I decided to take a look at the projects I completed in 2018 a week or two ago… and I was shocked. I finished 18 sweaters this year. Even by my own speedy standards that seemed outrageous. Knitting is, first and foremost, a mental health project for me. So what did my 18 sweaters (and 3 scarves, 4 bags, 11 hats, 4 cowls, 2 pair of socks and 4 headbands) have to say about my mental state? Was 2018 a really good year…. or a really bad one?
Simplicity is the stand-out characteristic of my year of knitting. I did a lot of samples for the shop, and I usually try to make things that can be reproduced by a wide range of knitters. These sorts of knits ended up being mental breaks in my knitting. I had the time to either zone out (getting engrossed in tv shows or audio books) or engage easily with the people and activities around me without being focused on my knitting. Both of these qualities ended up being wonderful for me. 2017 was a bear and I was hyper-focused on the tiny bubble of me and my family. I was able to relax in 2018, and it was delightful to be able to shift my focus outside of myself.
I did a lot of seamless sweaters, which feel incredibly comfortable and effortless to wear. Scarves and other accessories tended to be about the fabric rather than patterns or design elements.
The pieces I made that were more complicated were still highly repetitious, with counting and patterns that were easy to memorize. These rhythmic patterns ended up being mentally stimulating without being fussy.
For the first time in a long time, the number of projects I made for others outweighed the number I made for myself. I am happy to admit that my knitting is supposed to be a selfish project. I really hunkered down on my knitting at a time when I needed to make more time and space for myself! This year it felt good to spread the love, whether it be shop samples or gifts for loved ones.
Here are some of my favorite pieces of the year:
The Better Than Basic Pullovers
I made two of these sweaters this year; one for the shop in Katia’s Cotton Merino (tunic length with ribbed edges) and a cropped version using Noro’s Tennen. The Cotton Merino version is sublimely soft and long enough to wear with just about anything. I love my cropped version, but I’m looking forward to sneaking a wear in of the tunic length sweater at the shop one day! This sweater is knit up in pieces and those seams make it so you can knit this sweater in any variety of yarns and fibers. The Better Than Basic Pullover is incredibly versatile and can be made again and again, with any number of modifications make each one a bit unique.
I’ve recently become totally obsessed with Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, so the idea of knitting up Rivage became irresistible. Big blocks of stripes running throughout this blanket sized wrap sounded like the most comfortable thing I could carry around with me. I chose the colors Fossil, Cast Iron and Long Johns because I wanted to suggest the aesthetic of Navajo rugs and blankets. This piece is all stockinette stitch, so I knit it while I was mentally engaged in other activities, whether it be an intense movie (I watched Bladerunner 2049 at least 10 times in the past year), listened to some audio books, or just hung out with family. I loved keeping my hands busy while being involved in other interesting things around me.
I knit up this sample for the shop using Knit One Crochet Too’s Cozette. This versatile yarn is fingering weight and can be worked at a variety of gauges. It’s easy to work with and made up of silk, cotton and nylon, making it piece that can be worn by those with wool sensitivities or someone wanting a piece they can wear year round. This piece is as simple as it gets. It’s made of 4 rectangles (of various sizes) and is easily pieced together with simple seams. While it’s made in sizes, even the small size fits a variety of people. I love the drape and softness of the this sweater knit up in Cozette. This was another crazy simple piece to knit that kept me busy even when I was at rest. There’s a lot of knitting in this project, but it’s a great first sweater for anyone ready to make their first garment.
I made this shop sample using Gedifra’s Metal Tweed, and while it was in progress I just wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the finished product. My patience was worth it, because after blocking Metal Tweed bloomed and transformed this simple sweater. It’s light and soft with character all its own. Doocot itself is a great project – a simple top down sweater. Worked up in a sport or dk-weight yarn, it’s light and not bulky to wear. This is one piece that you could easily wear three seasons of the year. Plus, there’s a ton of room to modify it: taper the sleeves or keep them wide, lengthen it easily (Davies’ wrote it to be cropped), change the ribbing around the sleeves, hem and neckline to be any pattern you like. I like this one so much that I’m going to make another so I can wear it myself (and soon)!
My Mohair So Soft Scarf
I love fuzz. I love mohair. When Loopy Mango came for their Mohair So Soft Trunk show, I loved experiencing how soft, light and warm their bulky mohair was. I quickly knit up a simple, stockinette scarf using four balls of their purple yarn, and I effortlessly created a luxuriously soft and generously sized scarf. Plus, it was practically instant gratification. It’s nice when something so good comes to fruition so easily.
I clearly did a lot more knitting than just this. Other favorites are the two Turtle Doves (laugh with me please!), Carbeth, No Frills (pictured above – the mustard colored sweater) and Ives sweaters I made. Three of the four listed are seamless and just plain easy to wear. While Ives is made up with tons of stockinette, it required that I pay close attention to its shaping. All the fuss was worth it, since it fits me perfectly and is very flattering.
Thinking about it all, it was a good year, for knitting and for life. The stresses that had consumed me for the previous two years finally started to melt away, and the knitting I chose seemed to complement what I needed mentally to let go of all of that stress. Simple knitting (for myself and for others) allowed me to look outside my little world and pay more attention to the people and the community around me as my fingers did their knitting. That opportunity gave me an immense amount of gratitude – for my friends, my community and all the awesome knitters around me. On top of that, I was a super-productive knitter. It feels good to have something to show for all of those good vibes and all of that knitting fun.