One year of knitting: my pandemic panacea

If you’d rather skip my write-up and go straight for the good stuff, scroll down. We mostly just want to see the pictures, right? Also, I’m still not certain about the past tense of the word “knit” and at this point, I’m too afraid to ask.

As I mentioned in my last blog post several centuries ago, I picked up knitting again during the pandemic. I’m not new to fiber arts—I’ve made things with yarn off and on as long as I was capable of making loops of yarn and pulling them through other loops of yarn. But, it turned out to be a very good decision. It’s been a hobby that I can pick up and do when I’m watching TV with my husband, it doesn’t take up much space, and it doesn’t require much time to get going or finish up during sessions.

I started simple with a hat for my son and husband. I winged it and drafted the patterns myself, having no idea how my decreases would end up looking. The first hat was meant for my son, but ended up being for my husband. Yup, it was that big.

Then I ventured into mittens, following this simple and understandable pattern by Tin Can Knits. A big pair for me, and a teeny pair for my toddler.

After feeling confident in my decreases, increases, and holding stitches on waste yarn, I embarked on a sweater for my husband. It only took 5 months. Yes, 5 months. The Christmas gift became the Valentine’s Day gift. Next up was a sweater for me, which hummed along much quicker, thanks to thicker yarn (almost TOO thick, IMO) and my previous experience with the pattern. There was some weird color pooling in the middle that made a dark stripe that may have been due to attaching a new skein, and altogether I’m pretty darn happy with it. I ripped things out and re-knitted them—a process that I’ve finally gained the patience and skills to undertake.

Now I know few things that I didn’t before:

  • Hold sleeve stitches on cables instead of waste yarn! Then you can just screw your interchangeable needles right back onto the cable and you’re ready to go.
  • Gauge is crucial for garments. I learned this with the first hat, and haven’t looked back since. I even do 2 or more swatches if I need to adjust anything, and then do the math precisely. It’s just. Not. Worth. It. to create a garment that is too big or too small. Especially if you’re splurging on yarn.
  • Nice yarn makes a nice-looking garment (usually). I bought some US-raised wool for my husbands sweater. It is soft, gray, and looks beautiful as a sweater.
  • Block it. The difference between my husbands unblocked sweater and the blocked final product was subtle, but it looked much more finished and less handmade. Not that handmade is a bad thing. It just looked more polished and even. (For those unfamiliar with the term: blocking just means getting it wet, pressing out the moisture, then laying it flat to dry and sometimes using pins to hold it in place).

So, here’s the good stuff (and the passable stuff)!

Photos in order from left-to-right, top-to-bottom:

  1. Adult hat, self-drafted (superwash, fingering weight merino blend)
  2. Child’s hat, self-drafted (superwash, fingering weight merino blend, unknown teal yarn)
  3. Child and adult mittens, Tin Can Knits pattern (some rather rough worsted merino yarn)
  4. Adult sweater, Tin Can Knits Flax pattern (Stonehedge Fibers Shepherd’s Wool)
  5. Adult sweater, Tin Can Knits Flax cropped (Koigu Chelsea Merino)

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