Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Early Days of Knitting

Sunshine and warm weather are good for the soul. After a very dreary winter, we are getting our first taste of spring. It feels wonderful! The heater is off, the air conditioner is not needed and the windows are wide open. I've accomplished much this week including good progress on the cotton cardigan. I still have hopes of finishing it by the end of the week. The second sleeve is almost done, leaving the button band and the collar left to be knitted and after that, the seaming.

While working on this sweater, I've been thinking about my early days of knitting. I learned to knit about four years ago. It was my goal from the beginning to knit sweaters. I started with scarves, hats and lots of dishcloths until I thought I had developed enough skill to attempt what I felt was the ultimate knitted garment--a sweater. It was probably almost a year before I gave it a try. I'm cautious like that.

My first sweater was made from Lion Brand Homespun. I didn't want to spend much money on the yarn, because I wasn't sure it would even turn out to be wearable. I deliberately chose a simple pattern. I think it was called Back-to-Basics Sweater.

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I received many compliments on this sweater, but told only a few people that I had made it myself. I don't think they could tell and that boosted my confidence as a knitter. Acrylic yarn is not usually that comfortable to wear, but this yarn is very soft and I didn't mind it.

My next attempt at a sweater a few months later was from a pattern published in one of the Knit It magazines. It was called My First Cardigan. It came with detailed instructions and good pictures. Knitting a button band seemed challenging to me, but the instructions were so detailed, I felt I would be able to do it. Back then, just reading a pattern could be confusing and it was scary to think about what would happen if I made a mistake, because I had no idea how to fix them. Often it would mean ripping everything out and starting over. I used the yarn recommended which was Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky.

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I was very proud of how this boxy cardigan turned out. Somehow I made it through the button band without one mistake. Since those early days, I've learned that nearly all mistakes in knitting are fixable, so I don't worry about that anymore.

I was really lucky that both of these sweaters fit me, because I didn't knit a gauge swatch for either. I just used the recommended yarn and needles and somehow it worked. I was still so new to knitting that I didn't completely understand how to count my stitches, so a swatch would have been of no value anyway.

With each project a new skill was learned and eventually all things began to make sense. So here I am, four years later, knitting with more confidence and understanding, but still enjoying each stitch like it was my first.

19 comments:

  1. How wonderful to see where you started. I still have my first sweater and it was knit in 1974. If I could still fit into it, I'd be wearing it.

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  2. That's really cool Tracey! Or Tracy? I'm HORRIBLE because I can't ever remember if there's an "e" in there.

    Anyway, very cool. I like your first sweater colorway - and you know I've knit it recently. The cardigan looks a lot like the 2nd pattern in that book, which I'm thinking of making just for the experience. I'm going backward in my knitting education. :)

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  3. Gauge swatch, what's that? hehe, just kidding. I think those sweaters look great. Someday, I'll do a sweater. I know I have the skill, but I just haven't yet. I'm a little lazy like that. Right now small projects have been calling to me. :)

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  4. I loved reading about, and seeing pictures of, your early knitting! Beautiful work!

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  5. They look great! What successful first projects you had. I still have my first vest - even though it's hideous. It has such great sentimental value that I think I shall keep it forever! Wear them well.

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  6. And something else I have found is that despite our fears of the monster pattern that seems indecipherable, you must forge ahead. It usually falls into place. I'm hopeful to start my first sweater ever this year. We'll see ...

    Best of luck on completing your cotton cardigan so that you can wear it this weekend!

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  7. Well, I've been knitting a lot longer than you have, and I have YET to try a sweater! That's only because I find long projects tiresome, so I may never do it. And PLEASE send some of that nice weather our way! We're having yet another snowstorm today! AAAARRRGHH!! Beautiful pictures, btw! :-)

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  8. And, it looks like you've been knitting all your life!

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  9. i love the grey cardigan -- definitely a classic!

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  10. My first sweater was also in Homespun - the cowl-necked sweater from the same Knit It issue, I think. I still wear it!

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  11. I enjoyed your blog read on your early knittings so much, I did the same! Thanks for inspiring me to look back. Your early projects are perfect!

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  12. It is so neat that you have kept your first work! I think it was a great idea to follow the pattern and to be very careful about which patterns you chose. Do you get to wear the wool ease very much? In Houston, there aren't many days cold enough.
    Donna

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  13. I can see why you received a lot of compliments on your first 2 sweaters... you did a great job on both of them! If you hadn't told that you have only been knitting for 4 years, I would have thought it was 20. All of your knitting is exquisite.

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  14. Anonymous5:41 PM

    I wish I could find that cardigan pattern. I saved it for years, but now have lost it. Do you know which Knit It it was in?

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  15. Anonymous,

    My First Cardigan is from Knit It! 2002 on pages 36-41.

    Tracy

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  16. Anonymous3:33 PM

    Thanks, Wool Winder.
    I'm searching for a back issue or the pattern itself even as we speak. No luck yet. I really like the simple design and the color you chose is beautiful.
    Fran (aka Anonymous)

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  17. Oh My!!!!
    I have been looking for this pattern forever!
    I misplaced the second page!! I have the first, along with four unfinished sweaters!!! I LOVE this pattern!!! Could you please share this pattern, I will gladly pay for a copy! It was by Kathy Zimmerman. I have been unable to find a back issue of that magazine. please, please. help!!
    Suzy

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  18. Suzy,

    I hope you check back here for a reply. Your comment was not linked to an email address and I have no other way to contact you. Which sweater pattern are you wanting? The one for the pullover or the one for the cardigan? Contact me at woolwinder(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll see what I can do to help you out.

    Tracy

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  19. Hi !


    suzzyq1(at)gmail(dot)com
    so excited at the prospect of getting this pattern again!!!!
    thanks in advance for any and all help!!!
    FAB site, I will have to check everything out, what fun!
    suzyq

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Thank you for commenting!
~Tracy