The first thing (aside from gauge swatches) I ever knit and finished was a sweater. Sure lots of people don't start off knitting sweaters but I have always been rather intrepid about my knitting and couldn't see any reason not to jump right in with a sweater. It was the 80's and I heard plenty of horror stories about sweaters with 9 foot sleeves or two different lengths, etc. But, I carefully followed the pattern and the one thing my grandmother taught me was to make a gauge swatch and use it. So I finished a sweater late in 1989 and gave it to my mother.
It is a simple cardigan with a rounded collar and pockets from a Brunswick (they were bought out by Paton's several years ago) pattern leaflet called Classic Keepsakes (copyright 1988). The pattern was one that had directions for three different weights of yarn and was straight forward. I knit it in a worsted weight wool that was tweedy and fun from a LYS in Alexandria that has long since closed and has hand made ceramic buttons.
My mother has loved this sweater and been careful not to wear it out gardening and to treat it with care but it is 17 years old. She requested that I knit her a new sweater almost 2 years ago. We were at the Montpelier Sheep Dog Trials and Wool Festival (which seems to have changed its name to Fall Fiber Festival) and I was looking at some yarn from Carodan Farm that I thought was well priced. She said, "How about I buy this yarn for the sweater I want you to knit me?" I think she even let me pick the color. Well, I let it sit in my stash for quite some time until earlier this summer when I went to visit my sister and use her swift and ball winder, I took it with me.
Well, I have been buying patterns and making suggestions to my mother for two years and have finally come to realize, she doesn't want me to knit her another sweater. She wants me to knit her that sweater again. Instead of continuing to search for another acceptable pattern, I will knit her the sweater she wants -- if I want to knit something fun, I will make it for me.
There are three different needle sizes represented in those two swatches and none of them come close to the worsted or bulky pattern gauges. With needles any smaller the fabric would be too stiff, any larger and it would be too floppy and loose knit. What is a Goldilocks to do? Yes, math. I choose the fabric that I liked best and figured out the number of stitches I needed to cast on for the dimensions I wanted and with 9 (x3) sizes and very little shaping I was able to find a size with instructions that matched my new calculations (saving me from having to rewrite the whole pattern). The knitting is going rather fast. I cast on late on September 1st and by afternoon on the 2nd I had finished the first skein of yarn.
As I am currently suffering from startitis, I will introduce you to another project tomorrow. Don't worry I am still on track (ahead even) with the Log Cabin Blanket I completed square 12 today.