Inspired by the my fist sweater series over on Fringe Association and Marlee’s post on the Have Company blog, I decided it’s time to write about the journey to my first sweater. Before I started knitting again last winter, I had almost forgotten, that I had a heavy knitting phase in late high school, before I started studying. I remember quite well how the desire to start knitting evolved out of a shopping trip with my mother when I was about 16 or 17. I saw a beautiful grey wool sweater that I loved but found too expensive, easy conclusion (at least for me…): I will knit my own! So I jumped in the cold water, went with my mother to the tiny hippie yarn store in Tübingen, south of Germany, where I grew up.
Just recently after reading a lot about sustainable fashion and regionally produced yarns, I came to fully appreciate this shop. They just carry small-batch yarns from local mills in the area of the Swabian alps, most of the yarns dyed with natural dyes. They skeins don’t have labels, so you never remember what you got, and it is quite impossible to order anything, but this little store is a treasure, that just like when it was opened (probably in the late 70s/early 80s).
So I bought my dark brown yarn, and…designed my own pattern! A rough outline and some instructions from my mother (who is a highly talented knitter, by the way, but sadly lost the passion for it over the years…) I embarked on my first sweater adventure. A few weeks later all the parts were done, sewn together and… I tried on the sweater, and it looked like a giant gorilla costume. We had some fun looking at this failure, I am still very very sad that no one took a picture of me wearing it… I quickly unraveled the sweater and made another giant scarf out of it that fell victim to moths some years ago.
After this failed first attempt at knitting a sweater, I was determined to get it right the next time. I found a pattern in one of the Gardening Magazines of my mother, a nice men’s fisherman sweater. I went back to the hippie yarn store and got some green and turquoise yarn to mix up the perfect color. This time I thought a bit more before starting, adjusted the men’s size to mine and finished with a perfectly fitting sweater. I mostly used it for outdoor evenings by the fire (which we did a lot as teenagers in the countryside…), when the summer nights were still a bit too chilly to be outside without a jacket. It still has some spilled wax stains on the cuffs and almost smells like barbecue.
Thinking back about my early knitting projects, it is quite interesting of how little my goals and motives changed over time. My taste and color choices, sure, but the basics are still the same: I want these beautiful clothes but cannot afford them, I am (almost) never scared of a challenge starting a project and I am always adjusting, readjusting and fitting the clothes that I make to my own idea. And I fail quite a lot 😉