Wearing sweaters 2

Still no FO! I’ll probably finish my Thanksgiving decorations tonight or tomorrow morning. So, I’ll talk about the sweater of the week, which is my “Unisex Zip.” Try not to notice that I need a haircut and a shave, OK?

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This pattern comes from the digital edition of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters” and is used as an example to show you how to design your own knitwear using the numbers from the “blank” pattern for a basic modified drop shoulder sweater. You can find information about it here.

I love wearing this sweater for many reasons.

First of all, it’s a wardrobe basic. There are no cables, no fancy color designs. The pattern calls for a multi-colored yarn, which means it goes well with lots of other clothes. The stitch pattern breaks up the stripes of color very nicely so you don’t get big, dominant pools of color. If you wear a long-sleeved tee under it, as photographed here, and put on a pair of jeans, it acquires a casual look. However, you can also wear a button-down shirt with a collar and some khakis to look more dressed up.

Another benefit is the stitch pattern. It’s a ribbing, but with slipped stitches. I don’t know if anyone reading this has actually tried to wear a truly ribbed sweater. I find them uncomfortable because they cling so much. This ribbing clings, but not to the point of strangulation, which makes it very comfortable. The modified drop shape adds enough contour to the chest without outlining it too much.

Also, this is a light wool sweater. The yarn weight is sport, so it’s warm, but not too warm for Fall weather. The pattern calls for a camouflage color way from Briar Rose. Unfortunately, this yarn is now discontinued, so I had to look for a substitute.

Which brings me to the last reason why this is a favorite: THE YARN. Briar Rose discontinued their sport weight line, so I needed a different merino wool. I got really lucky here. I live on continental Europe, where merino wool is just everywhere. As a matter of fact, if I travel 15 minutes outside the city I can easily find a flock of merino sheep roaming about in a field. I bought my spun-and-dyed-in-Spain merino wool from Tejo lo que Hilo. The name of the company translates to English as “I knit what I spin.” They have beautiful hand-dyed wool, which you can see knit up in the photo. This little company also sells equipment for spinning along with yarn you can dye at home. The quality of this merino wool far outdoes that of a more “trendy” and pricey brand, such as Madelintosh, which will pill even before the knitting is completed. I finished knitting this sweater in May 2016 and it still hasn’t produced any annoying fuzzies. Last year I wore the living heck out of it and this year I plan to do the same. So yes, good-quality, reasonably priced merino is sometimes better than the big name brands that cost more money. Sturdy merino wool exists, and some of it is grown, spun, and dyed right here in Spain. This sweater, for me, is a wardrobe staple and a special souvenir from my favorite country to live in, representing a way of life and a language I love.

Wearing a hand-knit sweater, when it’s properly made to fit well, is such a luxury, especially when it’s made of soft merino wool. It’s also cool to know that my hours of knitting won’t turn into a sweater with ugly balls of fuzz sticking out any time soon. It will eventually happen, but the material I chose has slowed down the process very nicely.

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35 thoughts on “Wearing sweaters 2

  1. claire93 November 17, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    I really love that yarn, makes a very unique sweater! I rather like the zip on this one too. Do you hand-sew a zip into a sweater or use the machine? I’ve often wondered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 1:18 pm

      You do it by hand. Theoretically, if the fabric is light enough, you could do it on a machine, but the knit stitches get pulled this way and that which could make an ugly seam.

      Like

      • Elena November 17, 2017 / 2:00 pm

        You need to use a jersey needle to avoid pulling. There’s nothing wrong with sewing it on by hand, of course, but it can also be done on a machine, just as well. I sew all my knitwear on a sewing machine – even seams (I’m too lazy for a mattress stitch). Chain stitch is great for that because it stretches. πŸ™‚ But zips can be sewn just with a regular straight stitch because the zip itself is non-stretch. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 2:18 pm

        That’s very good advice! Thank you. Most knitting patterns tell you to sew the zipper on by hand so I think you just shared a very mysterious trick and secret to sewing handknits! I am a very novice machine sewer, still, so I’m very grateful for your observation.

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      • Elena November 17, 2017 / 2:38 pm

        I think knitting magazines assume that knitters have no sewing machines. :-s Put it another way: how many factory-made sweaters have you seen with hand-sewn zips? πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 2:46 pm

        Yes, that’s an obvious one, as it is with t-shirts, which are really made of finely machine-knit fabric. I had never doubted the option of sewing pieces of sweaters together to have seams. In fact, there are traditionally knit sweaters with steeked armholes, which are indeed most commonly machine sewn, even though traditionally they were hand sewn because this has been done since before sewing machines were invented. My thing was the zipper, which I have always assumed had to be sewn on by hand for a better result. I also assumed that factories have some sort of magical machine that did the job better than a sewing machine. Factory goods don’t have zig-zag stitch on the inside of seams because they use a special machine for that, which you can also buy for home use. So, my twisted logic concluded “must be a zipper machine at the factory!” Zipper fabric is very sturdy and difficult to sew, even by hand. The next time I have to sew on a zipper, I’m going to try your advice with the machine and see what happens! And again, thanks so much!

        Like

      • Elena November 17, 2017 / 2:51 pm

        Zippers are a pain, granted, whichever way you look at them. :-p

        Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 2:47 pm

      Thanks a lot!

      Like

    • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 6:58 pm

      Thank you! I want to get more of that yarn in the future but first I should use what I have.

      Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 11:34 pm

      Thank you Yolanda!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mainepaperpusher November 17, 2017 / 8:18 pm

    Wearing two sweaters at once? You overachiever, you! I can’t even begin to think about putting a zipper in a sweater. You astound me! ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 11:33 pm

      Haha! It’s the second post about wearing sweaters. If were two at once it would be called, “Wearing 2 sweaters.” A zipper isn’t too difficult to sew onto a sweater. And thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. lawlovely November 17, 2017 / 11:13 pm

    Nice sweater! I wish I could knit with the speed that you have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 11:34 pm

      What speed? I finished this last year and it took me a few months. And thank you very much.

      Like

  4. MrsCraft November 17, 2017 / 11:41 pm

    It looks like a very comfy jumper, I do think it is important when investing so much time and money into a project that it will be practical and usable at the end and you’ve got it cracked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 17, 2017 / 11:44 pm

      Thank you so much! A little luck has also been on my side, I suspect! Good luck with your craft fair activities! Love the stuff you’re making!

      Like

      • MrsCraft November 17, 2017 / 11:45 pm

        Thank you! Luck may have played a tiny part, but the ability to knit well and know what you’re doing will have done the most!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. handmade habit November 18, 2017 / 1:59 am

    Great sweater, Tony. πŸ™‚ I really enjoy the yarn as well, and the way the colours knit up. The sweater looks brand new; what fantastic, durable yarn! And the ribbing is so nice. I can see how this makes for a fun and versatile staple; looks great! Can I ask, out of garment-making curiosity: what was it like to sew on the zipper? (did you measure the zipper-length before hand?). Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 18, 2017 / 2:14 am

      Thank you, Shirley! This pattern in particular calls for a standard zipper and tells you how long it needs to be. It actually works for any old zipper you can find at the dollar store (that’s where I got mine). A 9″ zipper is all you need for any size. The only thing to do to make sure your zipper fits in well is a) measure carefully as you work, b) try on as you go so you know it fits right BEFORE joining to work in the round and c) sew before washing and drying, because really, you don’t want to rely on blocking size for the right fit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • handmade habit November 18, 2017 / 2:17 am

        Thank you for the valuable pointers! Much appreciated. I never would have known to sew before washing and drying (but, in light of your tips, I can now see why that would be too late!). Good to know – I love the combination of knits and zippers, but have yet to try it myself. Truly next-level stuff. Bravo!

        Liked by 1 person

      • tonymarkp November 18, 2017 / 2:23 am

        Thanks a lot! This was my first attempt and only, so far, in sewing a zipper onto my knitwear. I programmed it logically in my brain and I remember thinking, “this one can’t be stretched out with any sort of blocking, and I need to get the zipper in when the measurements are solid.” Of course, merino doesn’t usually change much after it’s washed, but some of them can. In general, with any sweater, it’s best to not rely on blocking at all to get a good fit, in my experience. Other knitters would disagree with me, but I tend to think that if you’re going to theorize on some future end result, and imagine how something will fit after you logged it with water, it’s a gamble. The need for a zipper illustrates this point.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Kristabella's Hodgepodge November 18, 2017 / 2:54 am

    Fabulous! 😍 The yarn is gorgeous – I love how the colors are distributed 😊 Looks like a perfect fit – great job! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 18, 2017 / 2:56 am

      Thank you so much! It’s a nice fit. I actually wear this sweater over my pajamas sometimes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kristabella's Hodgepodge November 18, 2017 / 6:02 am

        πŸ˜ƒ Isn’t it nice when a project turns out so perfect that it’s immediately the favorite piece of clothing 😍

        Liked by 1 person

  7. handmade habit November 18, 2017 / 2:57 am

    Yes – I agree, blocking can only go so far. I can imagine how blocking to fit can also risk a wonky, puckered zipper-line later on as the knit goes through some potential post-blocking changes (one of my worries about zippers and knits). I like how smooth yours looks — a real success on your first attempt! I appreciate how much skill and thought go into ‘simple’ features like zippers and buttons; garment-knitting is not for the faint-hearted! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 18, 2017 / 3:03 am

      I’d say garment-knitting is for the humble, actually. Having knit garments for myself and other people, it requires being practical. Sweaters for others are never a surprise and we try them out in progress. It’s impossible to surprise people with a hand knit sweater.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Kate November 18, 2017 / 4:04 am

    That’s an awesome sweater! The zip would have intimidated me, but it really makes this sweater special.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 18, 2017 / 12:55 pm

      Thank you very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Anita November 18, 2017 / 4:17 am

    That’s a good sweater! Local, good quality wool is a dream come true.
    Did you ever get a chance to use the zipper, or has it been purely decorative so far? (Not that there’s anything wrong with decorative ☺)

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonymarkp November 18, 2017 / 12:54 pm

      Yes, I have, and the collar goes all the way up to my chin. On a windy day it’s useful!

      Liked by 1 person

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