Back in November, my lovely friend Kate of Rosalind Craft Supplies had an idea. A really good idea. Let’s document, reflect on, and celebrate the knits we wear the most. I’ll let her tell you more about it:
… the vast majority of knits we see on Instagram and Ravelry are new creations, fresh off the needles. What do those lovely knits look like after they’ve been worn for a while? Did the garter stitch section droop? Did that merino yarn pill? Did that dye fade? More so, I thought it was about time we cherished clothes that are looking a little worn in. With all this in mind, I’m introducing: the #mostworn blogalong.It’s a simple concept. I’m going to write about the knitwear I’ve worn the most in the past couple of years in three categories (torso, neck and feet) and take photos of their current appearance. Then I’m going to nominate two friends to do the same. And hopefully they’ll do the same. And their friends will do the same. And so on and so forth. We’ll fill the blogosphere with photos of well-worn, well-loved handknits.
(You can read Kate’s full post here, which I highly recommend!)Kate kindly nominated me to share my #mostworn knits, and I couldn’t wait to participate. But then, it was Thanksgiving. Then I was traveling. Then it was Christmas and New Year. But now, finally, I’m thrilled to share some reflections on the knits I wear the most — why I gravitate to them, how they’ve worn, and what they taught me about yarn and fit that I’ve taken with me to future projects.
Kate proposed three categories – torso, neck, and feet. I’m going to follow that format (and maybe throw in head), but I’ve decided to break up my #mostworn post into two installments. As you’ll see, I have a lot of thoughts about my favorite sweater! So Part 2 will be coming to you next week!
Picking my most worn torso item was really, really easy. I’ve composed numerous blog posts in my head about this sweater for lots of different reasons. Before this sweater, I often knit garments and rarely wore them — I’d just be too self conscious. But I knit this sweater and thought it turned out alright, and it happened to be one of the few sweaters I packed on a five-week research trip I took to London a few years ago. It was fall, and I grossly underestimated how chilly it would be. The cold made me get over my self consciousness of wearing hand knit sweaters in public real fast, and I started wearing this sweater really regularly! I realize this sounds a bit corny, but this sweater really was a turning point for me incorporating hand knits into my wardrobe.
So I love this sweater for a lot of reasons. The first is the a-line shape. Before I knit this sweater, I’m not sure I realized that I really, really like wearing a-line sweaters. It’s really great for layering (as I learned during my chilly fall in London). I often wear it with just a tank underneath, but have also put long-sleeved tees under with the sleeves poking out, or even worn it layered over the right kind of button up shirt. And since it’s knit out of sport weight yarn, it’s not at all bulky – -no worries about shoving big sleeves into your jacket, etc. And the yarn — the color’s gorgeous , as you’d expect from the Plucky Knitter. It hasn’t faded, and it’s one of my favorite colors to wear. The fiber is a blend of merino, silk, and yak, so it’s very soft and has a wonderful drape to it. While at first, I only wore this sweater out, it’s so comfy, that I increasingly started reaching for it to wear around the house — on a chilly morning while I sipped coffee, on a lazy Sautrday, etc. So for me, it’s been a mix of a “proper” sweater that ventures out in the real world and a well-loved house sweatshirt.
But the things that I love about this sweater — it’s ease, comfort, softness — have come at a price. As you can (hopefully) see in the above photo and in some of the ones below, it has pretty heavily pilled — though it can be a bit difficult to capture the extent of it in a photo!
Pilling began pretty early on this sweater — and then, of course, almost three years of regular wear are responsible for worsening the situation! A sweater brush helps a bit. But part of this is just a trade off: the softness you get with merino comes from a shorter fiber staple, more prone to pilling. So remember when I said this sweater was a turning point for me? It was also a garment that really got me thinking about the composition of the yarn I was buying (beyond it being wool!) What breed sheep did it come from? How might it wear over time? These, of course, aren’t the only questions to be asking — the yarn’s construction matters too — but I’ve found exploring different wool varieties a great place to start. For me, I have limited funds to buy yarn, limited time to knit, and pilling really bugs me (and this is a bit of a personal tick!). So, over the last year especially, I’ve been tyring to diversify my stash (oh what a chore!) with different varieties of wool that might be less prone to pilling — they might not be as soft, but personally, I don’t mind wools that feel, well, a bit woolly! Soft, squishy merino sweaters have their time and place — but they’re not the *only* kind I want to knit.
And as if I haven’t already written a novel about this sweater (I told you I had a lot of feelings about it), I’ll just say – it’s a great classic pattern, and I have vague plans to knit another. I envision doing it in a neutral, maybe dark gray, out of Bluefaced Leicester wool, or something similar. Of course, a studier, 100% wool yarn won’t have the same drape, so I think I might try a fingering weight yarn knit at the pattern gauge to at least approximate the drape of this luxurious merino-silk-yak blend.
And despite the pills, this is hands down my most worn garmet, and I love it. The only one that comes remotely close is my Newsom sweater. Also knit out of merino and silk, it pilled more quickly and even more prodigiously than my James!
So, there you have it! My #mostworn sweater. I’ll be back next week with a post on #mostworn accessories. But before that, I’ll be popping in on the weekend to talk about something newly finished that, fittingly enough, fits right in with what I’ve just been talking about. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that my Rocquaine sweater is finally done! So I’ll be talking about Rocquaine — the yarn, the fabric, the fit, and of course the pattern! — this weekend.
In the meantime, do you have a #mostworn sweater? If you’re on Instagram and would like to share using the hashtag, it’d be awesome to see! Or perhaps you’d like to join those of us who are blogging about our most worn items and write a post? I’ll follow Kate’s instructions and officially nominate two people in Part 2, but if you’d like to participate, jump right in!