Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Are Your Knits Working Hard Enough?

I'm passionate about wearing one's handknits. Yes, actually wearing them, and not letting them sit around as museum pieces. This is especially true for sweaters. I see (or used to, pre-pandemic) lots of knitters wearing accessories, but not very many wearing sweaters. Even at Rhinebeck. If you're not wearing handmade sweaters, why? Is it that you're nervous of making one because of concerns about fit or cost? There are answers to that. Think seamless and top down. Look for workhorse, inexpensive real wool. It's out there. Is it because your sweaters don't turn out as well as you had hoped? Is it because you've made all the pieces, but they're waiting in a shoebox at the back of your closet while you gather the energy to seam them together? Get over it all. Make sweaters and wear them. To death. When thin spots emerge at the elbows, darn them or patch them. When the cuffs wear off, re-knit them in leftover yarn or find other imaginative solutions. When the sweater has finally given all it can, felt it (another reason to use non-superwash wool), cut it up, and make tea cozies and mitten liners. Got the idea?

Today I 'm making good use of my latest Perth Cardi. This is my third, the other two having gone to sweater heaven.

This little cardigan, which I prefer in alpaca or an alpaca blend, is the most useful sweater in my wardrobe. It fills the awkward gap in spring and fall when you need some warmth but not too much. It can also be worn layered in winter, and it just happens to be my favourite reading-in-bed garment. 

It's perfect this morning when the furnace has clicked on to cope with the 4C temp outside (going up to 18C this afternoon, I hope). It seems we're likely to have a long and difficult, possibly semi-locked down winter. Plan to make some sweaters to enliven the dark. And get outside and enjoy what remains of sunshine and warmth. Look at these gorgeous helianthus that I passed on my walk yesterday afternoon!


  1. Well said, Liz. I've got totes and drawers full of handmade sweaters after 50 years of knitting. I was raised by survivors of the depression so we were taught to "save for good". Now that I'm seeing 80 on the horizon, this year I'm breaking out all the sweaters.

  2. We moved from northern US to the southern states, coastal area and I find our winters for the past 16 years have been so mild that many of the sweaters knit previously for the cold temps were too much. If I couldn't find a family member to take, I stowed in large ziplock bags along with instructions to size and care and took them to the charity shops.
    I am in the process now of pre-planning some lighter weight woolies with Perth at the top of the list. Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. We lived in Wash, DC for 16 years, and experienced winters with weather ranging from 70F in January to the occasional mega-blizzard (without the benefit of proper snow clearing equipment and expertise), so I know a little about warmer winters. Our house was poorly insulated compared to our Canadian house, and was uncomfortably cool for a lot of the winter. Also, I learned that although I couldn't wear sweaters for 10 months out of 12, DC winters were perfect for sweaters as coat substitutes, especially when ferrying kids around in the car. The biggest challenge in that climate turned out to be protecting my sweater collection from insect damage.

  3. My biggest impediment to finishing a sweater is sewing the pieces together. I am a perfectionist and I can't get the finished seams done to my satisfaction. I don't knit in the round yet...I create "ladders" when I do. I have used the finishing service at my LYS. But what I really need to do is study how to finish seams successfully or get better knitting without seams (round needles). However, you inspire me a lot. In New England, our winters are harsh and sweaters are necessary. Personally, I dislike sweatshirts. Now that I am retired (finally), I plan on knitting more.

  4. Ah yes, "finishing services". I didn't know such things existed until we moved to Wash, DC. Nothing similar here at that time, at least where we lived. Probably why I gravitated to circular knitting early on in my knitting career.