I completed my very first knit sweater (and two hats)!!! I had given up on knitting a couple of years ago after falling down a miserable rabbit hole of snarled yard, hours wasted watching YouTube tutorials, and many attempts at ambitious projects that were eventually simplified until they became yet another poorly knit scarf. My lack of improvement was demoralizing compared to how steadily I was adding to my arsenal of sewing skills. I finally decided that knitting just wasn’t for me.
That was until a very talented knitter and patient teacher became my sister-in-law (thanks Sonia!)! And also, that was until I stumbled upon British yarn and pattern designer Erika Knight’s book for knit menswear projects, Men’s Knits: A New Direction! I loved all of the classic and minimalist designs and the photographs were so inspiring. When we decided to launch our menswear supply shop in November, I added knitting as a category within the Thread Theory shop – that way I could stock Erika Knight’s awesome menswear designs and beautiful yarns!
As soon as I saw the Funnel Neck Sweater, I knew it would suit Matt perfectly. I wanted to use Erika Knight’s Maxi Wool in Storm rather than the chunky-weight Rowan yarn that the pattern recommends. The Maxi Wool is thicker than the recommended yarn so Sonia helped me to choose a smaller needle size and knit a test swatch. We knew it would be a bit of a gamble for fit but, fortunately, I have the complete size range of men in my family so I could knit it for whoever it happened to fit!
The project was actually a perfect one for a new knitter who is set on knitting a big sweater rather than a nice manageable hat or scarf (everyone thought I was crazy for taking on such a big item!). I was prepared for the scale of the project and was relieved by it’s simplicity. The ribbed chest was actually really easy and Sonia wasn’t even around to help me with that part! I actually found sewing together the sweater to be the most difficult part – sewing with wrong sides together and with the stitches on the right side of the garment blew my mind a little :P.
In the end, the sweater was too large for Matt which was quite a shame because the tall neckline suited his long neck perfectly! The shoulders are meant to be dropped and the sleeves are meant to be fairly wide but not to the extent that they were when Matt tried it on!
As soon as Matt tried it on I realized that it would be the perfect size for my Dad! The only element that doesn’t perfectly fit him is the area that fit Matt well – the neckline. As you can see above, it buckles a little bit because my dad has a short to regular length neck (and the beard also tends to push the neckline down a little I imagine).
I really love the rest of the sweater on my dad though! It’s the perfect length for him and I think the “V” at center front looks really smart.
The yarn has more than enough body to create the funnel neck but perhaps isn’t as stiff as the Rowan yarn used for the photographed sample. The Maxi wool is deliciously soft and squishy so it creates a softer shape at the neckline:
The sleeves are the ideal length and I love how the rib section looks with the bulky yarn.
Below you can see the hem – the ribbing causes it to be quite a bit thicker than the stockinette stitch used for the main sweater which, I think, looks immensely cozy!
My Mom has decided to roll the collar over and hand stitch it down at the shoulder seams for my Dad.
It doesn’t really want to roll over at the shoulder seam due to the funnel shaping of the neckline but I think rolling it will work great for the majority of the neckline and will serve double duty as a sort of shoulder stabilization – rolling the neckline over pulls the shoulders inwards so that they will be less likely to stretch out and become to wide/saggy over time.
This project ended up using exactly 11 skeins of Maxi Wool in Storm. I used size 6mm and 6.5mm needles rather than size 6.5mm and 7mm that the pattern calls for. I chose the smallest size (which would normally fit Matt).
While this sweater didn’t end up fitting its intended recipient due to the fact that I used a different yarn than the pattern calls for, I’d still consider it to be a huge success! It was my first project knit using a pattern (aside from one dishcloth several years ago) and it looks so nice on my Dad.
He won’t get much of a chance to wear it this year since the weather is warming so quickly but now it will be sitting ready in his closet to keep him warm next winter and for many winters to come!
Aside from my big winter project, I also knit a couple of quick toques when I needed a break from the sweater. They were just enough ‘instant’ gratification to encourage me to keep working on the sweater.
My toque was knit using some of the yarn scraps from Matt’s toque as well as some Rowan yarn that I impulse purchased (oh dear, now that I’ve gotten into knitting I have to worry about restricting my yarn stash as well as my fabric stash!). I used the Erika Knight toque pattern as a base for sizing but then just got creative and made up my own pattern by mashing together the decreasing technique from a free baby toque pattern (sorry, I can’t find it now so I’m unable to link to it!) and my desire for a very wide fold over ribbed band. I finished off my one-of-a-kind hat with a really big pompom made from the Rowan yarn scraps.
Now that I’ve enthusiastically shown you my first successful knitting projects, please don’t look at the photos too closely lol! I know they are all riddled with mistakes. I imagine I will one day feel as embarrassed looking at these photos as I do looking at sewing projects that I completed 8 years ago. Right now though, looking through the rose colored glasses that I’ve worn since I jubilantly finished the last stitch on my dad’s sweater, these projects look pretty darn good to me and I’m really proud of overcoming my initial struggle with knitting.
Here are the links to the patterns and yarns that I used for these three garments:
Men’s Knits: A New Direction by Erika Knight
Maxi Wool (used for my Dad’s sweater)
Knit for the Boys pattern poster by Erika Knight
Vintage Wool (used for the toques)