First sweater, finished!

If you're new to the story of Allison, our managing editor, and her quest to knit her first sweater (Alexis Winslow's Vera Cardigan from Knitscene Winter 2011), you can read the three previous posts here, here, and here. Since we last posted, right after the Christmas holidays, Allison has not only finished her first knitted cardigan ever, but also painted all of the banister rails and trim in her living room! Both of these are big achievements; one of them impeded the progress of the other. I'll let you decide which is which.

I've knit a few cardigans in my knitting career, so I thought it'd be best to let Allison herself tell you about her finished cardigan, and what she learned from knitting a garment.

First and foremost, knitting a sweater = magic. No, it didn’t come together by waving a magic wand, but where would be the fun in that? What was magic was shaping a ball of yarn—bit by bit—into an actual garment. Maybe the state of awe this inspires will wear off once I’ve knitted my second or my seventieth sweater, but I hope not.


I love the design of this cardigan. For my taste, it was just the right amount of shaping and sweet details (like those fun button loops on the cuffs) to make it feel really special. It is also majorly cozy, and terribly exciting to think that I made it myself.



The colorwork was terrifying. I wrote about it a little in a previous post. Fellow beginning knitters, fear not, you too can do colorwork. In fact, in retrospect, that was my favorite technique that I learned. I was also scared of the general idea of knitting a sweater. It seemed like a really big undertaking. It was intimidating. It made my palms sweat. I was fortunate to have the likes of Ms. Amy Palmer and our stellar tech team (Joni Coniglio and Larissa Gibson) helping me out along the way, but in quiet moments of crisis at home I found a lot of great online resources, which leads me to believe that even someone who doesn’t work at Interweave could learn to knit a sweater.



I wish I would have taken more opportunities to knit a row here and there, rather than feeling like I needed a three-hour block of time to work on the sweater. I think chipping away at it that way would have made the knitting go a lot faster. And of course there are little things about the actual sweater I might have done better, but I guess they are good reminders of what I learned along the way (“look, there’s the rough patch where I was figuring out how to pick up stitches around the arm hole” or “mental note, keep working on your mattress stitch technique so stuff doesn’t fall out of the bottom of your pockets next time” or “alpaca grows when you wash it”). 


Amy again: Congratulations, Allison, on knitting your first cardigan! I think all of us agree that it's pretty spectacular. In theory, Allison is tackling another knitting milestone, her first pair of socks as part of the Simply Sockupied Knitalong, but she's talking about re-painting her trim. Don't worry—she'll get her priorities sorted quickly enough. Knitting always comes first, am I right?

Happy knitting!

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25 thoughts on “First sweater, finished!

  1. Congratulations, I can’t believe this is the first cardigan you knitted, it looks so good! It’s really encouraging for other people, including me. By the way, I wanted to 5* this but once I had clicked on the first star the ‘rate’ box wouldn’t let me hit the others – consider yourself 5-starred, please! K1drop1

  2. Wow! What a beautiful sweater. Congratulations, its not only beautiful but fits perfectly as well. You’ve got my vote!
    A Knittin Kitten in Dixie.

  3. AWESOME!! Going to start MY first cardigan in a couple of weeks after visiting my folks in CA and going to go to the Madelyn Tosh warehouse! Hope mine looks as beautiful as yours does…hats off to you, you are an inspiration to those of us “beginners” – anything IS possible 🙂

  4. Congratulations, Allison! The sweater is absolutely beautiful. At first I thought, are you kidding me?? You choose to knit a cardigan with colorwork as your first big project? Really? Well, I’m impressed. Great job!

  5. Congratulations Allison! I love the pattern. I’ve done hoodies but not a cardigan because I couldn’t find a pattern without buttonholes. I hope I have that issue of Knitscene in the “someday” basket.

  6. Wow! I am so impressed. I am a new, self-taught (well, with lots of YouTube and Internet help) knitter. In the fall I started with a scarf for my youngest daughter then my 17 yr old daughter wanted a big chunky scarf/cowl for her BDay. Done! Then I wanted a challenge so I made socks. My first pair was with worsted weight yarn and fairly big dpns. I’m so glad I used those materials because they made understanding the sock a lot easier. I then felt brave enough to move into sock yarn…these are still in progress. I have embarked on lace for a scarf and I’m loving that. But…I’m afraid to do a sweater…you have inspired me! Now I just need to find the fit pattern.

    I don’t have any circular needles at the moment and would love some suggestions on what to get.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  7. Good job Allison. You took on a big project for a “first”. There’s something mesmerizing about knitting–“I’ll just knit a few rows” turns into several hours and inches. I used to knit a lot in the past, but not so much now. I started a pair of socks (two feet need two socks), but I’m “paused” at turning the heel. Someday…

  8. Wow, that looks awsome! And that’s her first cardigan? That is impressive! I’ve knitted a vest before that turned out great, but I just recently tried to knit my first full sweater and I messed it up royally. I have no idea what went wrong, as I thought I followed the instructions. the right front panel ended up about six inches longer than the left front, and the sleeves were so wide at the top, I could have stuffed a small ham in them. In hindsight, I guess that the lacy pattern and large cables on the sweater might have been a bit ambitious for my first sweater, but at least I learned something from it. I’m still gonna try knitting another sweater at some point, so I haven’t given up!

  9. I’m very proud of you. I haven’t knitted a sweater for myself just my granddaughter.
    I’m trying to gear up to do one for myself. Your accomplishment is inspiring!!

  10. That is a truly beautiful piece of work, a project I doubt I would have tackled as a first!

    And Horselove, I have a suggestion for you. Find a seamless pattern preferably top down. I rarely do anything else any more. If you have to knit in pieces then knit the fronts at the same time on one needle (same with the sleeves) that way you will be sure to have the same length and shaping.

  11. Waubright– for doublepointed needles I highly recommend treating oneself to a set of interchangeable needles. (The brand I got is Denise, and I’ve been thoroughly satisfied with them, but there are other brands.)
    This allows you to have a full range of needle sizes and cable lengths always at hand. I use them even for patterns that are worked flat– so nice not to have to go searching for a singletipped needles that I’ve dropped under the bed or squashed in a couch cushion!

  12. What an ambitious project for your first sweater! Congratulations on a beautiful result–I wish you a lifetime of happy knitting for yourself and for those you love!

  13. Congratulations! That sweater looks beautiful!

    I just cast on (and on and on – I think I ended up casting on five times due to various mishaps) my first sweater. I’m about 1/2-inch into it, lol. Hope I have similar success!

  14. Thanks for all the lovely comments, everyone! If you’re looking for this pattern, you can purchase it in the Interweave Store – it’s the Vera Cardigan by Alexis Winslow from Knitscene Winter 2011.

    To those of you looking to cast on your first sweater, best of luck! If you’re knitting an Interweave pattern, be sure to share your finished work of art in our Reader Photo Gallery!