As I was bogging down in the stockinette wasteland of my St. Brendan body last week, I was thinking about that golden time when my pal Anna Dianich (of Tolt Yarn and Wool) knitted my Trillium body for me and I knitted her Lila sleeves. Wishing we could tag-team every sweater that way, it occurred to me to wonder for the first time what her first sweater had been, so I asked her to answer some My First Sweater questions for us all.
This was before last Friday’s Q for You (“Are you a sweater knitter?”) went up, and I have to say I’m completely blown away by the response to that question. Over 500 comments so far, and probably 90-95% of you said “yes, I’m a sweater knitter,” with another 3-5% saying “not yet, but I want to be!” Only a few people said no, and as several people pointed out, I have likely cultivated a sweater-knitting readership, being a bit of a monomaniac. But if you asked me about the general knitting population, I’d guess 70-80% are accessory knitters with the remaining minority being sweater knitters. Allowing for audience bias, I might have guessed more like 60% of you would have responded that you knit sweaters. I never would have dreamed it would be nearly unanimous. And of course it’s wildly unscientific, and I have no way of knowing how many non-sweater knitters simply didn’t answer. But regardless, that was an eye-opener for me, and has me thinking again how best I can help people over the hump. So with that said, here’s the coincidental return of My First Sweater, and expect this to be more regular going forward!
With that, here’s Anna—
. . .
How long had you been knitting when you knitted your first sweater, and what prompted you to do it?
I had been knitting for over 10 years before I knitted my first sweater. I had knit hats and a couple socks and a couple of baby/child sweaters but never a sweater for me. I was intimated, which is silly since knitting an adult sweater is same as knitting a kids’ sweater; it’s just bigger. The first sweater I started for myself was awful! I didn’t really understand the importance of swatching … honestly, I don’t know if I even knew what swatching was. I basically just jumped right into knitting this sweater, and I could tell it was going to be very big, and I also ran into a few other issues since I was still not great at “reading my knitting” and how to fix little mistakes. I abandoned that sweater and it stayed in my closet about 2/3 finished. A couple years later I tried again, this time with more knowledge and confidence.
How did you choose the pattern, and what was it? And what about the yarn choice?
It was the Levenwick sweater by Gudrun Johnston. I loved the design so much I had to knit it! I chose Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in the color Hayloft because, yes, I am one of those knitters that likes to knit in the color the sample was done in. Haha!
How did the knitting go? What were some of the challenges and hurdles along the way? Did you make any modifications, or knit it as written?
Having more knitting experience, knowledge and confidence helped! I actually swatched and read comments on Ravelry from people who had knitted the pattern — that was very helpful! I also turned to other knitters for help when I got stuck, which helped not only to get me through this project but to build more knitting knowledge. (There is always more to learn.) Since the sweater was top-down I was able to try it on and see if any adjustments needed to be made. I did make a couple of mods to the pattern after reading those comments on Ravelry and trying on the sweater as I went along.
How did you feel upon finishing it? Did you wind up wearing it? Do you still?
I was SO proud of myself! I felt like a “real knitter,” finally, after so many years of knitting. I understood what I was doing — it clicked. I remember wearing the sweater to VK Live in Seattle. I took a class with Gudrun Johnston and I wore it then. I was excited to show her and a little nervous. I don’t wear this sweater very much. It’s beautiful and it fits me but I think I’m more of a pullover person.
What are some of the lessons you learned from knitting that sweater — how has it impacted your choices since then?
I learned how important it is to be able to read your knitting, to understand what’s happening when you create stitches. I also learned how important it is to have a community of knitters around you, whether it’s friends or a local yarn store. Also, even though it’s your first sweater and you may make a few mistakes, use yarn that you love — it makes knitting and wearing it so much better! And don’t forget to swatch!
It’s funny because my favorite and my most-worn are two different sweaters. I think my favorite sweater is my Dalur (above/top) but it’s often not cold enough to wear it. I get a lot of compliments on my Seascale sweater and my Mailin sweater, and I’m super proud of the work I did on my Amanda cardigan, but my most-worn sweater is my Ladies Classic Raglan (above/bottom) knit with Cestari Traditional yarn. I wear this all the time!
Ok, it’s funny that you just said Dalur, because my last question for you is: Do you mind if I make an exact replica of your Dalur? I covet it.
Please knit the Dalur! We can be twins!
. . .
Thank you, Anna! Pattern links below, everyone. And for anyone who might need it: How to knit and measure a gauge swatch
• Levenwick by Gudrun Johnston
• Dalur by Hulda Hákonardóttir
• Seascale by Courtney Kelley [more about Anna’s]
• Mailin by Isabell Kraemer
• Amanda by Lena Holme Samsoe [subject of our Amanda Knitalong]
• Ladies Classic Raglan by Jane Richmond [featured in Pullovers for first-timers]
PREVIOUSLY in My First Sweater: Jenn Steingass