A fiber interlude

I know that many of us readers are also knitters, but so far I haven’t really talked about my knitting life on this blog. I’ve never been good about recording my knitting and spinning projects, but recently I was suddenly inspired to enter some of them on Ravelry. If you are a Raveler, you can check out my account (withawhy99) to see what I’ve added, including stitch patterns, yarn names, fiber sources, etc.



The projects I’ve posted are mainly original creations by me. I did not start out being an improvisational knitter — I used to stick to printed patterns like a limpet on a rock — but over the years I became more confident and learned how easy it really is to make up a sweater as you go along. It’s especially easy if you construct the sweater from the top down, because you can check the length as you go.

KnittingTopIf you are interested in this method, I highly recommend two books: Knitting from the Top Down by Barbara G. Walker, and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd.

Walker is my knitting guru — she is so smart, literate, and creative. She will teach you how to free yourself from pattern prison and understand what you are doing with your knitting, so that you can create and change at will. The original edition of this book also has groovy clothing designs from the seventies that are fun to look at, if not to emulate.

Budd’s book takes Walker’s principles and applies numbers to them, so you don’t have to do as much calculating once you know your gauge and the finished sweater size you want. There are four basic sweater styles, but you can personalize them to your wishes. Four patterns are included for each style that you can either follow exactly or use as inspiration for your own variations. I’ve only made one sweater so far using it, but I’m sure I’ll be turning to it again and again.

Another book I’ve found extremely useful is Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor. It has dozens of ways to begin or end your knitting in ways plain, fancy, flexible, invisible, or decorative, according to your needs. The format is perfect for sticking in a knitting bag and the instructions are clear and easy to follow.

I’ve realized how important it is after spending all that time and effort on my knitting projects for me to remember and record what I’ve done, so I’m going to try to be better about that from now on. Are you a fiber fanatic too? Do you have a way of sharing your projects? Would you like to see more of my creations? Please let me know!

12 thoughts on “A fiber interlude

  1. I used to knit. I just don’t have time anymore (especially this week, i can barely up on emails). I do hope to get back into it at some point. Thanks for the recommendations!


    1. I do it in phases. I don’t pick up needles or spindle for months, and then I get obsessed with some project and drop other things to work on it. (Or I have a deadline for getting a gift done — usually my big incentive.) I’d love to see your knitting if you do get back into it!


  2. So I am wildly impressed. You not only knit but you create your own patterns? The projects you posted are beautiful. Yes, I would love to see more of your creations.

    Maybe this will be the winter I actually try to learn to knit.


    1. It took me a looooong time to get brave enough to create my own patterns. I know it sounds impressive, but when you understand the principles it really isn’t more so than varying or making up a recipe when you know how to cook.

      Using patterns/recipes is a good way to learn in the beginning — there’s nothing wrong with that. Anyway, I hope you do learn to knit and let me know how it goes.


  3. I really like the piece in the middle photo. I love the different colors. Was that difficult? As a novice knitter-I just picked up my first pair of knitting needles about a month ago!-I impress easily. I am following someone on YouTube a friend recommended and the first project is a scarf. I am just practicing the knitting and purling before I tackle that. It has become a nice way to wind down in the evenings.

    Glad you posted this!


    1. Thank you, Laurie! I’m not sure how to describe the difficulty level — I just had fun with conceiving an idea and trying to carry it out, with some hiccups along the way. It didn’t turn out quite as I expected, but that was all right.

      In fact, many of my projects involve a lot of undoing and redoing. Learning to fix mistakes was a really important step for me in knitting, because without that you’re paralyzed if anything goes wrong. But I love that it is so flexible that you can actually undo a piece and make it completely different — unlike in weaving, for example.

      I hope you get into it and find it more and more satisfying as you learn more — I certainly did.


  4. These look wonderful! I did a bit of knitting when I was in college, but nothing complicated – just scarves. I would like to learn how to do something like this one day… when I find the time. 🙂 It’s inspiring too that you’ve moved on to making your own patterns. Thank you for sharing this on your blog!


  5. I go through phases where I’ll knit and crochet like crazy, then inexplicably stop for a few months, usually right in the middle of a project. I’m not a very experimental knitter, though – I haven’t gotten to the stage you’re at, where I’m confident going off-pattern. It’s a great idea, though, because then you can actually make the things you really want. With patterns it can be really tricky when you can’t find one that matches the idea that’s in your head. Ravelry’s pattern search is handy for that, mind you. 🙂


    1. Going off pattern can also be a form of laziness – that way I don’t have to look up or lug around the pattern for whatever I want to make. But I also just became fascinated by the process. I have to recommend Knitting from the Top again for this — it makes sweater construction so understandable.


    1. Thank you, that is nice to hear! Though I didn’t use stitch-by-stitch patterns, the descriptions in Knitting from the Top make it easy to adapt anything to fit yourself. That’s what I really love about it.


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