Getting Down to Basics

I’ve been knitting for about 16 years, and knitting sweaters for probably about 10 of those years. So, naturally, I’ve spent quite a lot of time honing what it is that I look for in the perfect, hand-knit sweater. It’s taken about a decade but I think I’ve finally figured it out: I’m happiest in stockinette sweaters. 

I struggled with this for a while. I kind of thought if I didn’t knit fair isle sweaters with 20 colors and 50 stitch pattens on the reg that other knitters would think I was no good. Well, fuck that. That was stupid. I know I’m a kick-ass knitter and I don’t need to prove it with sweaters I’ll never wear. Don’t get me wrong: I drool at the site of Irish cable knit sweaters (and have made a few) and whatever crazy genius Stephen West is dreaming up (yet to tackle that one) but when it comes to what I grab to actually wear, it’s your basic stockinette sweater. In addition to basic stitch work, I also go for neutrals. Are neutral sweaters the most interesting to knit? No. But they get the most mileage in my wardrobe because I wear them ALL the time and I do really enjoy the meditative repetition that comes with simple knitting (plus I can crank those babies out pretty fast.) 

My knitting philosophy: I save my challenging, colorful projects for accessories and gifts but when it comes to my hand-knit sweaters, I let the pieces in my wardrobe that I haven’t spent 80 hours on do the crazy talk. Call me boring but I think this is the recipe for a wardrobe that will be with you for decades (waistline allowing!)

Now, this doesn’t mean I’ll never knit a crazy sweater (did you guys SEE my sheep sweater???) but generally speaking, when it comes to sweaters, I’m a plain Jane and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

I finished this sweater in August but just got around to photographing it (thanks Mr. Good Wool!) a couple of weeks ago. This is Ladies Classic Raglan Pullover by Jane Richmond, mostly. I say mostly because I had to change a lot due to my silly row gauge. I used Elsa Wool for this which is an AMAZING Cormo wool grown in Colorado but when I swatched, my row gauge was off by what would equate to 2 inches too shallow of a raglan depth. Not willing to change yarns, I decided to forgo the kfb increases and increase every 2nd round then every 3rd round: cue m1 increases. M1 increases are far less superior in a raglan sweater to kfb increases as far as design lines go but, alas, this was the simplest solution, apart from spacing out increases every 2nd round then every 4th round which looks wonky in a raglan sweater IMHO. 

Also, I had to change the neck line a bit because of this row gauge dilemma but I won’t go into that. It’s essentially the same sweater as the OG pattern, or any fitted top down raglan pullover. I guess no one can really patent the top down raglan pullover but if you wanted to make a sweater like mine, I’d start with that pattern. Though, in all honesty, if I had to start over I’d probably just draft a pattern myself rather than to keep figuring ways around my shortie row gauge. Actually, I’d probably just take the lazy route and cough up $10 for a CustomFit pattern (I’m all about transparency here on The Good Wool.)

Anyone else a plain Jane sweater fan? We should start a club or something. 

P.S. - Have you guys ever seen a Cormo sheep? They're pretty adorbs and produce some kick-ass, long staple, wool. Definitely Good Wool approved:

photo cred: Juniper Moon Farm