I made my first sweater!

It feels like a milestone that I finally finished knitting my first sweater! I started it about two months ago in late October, but didn’t work on it consistently since I was juggling numerous other knitting and sewing projects. But FINALLY, I finished last night 🙂

I had taken a look at a number of sweater patterns, but it just seemed so confusing since this wasn’t as straightforward as a smaller project. Some were constructed top-down, some bottom-up, and I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around how all the different pieces came together. So I had toyed with the idea of taking a sweater class at Imagiknit or Atelier Yarns, but they weren’t offered very regularly and didn’t always work with my schedule.

Then, I came across this tutorial from KnitPicks: Nina’s Design Your Own Sweater Class! What made this tutorial a great first sweater project is that it not only had a step-by-step video series, but also had blog posts with worksheets attached to each step. It walked you through taking all the calculations for your measurements with easy-to-follow number crunching. I’m so glad I found it!

Starting the torso at a conference in Phoenix. Great opportunity to get a lot of knitting done!
Starting the torso at a conference in Phoenix. Great opportunity to get a lot of knitting done!

Even still, I hit a number of road blocks along the way. The sweater is constructed bottom-up in the round, so it was easy enough (just time-consuming) to knit the torso and sleeves in separate pieces. Then came the tricky part…

Starting the sleeve was exciting. Looks so cute here! :)
Starting the sleeve was exciting. Looks so cute here! 🙂

How do you join the sleeves and the torso?? This part actually wasn’t shown in the tutorial, and it was a completely foreign concept to me. It felt like such a big undertaking too that it was hard to mentally prepare myself for figuring out how to do it. So it sat in the floor for a couple days while I finished sewing a dress 🙂 Eventually though I solved the mystery by piecing together different YouTube videos. Phew!

Torso and first sleeve done. Starting to look like a sweater!
Torso and first sleeve done. Starting to look like a sweater!

But then, there was shaping the yoke and also the neckline at the same time, taking into account the ribbed neckline I wanted to add. So I took it one step at a time and slowly chipped away at the 38 rounds to make it to the top and decreased the correct amount of stitches, which was complicated by needing to somehow switch to knitting flat after knitting in the round. How does that work??! I was thrown off by that and had to set the project aside for a day. I mean, I knew I couldn’t continue knitting in the round after binding off the first stitches for the neckline, as it suddenly had 2 ends, but it still didn’t make sense to me. Finally, I found an online forum with someone asking the exact same question for the exact same project! Sigh of relief!

Sleeves and body joined, yoke and neckline starting to take shape.
Sleeves and body joined, yoke and neckline starting to take shape.

The last major obstacle was adding the ribbed neckline at the top by picking up stitches. I’d kept hearing the phrase “pick up stitches” but I had never done it before. Luckily, there are several YouTube videos that explain this clearly, and it’s actually pretty simple. Then, just weave in the ends and…

The finished product! Knitted with Malabrigo Chunky in black.
The finished product! Knitted with Malabrigo Chunky in black.

Ta-da! All done!!

Overall, I’m very happy with it 🙂 It’s slightly shorter than I imagined it to be, and I wish I had used smaller needles on the ribbed neckline to make it a little neater (or perhaps use a better bind off method). But STILL very exciting 🙂

One fun fact I just realized is how many places this sweater has traveled so far while I was working on it: Phoenix, San Francisco, Sequoia National Park, the DC area, and now the Chicago area. And many flights on top of that!

I’m already looking at sweater patterns and can’t wait to start the next one!


Challenges and Frustrations with Starting an Etsy Shop

A couple months ago, I reached a goal I’d been working towards for about the last year: I opened an Etsy shop! I started knitting about a year ago now, and built up my skills over the last several months, learning something new with each item I made. And then finally, I opened up my Etsy shop in October :).

I started out with just four items because as you can imagine, it takes time and money to knit things! And my photographer friend has been taking the (beautiful!) product photos for me, so I coordinated with her schedule and worked out a day for her to trek out to this side of the Bay. Once we did our first session, I wanted to knit several more things before we arranged another time for her to come out for another photo shoot.

I aimed to have 5 more items Etsy-ready for our second shoot, but the 60 inch long infinity scarf I made took way longer than I had anticipated. And then came Election Day, so…you know… And then I had just a couple days left before our shoot, and I only had 2 things done. I was making good progress on my third product, but then I decided to buy the original color yarn I wanted, rather than the ombre shade that I had gotten online. I just wanted it to be perfect, so I thought it was worth it.

And I am glad I got the color I wanted. But I ended up staying up until 4:00am that night finishing up the product before my friend Alex came to photograph. And it was Thanksgiving weekend and the new Gilmore Girls episodes had just come out! I hadn’t felt that tired struggling to meet a deadline since grad school (nor do I want to repeat that any time soon). I’m happy with how the product turned out, but I actually had envisioned the measurements to be quite different…I just didn’t take the time to knit a gauge swatch when I really should have (lesson learned!).

But I’ve had some good news since then! I’ve made 2 sales, I’ve been re-posted on Instagram by SF Etsy (the Bay Area Etsy team), and I was invited to do a craft show (which I can’t attend), and my friend Gwynessa and I are planning a pop-up craft show in the Mission at the end of January. Small steps :).

I am itching for more though, and wishing I could already have a shop with a wide selection of items ready to go, and enough of an inventory to participate in the holiday craft fairs. But I’m not quite there yet. And I’ve started and almost finished knitting 2 more items recently that I’ve had to undo for various reasons. AND it’s the holidays and adding expensive yarn to my list of things to buy adds up quickly.

On top of knitting for Etsy, I’m also knitting some gifts and making a sweater (my first one!) for myself, and then there are my endless sewing projects.  There’s just not enough time for everything!

I thinking I’ll feel better once I get a couple more things up on Etsy. Until then it’s just relishing the small successes 🙂