When I set my intentions for a year of sweaters on January 11th 2016 I didn’t really have a great idea of what I was getting myself into. What I did know is that I had only ever constructed a sweater in two ways (top down raglan and worked flat with seams) and I wanted to explore what I was missing. I also wanted to expand my range in terms of knitting sweaters with different yarn weights. Before this year I had only made sweaters using bulky and worsted weight yarn.
I thought maybe I could plan for one sweater a month, at least one in every fiber weight, and as many different constructions as possible. I began this process by compiling a list of patterns I would like to knit, as well as calling out into social media for suggestions.
There were a few key steps I took which helped keep me on track. First: I tried to stay two steps ahead with yarn purchasing. I started buying a sweater’s worth of yarn every time I visited my favorite yarn shops (Tolt Yarn and Wool, Black Mountain Yarn Shop, Purl’s Yarn Emporium, Bovidae Farms) or attended a fiber or trunk show. I did end up ordering some yarn from WEBS when I couldn’t find exactly what I needed, but most of this year was filled with new-to-me brands, dyers and yarn companies. Some of my favorite yarns to work with have been Hinterland Textile’s Range, Local Color Fiber Studio’s Rambouillet and Bovidae Farm’s Sportweight.
I knit Bristol Ivy’s Oranmore with Hinterland’s Range and it was the perfect match (Sweater #8). I wanted my Oranmore to be a big cozy hug for the coldest parts of winter. Range combines Rambouillet wool and alpaca to make a super fuzzy, lofty texture with a soft halo. This sweater has become so necessary for those times when the temperature has dipped below freezing. More details about my version of Oranmore here.
The second key step I made to stay on track was to keep a running list of sweater possibilities posted above my desk. I found it important to give myself a guideline and adjust it as time went on. In this year I was able to knit a sweater in every weight (except Bulky) and try many new techniques. I knit my first yoke sweater, bottom-up raglan, drop shoulder sweater, and for first time I tried a sloped shoulder bind-off, set-in sleeves, modular knitting and folded collar. I knit 3 colorwork sweaters, 4 cable sweaters, 3 cardigans, 12 pullovers, 13 ladies sweaters, 2 men’s sweaters and 2 gansey’s. 4 worsted weight, 5 Dk weight, 5 sport weight and 1 fingering weight sweater. And used 18,802 yards of yarn.
My favorite pattern was definitely Maria Strikker’s Ishav (Sweater #10). None of the sweaters I knit this year were nearly as much fun as the Ishav was to knit. I loved the striking colorwork pattern and it was really fun to make the modifications so the sweater would be more form-fitting than the pattern called for. Even though I only finished the sweater near the beginning of October it has been my most-worn knit of the year. More details about my version of Ishav here.
2016 was also a big year for new designs. I published my first pattern in a major craft publication (Rocquaine published in Issue 18 of Pom Pom Quarterly) and I self-published 8 patterns through Ravelry. My quest to knit all the sweaters served as a source of great inspiration and I developed 3 sweater patterns of my own in 2016- in addition to 3 shawl patterns, a tank top, a hat and a slipper-sock pattern. I found that many of the new techniques I learned served as jumping off points to develop my own pattern ideas. Rocquaine was an idea I had after finishing my 3rd sweater of the year, a drop shoulder pullover with minimal shaping, Hawksbill was an idea that came after finishing my 6th sweater of the year, a lightweight raglan with a hi-lo bottom edge, and Roan was an idea that had been floating around my mind for a long time, but only after knitting so many sweaters did I figure out exactly how to execute my idea in a functional way.
Knitting remains one of my favorite activities- even if I might have overdone it this year. I took my goal with me everywhere I went, I knit in 6 states, two countries, on 8 flights, on hiking trails, on beaches, in cars, in boats, on mountains, farms and valleys.
I may not keep every single one of the sweaters I knit for myself. I know my sister will be happy to receive a few, and in the end, some may end up frogged and the yarn used for new projects in the future. For the most part I am happy to have so many versatile, hand knit pieces that will last me a long, long time.
First of all, I have to thank every single one of you who gave me encouragement and/or suggestions as I took on this crazy challenge. Many friends on Instagram even joined along, documenting their own progress on “Year of the Sweater” and that was so inspiring for me, and helped me keep on, keeping on. Danielle (@lunarknits on Instagram) kept pace, knitting 12 sweaters in 2016!! Other friends consistently documented their sweater progress with me in the hashtag #2016yearofthesweater. Definitely take a peek sometime to see all the amazing projects!!
As a “thank you” to those of you who inspire me (and to encourage more knitting in the world) I’m going to give away a copy of all of my self-published patterns from 2016 (Windswept Shawl, Sierra Diamond Shawl, Rhea Tank, Azulejo Shawl, Hawksbill, Switchback, Roan and Asteria) to two winners! That’s right, TWO! Comment on this post and tell me what you’re favorite sweater has been to knit, or if you’ve never knit a sweater, tell me what sweater you’d like to knit someday! For an additional entry leave the same comment on my Instagram post! I will choose 2 winner’s at random at the end of day Sunday 1/8/17. Thank you and Good luck!!
**UPDATE** I picked 3 winners on January 8th, they were Romina of @woolygems, Dana of @danaabarath and Inci of @incidenorguler // thank you to everyone who entered my first giveaway. I’m offering a coupon code for 25% off all my self-published patterns on Ravelry. Just enter the code “MANYTHANKS” at checkout. Thank you for all your comments, I really enjoyed reading about your sweater knitting experiences and wishes for to future <3