Since I began to knit again, only a few months ago, I’ve saved sweater patterns. They are saved to my “favorites” section at Ravelry, and pinned to my knitting board at Pinterest. I even bought a book of children’s sweaters called Baby Botanicals (image link below) mistakenly thinking that a small sweater might be easier. Ha! Guess I did not learn my lesson from trying to knit booties. Small knitting projects can be just as complicated, or worse, than big ones!!!
As I perused the loooong patterns within this baby sweater book, I gave up on the idea of sweater knitting. Or at least, I had to find something super simple to begin with. Were any types of sweaters simple to knit?
I can’t answer this question yet, but I have decided on one to try. If I don’t jump in and give it a go, I will never know if I have what it takes to create a wearable item of clothing. After much searching, I chose the Umpqua Sweater by Caitlin Hunter. I’ve looked at a lot of sweater patterns and this one tugged at me right away. The sample is knit in a tweed yarn and has a wide yoke with an arrow-like design. Of course you can choose your own favorite yarn to use, which I did. Here’s how that happened.
Finding the Right Sweater Yarn
This is what has held me back from beginning a sweater:
Besides finding a pattern I could follow easily, sweater-knitting requires lots of yarn. Sweater knitting requires many needle sizes as well because the sleeves require DPN’s and sometimes other areas need smaller or larger needles. This all mean expenses beyond what is required to knit a hat or scarf. It costs (lots of) money to buy all the required notions.
Sweaters can be knit top-down or bottom-up and I had no idea which would be easier, or if there was a difference. Pullover or cardigan? Interesting cables and colors or plain and simple? After I began my sweater I found this Top-Down vs Bottom-Up Sweater Construction article which has good points to consider.
Also, I live in Florida. I am never going to wear a sweater – well, rarely. I don’t have that to look forward to. But I do travel to New Hampshire occasionally, where I would be able to show off my knitwear. The fact that I can’t enjoy wearing my finished sweater is a bummer.
The Umpqua Sweater is My Number One!
The Umpqua pattern is knit in worsted weight yarn, and I liked that. The Brooklyn Tweed “Shelter” yarn, used by the designer, was a bit pricey and was hand-wash only, so I looked around for something else. There are a lot of pretty worsted weight yarns to choose from. I needed something soft, warm and easy to care for.
It turned out that I got an e-mail the same day from a local yarn shop advertising the re-stocking of Malabrigo Rios yarn, so I checked out the description and colors offered. I’ve never used ‘Rios’ yarn, but do love Malabrigo yarn in general. And the colors were very nicely variegated which I thought would work well for this sweater. Also it claims to be “soft, warm and washable”. Perfect! (So far I can vouch for the “soft” part of that statement).
Finding the Right Color Yarn For My Sweater
Once I decided to use Rios, I looked on the Malabrigo site. This Rios yarn page shows the beautiful colors and has little “closer look” and ” sweater” icons in the top corner of each color. The “sweater” link goes to Pinterest where you can see each particular yarn knit up into items. This is a wonderful thing!
Often it is difficult to imagine a skein of yarn turned into a project, but here you have links to some things already knit up. The Rios yarn page is where I found my perfect sweater colors.
I decided that I loved the “Whole Grain” color for the main sweater color (my gauge swatch is the image for this post). Then I chose two others for the yoke pattern. “Aguas” is beautiful, but my second choice, “English Rose” is debatable. It’s very pretty, but I may want something different to sit alongside the blue-green color once I get to the colorwork part of the sweater. IF I ever get that far!
“Wool and Company” Had All My Color Choices
I really wanted to support my local yarn stores (they are not close, but I could order from them), but neither one had these colors in their shop. I think one of them had the English Rose, but most yarn stores offer “free shipping” over a certain amount. I didn’t want to split my order and have to pay shipping fees. (For the most part I refuse to pay for shipping.)
Somehow, I stumbled across “Wool and Company” and ta da… they had every color I was interested in! AND they offer Free US Shipping – no matter the size of the order! What? On top of all that, they will wind yarn for no extra charge! Double what..???? Yes, they offer complimentary ball winding. All I had to do was ask at checkout in the comments section (see my comment below). So I asked for the 6 balls of my Main Color to be wound. That is what you see in the photo above (3 of the 6 they wound for me, for free!). I don’t have a winder, so I have to create balls of yarn from skeins and wind them from draping the yarn over my knees. To have all those skeins ready to go was immensely helpful. Wool and Company is my new favorite place to shop for basic yarn online.
I do love Miss Babs, and other hand-spun / hand-dyed shops for their unique offerings, but Wool and Company had the name brand yarn I wanted when I could not find it elsewhere.
Wool and Company’s shipping was quite fast. They are in Illinois and I am in Florida. I got the yarn – 8 skeins, 6 wound by them – in 6 days. Not bad.
Now all I have to do is create a nice sweater from this lovely yarn. Fingers crossed… here I go. I’m currently figuring the guage.
See how the Umpqua Sweater knitting is coming along.