For a long time, I told myself that I’d never be able to knit a sweater. And I couldn’t. For years. Apart from the various excuses I gave myself, I couldn’t wrap my mind around how it was constructed. Until I realized that I had to move the sweater from my Can’t Do List, and to the top of my To Do List, because it was holding me back from the things I wanted to knit.
3 Tips to Break the ‘First-Sweater’ Barrier
1. Try it in ‘small’ first
Knitting the TinCanKnits Flax sweater in the newborn size (for my neighbour’s new baby) helped me understand sweater construction in the round. And all in a weekend.
2. Set a deadline for yourself
That baby sweater happened, because my neighbour went into labour, and I hadn’t gotten around to finding a gift. So it was make or break (for me personally, she didn’t know I was knitting).
To help break the adult size sweater barrier, I signed up for a test knit. Nothing beats knowing that someone’s counting on you, to keep you on the straight and narrow. The advantage of a Test Knit or a Knitalong (especially a designer-run knitalong), is that you can ask questions for any bits you aren’t too sure about. Ravelry is great for this.
3. Reckon the time realistically
People say it takes between 4-6 weeks to make a sweater. I’d say, it definitely depends. It’s not just the general time one needs to knit a sweater, but if this is realistic for you (are you a fast or slow knitter?), your lifestyle (are you allowed to knit at work? Evening or early morning knitter?), the pattern (stockinette stitch sweaters tend to fly off the needles much more quickly than lace or cables).
I can’t knit at work, so I try to knit at least a row/round in the morning before I get going, at lunchtime and when I’m carting the kids around. I can’t knit too late at night, or after that glass of red wine in the evenings. So I’ll add a week or a few days to my expectations.
4. Trick yourself:
a) plan your project in the same way you would plan a small project. Get your needles, yarn, stitchmarkers, counters, and pattern together (an extra printout/copy that you can scribble on to mark your place). If you can, do it all in one go, so you don’t spook yourself.
b) do the complicated stuff early in the day: your willpower is strongest then.
c) tell yourself you can’t wait to get to do xxx (insert whichever part you’re working on) to help put yourself in the mood.
d) Karen at fringeassociation suggests knitting sleeves as swatches to get past second sleeve syndrome. This only works for bottom-up sweaters that are knit then seamed together. Still a cool tip.
e) read the pattern through and visualize what you need to do. Make a list of things you need to learn to do to for the pattern. Some designers include links to tutorials for special bits. I make marks on the pattern (big stars) to remind me that by the time I get to a certain spot, I need to go look at the link for doing the m1L or twin stitches, or whatever.
What I’ve learned, is to keep going. Inch by inch, a sweater will take shape. Best of luck, and have fun!
(Photosource: my Ravelry project pages)