Lessons from 30 Years of Knitting Clothing


Sweater before changing waistband and before washing. Photos by Jo deVries

This months’ blog post is a follow-up to last November’s Knitting with Natural Fibres. Most autumns, I start planning at least one knitting project. Knitting makes my long winters in Ontario, Canada, pass more pleasurably. It also produces a warm garment that keeps me cozy and happy while knitting it.

I usually start by looking through my inventory, to see if anything catches my interest. My yarn collection was severely depleted three years ago when I went on a knitting spree. I tackled all my unfinished projects that had accumulated, and knit up of bunch of odds and ends for gifts. What a great feeling to complete that task! The result: three sweaters, a headband, two pairs of bed socks, and at least six sets of wrist warmers.

This time, I was looking for a yarn to make a fairly thick outdoor sweater for myself; something that would knit-up relatively quickly. Most of the yarns left in my stash were high quality, thin cottons — that take ages to knit-up. I prefer to use those types of yarns for baby and children’s sweaters. Cottons are comfortable, durable, and machine washable; great for kids. So, I decided to save those yarns for the future children of friends and relatives. After sorting through everything and not finding what I wanted, I went to my mom’s wool shop, “Wool-Tyme” in Ottawa, probably Canada’s largest yarn store. I was like a kid in a candy store. And my mom owned it all.

Finding the Right Yarn

The choice was overwhelming; good thing I had lots of time to look. Hundreds of yarns to choose from, and the colours — absolutely dreamy! Finally, I found something spectacular! It was a beautiful wool and silk blend; a superb mix of many jewel tones, and super comfy to squish in one’s hands. The raw silk squeaked like fresh cheese curds.

Unfortunately, there were only four 100-gram balls left (discontinued yarn), and I guessed I needed about seven or eight for a large sweater. I can only a wear a wool garment if it’s really loose fitting and not the least bit picky, so, I was planning on knitting a sweater with at least a 44-inch chest.

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