DIY Slow Fashion

Slow Fashion: Make It Yourself 2.0

January 18, 2018

In the fall of 2016 I knit myself a very warm wool hat. (And I went on to make three more hats as gifts with the same pattern!) It was a great experience, and I was surprised how quick and easy the pattern knit up. Throughout the last fall and this winter, that hat is my warmest, and most-worn.

In November I decided to try my hand at making a sweater! I have been knitting for years, but I’m not an experienced knitter. As in, most of my projects up until this point had been rectangular. Any projects that included increasing, decreasing, or hemlines intimidated me.

Why did I go for it?

To be perfectly honest, because the folks at Wool and the Gang offered to send me one of their knitting kits. The fact that I, 1) didn’t have to buy it, and 2) didn’t have to search for a pattern, nor a high-quality yarn, or even needles, removed nearly all the obstacles for me. The kit arrived on my doorstep containing literally everything I needed.

The balls of yarn were gorgeous! I wish I’d taken a shot of all six of them before I started knitting. The wool is a gorgeous burnt-orangey shade that regularly commands compliments. I like this yarn because it’s very warm, and the thickness of it makes it a lot easier to knit with than a finer-gauge yarn. I could clearly see my stitches and, when I made mistakes, the chunky yarn was easy to un-do.

Was it hard?

Yes and no, but mostly no. It came together quite fast because of the thick yarn. I could easily knit row after row in one setting. The pattern book had a nice glossary of definitions for when I had to employ new techniques. But I found the videos to be the most helpful. I had to learn how to do right/left leaning decreases, which you can see below, along with a few other tactics. When I got to those parts, I looked up Wool and the Gang’s video tutorials on YouTube and, within a minute, I was watching the video. Another few minutes and I was completing that step on my sweater. I can’t believe how easy it was. Sometimes I had to watch the video a few times to get it. Other times the steps were clear after the first go-round. I can’t believe I waited so long in my knitting career to try a sweater. It was not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be.

What I learned.

After I completed my sweater I realized there were a few things I could have done better, or wouldn’t do next time. Before I mention those, I want to add, my sweater is not perfect, and I’m okay with that. It represents something I made with my two hands, which are not perfect either. There is beauty and story in the imperfection.

The next time I knit a garment I will not add a skein in the middle of the row. In my quest to be the most efficient with the yarn I used it as much as I could before adding a new skein. Sometimes this meant a knot in the middle of a row I was knitting, and subsequently, loose ends to weave in later. Afterward, I realized this left lumps in the middle of my neatly formed rows, particularly where I weaved in the ends. Next time I’ll join my skeins at the end of a row. I would also like to get better at weaving in the ends. I tried to follow a method Wool and the Gang recommended, but ended up getting a little lost in the stitches. Improved technique in this area would lead to a smoother finished product (and less chance of an errant strand of yarn poking out!).

What I liked about it.

For me, knitting feeds my desire to relax and stay productive at the same time. It took me about a month to complete the sweater (between Thanksgiving and Christmas). I brought it when we traveled over the holidays, and enjoyed knitting while visiting with family after dinner. My favorite time to work on the sweater was after the kids had gone to bed, and Mr. Seasons and I would kick our feet up for some Netflix.

I recommend taking on a project like this only if you’re interested in the process as much as the end product. If you want a sweater, go buy a sweater. But if you want to create, a kit like this is a fabulous way to do it. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation (yarn gauge, needles, sweater design, etc.), and helps get the ball (of yarn) rolling. I loved working on this, and will probably try my hand at another sweater next winter!

Currently, most Wool and the Gang Kits are 20% off. I knit the Eden Jumper in a size 2, in Cinnamon Dust, and I also like the Wooly Young Thing and Final Countdown cardigans. In these photos I am wearing my Everlane skinny jeans and No.6 clog boots with my jumper.

If you’re a knitter, have you tackled a sweater yet? If not, what is holding you back?

Photography by Kiara Rose.

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  • Krystal January 18, 2018 at 6:52 am

    I’m still so seriously impressed that you knit a sweater, and it’s so beautiful! Knitting absolutely terrifies me. I’ve had a Wool and the Gang kit in my shopping cart for awhile, but just haven’t been able to click “check out.” I definitely think the fear of failing at it (or giving up and it ending up unfinished) is holding me back. Maybe one day!

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      Thank you so much Krystal. If you have a baseline for knitting, a sweater is totally doable. If not, a scarf can be a super easy place to start! It’s a very rhythmic and relaxing process once you get the hang of it. :)

  • Alice January 18, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Haven’t knit a sweater yet, but just ordered mittens and a hat! Both will be firsts for me. I have made many scarfs in my time, and am excited to learn something new.

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      Yay Alice, excited for you! That’s how I felt. I was ready to learn something new as well. If feels good to learn!

  • Anne M January 18, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Your new sweater looks deliciously warm and cozy. I haven’t taken on a sweater yet, I think it’s intimidation by the thought of trying to get a good fit! I’ve been nearly done with a hat “for a while now,” and, now that I confront it, I think that’s what is holding me back from finishing. I’d like to move on from scarves, shawlettes, and dishcloths though. The cardigan you linked looks as if it has enough ease to be a good first sweater project.

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      I hear you on your concern about fit, I am the same way. I think that’s why this sweater worked out for me, because it’s an oversized style. Anything fitted, that would be terrifying! I love the idea of making dishcloths! I have a ton of knit ones from a neighbor that I got years back, and they are all I use!

  • Bev January 18, 2018 at 9:26 am

    I’ve wanted to knit a sweater for a long time, but never managed to commit, and seeing your sweater on in progress on Instagram was a huge inspiration for me to finally bite the bullet and order a kit! I haven’t knit anything in over six months, and so far I’ve knit, unraveled and reknit the hem cabling three times, but I’m finally in the groove and am optimistic that it’ll start going quickly :)

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      Excited for you Bev! Just don’t give up when you get stuck! I hope you’ll share your final product!

  • Alicia January 18, 2018 at 10:33 am

    So cool! Would you recommend one of these for a beginning knitter? I can crochet all day, but knitting is kind of lost on me. They have so much cool stuff on the site and I want a kid!

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      I’d say you want to have your basic knitting skills down pat before trying this one. Did you check out their crochet kits?

  • Cassi January 18, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I love this!! I’ve been knitting off and on since college but the one time i tried to make myself a sweater, I completely abandoned it after it was about halfway finished. I think I just got tired of it, then took a break, then couldn’t remember where I left off when I came back to it.

    I just got a sewing machine last week so maybe I’ll try my hand at making something for myself 😮

    Thanks for the inspiration as always!

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      Yay for knitting and sewing! I just love to create, but definitely struggle with having the patience to follow through. I hope you do indeed try your hand at making something for yourself!

  • Stacy January 18, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Your sweater is BEAUTIFUL. I think you did an amazing job, and the imperfections are part of the beauty.

    This line made me laugh: “If you want a sweater, go buy a sweater.” *throws both hands in the air* Not sure that I could bring myself to knit a sweater, so I’ll pay others to make them for me for now!

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      Haha, thanks for seeing my humor Stacy!!

  • Kaci January 18, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Wow, gorgeous! I want to learn to knit bad, but realistically probably won’t take it on until next year. Will definitely look into a kit when the time comes!

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Yay, excited for you. For now, I’d say settle with some scrap yarn, needles, and a youtube video. It will be great practice!

  • Chloe | Conscious by Chloe January 18, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Oh my goodness, Andrea, you’re so talented! This sweater is beautiful and I bet it’s so warm and cozy. Do you take orders? :D

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Hahaha! That is a huge compliment. Thanks friend! Btw, I bet you could totally do this…

  • Jessica M. January 18, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    Your sweater is lovely! I used to be a knitter, and I knitted a couple sweaters, several vests, a lot of scarves, and eventually ended up getting rid of almost all of them, when my tastes changed and my standards got higher. Now I have two cats and so knitting is pretty much impossible (they attack needles and yarn, so it’s pretty much doomed). I’m jealous of you though! That sweater definitely looks like a keeper.

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Oh man, it’s rough when our tastes change, right? I have a beautiful vest my mom made me several years ago, but it’s a shade of green I just don’t wear anymore… but I can’t quite bring myself to get rid of it. That’s too funny about your cats!

  • Shelbi January 18, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    I love this sweater and that yarn is super fancy! I pretty much stick with scarves, and like you, increasing and decreasing intimidates me. Partly because my house is loud and crazy and I have a short attention span, so until then, I’ll stick with my scarves I guess! It’s so awesome to make your own pieces. It’s truly the best!

    • Andrea January 22, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      Oh man, loud household here too! I definitely had to wait till after bedtime for this project.

  • Joy February 7, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Beautiful sweater, and an amazing colour! You did an awesome job on it, and it looks fantastic on you. I know I’m a little late to the game, but as a sweater-obsessed knitter, I just couldn’t help commenting. Have you ever heard of the technique called spit splicing? It allows you to essentially use friction and moisture to join two ends of a skein together (as long as the yarn is 100% animal fibre like the Crazy Sexy Wool), and it leaves no ends to weave in. I’ve used it several times on my sweaters, and it means you can use absolutely every inch of your gorgeous yarn! :)

    • Andrea February 7, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      I have not heard of that, but it sounds amazing! What a clever, clever idea. It actually makes more sense! Is it pretty easy to do? Yes, I hate those chopped ends, what a waste! I’d love to omit that!

      • Joy February 9, 2018 at 9:01 am

        It’s super easy! You essentially just fray the two ends of your yarn, use some spit (I know that sounds gross, but spit is magical for some reason), and then lay the two ends together and rub them against your jeans until they become one strand. I’m pretty sure there’s some good tutorials on YT for it, and it’s way faster than weaving in ends (which is my least favourite thing to do in knitting, haha).

        • Andrea February 12, 2018 at 11:51 am

          Thank you for this Joy! I will certainly do this on my next knit!!