Some of you may remember when I started my most ambitious knitting project ever because in my overly ambitious way I made a big ol' production out of it and decided the only way I would finish my Snoqualmie Cardigan from Brooklyn Tweed was if I hosted a knitalong to hold myself publicly accountable. That was almost exactly two years ago and I literally just finished it, so I guess you know how that went. It may have taken me about 20 months longer than I anticipated, but the wait was worth it. I flipping love this sweater, and I'm really happy to start 2018 wrapped in its squishy embrace.
Pattern launches are always exciting, and I literally get giddy everytime Brooklyn Tweed launches a new collection, even if 99% of the time it's just eye candy for me, because knitting takes forever and I have a short attention span. Something about the winter 2016 collection actually made me want to do more than drool over my screen; they had just debuted their new chunky yarn Quarry, and I figured if I was ever actually going to complete a sweater more complicated than a couple of rectangles stitched together, a chunky yarn was probably the way to go. It doesn't hurt that the product images for the Snoqualmie cardigan are the dreamiest; it looked like the perfect oversized, cozy sweater for the kind of hell on earth winters we experience up here in the north (I know I whine about winter every year but serious face it's been minus -20 for the past twenty days and if you don't have something thick and woolly on your body at all times you basically just drop dead. It's actually been so cold and brutal I finally bit the bullet and got my own car so I don't have to wear a full-on snowsuit to do the long trek to work every morning. I called my brother because I was nervous about this big step and he was like "Not get a car? As opposed to what, riding your bike in the snow? You're 36! GET A CAR!" So I did. #Adulting).
So why in tarnation did this sweater take me two years? I blame my wax and waning knit-jo. I was super fired up when I started this project and managed to get most of the body done within 3 months or so. And then summer started, and we all know how that goes. The following winter I started the sleeves. And then for some reason stopped right when I was almost done the cap on the second sleeve, and there it languished for another year before I picked it back up again. A hot tip if you're a start and stop knitter like me: leave yourself notes about exactly where you left off so you don't stare at your knitting in mute rage when you decide to finish the damn thing. Once all the body pieces were finally done I thought I was homefree, until I realized how long it was going to take to do the short row ribbed collar. I managed to finish most of that in November, and again she sat sad and neglected until I finally seamed the whole beast together over the holidays. I cannot express how satisfying it was to finally, FINALLY be able to put this baby on my body.
I learned SO. EFFING. MUCH. with this project. It's important to note that I had never knit anything more complicated than a pair of socks before this. First time knitting cables, first time really seaming, first time doing buttonholes, first time blocking and checking measurements. Which is all to say that if you're somewhat a novice like me, you too can take on an ambitious knitting project, especially with Brooklyn Tweed; their instructions are so well written. I think being ambitious is the best way to learn, and even if the final product isn't "perfect" (lord how I loathe that word) it does get you hooked (literally, hardeeharhar) with always having something exciting on your needles. Also, thank you google. Every time I forgot how to decrease on the right side or needed help she was right there with all the answers. No excuses. I did end up posting a few tutorials in my thwarted sewalong, so if you tackle Snoqualmie or other cabled projects, you may find some of those posts helpful:
- Interview with pattern designer Michelle Wang
- Supplies & yarn
- Casting a tubular cast on
- Knitting cables without a cable needle
The whole process made me feel way more confident and excited to knit this year. The cable pattern looks complex but it was easy to memorize and knits up pretty quickly, especially with this gauge of yarn. I used my Knitters Pride cubics needles, which strike a good balance between slippy (faster to knit) and grippy (less dropped stitches) because they are chrome plated but cube-shaped. Stitches move easily on the needle but not so much that you're swearing under your breath because you didn't notice a stitch fell off 8 rows back, although I do find them a little squeaky. I am considering upgrading to the gorgeous Lykke needles from Fringe Association but I'm not sure if they will be too grippy for me. Does anyone knit with them?
As far as construction wet, I knit this without any modifications. I chose the third size based on ease, and part of me feels like I should have gone a size down. My gauge was right on and it blocked to the right size with minimal intervention, but I definitely find it on the roomy side. That said, it's so squishy and cozy and I have no problem layering it on top of other things, or under my massive North Face parka. Most of my mistakes are too minor to point out, but I will mention that on one side of my collar you can see where I started my short rows; the wrap and turns are visible on the right side. I'm not sure where I went wrong there so I made a note for myself to make sure it doesn't happen the next time I do a shawl collar like this. I also wish I had blocked the collar with a deeper fold. Looking at the product photos the collar is a little wider; when I wash it again I'll make sure I reshape it a little. The wood buttons are from Etsy. I should also say I really liked knitting with the Quarry yarn. It's spongy and soft, and has a lovely, organic feel. I'm sure it will pill like all chunky yarns but the loft and feel is totally worth it. This is NOT an itchy wool sweater!
I'm also SUPER thrilled that I finally have a good indoor spot to take pictures at our new studio. You'll likely be seeing a lot of this white wall. It was super overcast yesterday but the lighting was just perfect. Which means I have no excuse not to take pictures of the 5 or so projects still kicking around from 2017, right? I even ordered this huge white light reflector to help minimize shadows because if I never have to go outside and strike dumb poses in alleys again while my neighbors watch I can die happy.
What was your first big knitting win? Do you have any sweater projects planned for the new year?