Confession Time

I have a confession to make. I have been knitting for almost a decade and I teach other people how to knit, but I just knit my first sweater this past winter.

me wearing my Maren sweater

Well, if you want to get technical about it, it’s my first adult sweater. I’ve knit baby sweaters before, some knit top-down in the round, some knit flat in pieces and then seamed. They’ve had all the important parts — backs, left fronts, right fronts, sleeves, button bands, collars. I’ve knit small garments for myself that weren’t exactly sweaters — shrugs and capelets. They’re like knitting a top-down sweater but then stopping when you get to the boring bits after the bust, skipping the seemingly endless expanse of stomach and back. (I do realize that this also means that I’ve never done any waist shaping on an adult-sized garment, and also that since I usually need to knit an extra-small or a small size in a garment for myself, I shouldn’t complain about there being an “endless expanse” of anything.) So it wasn’t daunting to knit a stranded colourwork pattern and steek it for my “first adult sweater,” since I already had plenty of experience with all the techniques used in it except for the steeking.

The pattern is called Maren, and is included in Ragga Eiríksdóttir‘s Craftsy class The Top-Down Icelandic Sweater. It’s knit in Létt-Lopi and the main colour is Glacier Blue Heather. I used the same colour scheme as in the original pattern, as I love turquoise and the beautiful colours are what attracted me to the pattern in the first place.

I dubbed my sweater the Blizzard Maren, as the reason I was able to complete the knitting fairly quickly was that the weather was so bad this past winter that I had plenty of time to sit around and knit. I worked on my Maren during two or three blizzards plus who knows how many snowstorms, and I was able to finish the actual knitting part in less than a month.

It quickly grew from this…

Maren's neck

into this…

me trying on the yoke of my Maren sweater

into this…

me trying on my Maren sweater before knitting the sleeves

fairly quickly, and the sleeves went quickly, too, although I didn’t get a post-sleeves pre-steeking photo.

It took me more than another month to do all of the finishing work, though, because there was a lot of it — washing and conditioning the sweater, blocking the sweater, crocheting on either side of the steek stitch, cutting the steek, sewing the ribbons on the inside edges getting my mother to sew the ribbons on the inside edges because she sews way better than I do, crocheting the button loops, and sewing on the buttons. I also had to be really alert in order to do any of those things, which is difficult since I’m usually exhausted.

The Top-Down Icelandic Sweater is one of the few Craftsy classes that now have student-led discussions because the instructor didn’t feel she had time to answer student questions anymore, but the video lessons are very clear, and any questions I had about little things that weren’t covered in the video lessons were easy to find answers to by reading previous answers Ragga had given to other people’s questions back when she was still doing so, by reading student discussions, and by looking at people’s project notes for Maren on Ravelry. So I’d say it’s definitely worth taking. The sweater is pretty, it’s not hard, and even taking scissors to my knitting and cutting a one-stitch steek wasn’t too scary. I didn’t modify the pattern very much, just knit four extra rounds before the armholes (I found them too tight as written in the pattern, but for the smallest bust size, the armholes were perfect with the four extra rounds) and I made the sleeves longer because I hate three-quarter length sleeves.

I did take thread and sew down the ends of the contrasting colour in the yoke on the inside edge of the sweater before my mother sewed the ribbon all along the inside edge. In the videos, Ragga doesn’t sew anything down before she sews the ribbon trim on, but I’m not that brave. Anyway, it was a one-stitch steek reinforced with crochet and a bit of hand-sewing, no machine sewing at all, and everything held together just fine. Plus, there are owls on the ribbon trim. Sweet.

owl ribbon trim on inside of my Maren sweater

I also found the perfect buttons at Fabricville.

these buttons remind me of Elsa in Frozen

I love the turquoise with the white swirls; they make me think of Elsa in Frozen. The Maren pattern only buttons about halfway down, and I decided to stick to that even though I was surprised to discover that if I had wanted to add buttons all the way to the bottom, it still would’ve fit. There’s no shaping past the bust; you just knit plain until you get to the bottom ribbing, but it appears that if I wanted to, I could have added buttons all the way down and it would have closed just fine over my hips.

me wearing my Maren sweater

Although it was my first time steeking, that wasn’t the only thing I learned. The reason I never knit an entire sweater before was that I have the attention span of a flea. So I guess I learned how to marshal my flea attention span long enough to get through a whole sweater without getting bored and abandoning it. Lately I’ve obtained a few sweater kits, and I’m going to get some more sweaters finished in the future, in addition to the constant parade of accessories I’m always knitting. Right now I’m working on an Amiga cardigan in a gorgeous emerald green Americo Cotton Flammé. Working on it for really. It’s got a body, and I’ve just gotten started on the first sleeve. So maybe I’ll even finish it before it gets too cold for it and it’s time to start wearing the Blizzard Maren again. You never know.

Maren sweater

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One Response to Confession Time

  1. Pat L says:

    Hi Mary, Maren is absolutely beautiful, including the surprise of the owls. Hope all is well with you and Jodi. I still have not had a chance to see the newly enlarged shop but, hopefully, one of these days. Have a great summer.

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