Howdy everyone! Jackie here.
Today I’d like to share a sweater with you, from way back to winter 2013 / 2014. I worked really hard on it — agonizing over the consistency of my fabric, re-knitting the collar THREE times — determined that it would be a sweater I’d actually wear and love.
It looks good, yeah? This picture is one that I would be pretty psyched to post in my Ravelry projects. It fits beautifully. The yarn is divine. I love the outfit, and I’m wearing a necklace that was a gift from one of my most favorite and oldest knitting friends. It’s a pretty good picture.
But the picture alone would give you the wrong idea.
Because the truth is, it’s not a good sweater. And I think it’s really important to share that with you all.
Ninety-nine percent of the time on this site, we’re showing you examples of beautiful, and beautifully executed, sweaters. (And there are about thirty more in Amy’s studio that you haven’t even seen yet. So. Many. Sweaters.) I think it can be disheartening to look all around you and see (seemingly) everyone knocking out perfect sweaters left and right, wondering if you’re the only one struggling.
If I’ve just described you, I’m here to say that you are definitely not the only one. And further, it’s okay to struggle sometimes! Becoming a sweater knitter is a process, and each sweater we tackle – success or not – makes us better at it, as long as we take it as an opportunity to learn.
So! What did I learn from this sweater that looks good in a picture, but that I never wear?
What you can’t see from the picture is that I was so afraid that my gauge would start to change, or that I would start rowing out, that I knit this fabric so tight it’s like iron. Amy, in her gentle way, kept warning me about this as I knit it. She was that little knitterly voice in your head that tells you the truth about your project, that you ignore: la la la la la it’s going to be fine.
It was not fine.
The problem with very tightly knit fabric is that the sweater doesn’t move with you like it should. This particular sweater sort of feels like I’m wearing a piece of sculpture – it almost stands up on its own. Just like Amy told me it would.
Lesson 1 of this sweater: Tight gauge isn’t a solution for inconsistency or rowing out. Instead, I needed to work on improving my knitting technique. (And I did! You can read about it here.)
Lesson 2 of this sweater: Conduct the Fabric Test on your swatch. What’s the Fabric Test? It’s a 3-step process we came up with last year where you place a swatch — or sweater — on a table to evaluate whether it’s good fabric for a sweater. Amy demonstrates it in Lesson 2 of her new class, and we’ll post a video of it here on the site this month too. (To be fair, when I knit this sweater we hadn’t developed the Fabric Test yet, and this particular sweater was part of the reason we did so.)
Lesson 3 of this sweater: Listen to that little knitterly voice in your head, always. (A thousand-fold if that knitterly voice is actually Amy, as she looks at your project.)
If you’re not sure what that knitterly voice is saying, but it’s whispering vague nothings in your ear, ask for help! Call your LYS and see if they have a drop-in help class, or see if you can schedule 30 minute private lessons with their sweater person on staff.
Do you know what the cool thing is though? The more sweaters you knit, successful or not, the better that little voice gets. The first several sweaters that voice is vague and speaks softly. But then, after several sweaters, that voice becomes more confident, and speaks up more clearly.
So, if you’re still working your way toward consistently good sweaters, keep heart, and keep knitting! It’s okay. Remember: Every excellent knitter had to knit a lot of things to become that excellent knitter they are today.