Sweater frustration

My friends, I need to get something off my chest.

It’s about sweaters, and what appears to be my complete inability to find a sweater pattern/idea/inspiration that I like.

Ever since I completed the orange Filati tunic on September 20th, 2005 (OMG, that was an eternity ago), I’ve been searching and looking, browsing and Googling, all to no avail. Although I’m incredibly picky, my bar for what constitutes a “pattern” is set pretty low – I’m confident in my ability to re-size and alter, and even to mimic something for which there is no pattern at all – and yet there is absolutely nothing I’ve seen in seven months that has prompted me to pick up my needles, or get out my wallet, or locate my graph paper in the ever-growing pile of sock and shawl patterns.

Well, there was that one inspiring occasion, that gorgeous Kimono-shaped cardigan from Anthropologie. But, alas, the yarn majorly let me down and I can no longer bring myself to love the design via this bad association*.

What about coming up with something from scratch? I shake my head – my current circumstances don’t provide enough time for from-scratch endeavors. At least not for the way I do things – with serious obsessive-compulsive tendencies, if I may be so frank. And those tendencies are major time and energy investments. Mmmhhmmm, no doubt about that.

April is the season of patterns, and I eagerly anticipated the release of new issues of all the knitting magazines, online and printed. Knitty, MagKnits, Interweave, Vogue… Bottom line – I LOVE the Nautie pattern, but unfortunately it’s not a sweater!

In desperation, I even checked out Interweave Crochet Spring 2006. The horror.

What is my problem? I don’t think it’s a loss of knitting mojo because, well, I’ve got some exciting projects planned as soon as I’m done with my Sock-A-Pal socks. However, my plans do not include a sweater. Am I just becoming an accessories knitter? Socks and hats and scarves and shawls?


Is there a problem with that? Well, I do feel a certain level of accomplishment from knitting a nicely-fitting sweater, which I cannot recreate with even the most intricate shawl. I kind of miss it, it feels really good.

Sigh. Some knitters have lists the size of dissertations of sweaters they want to knit, and I don’t have a single one.

*I didn’t blog about it, but that sucker was ripped in a fit of rage many, many months ago. I think the breaking point was measuring the finished and blocked and fully-dried sleeve after it had marinated in my knitting basket for two weeks only to find out that over the course of those two weeks, it had shrunk another two inches. A more wild ripping party I have never witnessed. I didn’t even take the time to wind the ripped yarn in some fashion – I just let it puddle around my feet in every which direction. After I came to my senses, I decided that the lovely light blue yarn will one day make a fabulous baby blanket, an object where shrinking two inches over the course of two weeks doesn’t matter nearly as much as it does for a sleeve.


53 thoughts on “Sweater frustration

  1. Debi

    Could I actually be first? πŸ™‚

    Do you get the Patternworks catalog? I really saw nothing in the afore mentioned mags that made me want to whip out needles or graph paper but there were some designs in the spring Patternworks supplement that had definite promise. If you don’t get it, call them or sign up on-line, you’ll have it in a couple of days!

  2. Christie

    Sorry to hear of your sweater dilemma. If I tell you that the Anthro Kimono Sweater is on sale on their website would that cheer you up a little?

  3. Janet

    I like the Cascade pattern that Alli linked, but what about one of Jenna’s (A Girl From Auntie) patterns? Rogue or her newest which escapes me now. Well-written patterns, nicely shaped sweaters with some unique cabling too!

  4. Theresa

    I agree that even the most amazing Shetland shawl doesn’t have quite the same I-made-a-sweater-feeling (although the I-made-an-amazing-Shetland-shawl feeling isn’t bad either). Vogue Spring ’05 (I think) has the set of aquatic-inspired sweaters which involve a lot of lace, etc. Perhaps a lacy sweater would bridge this gap?

  5. laura

    Have you looked through the phildar magazines?


    The magazines are really cheap if you get them directly from phildar in france, I just got 5 and it was 27 euro including shipping. They include a chart for every stitch pattern used and they also have a really good diagram of the shape of the sweater pieces so even if you do not speak french it is easy to figure out how to make it.

  6. Melissa

    I COMPLETELY sympathize–I’ve been having the same problem! I’ve got some lovely green wool/silk blend that’s itching to be a sweater, and I can’t find anything to suit it! Aak!

  7. Jen

    Nothing wrong with socks! If that’s where you are right now, it’s OK! Personally I’m obsessed with socks at the moment, so you’ll get nothing but enabling from me in the sock department.


  8. pixie

    I like Knit and Tonic’s Essentail Stripe. It fits if you follow the pattern but you can easily make modifications without much drama.

    So far it’s the only sweater I have knit that I like.

  9. yahaira

    have you noticed how many socks I’ve been knitting lately? ennui is going around I think. though I did just fall in love with kate gilbert’ sunrise circle jacket for it’s construction alone. maybe you need to find a sweater with an ingenius construction like that to get you going again.

  10. Carole

    I looked at my finished page yesterday and realized that everything I’ve knit this year has either been a shawl, a sock or a scarve. I need to knit something that doesn’t begin with the letter S.

  11. Ericka

    Sorry to hear of your frustration. Hopefully it will pass soon, and you will find a sweater pattern that you fall in love with. Here’s the sweater that I’m currently making http://www.onefineyarn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=LINOVA It’s from the new Rebecca #31 magazine. They have a lot of nice patterns this season. Also, you could check out http://www.garnstudio.com, they now have their entire collection of patterns online for free. You could also try the Bergere de France website (www.bergeredefrance.fr). They have a lot of free patterns too (but they’re all in French). Click on the Tricoteque tab, then Femme, and then click on the Telecharger button for each pattern. And, if you’re like me and don’t speak a lick of French, here is their French-English translation http://www.bergeredefrance.fr/img/BDF-Knitting_Glossary.pdf Hope that helps you!

  12. Risa

    I’m in the same boat! I haven’t seen a sweater I really felt compelled to knit in quite some time. It’s mostly been socks and scarves and baby items for the best friend’s new baby recently. But I’m keeping my eyes open. I was hopeful for the new Knitty, but didn’t see anything I was crazy about.

    Nothing wrong with accessories, though.

  13. Diana

    Hmm, you know how I love making sweaters and, like many others, I have a long list of sweaters I want to make. Rowan (well, actually Ms. Hargreaves) and Phildar are my inspirations. And I also love the sweater patterns at Bergere de France. I think something will show up for you eventually but, to make you happy, it can’t be like anything else that’s out there. I’ll keep my eye out for you.

  14. Laura

    hee hee!

    I have the opposite problem. I have tons of sweaters that I want to knit and no desire to make much else. What exactly is a girl who lives in Houston-it’s-too-hot-here, Texas supposed to do with a ton of wool sweaters? Wear them once a year? Turn on the air conditioning until the conditions inside the house are arctic?

  15. Lotta

    just an idea… The sweater (store bought) I’m wearing today gave me an idea this morning. I was looking at the sleeves, and Heureka! it’s Jaywalker in the cuffs! And I thought one day I’ll have to make a sweater using that idea. It makes the sleeves slightly frilly, and they are a little wider towards the hand. The cuff is about 3 – 3.5″ long, and it falls about half way down my palm. I love the sleeves in this shirt!Otherwise the shirt is very plain, it’s ribbed all over. They used the same Jaywalker pattern in the collar, but I’m not sure I care for that, I’d probably just do a pretty scoop neck. Could use it in the hem, but that might make it too frilly… Anyways, this is just an idea, and would be a bunch of work to create the pattern yourself, but I think that’s the best way to do it -you get exactly what you want. πŸ˜‰

  16. Joanna

    Have you seen the Drops patterns? 47 pages of free patterns, and some of their sweaters are really nice! Plus the translations are probably just bad enough to give you a nice challenge. πŸ˜‰ Takes a lot of patience to sift through them all (I mean, come on, 47 PAGES) but I think it’s worth it.

  17. mollysusie

    And at the other end of the knitting spectra, I’m desperately looking for a sweater to knit as my first sweater. I was thinking Peppermint Twist from the first Stitch n’ Bitch for a nice summery cotton sweater…but I’ve never done stripes.

    So to take on two new challenges simultaneously or make it a solid…that is the question.

  18. Stacey

    The lack of inspiration seems to be floating around the web – I have read a bit recently on bunches of blogs about it, and have it myself also. I’m just going to keep plugging away on my socks….

  19. Carolyn

    I know exactly where you are. Seriously. I am feeling the same right now…no inspiration. I just have 1/2 a sock to knit and then my needles are empty.

    I see your lust over that pullover…but you will add shaping right?

  20. Ann

    I’m with you too… I keep having fleeting inspirations… I like a design, buy yarn, and then 2 weeks later, I’m over it. It’s like a sweater-crush. I want a real relationship!!

    Though, I’ll say this — have you checked the new RYC books from Rowan? There are some really interesting designs in there. I’m letting them marinate.

  21. Saun

    Strangely enough, I barely finished one sweater this year and that was only because of the Knitting Olympics. Recent sweater patterns haven’t been to inspiring. Maybe you should go back through some old patterns and see if there is anything that you wanted to knit in the past but forgot about.

  22. Elizabeth

    Wow, I wish I had this problem – I have too many sweaters I want to make. I just saw the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk collection at my LYS and drooled over it. Maybe you should design something yourself? Look through Anthropologie or other clothing sites you like, choose something, and go with it? You’re talented and experienced enough to make that work, I’m sure… anyway, hope you get inspired soon!

  23. Sue

    Don’t forget to include the back issues of knitting magazines such as Vogue Knitting and IK in your search. You can view back issue designs from their web sites and send away for a copy of individulal patterns. I did this to get the Koigu turtleneck (pattern 32) from the Vogue Knitting Fall 2002 issue. It is a very simple classic turtleneck but made from 6 different colorways of Koigu. Yum.

  24. j a r e d

    design a fair-isle fitted cardigan!!

    (sorry, totally random… i’m just pushing my own personal interests onto you…. hehe. i’m really dreaming about fair isle cardigans lately though. someday…)

  25. Mary K. in Rockport

    Maybe it’s the weather and the light. They’re subliminally telling you that summer is coming. In late August, you’ll be itching to start knitting a sweater, I bet.

  26. Carrie

    How about a basic sweater pattern that already fits you, with some colorwork? The Meg Swanson sock is so beautiful, you could do something like that.

  27. Jacquie

    Trying to knit something when you’re really not inspired is tempting the knitting goddess big time. Percolate a little more. It will come!

  28. Ellen

    Have you checked out “Vintage Knits” by Rowan? I can see you in one of their cardigans!

  29. Purly Whites

    Hmmm. What about Annie Modesitt’s corset or her mandarin jacket thingy in IK? I’m sure you’ve mulled them over, but at least it would be interesting construction. I also like the idea of the sunrise circle jacket. It seems like a pretty interesting construction. I guess I’m thinking that construction should be the thing you are looking for, rather than the overall look or wearability (hee hee), since that seems to be more of what you are interested in.

    Or, you know, you could knit me a sweater. I’ll send you my measurements and supply the yarn and pattern. Heh.

    Rrarrr! Rraarrr!

  30. Katherine

    I get you. I do not knit sweaters. I don’t totally know why and don’t want to think about it too hard, but I just find it really hard to want to do a sweater. Now, a baby sweater, fine. A toddler sweater, okay.

    Maybe a jacket, though…

  31. Michelle

    I wish I had some advice, but I have none. No sweaters ever come out the way I’d like, and I hate the “store bought” ones as well. Long live accessory knitting! I do like Rebecca magazines though.

  32. Sue

    Sweater ennui, I know it well.

    Somewhere there’s a sweater you’ll want to knit. Have you looked at Japanese patterns at http://www.rakuten.co.jp/gosyo/461397/ or the main page at http://www.rakuten.co.jp/gosyo/

    Yes, I know it is all in Japanese. If you use the first link, click on one of the pictures on the right hand side of the page; this will take you to a series of thumbnails. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger picture and the relevant knitting info. There are handy picures which explain each link on the right: yarn balls for the yarn, etc. The bottom link with the picture of pattern pieces will take you to a pdf of the pattern. For help with Japanese patterns check out this site: http://www.tata-tatao.to/knit/e-index.html. This site is partially translated to English; click on button at top of page.

  33. beth

    I understand. I keep seeing aspects of sweaters that I like, but having to put all of those things together seems kind of daunting. Maybe I’m just lazy:)

  34. carrie

    Nothing wrong with not knitting sweaters. Nothing at all. Think of all the lovely things you can knit–bedspreads, curtains, boats (not kidding, it’s been done), hammocks, doilies, dinosaurs, bonnets, purses, rugs, sculpture… if you don’t feel like knitting a sweater, don’t! The urge will come again. Knit something else in the meantime. Or just make swatches πŸ™‚

  35. PK

    I second the nomination (made by someone else above) for the Girl From Auntie’s latest design. (Eris?) I am knitting the cardigan. It has a cabled collar/yoke knit first, then the body stitches are picked up from around the yoke and knit down in one piece with raglan sleeves and really clever cabled waist shaping.

    I had been in a sweater rut before, and this has broken me out of it.

  36. Wanda

    Sadly I’ve not had that problem, as there are always lots of patterns that I want to make. I am hesitant to give any sweater pattern recommendations b/c you seem to have very exacting tastes that I don’t for certain what you’re looking for. It seems a challenge is evident that you like, but what other elements are a must-knit for you, I’m not sure. Others have mentioned GirlfromAuntie’s patterns, White Lies Design, is another, perhaps colorwork, fair isle, aran work, I dunno. Maybe Hanne Falkenberg or Shadow Knitting? Hmm, there are lots of options, hopefully something will interest you soon.

  37. Mary Jo

    Have you looked in the back issues of the Rowan magazines? Also the Rowan classic books have some (unsurprisingly) classic sweaters.

  38. Genny

    Heh, sweater patterns are like men, when you are looking for one – they are all dogs, and when you aren’t looking – you want them all!

    Well maybe not, but I can’t help you – I’m a sweater s**t – I’m easy with the patterns and just knit them in a meaningless manner…

  39. liz

    I have the opposite problem. I can’t stop knitting sweaters long enough to finish much else. I keep thinking of other projects but, when push comes to shove, it’s always the sweater that is my fallback position. Although I am on my third pair of Jaywalkers!

  40. winnie

    well.. how’s about them sweaters in the Norsk Strikkedesign book? “the season of darkness and winter light” jacket? drool…..

  41. Devorah

    I’m having the same problem. Finding just the right sweater pattern is tough. However … the Cascade Pattern is speaking to me. So, you may not have solved your own problem but you solved mine! Enjoy the socks and accessories — it if perfectly acceptable to knit small things. They give us good “finished” feelings.

  42. Katie

    It’s SPRING!!!

    I’m thinking about Knitty’s Cambio as a pullover..(a little bit longer…a little bit of shaping-or in my case..a whole lotta shaping)

  43. Liz

    The new Fiona Ellis Cable book has some great pieces, and they aren’t all bulky and “let’s add 20 lbs to your figure”, AND colour work – that is my currrent obsession, and looking at all the sweaters in Poetry in Stitches and the like, is very inspirational (at least for me). Am also contemplating knitting one of these Norwegian lovelies in cotton (gasp) for a spring/fall thing. Just a thought.

  44. Brooke

    I am feeling your pain. I can’t seem to get excited or even intrigued by any of the new magazine. And Sheep and Wool is approaching and I lack inspiration ??

    I was thinking about making “Cheese Wiz” until I saw all the trouble you had with it. Nothing frustrates me more than a poorly written pattern. I don’t suppose you wrote up the changes you made? I just looked at their web site and they don’t seem to have any errata.

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