wonderful job commenting in the contest to win Knit Wear Love – thank you!!! I always love reading comments, but this time especially I had such a great time hearing about your style challenges and loves. Thank you for such an excellent and thought-provoking group of observations.

I was glad to have the random number generator to help me choose a winner, for sure! And out of 402 comments, it chose Deb’s:

I love cables, textures and color knits with a scoop or vneck or henley and i like raglan. comfort is the key. I love textures that evoke nature. I really love a sweater with a beautiful lace pattern as well.

Deb and everyone, thanks again for commenting! As soon as my own copies of the book arrive, one will be on its way to you.

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Even though it’s tough to tell from today’s weather, winter is winding down, and with the warmer (?!) temperatures comes the end of the Deep Winter KAL.

As I mentioned when we kicked it off, Deep Winter is my favorite sweater time. And I’ve been heartily enjoying my favorite of the 6 sweaters I knit during this KAL:

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…but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a hint of spring fever around here. And let’s be honest, those of us in the Northeast still have a couple-three months of wool-weather before we pack it away until fall.

So it’s time to come full-circle in the Year of Sweaters KAL, and once again get a little punchy with the thought of wearing sweaters-as-outerwear:

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So many beautiful sweaters were finished during the first Cardipalooza that we kicked off a whole series of Year of Sweaters KALs. Let’s do it again! The rules are as usual for these KALs – knit a cardigan, and finish it before May 31 for a chance to win a prize (beyond your fab sweater, of course!).

Want to play along? There are a number of ways:

  • Our CustomFit Ravelry group is a great place for inspiration and sweater-y chatter.
  • Use the hashtag #cardipalooza on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest so that we can all keep in touch. As usual, we’ll set up inspiration boards and share our own cardi progress with you.
  • Comment here on the blog! We always love to see and hear about what you’re knitting.

We’ll be setting up an FO thread for the Deep Winter KAL in our Ravelry group early this week to choose the Deep Winter winner, and I’ll be kicking Cardipalooza off with a bang early next week with a brand-spanking-new cardi pattern.

Until then, grab some yarn you love, see if any of CustomFit’s cardigans strike your fancy, and stay warm!

Catching up: The book (and a chance to win it!)

So in addition to an inter-state move, running my own small business for the first full year, many many teaching trips, and trying to spend as much time with my family as possible…

…I wrote a book in 2014.

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And I haven’t really had much time to tell you about it yet! Knit Wear Love has an official release date of March 17, so you’ll be hearing and seeing more about it as the month goes on, but I didn’t want to get too much further without at least introducing it – and giving you a chance to win a copy!

Knit Wear Love grew out of the same place that birthed CustomFit:

I want to help you use your knitting skill to make your own favorite clothes.

Wearing garments that are made for us is such an amazing feeling. It’s something we hardly ever get to experience anymore, in this quick-fashion, ready-to-wear world. And it’s an amazing enough feeling that I want to help make the whole shebang as easy as possible for you. The first step is knowing what kind of silhouette you like on your own fabulous self. That’s what Knit to Flatter was all about.

But even once you’ve got the silhouette down, how do you create a sweater that matches your life? That looks good with the clothes you already have? That’s practical for the things you need to do each day?

As a designer, I’ve got dozens of sweaters that fit me well, with flattering silhouette. Why do I wear 4 of them, and leave the rest on the shelf?

Knit Wear Love answers those questions. This book, CustomFit, and Knit to Flatter work together to give you a great set of sweater resources:

  1. Knit to Flatter tells you what kinds of silhouettes you are most likely to love.
  2. Knit Wear Love tells you what kinds of materials and flair you’d like to add to that basic shape.
  3. CustomFit creates a pattern where all the numbers match your gauge and body.

In addition to having patterns (I’ll write more about those later), I wanted Knit Wear Love to be a great reference book for the kinds of changes and alterations you should feel empowered to make to a pattern so that the sweater is uniquely you. So there’s a whole chapter on things like how to swap out stitch patterning, yarn choice, and basic silhouette pieces to create a look that’s very you, rather than one that’s like the model.

Want a sneak peek at some of the samples?


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(24 sweaters is a lot of knitting!)

Giveaway time!

I’ve got a series of posts planned that will give you an inside look at the choices behind some of the samples I created for Knit Wear Love, and a few more about technical sweater topics – but I wanted to take few minutes for a quick introduction, first. Knit Wear Love forms the backbone of what I’m thinking, designing, and teaching right now. It informs the way I use and design for CustomFit, it gave rise to some of my most favorite classes, and I’m so tremendously pleased with the way STC’s wonderful team brought the whole thing together.

I hope you like it as much as I do. I’ll have more giveaways as release time gets closer, but since books are such special things, I’d love to kick off this introduction with one too. Knit Wear Love starts off with a question:

What’s your personal style?

So, for a chance to win a signed copy of the book, tell me something about your style. It can be anything: What kinds of colors, materials, fabrics, or shapes do you like to wear? What’s your very favorite piece of clothing? What thing have you made that you wear all the time, or that goes with nothing in your closet?

I’ll take comments until midnight EDT on Thursday, March 12, and choose a winner randomly on Friday morning. I can’t wait to read your comments!

In review, looking ahead

Happy holidays, from our little team!

We hope your knitting has been gifted, and you’re now luxuriating in family, friends, and a shorter to-do list than in early December. And while we’re still snuggling with our loved ones and enjoying a little family time of our own, I wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for being here, and reflect a bit on 2014.

My family experienced 2014 as a pretty tumultuous year, honestly. A good year in many ways, to be sure… …and a challenging one in others.

2014 was my first full year working for myself (and with an incredible team). It included more trips than I’d like to think about (16 before summer, which is when I stopped counting very carefully, even though I love teaching with all my heart). Our family made a huge move to a much less expensive place to live (but yay for continuing to be able to work on my passions!), with all that entails: new schools, new surroundings, exploration of this place we now call home. And more than that, it included a lot of introspection: What would we like our lives to be like? How much of that is under our control, and what can we change to bring ourselves closer to the family we want to be?

I feel incredibly lucky that we were in a position to make some big changes, and we’re ending the year in a place that (while still more tenuous than we’d like) is filled with light, and joy, and love. Even the bad days are easier, here.

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(Family out-take time!)

Ravelry tells me that I also knit 25 sweaters, though you can’t see most of them until the spring:

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(Knit Wear Love is coming this spring to a location near you!)

And lots of other work that has been keeping us busy this fall is under wraps until spring-time, too. All in all, 2014 left me feeling hopeful, more centered than I have in a long time, and very very excited about 2015.

How did you feel about 2014?

However your year went: Happy New Year, to you and yours. May this night be filled with light, knitting, and wonderful company. See you on the flip side!

Surreal, in two flavors

Squam was every bit as magical as I had imagined.


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It was so glorious, everything felt a little surreal. We breathed deep, and sank into peace, quiet, and the presence of fellow makers. My students were amazing, and the whole weekend was such a lovely island in time.

And then it was back to a totally different extreme. Life got surreal in its frenzy, with the last day of school and all that comes with prepping for a big move and oh my god the movers canceled and let’s hire more and did you get the teacher’s notes and when’s the closing again? and have to pack and have to pack and have to pack and WHERE’S THAT YARN I NEED THAT YARN and oh man the car just died and hey look, another home-all-day-day let’s go to the museum!


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(The boys say hi.)

And there’s a little something else going on, too.

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And through it all, because I don’t want to kill anyone, there’s been knitting.

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So that’s what’s happening here. How about in your neck of the woods?

CustomFit and Design: Recipes

Partially- and fully-finished sweaters are piling up, yarn is crammed into and onto every available surface, and people coming into my office generally back out again, slowly and making eye contact the whole way.

(Translation: We’re nearing photoshoot time for the next book. Want some sneak peeks?)


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But before I dive back into my wool and head out to Natural Stitches and the Three Rivers knitting guild, I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about CustomFit recipes, which I think win the (dubious) award for being the single most confusing thing about CustomFit.

For those of you who haven’t had time to play around with the sweater generator yet, right now CustomFit offers you two basic ways to get a sweater. I’ve created six simple designs, which I think of as “Classics”. These are a few of the most beloved sweater shapes in fashion:

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For these designs, the only choice you need to make is which of our “fits” you’d like the sweater to be. Easy-peasy.

The other way to create a sweater is to step through our custom sweater wizard:

Custom_Notepad - for home printing

(Here’s a one-page image of all of the options that are in the custom sweater wizard. You can mix and match however you like.)

These choices give you a ton of options – they essentially let you decide what you want to wear, and then create a pattern for your perfect sweater from scratch.

But many knitters don’t want to create a sweater in their head – they want to create a specific design they’ve seen in a photo.

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(Let’s use Tucci as an example.)

Right now, CustomFit produces what I’ve come to think of as “sweater blanks”. A sweater pattern that will produce a perfectly-fitting garment, in your gauge… …but a fairly “clean slate” one.

Design takes a particular “sweater blank” and adds what I like to think of as “bling” – stitch patterns, putting this together with that, etc. A crew-neck cardigan with long, tapered sleeves becomes Tucci with the addition of the stripe sequence, blanket stitch, and collar:

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CustomFit Recipes are short sets of instructions that help you use CustomFit to get a sweater that looks like a design.

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To continue the example: For Tucci, pictured above, the recipe tells you:

  • Which choices to make in the custom sweater wizard to get that “sweater blank”,
  • The stripe pattern, and where to place it,
  • Collar instructions, and
  • Instructions for the blanket stitch trim.

Make sense?

I’ve now released recipes for most of my self-published designs. You can find them all here, in my Ravelry store. (A dedicated recipe page here on this site is in the works, too.) They’re inexpensive, because you will still need to purchase a CustomFit pattern to get complete instructions. But they’re not free, because I want to make a clear statement that the design part of designing is a valuable thing to do, and I want the other designers who are releasing CustomFit recipes to be able to feel good about charging for them.

(Yes, you caught that right! Other people are also working on CustomFit recipes – so exciting! Once they are out in the world, we’ll be sure to tell you all about them and we’ll have a prominent page on the CustomFit site itself, listing them all.)

Pattern purchase choices break down like this:

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or

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I hope this post clears up some of the confusion? If not, please ask any questions you have in the comments and I’ll definitely clarify. Thanks for reading, and see you on the flip side of PA!

–Amy

Incoming

Happy New Year to you and yours! I’m really excited about 2014. 2013 was such a tumultuous year for our family, one of such massive change. Through it all, I managed to knit rather a lot of sweaters. And now after a lovely few weeks focusing on family and soaking up the time with my kids, we’re all ready to get back to “normal life”.

Of course, I’m sure there are changes lurking in the coming months, too, but for the moment it feels great to just pause, know the shape of the next few months, and dive into a wonderful, woolly pile of work. I love the New Year holiday every year for this reason: Somehow, I always start the year in a place of optimism, hope, and a readiness to dive in.

Naturally, I have a lot of travel coming up. Want to find me? I’ll be here over the next couple of months:

  • Jan 9-14: Winter TNNA show in lovely San Diego (which I will probably not see even a little bit of, so don’t get too jealous!)
  • Jan 16-20: Vogue Knitting Live, NYC
  • Jan 31-Feb 2:The Studio Knitting Retreat
  • Feb 19-24: STITCHES West – we’ll have a CustomFit booth in the marketplace!
  • Feb 28 – March 2: Classes TBA at Windy Knitty in Chicago
  • March 13 – 16: Vogue Knitting Live, Seattle
  • March 23: Stitch House, Dorchester
  • March 31: Iron Horse, Natick
  • April 10-13: STITCHES South – I’m the keynote speaker and will teach all weekend. Hope to see you!
  • April 30 – May 4: TNNA Summer show in Indianapolis
  • May 16-18: AR Fiber Festival
  • June 5-8: Squam!!!

And if you’re going to be any of these places, I’d love to see you. The next book is full-steam-ahead right now, too. Which is exciting in its own chaotic, inspiring, messy way.

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(Ever wonder what a book looks like, mid-way through? There you go!)

Normally, this would make for a pretty crazy couple of months and you’d see me again in May…

…but I’m going to try to avoid a repeat of last fall and spend more time doing things that recharge my batteries and my creativity. I expect more knitting, more time soaking up great conversations with friends, and more time here on the blog. I’ve missed you all.

One of the by-products of this is that I’m likely to change my pattern releases to be more collection-based rather than one at a time. I think there’s something exciting about the promise of a group of sweaters, and I’m excited to share the first set with you. I think it makes sense to do the same thing with CustomFit Recipe releases. For future sweater collections, there will be an option for a “Recipe collection” at the same time.

In addition, lots of prople have asked about recipes for my previously-published patterns. I’m in the process of creating those now, and will be releasing them in in collections of five pattern “recipes” each.

There will be three sets:

  • Collection 1: Adelina, Ayana, Beacon Hill, Nantasket (both options), Newtowne.
  • Collection 2: Aislinn, Arm Candy, Caulfield (both options), Petrea, Seamair.
  • Collection 3: Alight, Alta, Sebasco, Trimmings (both options), Wintry Mix.
  • The Sebasco Collection will also be available as a recipe collection.

The first is ready for you, and I’m excited to share it!

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Please note that this collection is for CustomFit recipes ONLY. You will not get complete pattern instructions, and when you knit the sweaters an additional CustomFit pattern purchase will be required. On the up-side, the recipes give you instructions for creating these sweaters in your gauge, for your body, with no math required.

I hope you like the idea! You can find the e-book in my Ravelry store, and I can’t wait to share a whole new year of sweaters with you.

It happened again.

Yarn exploded all over my teeny little office. I pored over samples, sketched for hours, dreamed of color and texture and fabric.

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And very soon, my needles will be flying faster than ever.

In other words: I started another book.

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(I’m headed off to the fantabulous Knitter’s Review Retreat this weekend, where I’m very honored to be one of the teachers. Jackie and I will also be helping people with measurements and accounts for CustomFit at the marketplace; if you’re coming, bring a swatch or three and your questions!)

So many sweaters! So many winners!

Thank you all for your very kind email messages and comments on my last post. I appreciate every one. Today, we have happier news–first, the winners of the online release giveaways! Always very exciting.

  • The Draper cardigan goes to Carol, who said “My must have is at least elbow length or 3/4 length sleeves (or long sleeves that can be squished up) in a really great yarn. I want it to fit great, thus the interest in the book and not have to continually feel like I need to pull it into place where it should be on my body! I think this sounds like Draper Cardigan—after I’ve done my homework in the Craftsy class!”.
  • The Classic Pullover goes to TK, who said: “I tend to favor cardigans with buttons, so I guess buttons are the must-have for my favorite sweaters. Of the sweaters above, my favorite is the Classic Pullover.”
  • Finally, Andie’s Cardigan goes to Bridie, who said “My must have is it needs to look good layered – cardigan’s are great for that but also the neckline on any of them often determines whether it will look good layered… I would love the yarn for Andie’s cardigan.”

Congratulations, everyone! And I hope everyone is enjoying the stops on the blog tour as much as I am. It’s so wonderful to see the way different aspects of the book, and different projects, pull at different people.

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Next: I am honored to have two designs included in the latest issue of the wonderful Twist Collective. I’ll do full posts on each of them, but here are some quick peeks. First, Cayley:

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This is a super-sweet cardigan, perfect for spring with longer sleeves and an open stitch pattern. I found the little vintage buttons in a lovely yarn shop while traveling last year, aren’t they great?

And I also designed Lilium:

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Lilium is exactly the kind of thing I throw on all of the time and I’m constantly searching the stores for. Easy, classic, wearable–and the cables and lace keep it interesting to knit, too. I’m looking forward to showing you sketch-to-release posts for them both!

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Finally, of course I’ve been knitting too. Want a peek?

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It’s almost ready!