A “complete” knitter

Hey, that looks familiar!

Formerly known as “the Egyptian dress,” it’s Cleopatra from Annie Modesitt’s new book, Romantic Hand Knits. I hardly remember knitting the sample, but there it is – finished and ready to go.

The other patterns in the book are equally inspiring. If you’d like to see some photos and read a review or two, visit Claudia, Colleen, Christie, or all three!

All I’d like to add is that the stylist, Karen Schaupeter, did an amazing job. Every outfit is stylish and insightful, perfectly showcasing the handknit item without looking haphazard. You know the gorgeous Show-Off Ruffle Skirt in Lace Style that looks so… wrong on the model? Yeah, Romantic Hand Knits styling is the opposite of that.

Although many of the projects in this book are drop dead gorgeous, I don’t think I’ll be knitting any of them. In fact, going through this book caused a little lump to form in my throat. Lately this lump has been forming any time I leaf through a pattern book focusing on women’s wear, and I think it’s time I process my feelings and come clean to my friends.

I don’t think I’m a sweater knitter.

At first, several years ago, I knit (women’s) sweaters to see if I could do it. Could I make a sweater which fit decently? Could I make the sleeve cap fit into the armhole? Could I accommodate small shoulders, big biceps, a curvy figure, and so on? What could I learn about finishing or estimating yardage?

Once I knit a few sweaters and started to formulate answers to some of these questions, my focus shifted to the actual process of knitting. The actual handling of the yarn, the feel of the knit fabric, the soothing stitches, the casting on, the slickness of the needles, the smoothness (or furriness) of the yarn… Process knitters like me know exactly what I’m talking about.

And if I’m knitting for the process alone (and I am), I’d rather knit something other than a sweater. I enjoy knitting accessories like a gazillion times more than I enjoy knitting sweaters. Shawls, hats, bags, socks, scarves, mittens, even baby things – I’m still entertained by them. Each one is a chance to try out something new, but on a much smaller scale than a sweater. Process knitter satisfied? Check!

My love for the art form of “sweater knitting” is dwindling and disappearing. Patterns for lace stoles, baby blankets, and mittens are overtaking the space once bursting at the seams with sweater patterns. And the mere act of looking at sweater patterns makes me feel unsettled, causing the disturbing lump in my throat. “I admire you, but I don’t want to knit you, or the likes of you.”

You know what’s really weird? Somehow I feel like I’m not a “complete” knitter unless I’m cranking out sweaters. Do you ever feel that?

I must say I am relieved right now. I feel that by revealing my true feelings to you, I now have permission to never knit another women’s sweater again. So liberating.

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123 thoughts on “A “complete” knitter

  1. Laurel

    I feel much the same way. I have friends who make beautiful sweaters, and I have made sweaters in the past, but on the whole, I prefer to knit smaller things, or shawls. But at the same time, I’m not really a sock knitter, either, because there are two of them. So, rock on you non-sweater knitter!

  2. Courtney

    Honesty, as they say, feels so good.

    More power to you dear…the only sweater I’ve knit in years has been for a child. Socks and hats and lace, oh my!

  3. jody

    if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. i wonder the same thing about myself from time to time. as i said last year — knit what you love, and love what you knit. nothing else matters 🙂

  4. Deanna

    There is so much room for disappointment with sweater knitting. After so much effort, if it doesn’t fit right, it’s crap. Even if the sweater is perfectly done, but not perfect for you, it’s a big let-down. Can’t wait to see all of your non-sweater knitting!

  5. Natalie B

    knitting is such a labor of love that if you don’t love the project, you shouldn’t be knitting it!! There! Now I’ve revealed my true feelings!

  6. jen

    I taught myself to knit because I got sick of not finding sweaters that fit my petite-yet-curvy body properly. 5 years later, I have yet to make myself a sweater. I’ve started a few, but I always get major ennui halfway through (or sooner). I sometimes feel like I’m not a “real” knitter because I’ve never made an adult sweater, so I totally feel you.

  7. Ariel

    Thanks for coming clean. I’ve been feeling like I *should* enjoy knitting sweaters, and to hear someone else come out and say that they jsut aren’t that into knitting sweaters is oddly liberating. So it’s all socks all the time for me. And I’m not going to feel any less “complete” for it!

  8. stariel

    Well, I’m obviously a sock knitter. I have knit sweaters, I *can* knit sweaters, and now I feel like I just don’t have to.

    Sure, there are a few sweaters I want to knit because I want to wear them, but otherwise I think I’ll stick to socks.

  9. Gina

    I am SO with you on the sweater thing. Every time I get the urge….I knit a vest instead. Works like a charm.

  10. Shanti

    You should knit what you want to knit – forcing yourself to knit something even though it’s not really what you want just makes the process less enjoyable.

    Besides, with that list of things you do like to knit, you won’t run out of projects any time soon.

  11. materfamilias

    Interesting. I’m still knitting sweaters and I have a few in the queue, but I recognize what you’re saying. For one thing, I’m rather picky fashion-wise and am so unlikely to buy a sweater just ’cause I like the look of it — it’s got to pass the try-on test and percentage-wise, not so many do. Yet I knit for hours and hours, spend, often, over a hundred dollars for yarn I love, and end up with something which may or may not really make me happy. I can get the same knitting satisfaction from a scarf in terms of pattern, texture, colour which is almost guaranteed to work as an accessory. I’ve also been enjoying making hats and shawls for gifts, baby sweaters (none of the try-on problems of my own sweaters and they’re so much faster). I’m not quite sensible enough, yet, to resist the siren lure — that Debbie Bliss free pattern with the latest Vogue knitting, for example, but I may get to where you’re at, eventually.

  12. Clumsy Knitter

    Omigod, I think you balance me out in the universe! I’ve tried the socks, the shawls, the baby blankets, etc. But all I really enjoy knitting and look forward to knitting are sweaters! See? It all evens out in the end. 😉

  13. Joy

    I SO hear you Kathy! The last time I knit a sweater for myself was about 20 years ago. Socks? Check. Hats? check. Baby stuff for family and friends? Love the wee little things. Gloves? Go Me! Adult Sweaters? Ummm… Let’s just say I have frogged five attempts in a yarn I love over the past years. I’m over 6 feet tall and big so a sweater is a lot of time investment. If I’m not going to adore it, why bother?

  14. Sue F.

    You have risen to the sweater challenge, assimilated and conquered the difficulties, checked it off your list and have moved on to other things. Nothing wrong with that.

    And an adult-size sweater just never seems to end. I’ve only done a baby sweater and that was enough to make me grind my teeth. As other posters said, if you don’t love it it’s not worth your time to make.

  15. Alex

    It’s funny: I, too, feel that I’m not a true knitter if I don’t knit sweaters. But I don’t do it either. We shouldn’t have to validate ourselves that way.

    Maybe you should make a little button for the sidebar to that effect. 🙂

  16. Carissa

    Funny, I feel like I’m not a “complete” knitter because I don’t knit socks. (I also haven’t knit an adult sweater)

  17. yaiAnn

    OMG, I feel that ALL the time especially now that I’ve only been knitting socks since the sewing bug bit me. And the dress, oh so gorgeous. I’ve never seen that picture of the skirt before and it is oh so wrong.

  18. Teresa C

    I have to say that I agree with you on all of it, but I do like to knit sweaters. More than I like to wear them actually, and I do like to wear them. Maybe it is just the warm weather speaking to me, but lately it is the smaller things that have been keeping me happy.

    BTW-I love the the accessories that you knit. No sweaters and I’ll still come check out everything you do.

  19. Jennifer

    I’m not a sweater knitter either, at least at the moment! I’ve knit two sweaters, but have never really used them…though the high acrylic content may be one reason why. 😉 Or the fact that one of them is incredibly bulky and stiff (I made a yarn substitution and was able to meet gauge, but apparently I wasn’t thinking about how it would feel when I was wearing it!) Anyway, I’d still like to knit a sweater that I’d enjoy making and use one day, but I have a feeling that I’d side with you, because making accessories is so much fun!

  20. Karen K.

    It may depend on where you live, too — when I lived in Minnesota, sweaters were wearable nine months out of the year. Now that I live at the Oregon coast, sweaters stay in my cedar chest. I love seeing other people knitting and wearing beautiful sweaters, but give me small projects – fun and wearable – or lacy stoles. The only sweater in my someday-queue is *maybe* another Circumnavigated Cardigan.

  21. Fay

    Wow, what beautiful work!

    How interesting that you and a lot of your readers express a sense of incompleteness. I can dislike a particular genre of music but still consider myself a music connoisseur. But instead knitters have to prove themselves to be some sort of ideal with all encompassing talents, wonderful designs and taste in yarn. But if you’re missing any of these qualities, you’re somehow less of a knitter. I don’t know where these ideals come from, but they are divisive and make me uncomfortable.

    This reminds me of Wendy Bernard’s post about muggles and how it gives a sense of outsiders vs. knitters or newbies vs. experts. Usually I don’t find the term to be derogatory but I feel the tone of the idea rings true to this feeling of incompleteness. http://knitandtonic.typepad.com/knitandtonic/2007/08/i-just-heard-fr.html

  22. Christy

    Don’t schwet it schweetheart (a little Bogey to go with the whole Romantic Handknits thing. hehe.) Form your love of process has come some of the patterns and tutorials that have rocked the handknits world. No apologies! Go forth, and knit sweaters no more!

  23. Sarah

    I do understand what you have written, and identify with it. You have examined your knitting style and preferences, and that might make you more of a complete knitter than one who continues to knit what she thinks she should. I still have some sweaters in me, but I will knit them because I want to, not because of any preconceived notion that I ought to knit them. I know what works for me and what does not. Go you for figuring out what is best for you! Knitting rules most when it is not encumbered by knitting rules.

  24. Jess

    You have a lifetime to knit. I say knit what suits your fancy. Someday you might be bursting for sweaters again. Knitting should bring you joy!

    I do understand though. I feel like I should be knitting EVERYTHING to be a “real” knitter…

    Right now I’m enjoying the heck out of socks. They are such a great way to try all kinds of new techniques in a “safe” environment. And that is exactly what I’m doing! Lace right now… cables next…

  25. Nancy

    I totally understand! I knit TONS of socks, but I have occasionally paused to knit a sweater or a vest. I have even stockpiled a couple of sweater-y stash additions. They take so long, and then I discover I MISS knitting my socks. I have to stop and knit some socks or three in the middle of the larger project. I tell myself that I just need varying projects in varying degrees of complexity for all my various knitting situations. I do like the end-products of sweater knitting, but I’m with you about the process, especially of knitting socks. (How many pairs of socks does a person need, though? I’m starting on my daughter’s boyfriend now.)

  26. Sally

    Thank you for coming out! I was wondering this recently-thinking about the sweater that has been on my needles for over 2 1/2 years! Accessories are more fun.

  27. minnie

    the last time i finished a full-sized sweater? 5 years ago. (i still haven’t finished my husband’s sweater, and it’s been sitting for 3 years (sigh)). acessory/small knitting knitters unite!

  28. Glenna

    It’s quite all right – I’ll be one of the people taking on the sweaters instead! It seems like they are my default project, challenged only by the number of socks I knit. I sometimes wonder if I’m not a complete knitter for not having knit any laceweight (yet) or if I should try harder to knit more accessories. I guess no knitter’s brain is the same as another!

  29. catherine

    that’s very comforting to hear, as i’ve always respected your knitting quite highly.

    i also have felt like an incomplete knitter, because my joys are in much smaller, albeit complex, items.

    thank you.

  30. Mandy

    Thanks for coming clean! I’ve only ever knit one adult size sweater, and I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of sweaters either! I love me a good colorwork hat, challenging, intricate, finished and on to the next.

  31. Wendy

    I’ve been a sweater knitter for a ga-jillion years, but right now I feel as though I’d be happy if I never knit another sweater. There are so many other fun things to knit.

  32. maryse

    i’m not a sweater knitter either. i used to be. in fact it’s all i used to knit. but i don’t anymore. one main reason is that i can’t be guaranteed that it will look good on after all that work. socks or scarves or a blanket always look good.

    i’m happy to see i’m in such good company 😉

  33. Sue J.

    I couldn’t agree more. The last thing I want to knit is a sweater. I don’t wear them and neither does anyone else in my family. Give me socks, lace, scarves, hats, anything but a sweater.

  34. Marsha

    I’m so not a sweater knitter. I’ve done a few in my life, but it’s just not ‘my thang’ if you know what I mean. It’s hard when you pick up a magazine or book and flip through it only to find that 90% of the projects in there are sweaters. Obviously I can pick the books I buy, but I love Interweave Knits and wish they would feature more patterns that are NOT sweaters. There are way too many other projects out there to focus on besides sweaters! BTW….the dress is beautiful, very nice job!

  35. Meghann

    I totally understand what you are saying. I just finished my first sweater and though I enjoyed making it, I would much rather be knitting something for my kiddos or socks for me.

  36. Margaret

    I’ve been starting to confess the same thing lately. I will knit socks with just as many stitches as a sweater. I knit huge lace shawls with, oh let’s not go into how many stitches. But, sweaters just leave me, meh. I love sweaters, I just don’t love knitting them.

  37. DeeDee

    I can relate, but in a slightly different way: I love the look of intricate, lacy shawls, but cannot muster up the desire to knit one. Whenever I see all the beautiful shawls that are on people’s needles, I can’t help but wonder, “Is there something wrong with me because I don’t want to knit those?” Oh well, to each his own.

  38. stephanie

    i have to say that i’ve often feared this myself, the whole sweater-thing. i’ve knit a few and while i’ve enjoyed them (i’m a pretty monogamous knitter, so i really have to like the pattern), i’m not so sure i’ve liked the finished product enough to justify the cost, time, etc. i too enjoy the process which i think lends itself well (for me at least) to smaller projects.

    interesting thought though. i dont think i’m any less a knitter for it.

  39. Bertha

    I understand where you are coming from. I’ve not knit a sweater yet because ever since I started knitting, I’ve been in a weight flux…first trying to lose weight, then getting pregnant, then not knowing what size I’d be post pregnancy, now back to my pre-pregnancy size but still trying to lose weight…I don’t want to invest so much time and money into something that might not fit right, so I need to wait until my weight has remained stable for a while, or knit something that will look good on me in a variety of sizes (maybe like something heavier, like outwear, rather than something more fitted).

    But my problem is almost the opposite of yours. I have no real desire to knit sweaters…yet I have tremendous desire to OWN handknit sweaters, and since no one else is going to knit them for me, I’m probably going to have to do it myself. I am so not a process knitter!

    A while back you knit that gorgeous two color knee-high sock and mentioned how you weren’t going to knit a mate and I was completely incredulous at this thought! I could not understand why anyone would go to all the trouble to make one of something so gorgeous but not make the pair. Since then, I have discovered many other knitters like you, who knit purely for the love of the process of knitting. Now *I* feel like I am not a complete knitter because I don’t really always love the process…I love the end result, I love having a beautiful handmade item and the feeling of accomplishment that results from knowing that I am the one who made it, but the actual ACT of knitting the item is not always (or even usually) fun for me. I knit because I want the stuff and I sometimes feel like that makes me less of a knitter. Phew, you’re right, that does feel better. 🙂

  40. Kenny

    Congrats on the cleopatra. I’m also in it…… but just a small lace scarf. I’m not sure what she called it, but it’s mine, and it’s so cute photographed. I couldn’t do it justice at all photographing it on my blog.

    Sweater, smetcher, whatever, I don’t like sweaters too. The fit factor is too stressfull.

  41. Peggy

    Yes, I often feel the same. And somehow,no matter how many times I tell myself it is okay, it doesn’t feel okay, ya know? But it is. As a young woman, and still sometimes as a not so young woman (50), I wanted it all. The aspiring career, the perfectly clean house, well manicured yard, well dressed and behaved children, lots of time for family and for me. Well, that may work for some, for me it never did. I finally came to the conclusion, I am not Super Woman and don’t need to drive myself or everyone else crazy trying to be. Same for my knitting. Sometimes I feel bad because I don’t knit this or that or I don’t crank out the projects like some do. But ya know by golly, it doesn’t matter. Knitting is here to be enjoyed and not to be a task master. On another note, I want that woman’s hair in that picture. Amazon hair, yeah!!!!

  42. kelly

    I hate knitting socks. I tried to tell myself that I love it, but I don’t. I never want to knit another sock again, even though I love sock yarn. On the other hand, my life’s goal is to be knee deep in sweater parts so I can throw then up in the air and shout “hoo-RAY!” I’m also convinced that I could start another twenty millon projects and not finish a single one and be perfectly happy (and would actually be a lot closer to the knee-deep in parts thing).

  43. Ang

    the styling in romantic hand knits is really lovely, you are quite right! The model in the ruffle skirt in lace style is actually Pam Allen’s daughter – as is the other model with her in the Katherine Heburn-style sweater photos. I think most of the photos in the book are pretty good, but sometimes I think fit wasn’t the first consideration, which is too bad.

  44. Mary K. in Rockport

    I’m with you. I’ve knit sweaters, even for myself, but don’t any more except for babies or kids who are uncritical recipients.

  45. Kris

    You bring up a good point. Why is it that sweaters are the icon for knitters. Although I think that is slowly switching over to socks;)

    I have the same feelings about skirts. Why would anyone want to knit a skirt, but you know what, I can’t say I wont ever knit one…perhaps 10 years from now I’ll be gushing over skirt patterns.

  46. Emily

    The way you feel about sweaters is the way I feel about socks. I have made a couple but do not feel that excited about them.

  47. Laura

    I am also not truly a sweater knitter. But I consider myself a Knitter. After all there are at least as many stitches in some socks as there are in a sweater.

  48. Allyson

    You know I have always loved to read your blog because you knit such a variety of items and really enjoy the process. I too am a process knitter — perhaps because I’m not an especially fast knitter and by the time I finish a sweater the season it was intended for it over. I always love when you start a new scarf because so many knitters seem afraid to knit a scarf…they’ve “moved beyond scarves.” What’s up with that? What better than a handknit beauty to wrap around your neck day after day? Just enjooy the process, that’s what it’s all about!

  49. Dorothy B

    Here I’ve been thinking that something is wrong with me for not having any desire to knit a sweater. Not for my child, not for me, not for anyone. Now I feel better and not alone in my weirdness.

  50. Jen

    Hi, I’m Jen, I’m a sock knitter. I’m on my second sweater and liking it better than my first, but I don’t think I’m a sweater-knitter either. If you need any company, I’ll be happy to start a club with you. 🙂

  51. Juti

    Yes, you now have official permission.

    Similarly, hats don’t crank my tractor. And I’ll confess here, I will never knit a skirt.

  52. Shamiran

    Not a sweater knitter either… I’ve made one for my niece, but that was on a smaller scale. 🙂 I like clever patterns though… I would knit one for myself if I found one that caught my eye.

  53. Steph B.

    I think the best thing about knitting is that you can make whatever you like! There is no NEED to knit anything, just whatever makes you happy at a particular moment. And with so many options at our needles, why force yourself to knit something you don’t want to? I live in the desert. Do you really think I’ll be knitting hats, now matter how cute they may be?

  54. sweetea

    I hear you! I’m trying to break my usual habit of responding to comments about my knitting with “Well, I do knit, but it’s mostly socks.” as though socks don’t count!

  55. Beverly

    I hear ya. I have completely finished only one sweater, and it was painful. I’m not ready to admit just yet that I’m not a sweater knitter, but that may be in my future. I am so much happier knitting socks that sweaters just seem like drudgery to me, and that’s not what this wonderful art is about. I figure that if I don’t enjoy making something, then I shouldn’t make it. But, since I’ve only ever finished one sweater, I figure I have to do at least a couple more before declaring my sweater-knitting days over.

    Good for you for relieving yourself of the burden. Say it loud, say it proud, “I am not a sweater knitter!”

  56. Kelly

    Right there with you. I have 3 sweaters unfinished and no desire to finish them. Like you, shawls get finished, socks get finished, pillows, coasters, “cozies” all get finished.

    Hi, I’m Kelly….I’m not a sweater knitter.

  57. Wanda

    That’s so funny Kathy! Obviously knit whatever feels best to you. If you’re not into knitting sweaters, then don’t. I have to say, I really am the opposite. I love knitting sweaters and I love wearing my sweaters too. I love knitting lots of different types of items and I don’t think someone who doesn’t like knitting a particular thing: socks, sweaters, etc. isn’t a complete knitter, it’s just your preference. I’m always amazed by people who don’t like knitting socks, but I know they exist.

    Eh, everybody’s different. Do what works for you.

  58. Marlena

    Sweaters or not, any knitter who does it for the love of the craft and obsession of yarn “complete.”

    Plus, hello!, you’ve been published in Interweave. It doesn’t get much more complete than that!

  59. CraftNinja

    I am a new knitter and dread the idea of making sweaters…yet I do feel like I will never really be a knitter if I don’t make one.

    But – I don’t want to!

    I have a feeling I will make one eventually just to satisfy that same urge – the ‘can I do this?’ urge – and then I will never do it again.

    I keep telling myself that hundreds of knitters make sweaters and it must not be as bad as I feel like it would be, but sweaters are so much about the product rather than the process. The process is what I love, but if I got to the end and didn’t have a viable sweater, I don’t think I’d be able to toss it aside and say ‘oh well, so what – it was fun to make at least,’ the way I did with that slipper that turned out to be four sizes too big for me.

  60. Carol

    I don’t think knitting is about what you knit. Someone who knits is a knitter. Be it scarves or coats. Whatever. And I would say knit what you like. Maybe down the road sweater-knitting mojo will strike. And maybe not. Doesn’t matter. If it makes you happy, do it!

  61. Kristin

    As someone who is all about the results, I just can’t imagine not thinking: “Wow, what a beautiful sweater. I must knit that, because I want to wear it.” Especially someone like you, who can virtually guarantee that it will fit perfectly. Isn’t there some part of you that just wants a beautiful finished product in your wardrobe?

    But as someone who swears off knitting sweaters for myself every time I finish a new one (there is always some little thing about it that bugs me), maybe I should take a lesson from you.

  62. Christie

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not wanting to knit a sweater. They are cumbersome and often boring! I’m not a lace knitter, but I can see why you are so interested in lace. And watching you knit is always a learning experience. I’m not a sock knitter [yet] either, but for some folks, that’s all there is.

    I look forward to your many future lace projects…I can live vicariously through you!

  63. Shea

    When it stops being fun, don’t do it. This applies to knitting, jobs, other hobbies, etc. Good for you for figuring out that it’s not fun and doing only what you love!

    For me, I have no use for scarves, mittens or hats. It’s too warm where I live for the scarves and mittens and my hair is too freakin’ big and curly to look good in any hat.

  64. Laura Neal

    Ask me how long it has been since I have knit a woman’s sweater? 6 years! I do not like the sleeves part of it and if you don’t have a design on it, so boring!

    Do something that makes you happy and forget what the knitters of the world think! It doesn’t make you less of a knitter. We all ooh and aah over your pretties! Keep up what you are doing and we all smile and say…ah to be that brilliant at lace!

  65. flexagon

    I feel like, well, a beginning knitter and definitely not a complete one by ANY definition. But I’m completely uninterested in scarves and hats — instead I’m fascinated by the idea of having a custom wardrobe of intricate sweaters. 🙂 I’m hoping that if I can become just a little more about the process and a little less about the finished product, I won’t mind the time they take… I really demand that my activities be good for me BOTH in the moment and at the end of the process, and feel if something doesn’t meet that criterion I should be booting it out of my life!

  66. Amy

    “Permission” granted! 🙂

    Knitting is a hobby for most of us, and thereby should be a pleasurable experience! Enjoy the yarn, the project, the needles – and if you don’t, then toss it, give it away, recycle it, change it! No need to make something fun into something not fun.

  67. Cassandra

    After reading the last yarnival issue, it seems obvious that none of us are complete until we get that kick arse knitting tattoo (guess that won’t be me!).

  68. Carolyn

    I’m so with you – I’ve been knitting for 7 years and I’ve yet to complete a sweater. I have 2 that I’ve started, but I just can’t do it. Not only am I a process knitter but I just don’t have the urge to commit to something that large. I have much more love for socks and scarves and mittens and hats than I do for sweaters. I’m not even sure I’m going to finish my shawl, except it is lace and beads and kinda fun…. I’m just drawn to the little things knit on teensy needles. I find it so much more satisfying. 🙂

  69. kelly

    You know, I was always afraid of sweater knitting until this year. I figure, if I can knit a sock, I can knit something a lot bigger. So I finished my first sweater, the Central Park Hoodie, earlier this year. It’s got the ugliest seams you’ve ever seen in places, and only one set of snaps actually close (oops). But now I know I can do it if I want to. And when I was done, the very first thing I did was look for a pair of socks or a hat to knit up. Something, anything quick and dirty. I love that knitters are dynamic and if all you want to do is knit mittens and hats and socks (and lace!), then by God, knit what you love!

  70. Becky

    I know what you mean about being a “complete” knitter. I’ve been knitting for about three years now and just knit my first sweater a couple of weeks ago. I put myself uner so much pressure to do it because i had just gotten a job at a yarn shop and felt i wasn’t as advanced a knitter as i thought i was because i hadn’t knit a sweater. It seemed like it was almost a dirty little secret. I was in such a hurry to do it i didn’t measure myself right and ended up with a huge sweater that’s in pieces right now to be washed and re-knit. I learned that i like knitting sweaters, but i love knitting hats, mittens, gloves, and the occasional sock. I will miss seeing your beautiful, perfectly knit sweaters though. You always go through so much trouble to make them just right, but i suppose that’s part of the reason why you’re done with them

  71. Juls

    I’m with you. A child’s garment is enough of a teaching exercise for me. I do not enjoy knitting sweaters for myself even though I am a Small, so technically it’s a not a huge volume of knitting. I love the little stuff that I can finish and enjoy and even the scarves when I want volume.

  72. Susan

    You’re quite brave to make that admission, and I’m really glad that you did. For quite some time now, I have felt bad that I have accumulated so many sweaters, cardigans and pullovers that were a pleasure to knit – due to the yarns and learning process for shaping, technique and style – but each and every one lies dormant in a closet or hope chest because, frankly, although they’re beautiful works of art, I just don’t wear “works of art.”

    I started recently knitting one-color simple almost mindless knitting cardigans for something I would actually *wear,* but again – how many cardigans can one girl have? I’ve found that I just don’t have the stamina to knit an entire garment for anyone else, and when I have done so, the recipient usually doesn’t understand the process or appreciate the end result worthy of the time and cost involved.

    Sooooo…. all this is to say, your wisdom is beyond your years. It’s taken me over a decade to realize what you have posted here. And I don’t think I actually realized it until reading your post. I appreciate greatly what you wrote.

    In a way, it’s given me liberty to say – enough! Finish the cardis on the needles and get to some other fun. I can crank out pee-lenty of gifts and cleverly designed knitted goods for others and self that won’t just languish hidden away.

    I’ve loved knitting sweaters, but no doubt I’ll love other items with more quickly realized gratification and challenge for objects outside the norm. Not to mention the lack of disappointment when the final product doesn’t quite fit the way it should, even when gauge was met! So thank you for your post! It’s liberating.

  73. serenknitity

    I, too, don’t like knitting sweaters, well, maybe for small children. And what with central heating (and the menopause) they are just too hot anyway.

  74. K2Karen

    I know what you mean. I feel similarly about accessories 🙂

    I’ve been thinking alot about stash busting and what it means to be a productive knitter. I think you must be true to your voice. Some find lace is the only thing they want to knit. Great–go forth and knit lace. I think the most important thing is to love what you knit. If you love what you’re creating, then you knit. Otherwise, you think about knitting.

    If your inner Grumperina says “no sweaters”. Listen and feel no guilt.

  75. Stacey

    I hear ya! I feel great when I am cranking out socks, baby blankets, baby booties, hats and mittens! It’s not that I can’t knit a sweater, I just choose not to! Does that mean I am not a good knitter? No- I am a curvy woman who needs to make a curvy sweater. That means a small guage and lots and lots of rows and shaping. To get something I will wear maybe 5 times a year? I like to show off my kniting- so I want something I can wear more often!

  76. CatBookMom

    Are you sure you live in Boston? Out here in the LA area, sweaters are not so necessary. So yeah, I understand about not knitting sweaters. Looking at what I’ve added to my Ravelry Queue, it’s mostly shawls, plus Arwen for me and a vest for DH. I like scarves and hats for the fast gratification.

    No worries if you don’t want to knit sweaters. Really.

  77. Lucky

    I’m with you, sister. Sweaters – very nice, can be very gorgeous. But they take so danged long to make. Plus, I’ve only got so much space to store them in. Give me small and fast gratification any time.

  78. Ann

    You are not the only one as I don’t like knitting sweater too – too much work & time & the task of seaming all the pieces together. The only garment that I enjoy knitting is a vest.

  79. SheilaZ

    Well put, couldn’t agree more heartily. Sweaters are endless, especially for someone my size. I like socks, socks, more socks, with an occasional lace shawl thrown in. Once in a while a hat, scarf or mittens are OK too. And a cute baby garment fix is fun. Adult sized sweaters, I’ll save them for knitters who like that brand of torture.

  80. Dove

    The only things you need to knit are the ones you enjoy.

    I prefer non-sweater projects, myself, but I think it’s more due to my lack of skill and patience. Baby sweaters are tons of fun, though.

  81. Michaela

    Thank you SO MUCH for articulating what has been in the back of my mind since I looked at all the projects I’ve posted to Ravelry and realized that they were all socks. I have a sleeve in progress for a sweater, but the motivation to work on it is just not there…not even the challenge of finishing a sweater for Rhinebeck is enough to get me to work on it. I’ve decided to be proud to wear handknit socks to Rhinebeck this year instead. 🙂

  82. Laurie

    Ah, I’m arriving to the party late but I’ll put in my two cents anyway.

    I’m with you, I’m a die-hard process knitter. Most of my pleasure is derived from trying something new, mastering a technique, basically playing with the yarn. In fact, I’ve admitted to people that I actually love the yarn more than I love knitting.

    The only sweaters I’ve knit had to entertain me a great deal with challenges or a crazy hand-painted scheme. I get made fun of by other knitters but I just refuse to let anyone bully me about my HOBBY. As I’ve been heard to say to these knitting bullies, “Geez Louise, I’m doing this for fun.”

  83. lyn

    I don’t think you need to categorise yourself as a “complete” knitter or not. As long as you enjoy what you knit and create, who cares what the heck the project is! You don’t need to justify your preferences. I don’t knit socks, accessories, small items because I live in the tropics and don’t need scarves and mitts 🙂 That’s why I stick to sweaters mainly and use cotton yarn, which a lot of people detest because of the usual complaints people have with this type of yarn. It doesn’t stop me from knitting or make me feel bad… it’s just practical to use cotton / blends where I live.

  84. yarndancer

    (quoting Laurie) “Ah, I’m arriving to the party late but I’ll put in my two cents anyway.”

    Heh, me too! I’m becoming more of a process knitter recently, I think, picking projects that teach me something new, or are interesting to create in some way. However, it takes me the length of a sweater in order to feel comfortable with the new techniques I learn!

  85. Nadia Lewis

    I know what you mean! It’s such a sweateronormative society we live in. Lately, all I’ve been wanting to do is make vests, but I feel like I’m only making half a sweater.

  86. Haley

    i get that same feeling everytime i read about socks. every blogger i read is a sock knitter. i think i’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t knit monkeys. and although i recently saw a pomatomus that was to die for and i momentarily imagined myself in some gray knee high pomatamuses, i know that i’m not really interested in knitting socks. do i feel like less of a knitter? sadly, yes i still do. but i’ll just keep reading your posts and maybe i’ll get past it. maybe socks are my sweaters. anyway, thanks for sharing.

  87. Kristen

    I’m emerging from lurkdom to note that while I do love to knit sweaters very very much, I identify with the feeling of not being a real knitter because I don’t really knit socks. It always seems like the knitters I admire are cranking out the socks like there’s a tomorrow of cold toes and no stores, but my own efforts are spartan and half hearted. It’s funny what makes us feel like we’re good at something.

    Looking at the comments, Haley, it seems you and I are in the same boat.

  88. rachel

    I came to the same conclusion after looking at all of the unfinished sweaters all over my house. It’s all about the socks for me, with a little lace mixed in for fun.

  89. sandy

    Great post. Each profession or avocation has a mythology of what it takes to be a “real” x. I am afraid that for knitters it is the adult sweater. I can knit them—but it feels like a homework assignment when i would rather be swatching a new yarn, knitting a lace stole or a pair of socks, or knitting my new love—baby sweaters. Baby sweaters are like m and m’s. I can’t just knit one–by the time I have done the pattern i have ideas for how to do it differently next time—and instead of frogging, i finish the one i am on and then begin a slightly different one—But even here as I was finishing a toddler sweater for a tall 1 year old (so 18-24 mo size), i began to have the slightly annoyed, bored feeling about how dull the second sleeve was. I was eager to follow it up with a newborn one.

    But whenever i enter my lys, they are intent on the idea that they will entice me into the real knitting of an adult sweater (and a large one if it is for me) this winter

  90. elizabeth

    When I took a knitting class 12 years ago, the teacher wanted us all to make a sweater. I started a garter stitch sweater, 8 inches of which have been in a bag in the closet all this time, while I crocheted 10 ripple baby afghans. 18 months ago, I started going to a knitting group with a friend. I finally got to knit the way I had always wanted to–with all different kinds of pattern stitches, including lace. I’ve made scarves, stoles, hats and fingerless gloves with all kinds of yarns! Sweaters? maybe one day…

  91. Criquette

    I am de-lurking after reading this. Thank you for “coming clean”. I am also a process knitter, who is still working her way through learning the basics. Sometimes I feel like a slacker because I haven’t yet even gotten close to knitting a sweater, but I get great pleasure from the simple items that I knit and focusing on improving my techniques before moving on to a new technique. Thank you for validating this with your “confession”, although the intricacy of your small projects leaves me breathless. Your button is going up on my site as is a link to this post.

  92. Marie

    Don’t you worry about the sweater issue…I recently purchased more than one lace and sock project (thanks, in part, to your lovely results, Grump) and have yet to start any of these because I can’t tear myself away from all my sweater/tank top projects…to each his/her own. I know people who do knit sweaters but will not seam them (they pay a fortune for finishing), and I think that’s a complete knitter although they don’t seem to be troubled by it. At the end of the day, you are a true complete knitter if you knit what you love!!!

  93. Marie

    Oh, by the way, you did a superb job with this dress–it is AMAZING!! This book is so beautiful, its like a coffee table book (and I have many many books).

  94. Karen S.

    A latecomer to the party piping in with an “Amen!”

    I should say I’ve never actually knit a sweater. I started knitting in university, and while a sizaeable portion of my student loan did end up going to yarn, I didn’t have a large amount of money to spend on large for a sweater (and I wasn’t doing it out of Red Heart, either).

    Since then, I just…haven’t done it. While I’m not a product knitter I do enjoy changing what I’m doing fairly often, and though I could easily have bought a sweater’s worth of yarn (even for my plus-size body) with the amount I’ve spent on the sock yarn in my stash, I think I’d have more enjoyment out of the varieties of colours and textures I can do in the equivalent number of pairs of socks.

    Besides, I should probably get a good start on the Shetland shawl I want to do before I take on another large project. 😉

  95. Annie

    I am trying to be a sweater knitter. I love sweaters, I wear them all the time, and I dream of the day when every one I have is hand knit. But now that I’m knitting a few (I can never work on one of anything), I don’t know if my skills are up to it. I’ll keep slogging along, but it makes me sad that my hand knit things look… well, hand knit. You know? Well, you wouldn’t know. Your stuff is impeccable.

    Including the cleo dress- nice to see it all fancily photographed.

  96. Lucia

    The difference between you and me is that you can, but you don’t want to. I’m still not sure I can, and I hate that. One of these days, though, I will triumph over my sweaterphobia, and then I too will be able to wash my hands of sweaters. (Unless of course I decide I like making them. It could happen.)

  97. Christine

    OH when I opened up that book and saw the dress I thought GRUMPERINA! That was a mighty piece of knitting.

    I’ve always believed one should knit what makes them happy! It took me a while to realize I was knitting what everyone else was doing because I thought that was the unspoken rule of knitterlyness. Do what you wanna do, be who you wanna be, knit what you wanna knit!

  98. juliet

    Good for you! i knitted a cardigan almost 2 years ago. it is in a plastic grocery bag in four pieces with no button bands or collar or buttons. will i ever put it together? don’t know.

    i live in Arizona so even though i lovelovelove sweaters, i have about a 10 minute window per year when i would need one. so, kind of a waste. same with scarves, gloves, mittens…

    i started knitting by doing stuff from the pursenalities books and felting.

    now it is socks.

    but i love the process!


  99. Kay

    Somehow I feel like I’m not a “complete” knitter unless I’m cranking out sweaters. Do you ever feel that?

    Yep. I think it, at least in part, had to do with small-minded and snotty LYS-worker comments when I was learning to knit. I was immediately attracted to pretty socks, but discouraged–did you know that socks are only meant to be knit in plain stockinette during car trips or other times when mindless knitting is desired, and that there’s no real market for all these books of pretty sock patterns? Oh, but everyone wants a sweater, and if you’re going to knit, you’re going to have to learn to knit garments if you want to progress at all.

    I have two words for those snotty LYS ladies: Nancy Bush.

    I may possibly have a sweater on the needles right now that I’m not hating, but I tend to much prefer to spend my time learning techniques for lacey things and neato scarves and colourwork hats/mittens and sock-knitting, rather than a hundred different ways of waist-shaping. To each his own, yes?

    Sweaters, schmeters. Your hat and sock patterns (and all of your knitting) = beyond gorgeous, so who cares if there’s not a sweater amongst it all from now on.

  100. ashley foster

    hi i love this dress it is so awesome i love the egyptian culture im hopefully going to be a egyptologist when i grow up. im studieng it at highschool at the moment.

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