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Last summer I knit my very first sweater.
I know that summer is generally not the preferred season for knitting, but I had the opportunity to take a course last June by my friend Maria, a designer and expert knitter (the designer of this bandana scarf and these wrist warmers that I’ve made), so I made myself a cotton short-sleeved summer sweater.
I’ll be honest: I’d never quite understood the sense of a summer sweater. When I think “summer,” I think of hot, sticky, sweaty. When I think “sweater,” I think full coverage, wool, warm. They were two totally opposite concepts in my mind.
But now I’m discovering that a summer sweater is actually quite comfortable, at least in the spring. (I’ve yet to wear it in the summer.) It’s a perfect garment to wear on warm, sunny days spent at the beach.
I created this sweater with Maria’s pattern Basico, with numerous personalizations that Maria helped me figure out. It is a top-down cardigan with saddle shoulders that requires no sewing, and is ideal to work on with circular needles. One of the optional details is the lace work on the sleeves that you can see here.
Technically, Basico isn’t really a pattern, but a knitting recipe. A recipe is a more general indication of how to create a knitted base object based on your exact measurements, and you can personalize it in many ways. It’s a wonderful way for accomplished knitters to be creative and use different techniques to create myriad effects. Let me tell you more about what I mean.
The recipe doesn’t give you exact stitch numbers to use, but shows you how to measure yourself and then use those numbers and your swatch gauge to calculate how many stitches and rows to create and work at each part. Maria also included an example project for a young child to show how she calculated the garment’s parts for that size.
It’s really great because it puts you in charge, making you the designer of your ideal garment. I decided that I wanted a short-sleeve pullover in a simple stockinette stitch with the lovely simple lace work used in the example project in the sleeves and simple rolled neck and hems, so that’s how I designed it.
I worked on my Basico all summer and brought it all over the place with me, including the beach. Here (in a picture from my Instagram account) you can see a detail of the work in progress as I joined the two shoulders at the front, also creating a neckline. The edge stitches later got picked up for the sleeves.
I used Mondial Scilla Egyptian cotton yarn for this project. As you can see here, it’s a ribbon yarn, but it rolled up nicely as I worked it up.
This was when the front and back got joined in the round.
Here’s a detail of where they are joined.
Alas, it was at this point that I realized that I hadn’t measured myself properly and the armscye (or armhole, for the non-designers out there) was way too big. Like 10 cm too long. That’s a ton, so I pulled out row after row of stitches and joined them anew. Have I mentioned that I’m a really slow knitter? I hate unravelling my work because it takes me so long to create it!
As soon as I finished the body, I tried it on and – for joy! – it fit perfectly! I was so thrilled that my very first knit sweater fit perfectly the very first time! This is the fantastic thing about a knitting recipe and a good swatch: you can calculate the fit exactly the way you want it!
The last steps were to pick up the stitches in the armholes and knit the little sleeves, and to pick up those in the neckline and finish off the collar. And here’s the final sweater!
This was the one part that I really had trouble with, because I had never knit sleeves or a collar before, and therefore I lacked the expertise to do it on my own. I wasn’t totally sure how often to decrease and how much ribbing to work before creating the rolled stockinette edge, so I unravelled my work quite a few times. Luckily these parts work up pretty quickly with circular needles.
Here you can see the neck, which is slightly square-shaped.
The sleeves are quite short, just the way I like them in warm weather. Here you can see how the saddle shoulders continue to become the sleeves and attach to the body.
I like this lace work, the indications for which are given in the example project, though it shows up better with a solid color yarn.
I repeated the lace pattern for just one row at the bottom before the hem, but in the end I think I would’ve preferred just simple rolled stockinette stitch hem.
The saddle shoulders and sleeves have a rectangular shape, and therefore aren’t shaped under the armpits and create creases. This is characteristic of this type of garment and isn’t to be considered a mistake.
All in all, it’s a pretty good result for my very first knit sweater, especially considering that I drafted it myself, instead of following a knitting pattern!
It’s perfect for the warm months!
I liked the ribbon yarn because it was easy to knit with, however it feels slightly scratchy on the body as compared to regular cotton yarn. I wasn’t sure that I would like the effect of the variegated yarn, but in the end I’m happy with it.
I’ll admit that I did have some issues figuring out the more technical aspects of putting this sweater together, but do keep in mind that before this I’d never knit a sweater, so I had no experience to go from. Luckily, Maria was incredibly helpful and patient with my many questions and helped me through it. But if you DO have experience knitting sweaters, this project should be a piece of cake to figure out!
So, if you’re interested in learning how to design your own simple knitting pattern for a summer OR winter sweater, head on over to see Maria’s Basico recipe on Ravelry! And if you want more technical details about my Basico, you can read about it here on Ravelry.
And of course, don’t forget to Pin this here!
Do you love knitting? Here’s another great summer knitting project: knit beaded necklaces!