Don’t Break My Heart: Finding the Right Sweater for Me

21 Sep

I’ve been wondering about how much of the same thing I repeat in knitting. I mostly look at cardigan and sweater patterns, but rarely knit those. I find this odd given how much I love knitting all kinds of tops: all the hopes and dreams that come with it, the pride of wearing something so obviously labor-intensive I made with my own two hands, the self-esteem that comes from sticking to such a big project and so on. The high of knitting, for instance, a sweater, is enough to provide a horrible disappointment if there’s even a little bit of fail in the finished object.

I did a quick tally of all my finished objects to see just how unrepresented tops in general are in my knitted wardrobe.

The clear winner was socks at 12 pairs finished, and the number goes up to 19 if  I count ones not on Ravelry and pairs currently on the needles. My second favorite type of project, apparently, are shawls, which add up to 13 ever knitted or on the needles right now.

After that it’s gloves, hats, scarfs, slippers, mittens, mitts, and then, with 3 finished objects, we find tops in place 9, tying with sweaters. Cardigans tally at 2 FOs, and I’ve also knitted one (1) shrug (that I’ve also worn about once). The one slipover I knitted was promptly frogged upon completion.

Why is this I ask myself? I love knitting actual garments. I firmly believe it can be the most rewarding form of knitting, yet I take on the challenge comparatively rarely.

Let’s look at my history.

My first knitted garment was, sadly, a cardigan designed by moi. After much hard work with a mohair & acrylic blend, I ended up with a dull-gray lopsided shapeless monster that I haven’t been able to wear, not ever. Not even at home. I could salvage the yarn, of course, but the thought of frogging that much mohair makes me gag, so I don’t.

My first love

Next up: the slipover I coveted for so long and finally knitted with much enthusiasm and pride, only to find out it is shaped remarkably similarly to a potato sack. I frogged that one, and used the yarn to make my first actual sweater.

Now you're just a bitter-sweet memory

At first I thought it was fine and much happiness ensued. It is a ribbed sweater with raglan sleeves and a boat neck. But that sweater turned out to be way too hot to wear, even in the deepest, darkest heart of nuclear winter,  and the neck itches.

At least the sleeves are long enough

Other memorable sweater events include my Corona sweater which at the time of knitting was like the best thing evah for me. Man, was I proud. But after about the third time I wore it, the sweater stretched sideways making it too short and too wide. Also, the combination of raglan sleeves, the big hood and the wide neckline makes for ill-fitting shoulders which makes me tug at the sweater all day long to ensure it’s in place. Which it never is, despite all the tugging. This stresses me out and doesn’t make for a good relationship with a sweater, no matter how much feelings I had for it in the beginning.

I trusted you

The only shrug I’ve knitted is simply too wacky for me to wear and also draws attention to features in me I’d rather not look at at all if possible.

I don't even know what to say to you

And the lates top I knitted was also of the potato sack persuasion, and actually knitted from that same accursed mohair blend my first ever cardigan was.

Wearing a belt only hides our underlying issues

After that I knitted another labor of love: the Cari cardigan,which I’ve neglected to blog about after I finished it. Well, let’s just say I learned cardigans with one button at the breast and no shaping at the waist aren’t the best thing for my body shape.

Et tu, Brute

What all of this boils down to is I’m terrified of making another commitment, of giving my heart to another garment and having it ripped to pieces once again. I’ve had so many disappointments I’m now afraid to fall in love.

What would help me immensely would be coming to terms with my own body – knowing myself as it were. It’s so easy to be enticed by garments that simply aren’t for me when they’re modeled by someone who fits my image of the perfect body. It’s as if my brain believes that knitting this garment won’t just give me the garment – it will also give me the perfect body I see in the picture.

I have to learn to look at the garment itself and to know what fits me and what simply won’t (I guess all my failures can help me in this). Realizing this is one of the reasons I haven’t knitted sweaters in a while. I only have myself to rely on when I’m making these decisions, and past experiences show I’m not to be trusted in this matter.

Another good idea would be to learn to really pay attention to the measurements provided in the pattern (if any), and maybe even *shock, horror* adjusting them for a better fit. I can only blame myself for all the times I knitted something with no waist shaping only to be surprised by this fact the first time I pull on my brand new top or whatever.


Lately I’ve been cautiously flirting with Thermal. It looks like a sweater I could live with and even love. It’s got long sleeves, it doesn’t look like it’ll turn out too short easily. The model on Knitty seems to be pretty much the same shape I am, and the sweater looks lovely on her. But it’s a big commitment, and I’m not ready to make it yet.

There’s saving money to buy enough yarn for a sweater, there’s finding the perfect yarn, and lot’s of thinking to do before I can plunge in once again. But one day I will get there.

I’m a believer.


6 Responses to “Don’t Break My Heart: Finding the Right Sweater for Me”

  1. kiwiyarns September 21, 2010 at 01:48 #

    Well, you might not like what you’ve knitted, but they’re masterpieces!

    • bamboo#1 September 21, 2010 at 09:04 #

      Oh, thank you so much 🙂 I’m really happy with how they turned out knitting-wise, but after using them they’re just not the right shape for my body in my opinion. Didn’t mean to come off as a perfectionist or overly negative in the post. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Jill September 24, 2010 at 18:12 #

    I was also obsessed with Thermal for awhile, but the results and comments on Ravelry kind of scared me off. I have been really relying on the FOs on Ravelry to help me choose patterns.

    • bamboo#1 September 24, 2010 at 18:36 #

      Oh yeah! I hadn’t thought of the FO feature for the purpose of seeing what body types the project fits. That’s a good tip. Now that I’m looking the sweater seems to fit most everyone who finished it great, but I’ll have to have a closer look later. What kind of comments put you off the project? I’m noticing a lot of people remarking it’s a big undertaking…

  3. Auktuma Janus September 30, 2010 at 07:15 #

    i like your this post. it makes me feel not lonely with my broken hearth 😀 i also had a feeling, when i was knitting/crocheting big pieces, excited, imagining how cool would i look in that clothing, sewing these pieces together, trying on me, and……..
    my last failed (?) project is a dress that i was crocheting for like 2 months, and at the end i just did not like how it looks on me.. it is laying in my closet since June, i did NEVER wear it..
    my advice for you (and for me 🙂 ) would be: search for information on body shapes / types and clothing styles that fit your body shape. additionally, on your colour type (i’m not sure how to say this in English, your hair, skin, eyes create your colour type and according to this some colours fit you more than others). after you know what exactly fits you, you wouldn’t have bad emotions after finishing your garment.
    wish you luck! 🙂

    • bamboo#1 September 30, 2010 at 12:53 #

      Sorry to hear about your crochet dress. It’s especially awful to find out something doesn’t fit after that much work.

      That’s definitely a good point about what kind of clothing fits a certain body type. I will look into that. I think it will go hand in hand with recognizing what one’s own body type really is.

      When it comes to colors I usually go by what pleases my eye, but it’s true that some colors are more suitable than others. Certain types of gray, for instance, just seem to suck all the color right out of my face while other people can wear those shades of gray without problems.

      Thanks for commenting, you’ve given me a lot to think about 🙂

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