This was an uncommonly cold and snowy winter out here in the Pacific Northwest this year. I actually was able to knit at least five sweaters from the beginning of fall last year to this date. I finished another raglan in a bulky yarn for my husband this year. I joke with friends that it’s too bad I didn’t knit it earlier because it might have helped save on our heating bills this year. It occurred to me that knitting sweaters is a way to keep people warm and happy. It’s a way to keep them safe, help them feel loved and perhaps save a little money on fuel bills. Not to mention the fact that a well-made sweater can bring someone joy for years to come.
Yet I hear so many people say things like:
- “I could never knit a sweater… it’s too hard.”
- “I don’t have the time to knit a sweater.”
- “I’ll never be able to knit”
- “I’ll never be able to knit that well”
- “It’s too expensive to knit a sweater”
I say: HORSERADISHES!
A basic raglan that’s knit from the bottom up is actually not too hard to do. Many of my raglan sweaters are based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s raglan instructions in Knitting without Tears. You only need to know how to knit two stitches (knit & purl). In addition, you need to knit on circular needles and in the round. I think the hardest thing about knitting this sweater is joining the armpit stitches with Kitchener stitch. But hey… even if it’s not perfect, the stitching is in the armpit. How many people would you actually allow to lift up your arms and inspect your armpits?
As for price, there are many levels of affordable fiber out there. You can support your local yarn store and purchase a sweater’s worth of yarn in good but affordable wools like Cascade 220, Universal Deluxe Tweed, Ella Rae Classic for less than $50 for a medium sized sweater (womens). You can also keep a look out for sales at your local LYS’s and wait for good prices on the yarn you’d like. If you’re really strapped for cash. You can actually find good worsted weight yarns for a good prices from sites like Elann or LittleKnits. Yarn for bargains can also be found at Good Will stores and other thrift stores. Some people even unravel sweaters from thrift shops and re-purpose this fiber in their own designs. I believe that knitting can be accessible for all people. I will confess that as I got better at the craft (mind you I’m still learning), I really began to see the benefits of investing in good yarn as opposed to buying quantities of inexpensive wool and other fibers. I still buy some bargain yarns, but often I use them to experiment with techniques, construction or designs that I want to try later in more costly fibers. But I don’t want to sound holier than though about they type of yarn you’re using if you’re a beginner or if you cannot afford a sweater’s worth of Kid Silk Haze.
I made a sort of informal new years resolution this year that I would teach at least six people how to successfully knit themselves a sweater. I’m quite serious about this resolution because I feel it’s incredibly empowering to make a useful thing like a sweater for yourself or for someone you love. More, I feel that in these somewhat troubling times of economic uncertainty understanding how to be self-sufficient in many ways including creating ‘useful’ objects like garments and clothing will not just be a pleasurable hobby for some but a necessity of living for many.
I’m actually working on putting together and editing a simple pattern/recipe for knitting the sweater pictured on the left.
PS. I’ve actually finished my Amigurumi Frog pattern, I’m just in the process for finding a place to host my pdf files.