I was asked to test knit a men’s sweater by my friend, Eric Lutz, host of the Sticks + Twine podcast and Publisher for Rib Magazine back in March. I said yes, flattered by the fact that I had only been knitting for 3 years and recently finished my first adult sweater, Boxy.
Then he showed me this photo:
I felt excited and intimidated at the same time. Look at those gorgeous cables! I thought to myself, “Can I do this? I’d hate to disappoint!”
I have worked on several cabled projects prior, like this hat, this other hat, and these beautiful socks. I also have this shawl that’s been on the needles for forever. I had frogged it countless times due to error after error on my part, and sadly it is now languishing in a corner waiting patiently for me to pick it up once again.
Self-doubt consumed me as I waited to receive the pattern. As Jameson Frank quotes, “Our greatest battles are those with our own minds”.
I was nervous. But, I welcomed the challenge. This was a great opportunity to expand my skill and finally be able to make a sweater that my husband has been asking for from day 1. I just kept reminding myself, “You can do this!”
I received the pattern from Devon, editor of Rib on March 21st. I had a month to complete it.
It was time to pick the yarn! I have always wanted to work with Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, so off we went, my husband, Radley and I, on their website and perused possibilities. I can’t tell you how much joy it brought me, seeing him get excited about yarn. He is, however, one of those people who will only wear black or gray and as much as I would have liked to knit him a black sweater – I reminded him of how hard it will be to read my knitting at night. He chose the colorway Soot which is a handsome gray. Perfect!
Can you see how giddy I was?
With confidence, I cast on for the sweater, keeping my insecurities in check. As with any test knitting, you’re bound to have questions and concerns. I worked directly with Jennie Johnson for this test knit. I’m a huge fan of hers and really tried my best to keep our communication professional even though I got goosebumps every time I received correspondence from her 🙂 I have pages and pages of tips and tricks from watching the podcast Handmade and Woolen which she co-hosted with her husband, Devon. (Note: sadly they decided to stop podcasting but are still actively sharing their work on Instagram. You can find them as @tinypaperfoxes and @brineandheath, respectively.)
Back to the sweater. I was a little embarrassed by asking questions – thinking I should already know certain things but Jennie kindly assured me there is nothing to be embarrassed about adding, “The purpose of the test knitting process is to identify incorrect or potentially confusing information in the pattern”. Phew!
I am happy to report I did not have any breakage whatsoever with Loft for the times I did have to rip back during the test knit. In fact, the stitches were just hangin’ out, waiting to be picked up every single time. I also spit spliced every time I joined a new ball of yarn. This was really important to me when choosing yarn for this sweater because you know how I feel about weaving in ends, right?
The sweater knit up quite fast. I loved seeing the cables emerge after every row, and I could not put it down. Of course, there was a ton of knitflixing involved for the duration of this test knit. If you’re curious, here is a list of shows and movies that kept me company:
Grace and Frankie
I knit the sleeves two at a time to ensure they turn out the same. I was able to bring it with me everywhere I went since this test knit happened during Easter. We have a large extended family who gets together every so often, and I planned my knitting so that I was able to continue working on it during the holidays.
A family tradition – Easter egg hunting 🙂
Before I knew it, it was done and blocking!
And then…another first for me…. seaming! It took the whole day to seam the entire sweater. I used this tutorial from Amy Herzog to guide me.
A shot of the final stitches. I used sock yarn to seam as advised. I used black Kroy socks by Patons and as you can see below, it’s invisible.
The only thing left at this point was to pick up and knit the neckband. It only took a couple of hours. I actually finished the sweater the day it was due – around 6 pm!
It was close, but I did it!!!
I did panic a little on the final week. I still had a lot to do – but this guy – my amazing husband – pretty much took care of everything else so I can focus on the sweater. He knew how important it was for me to finish on time, and I couldn’t have done it without his support.
Totally knit worthy if you ask me!
And what was I so worried about? This sweater was such a fun knit! This was my very first men’s sweater and if I can do it, so can you!
I would also like to thank Eric for your confidence in me, and to Jennie for your patience, and guidance. Finally, thank you, Devon and the rest of the Rib team for this wonderful opportunity 🙂
You can find the pattern for the Navigate pullover on the second issue of Rib Magazine.
“It’s not what you are that is holding you back. It’s what you think you are not. ”