wear report: handknits

About a year ago I gathered my handknits and put together a “wear report,” trying to distinguish between what was fun to make and what I actually ended up wearing the most.  I decided to repeat the exercise this year. The blog gives me a place to share it.

I’ve been knitting for a few years and there have been periods in that time when I was knitting up a storm. I’ve made several sweaters, socks, and accessories for myself and others. Planning is sadly not my strong suit. For me to knit something, the process and techniques involved have to be exciting at that time. What that means is that when I feel like knitting colorwork, I’m not going to enjoy knitting cables, and when I want to have the freedom of ignoring swatching I will happily cast on a shawl but won’t be up to making myself swatch and figure out measurements for a fitted sweater.

In addition to these changeable preferences, there’s also the influence of other knitters and images from Ravelry… In short, I’ve had my share of impulse knitting, and a lot of it didn’t work out well. So I’m trying to be a bit more thoughtful about my knitting choices. Taking an honest look at what I actually end up wearing the most is helpful.

I decided to spare myself a round-up of the least worn items this time, but I know which ones those are and some of them are already set aside for frogging. I’ll focus on the most worn items. (By the way, I’m excluding socks because: a) they all get worn a lot, b) I only knit and wear fairly plain socks, which would be pretty boring to share.)



The patterns are: [1] Oblique, by Veronik Avery (a free pattern, btw!), [2] Celery, by Veera Välimäki with a lace insert on the back borrowed from Norah Gaughan’s Nidden, [3] slightly modified Coraline, by Ysolda Teague, and [4] Deco, by Kate Davies.

Oblique is on top of my list again and on a path to getting worn to death. This sweater took me ages and I wouldn’t describe the process of making it as easy, to put it mildly. From the unreliable gauge swatch that lied (well, didn’t quite manage to reflect the dimensions of the final sweater, maybe I shouldn’t assign blame) to the difficulty of sewing it up, it was a demanding cardigan. But, clearly, I need to bite the bullet and make another one. Oblique is both classic and modern, and the natural color goes with everything. The yarn is also my all-time favorite, Ultra Alpaca from Berroco.

What the other cardigans share with Oblique is that they all took a pretty long time to make. Some of them have shaping, they don’t all have the same construction, but they have important similarities: they’re either finer gauge (or lace) and they’re all one color.



The patterns: [1] no pattern: improvised set-in sleeve sweater inspired by The Black Sweater I Never Had In High School But Always Wanted, [2] Hela, by Védís Jónsdóttir (a free pattern!), [3] Vormorgunn, by the same designer, from her book Knitting with Icelandic Wool[4] no pattern: improvised pullover with a lace yoke, [5] Sibella, by Carrie Bostick Hoge.

In a nutshell, round yokes rule, as do Icelandic patterns, I’m glad I jumped on the bandwagon with Sibella, and knitting with black yarn is a nightmare worth suffering through.


The patterns: [1] Echo Flower Shawl, by Jenny Johnson Johnen (free!), [2] Give a Hoot, by Jocelyn Tunney (also free!), [3] Spruce Forest, by Nancy Bush, [4] Skeleton Key Slouchie Tam, by Simone Van Iderstine, [5] Heartbreak, by Lisa Mutch.

More difficult to draw conslusions here but neutrals and triangular shawls dominate.

Lessons learned

First of all, I won’t be frogging everything else any time soon, or remaking most of these patterns in natural-colored alpaca yarn (though the latter sounds good!). But what I will likely do is slowly remake some of the items that don’t get worn much.

Some of the wardrobe gaps I’m aware of are not so obvious from this round-up, actually. Sewing is slowly changing my personal aesthetic. For example, I now have more skirts I really like, but no cropped pullovers to wear with them in the winter. That’s one wardrobe gap I really want to address.

But the wear report really helps me understand the difference between what I enjoy knitting in terms of the provess and what I enjoy wearing in a way I can translate into future projects:

  • I really like colorwork, but clearly it’s best place in my wardrobe is in the Icelandic-style yoked pullover (try it cropped, and with a color palette matched to a skirt or two?). Colorwork or striped cardigans don’t get much wear; colorwork in neutrals might perhaps be a good idea for new accessories.
  • Oblique is a design I can learn a lot from in terms of what I recognize as a desirable combination of classic and modern: the cardigan has a fairly simple shape, but the lace creates interest without looking very feminine or vintage (not that these are bad traits — but they don’t necessarily seem to be what I want from a cardigan). I need more cardigans like Oblique.
  • When I’m in the mood for a somewhat challenging lace knit, a triangular shawl with nupps seems like a good idea because I get a lot of wear out of both Spruce Forest and Echo Flower (these are actually both feminine and traditional).
  • I seem to be wearing increasingly more neutrals. (Does it mean I’m growing up?)

That’s all the soul wardrobe searching I — and probably you, too — can deal with right now. If you care to comment, tell me if you do a “wear report” too sometimes. And do share yoru favorite knitting patterns.


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

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