2020: A year in garment knitting

(A little heads up: this blog post includes links to Ravelry, so if you have trouble with the site do take care.)

Here’s a thing: up until recently, it was a long, long time since I’d knitted myself a sweater. We’re talking 5 or 6 years long. I made excuses for this for a while; back when the Woolly Badger was in its Etsy store incarnation, it was because I had to be knitting stock. Then it was because they took too long, and I just didn’t have the time.

Really, what was behind it was this: I did not believe that my body was worthy of spending the time on a handknit.

Since I knitted that last sweater, I’ve had two children. I’ve breastfed them both. I’ve gone up two dress sizes. I’ve got a stretched out ribcage that will never quite go back to where it was before my sons shoved all my internal organs out of their way so that they could get a bit more growing room. I’ve even gone up a shoe size, because apparently that’s a thing that pregnancy can do to you.

And what I told myself, without realising I was telling myself, was this: this new body did not deserve nice knits. It would deserve them later, when the baby weight had gone. When it was smaller. When the knits would “look better”.

Well, for all the things that 2020 has taken away from us all, it has given me one thing; a nice, new sense of just not giving a shit. Sure, I do not love my body. I do not even like it most of the time. But I am never going to learn to be OK with it if I keep telling myself that it is not worthy of nice things.

And so, I started knitting myself garments. Here’s what I’ve done.

Projects one and two: the lace tees

Two lace tees hanging on a wooden slatted room divider.

Patterns: Geraldine by Agata Maciewicz (pink) and Waterlily by Meghan Fernandes (grey)
Yarn: Merino Silk 4ply from The Wool Kitchen

I love me a bit of lace knitting. I really, really do. And I loved knitting both of these tops back in the summer, because I used one of my very favourite yarns for them. Wool Kitchen merino silk is both crazy soft and just beautiful of colour, and paired with these lace patterns it made for some truly top-notch lightweight summer knits. I know it’s cliche to call things “light and airy”, but man, are these light and airy.

I even wore these two tops while I had my youngest in the sling, and neither of us ended up a horrible sweaty pool of grossness.

Project three: the everyday knitted tee

Woman standing against wall wearing a loose cotton knitted v-neck top

Pattern: Rock It Tee by Tanis Lavellee
Yarn: Summerlite 4ply from Rowan Yarns (found in deepest darkest stash)

Another light and airy summer tee here, although this time I perhaps got a tad carried away with the “airy” part of the equation. I went big on the positive ease, and forgot that cotton has a tendency to stretch out a bit. The final result has something of a tent vibe to it, but I kind of love that about it. Excellent for just lobbing on and still feeling a bit put-together.

Project four: the rainbow sweater

Woman in the woods wearing a v-neck rainbow striped jumper

Pattern: Camaro by Tanis Lavellee
Yarn: Milburn DK from Eden Cottage Yarns

I don’t think it’s actually possible to love a sweater more than I love my rainbow sweater. The construction of the pattern is magnificant; it’s really fun to knit, without making your brain explode. The yarn is a beautiful soft wool and silk mix, with perfect rainbow colours. The fit is magnificent. I get compliments every time I wear this jumper out. Which is a lot. Because I love it. I really, really love it. If I were a jumper myself, I would want to marry this jumper.

That got a bit weird, didn’t it?

Anyway. I love this jumper.

Projects five and six: the inevitable Love Notes

A close up of a pink, slightly fuzzy, lace jumper

Pattern: Love Note by Tin Can Knits
Yarn: Le Petit Lambswool and Le Petit Silk and Mohair from Biches and Buches

It was always going to happen, wasn’t it? I was always going to knit a Love Note after seeing so very many of them on instagram. And I’ve actually knitted two of them – one pink, and one blue – because it turns out everyone is right and this pattern really is a joy to knit. It’s also got me into high-low hems, but we’ll see more on that a bit later.

Project seven: the colourwork yoke

Pattern: Goldwing by Jenn Steingass
Yarn: Croft Aran from West Yorkshire Spinners

It was right about here in my garment knitting odyssey that I started to go a bit rogue. Up until know I’d done exactly what the pattern had told me to do, but I got a little bit adventurous here. Only a little bit, mind. I went up a needle size for a slightly looser gauge, shortened the body, and took the colourwork cuffs out of the equation. And I’m very happy with the result; this one is so supremely warm that it’s become my go-to ‘babywearing jumper’, because it’s far easier to get a sling fitting correctly over a warm jumper than it is over a massive coat.

Also: who said gingers can’t wear orange? Fools.

Project eight: the stash dive of dreams

Pattern: Soldotna Crop by Caitlin Hunter
Yarn: All sorts; leftover Croft Aran, some Mr B Aran, a bit of Ginger’s Hand Dyed Sheepish Aran and some other stuff that I found in my stash that is a total mystery.

And here we arrive at my latest, as yet unfinished, project. For which I have gone totally rogue; I’ve added the high-low hem (thanks Love Note!), improvised some colourwork at the bottom, am adding sleeves, and have knitted the whole thing in a selection of stash yarn that isn’t even technically the right weight for the project. And I bloody love it. I’m going to go ahead and give myself 10/10 for this one, just because I can.

And coming next…a Woolly Badger original

But, what is the moral of this jumperiffic tale? Is it that you should totally wing it and never bother swatching (totally didn’t swatch for any of these, by the way). Is it that everyone deserves a nice jumper? Is it that it’s totally fine to go off-pattern and make things your own?

Turns out it’s all of the above. Because after getting so stuck into this sweater knitting thing, I’ve designed my very first sweater. It’s for kids, it’s top-down, it’s seamless, and it’s really fun. I’m hoping to have it out early in 2021. Because sweater knitting is one thing that I don’t wish to leave in 2020.

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