If you are reading this post, then it means I have actually succeeded! Last week, I had some family things to take care of that took the time I would normally be blogging, and this week our computer sort of…exploded? There were no pieces of metal or plastic flying through the air, but there was a loud bang and lots of sparks. Thanks to my in-laws, I have a laptop I can use to get everything sorted and out on the blog, although for awhile there, I couldn’t upload pictures or get WordPress to save my post. However, it seems I have finally prevailed (with help from my husband and the internet)! In the grand scheme of things, this is minor, but it feels like an accomplishment nonetheless. While I’m not bad at technology, it’s far from my first love. What I really love is fibers I can sew and knit. Today’s project is of the knitting variety–I made a Wool & Honey sweater!
The Wool & Honey sweater is a pattern from Drea Renee Knits (Andrea Mowry). The first time I saw someone wearing this sweater, I thought it was really cool, but had a very strange shape. The shoulders and sleeves are fitted, while the body is wide and boxy. There’s a really cool honeycomb pattern that sits on top of the stitches at the neck, chest, and upper arms.
I initially wrote the design off as something with interesting details that wasn’t quite for me. But somehow, as often happens, the design got into my head. Then I accidentally made a sweater with a similar shape in the fall…and I liked it!
I bought the paper pattern at Pintuck & Purl and decided that I would join in their Winter Sweater Make-Along on Zoom.
After researching yarn, I decided to go with Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight, which was both less expensive, even after having it shipped from the UK, and less prone to breakage than the recommended yarn.
Once I got all my supplies, I knit up a few “swift swatches in the round” and realized that I was, as usual, knitting very loosely.
I recalculated my gauge so that I could knit at the gauge that I got, and found that I would need to make the smallest size, rather than the size I would normally fit into, which would have been the medium or large. I really had to make it work since I was already using very tiny US size 0 and 1 knitting needles. Here is where I have to give a huge shoutout to Meaghan over at the Drea Renee Knits (DRK) team. While I could knit the XS to get a bust size that would work for me, it looked like the arms would be too tight. I e-mailed the DRK pattern help address and explained my problem. Meaghan took time to talk through all the details with me, help me with my math, explain that Andrea Mowry drafted these sleeves so they would fit well with anywhere from -2″ up to +3″ of ease, AND she offered to check over all my math once I made my calcuations since her formula was slightly different than the one I had first used. She really went above and beyond, and I am so grateful. It made a huge difference in my confidence and in the finished sweater to have someone that knowledgeable to talk things over with. And as it turned out, the XS was going to be fine with the gauge I got, sleeves and all.
Knitting this pattern was fascinating. I had no idea how the honeycombs would be formed. They are really ingenious. I love that they look like they are randomly scattered over the surface of the sweater and that they grow in size as they go from the neck down toward the waist.
This is my second DRK pattern, and I am a convert. Any special techniques I might not understand are explained in the pattern or on Andrea’s YouTube channel. Knowing I could e-mail someone for pattern help is really the icing on the cake. This pattern was challenging, but not too hard thanks to the help provided, and it was interesting. The only part I didn’t love was how long it takes to knit a sweater with fingering weight yarn on tiny needles. Needless to say, the Winter Sweater Make-Along finished long before I was done with my own sweater, but it gave me the push I needed to get started, and it was fun to connect with other knitters over Zoom. Just as I really began to think I would never finish, I got going on my sleeves. Even making them a little bit longer, by the time I got to the sleeves, the end really was imminent (even if it didn’t always feel like it). I began this in mid-October and finished in early to mid-February.
I absolutely love this sweater. In the first two weeks after I finished it, I wore it almost every day. My family started to laugh at me, I wore it so much. It’s warmer than I expected for the weight of the yarn, but not bulky or too warm.
Here are my takeaways from this project:
- I am a total fan of DRK patterns. They are interesting, fun, and there is great support to help you through the parts you don’t understand. I have since signed up for her newsletter, which I’m really enjoying. I even got my mom hooked as we’re knitting Andrea’s Sparks socks pattern together over Zoom.
- I love this Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight yarn. It’s beautiful in color and texture and great to knit with. It blooms nicely with blocking and it has given me a whole new appreciation for the Shetland yarn I have in my stash from my first knitting phase years ago. This yarn comes from Shetland sheep which are an old and very cool breed. I love its rustic look. It’s softer than you would expect, and while it blooms when blocked, it doesn’t jump right to getting felted. I would definitely knit more projects with this yarn.
- That being said, I don’t love how long it took to knit a sweater out of fingering weight yarn. I know four months isn’t forever, but it often felt like it took forever to complete even a single round of stitches. I absolutely love the lightness and drape of the sweater, so I understand why people love fingering weight sweaters. I won’t say I’ll never knit one again, but I definitely need a break.
And the boxy body plus close-fitting arm style? I love it! I don’t like how it looks with every pair of pants I own, but with closer-fitting bottoms, I do like it, and it’s a dream to wear. The stretchy sleeves and forgiving fit of the body are also great for weight fluctuations, making this a sweater that should last a long time.
I’m so glad I tried this. While sewing is my biggest love, I have done less of it than I would have expected over the last year, moving at a slow-but-steady pace, while I have done more knitting than I would have expected. Knitting is easy to pick up and put down, and I have two new knitting buddies in my mom, who has come back to knitting after a long absence, and one of my kids, who is really getting into it.
I love, love, love being able to make my own clothes. Knitting gives me one more tool in that box.
If I could add any other tool? Shoe-making! Maybe one day. 🙂