Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In search of the perfect sweater

When I began knitting, I wanted to knit every sweater I saw. Each time a new issue of Knitty or Interweave Knits was released, my list grew and grew. Panicked by the knowledge that I couldn’t possibly knit every sweater on my list in my lifetime, I agonized over my choices, feeling the pressure of commitment every time I cast on.

These days, I peruse new patterns more calmly. I add few sweaters to my Ravelry queue, in most cases knowing that the pattern is sort of what I want, but not exactly. Mostly I am disinterested in what I see. What has changed in these few years? Have I lost interest in making my own sweaters? Not at all, but I have learned a lot from the sweaters I have knit and this influences how I view sweater patterns.

I have a couple of sweaters I’ve knit that I wear all the time, like my Rogue (one of my very first sweaters, which I love in spite of the mistakes), and my Cozy V-Neck Pullover. But most of them languish unworn because they are unflattering, too homemade-looking, impractical, or just too damn short.

One of my goals for this year is to knit a pullover that I will wear regularly. This sweater must:

- Be nice enough to wear to work. So, nicely shaped and not to casual. Hoodies are out.
- Have a practical neckline. I don’t want my bra showing, nor do I want to wear a stifling turtleneck.
- Be made with worsted or, preferably, a lighter weight yarn.
- Have long sleeves.
- Not be yoked. With very few exceptions, I don’t like how yoked sweaters look.

These aren’t a lot of requirements but I’m generally stymied by the practical neckline. Amazingly, very few sweater patterns hit the happy spot between turtleneck and peepshow. The huge, gaping, off-the-shoulder necklines are a trend I don’t understand as they look kind of sloppy and, frankly, if it’s cold enough to wear a sweater, it’s too cold for my collarbones to be exposed. Although I generally wear a camisole or long-sleeved shirt under my sweaters, with a wide neckline it doesn’t usually look right. Of course they look lovely in the styled photos accompanying the patterns, but I don’t own a collection of sweetly-collared button downs in colors to match all my sweaters like a knitting magazine model.

I've looked through a lot of patterns and I have a few contenders. Parcel from Twist Collective is one of my top picks. I also love the Lightweight Pullover, which Greeley made recently – it’s beautiful and looks like it was purchased from an upscale boutique. Despite the yoked neckline, I also like the Bohus-inspired Yoke Sweater. (See? I can’t even stick to my own requirements.)
Hopefully, I'll make a decision in the next few weeks and then start choosing a color and yarn.

What about you? Have you used any of these patterns? What is your ideal sweater? Do you have a favorite that you've knit?


Greeley said...

I can definitely recommend Lightweight Pullover, Trellis and Vine Pullover, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/trellis-and-vine-pullover

Audrey is my favorite cardigan. The pattern is perfect and the sleeve construction is revolutionary. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/audrey-in-unst

Wisteria is yoked but is one of the best sweaters I have ever made http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/wisteria-7

3goodrats said...

Trellis and Vine is also on my longer list of potential sweaters. Audrey looks lovely too!