« Gesta :: Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton | Main | Cynical »

But will I wear it?

I've been taking a long hard look -- a very critical look -- at my list of garments I intend to knit for myself. Usually something will make it on to my list due to my falling in love with a particular yarn. It's the yarn that attracts me first; then color next and design last. It's very rare that I buy yarn without a project planned but there are some yarns that have aged a bit in my young stash whose originally-intended patterns are really not that stylish any more.

So I've evaluated the store-bought sweaters I've loved and hated through the years and aside from the unfortunate intarsia phase, my favorite sweaters were solid colored -- usually natural colored, gray, red, or white, ribbed or plain stockinette and close-fitting. The sweaters that were the least flattering were loose-fitting cabled sweaters. I look best with some shaping, but an oversize sweater can be flattering on me if the proportions are right. Most surprising was that nearly all of my favorite sweaters were either 100% cotton -- or linen, viscose, ramie, and silk blends. Nearly all of them had some cotton though. I can remember owning only a small handful of 100% wool sweaters (one of which I still own after 15 years). Finer gauges predominated also.

My conclusion for knitwear for myself? Simple is best -- but it probably won't make good knit blog fodder or Flickr photos. And I'm okay with that. I want to knit what I'll wear. Chic Knits patterns seem to represent the style I envision for myself (Ribby Pulli and Cardi, Arianne, Cece) -- along with Knitting Pure and Simple cardigans and the Hourglass Sweater (Ravelry Link) in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Accessories are another story -- I'm much more adventurous with scarves, socks (sometimes), and hats.

For future socks for a family member, a planned 2x2 or 3x1 ribbing:

Passionberry :: See Jayne Knit

It's "Passionberry" -- a blend of merino and tencel from See Jayne Knit, an Etsy seller. Last week, I also received a set of sock blockers from Fearless Fibers. I love them and how they've infused my socks with their cedar scent. (And a quick thank you to Sallie, who has hooked me up with somebody we know who has darning eggs for sale).

I also finished the first of a pair of socks knit with Pigeonroof Studios sock yarn:

Pigeonroof Studios - Cinnamon

I love her dye job. The superwash merino she uses as her base is very nice -- the yardage made me a bit nervous, but not nervous enough to become a toe-up sock knitter. I like living on the (sock-knitting) edge. I've knit up all but two of my single socks-in-progress. I'm down to just one unfinished single sock and then will finish their mates. My Gesta vest front is almost finished and then I'll seam the sides and shoulders and crochet an edging.

There are a few changes in the air here and I can't share many details about them, but they're positive changes. While I anticipate how this will affect some of my plans, I've made some decisions about some of my former goals -- the ones unrelated to knitting. I'll share those as soon as I can. For now, I'll be in list-making mode.



Love the color depth in that sock!

I know what you mean about sweaters - when I took a serious look at the sweaters I love... they're all simple and mostly cotton...

The Knitting Pure and Simple Summer Cardigan is my next project! (In baby pink wool/angora.)

Your pictures are luscious. That bottom one looks like the perfect sock to me this morning - simple, muted beautiful coffee colors, slight halo... yum!

I'm with you on this one. I try to pick tailored classic looking clothes or patterns most of the time. Some of knitted designs I've seen I really like but they'd only actually look good on about 2% of the population. Even though I've yet to knit from them I do love Rowan patterns. Most to me seem classic and form fitted.

Hi Janet,

"Knitting what you'll wear" is one of my basic principles in my knitting life. I do and only knit what I know will flatter my body, style etc. So, you know exactly what you want and knitting that for yourself should be fulfilling. Simplicity is not boring or least interesting at all....there is a lot that goes into making a garment even in it's simplest form.

That is a question I have been TRYING to ask myself lately. I just adore making things, but I want the time to be spend on t something that will actually be worn rather than sit in my closet until I pass it on. It sounds as if you have your ideas down to boundaries that will fit you well. I'm glad!

In a hurry, but I wanted to post real quick. 2 things:

1) No matter how *simple* the sweater, there will ALWAYS be something to learn and gain (and blog about?) from the experience. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who would LOVE to see what you're working on! :)

2) I just thought of this... could you use a provisional cast on to start your socks and then go back and knit up more of the leg later if you have yarn left over? Or would that screw up the colorway? Yah, probably. OK, scratch that! LOL

Peace to you too!!! Hope you're enjoying a nice long (and restful, and restorative) weekend.

Looove the pink yarn! So pretty! Almost makes me wish I was a knitter! :-)

simple, classic, well fitting works for me too. we'll stick around.

lovely yarn + socks, very nice work. Putting all the effort into a sweater does take a bit of thought before diving in, the last thing you want is a FO (or UFO) that isn't *quite* right.

That 'Passionberry' is just too lovely!!

You have given me great food for thought about knitting what you will wear. I have been guilty of knitting stuff that I wouldn't look twice at in a store. Thank you. x

Returning to add that I think the principle of your question - "But will I wear it?" - is such a good one. Just because it's free or cheap does that mean I need it? Just because there are three brownies left does that mean I need to eat them? It really is all about purposeful actions and the discipline to say "no" when you're up against the law of diminishing returns.

This post resonates so well with me. I, too, did an evaluation and found that my store bought jumpers were all basic silks/wools in solid colours. This has been a tremendous help in choosing patterns for future projects - and yes, the photos are often bland but at least the garment will be worn and enjoyed.
[What are your thoughts on SKIF/Habu?]

I look forward to your year of knits :)

I agree - I've been looking really hard at the patterns I want to knit because that is TOO much time to invest in something you won't wear!

What gorgeous pinks in that yarn, and the pigeonroof yarn really knit up well.

Through starting several sweaters only to frog them because I figure out that they are fun to knit but now what I would wear, I've become more careful. I've also taken to measuring some favorite sweaters to compare with measurements in patterns. I've realized that a sweater I've just started needs to be 1.5 inches shorter from the bottom edge to the armhole shaping. Good to know before knitting too much.

I've done the same mental inventory and found almost the same results. Finer gauges and simple styles. And interesting blog fodder isn't as important and making something that you'll wear and love. I find that some of the simplest knits are the most beautiful and admired.