knit.wear Wool Studio 101

My first sweater was a learning experience. It was supposed to be a chunky turtleneck sweater with a cable up the front. However, my local big-box store didn’t have any bulky-weight yarn, so I improvised with two strands of baby-weight yarn held together. I thought the yarn was so pretty—it was a slightly shiny acrylic made of two mint green plies and one pastel rainbow ply. I used the size needles the pattern called for; I had a loose understanding of swatching, and I just decided to make the largest size to compensate for the difference in gauge. Unlike a lot of first sweaters, it wasn’t a complete failure: it fit, albeit in an oversized, floppy way. However, the fabric was so loose I had to wear a tank top under it for modesty, and the cable was more or less invisible thanks to the multicolored yarn. I wore it with pride for a few years until my knitting skills grew and my sweaters became a little more polished.

For the Wool Studio 101 collection, we selected from the archives simple, basic sweaters for the newer sweater knitter—or for the experienced sweater knitter looking for a relaxing, enjoyable knit. Whether you learned to cast on two months ago or are branching out after years of making socks, these sweaters are for you. We’ve updated the look of these classic patterns, using new yarns, modern colors, and fresh styling. We’ve also revised the patterns in another way: the sizing. Almost 80 percent of American women wear a size 14 or above, and we think it is important to reflect that in the sizing for this collection. The size range for all of these patterns has been expanded to at least a 4X, and most are sized to 5X. Knitting should be accessible to everyone, and inclusive sizing is key to making that happen. Why should any fabulous knitters be excluded from knitting fabulous sweaters?

We have chosen three projects from Ann Budd’s classic book The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters. The Fibonacci Rings pullover (page 32) is a great introduction to circular-yoke sweaters, with a slip-stitch pattern on the yoke instead of stranded colorwork. We’ve also selected seven sweaters from past books and magazines. Vicki Square’s Shiriku Tsui-do (page 39) from Knit Kimono Too is an excellent first sweater with minimal shaping. The Mount Moosilauke Pullover (page 14) uses bulky-weight yarn and a combination of knitting flat and in the round to make a speedy raglan sweater. For those of you who prefer a challenge, Shayna Zelko Kalish’s Welt and Rib Pullover (page 51) begins with a provisional cast-on at the chest and is worked top down to the hem, then bottom up from the chest through the yoke. Whatever your skill level, there’s certain to be a sweater to suit.

I hope you enjoy knitting this collection as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. If this is your first sweater, good luck! My advice: always check your gauge, and yarn weight matters. Our thanks to Blue Sky Fibers, Jagger Spun, Kelbourne Woolens, Knit One Crochet Too, Lorna’s Laces, LoveKnitting, Mountain Meadow Wool, Plymouth Yarns, Sugar Bush Yarns, and Universal Yarn for providing the lovely yarns for this issue.

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