I feel incredibly jubilant today, for I am here to share with you that:
That’s six whole milestones and revelations! Things I never really thought I could do, and that seemed ridiculously impossible when I started writing for Outlaw Yarn as a brand new, beginner, knitter!
I remember when I first started Never Been Knit and Ethan said to me that I’ll be knitting jumpers within six months and I thought he was being very kind to me, and maybe overestimating my abilities! I couldn’t even cast on and the idea that I would knit so many stitches that it would make anything, let alone something I could put on and enjoy as a key part of an outfit.
But here I am - sweater completed! A couple of posts ago I shared with you my progress to date making the Kingston Sweater - and my journey very much continued on this trajectory. I took me two weeks to make this project, in total.
I very much did not knit this Kingston Sweater in one go, as I always thought you should. As mentioned in my previous post - I had to start it over after completing around a quarter and realising I'd been missing whole rows of increases - a technique that was new to me.
Later on in this project, I had to redo my first sleeve after I wasn’t happy with it’s length, width, nor my cast-off along the cuff edge.
Then on Saturday, just as I thought I was finished, and had cast off...I tried it on and whilst for the most part it was fine, I felt it was a smidge too short in the body. So I swallowed my pride and ripped out the ribbing, and redid it adding an extra band of red before the ribbing - increasing to the overall length. That extended the project by an extra day, but was 100% worth the extra effort.
Before I started knitting I’d have seen these redo’s as failures, as well as a whole heap of extra work. But you know what? I found it so liberating to overcome my fear of admitting something wasn’t quite right and to freely rip it out and start it over. Instead of these redo’s becoming stumbling blocks, I found instead that my first times though were like practice runs, and when I came to do it all over again, I was quick and precise in my knitting as I had already done it, and I completed it much faster the second time though.
When you realise that there’s hardly anything you can do in a project that can’t be ripped out and done over, it really takes so much of the nerves out of trying new techniques and experiments. In sewing I’m so used to everything being final, that this was a new sensation to me - one that I loved!
I was intimidated by the project - it included a lot of things that were new to me - but there was absolutely nothing that a couple of YouTube tutorials couldn’t teach me and I didn’t pick up after a few goes. And that’s how you learn things, it’s really as simple as that.
Don't mistake my joy at finishing this project and what I learnt as cockiness, or that I'm some kind amazing knitting expert now. This project is far from perfect, I have a lot to learn and refine, and I won't be asking any advanced knitters to look too closely at it! However, right now I'm happy that I've completed a very cool jumper, that fits and I’m proud of the fact that I gave it a go...and succeeded!
In terms of fit, I was a little nervous about this. I am plus-size and the pattern went up to an XL, which from my experience usually means a size 18. However the pattern had a provision to add extra stitches in the body to increase the sizing, which is what I did. I like my jumpers to be oversized, relaxed and slouchy, so figured this was a low-risk move.
I also did this on the arms, improvising and adding an extra 10 stitches when I picked up the sleeves, as I hate nothing more than a constrictive arm that is too tight, and I'm not scared of an exaggerated shoulder, so figured I may as well give it a go on the basis that if it failed, I could simply redo it.
It felt like a gamble to start freewheeling with the pattern whilst being so inexperienced, but it paid off. I then decreased my stitches, from half way down the arms, as I headed towards the cuffs taking me back to the pattern numbers by the time I got to the elbow. As a result I created a rather pleasing ‘puffed sleeve’ effect, which is my all time favourite arm shape in a garment and I'm really happy with.
Like with the ripping out rows to have a second go, playing with proportions and stitch counts was a great way to take the mystery and fear out of the project, as well as the yarn itself.
As I’ve said before - IT’S JUST YARN! DON’T BE SCARED OF IT! - tackle it head on, without fear. The more you do this, the less you'll feel daunted by new projects and trying out unfamiliar techniques.
For the project I used Lissy Cole’s Auaha Haukura collection - available at Outlaw Yarn - and it took 9 balls of yarn in total. The chunky yarn means you do get through it quite fast, but as mentioned in other rposts - the chunky yarn was just the ticket for me, and made the project the enjoyable, fast and educational one that it was.
Making something in this yarn was fun, fast and encouraging. I learnt SO much during the process and as a result I’m much more confident and enthusiastic about knitting in more traditional sized yarns in future projects. There’s nothing like completing a project like this to show you what you’re capable of, and taking away so many mental barriers that we set up for ourselves when it comes to creativity and self-doubt.
KNIT WHAT YOU WANT
My main takeaway from this project is that I’d thoroughly recommend, if you are a new knitter, to set about making what you WANT to make, rather than what you think you SHOULD make for your level.
You’re never going to be ready to make a full garment, until you actually do it - whether you’ve been knitting for 1 week or 1 year. So you might as well just start. Whatever you make, it’s going to take a lot of time and resources - so you might as well just make what you want to and learn as you go.
A bigger project doesn't necessarily mean more difficult things and techniques. It can just mean more repetition and bigger rounds, which = more practise! So when you look at it this way, perhaps sweaters are the perfect beginners project as it gets you doing the same things over and over...and over!
Next week I’d like to talk more about the design of the jumper - the colours, why I chose the design that I did, how I style it, and how to be fearless with colour and so called 'fashion rules' - but for today, I wanted to give you a heartening check in to show you what is possible, and hopefully encourage you to start your own knitted garment project for the winter!
In the meantime, I’m already daydreaming and getting excited about what to make next. Do I know how to do what I have in mind? Absolutely not? Am I going to give it a crack anyway? You betcha!
Until next time, happy knitting!
Pattern - The Kingston Sweater by Tara-Lynn Morrison
Yarn - Lissy Cole Auaha Haukura collection - available from Outlaw Yarn
in Taumata (red), Harikoa (pink), E Te Tau (orange) and Paki (blue)
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I'm Lou, an Ōtautahi based personal stylist and craft-lover, and this is Never Been Knit - my journey from complete knitting virgin to...well, let's find out together!