Q for You: Are you a repeater?

Q for You: Are you a repeater?

A few days ago, I posted the above photo on Instagram with this caption: “I stopped an inch short of finishing the body last night because I’m not ready for my time with this stitch pattern to come to an end.” One of the comments was “Time to cast on another one!!’ and the immediate response in my head was Too many other fish in the sea! As if I would never knit the same sweater twice. And yet I say to myself all the time that I’m going to knit another Bellows one of these days, and maybe even another Amanda, which got me wondering why and when I’m willing to repeat. In both of those speculative cases, it’s because I want another of the same sweater but in a snugglier, woolier yarn. (A Spring/Fall version and a Winter version, basically.) But even so, I’ve made no moves to actually cast on again.

I have repeated smaller things in the past — I knitted Fetching mitts for two different friends (no different other than the yarn/color), and have knitted three versions of Orlane’s Textured Shawl (here, here and here; all pretty distinctly different in scale, gauge and fabric). Of course I’ve knitted multiple Stadium Hats and Super Simple Mitts. And oh yeah, Improv sweaters, obviously! And clearly I have no problem repeating sewing patterns — in fact, I prefer it, given all the prep work involved. Apparently the only things I’m willing to knit repeatedly are fairly simple, useful, adaptable basics, whereas the more unique or challenging things get knitted once and then it’s on the next one. But is that really it? I don’t know! I’m still pondering.

So that’s my Q for You today: Are you a repeat knitter of things, and if so what and when? Is it different for sewing than knitting?

I look forward to your responses, and also wish you a wonderful weekend. I, for one, am super excited about the arrival of Daylight Savings!

UNRELATED SHOP NEWS: I’m also super excited about the arrival this week of more Lykke fixed circular needles, the new issue of Taproot, Bookhou double-zip pouches (the beloved Pepita print is available again) and a massive restock of Bento Bags!


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59 thoughts on “Q for You: Are you a repeater?

  1. yes! i’ve knit three acers:
    … and i loved every minute of knitting them.
    i’ve also knit two tokyo hoodies by carrie bostick hoge, for my son, who adores them both- i think there are more of them in my future! i understand the feeling of “so many fish in the sea” as we all have only so much knitting time and the lure of a new pattern is so strong. but i also love a repeat knit (i’ve repeated shawls, too) and i am sure i’ll have more sweater repeats in the future. why not, if the knitting was enjoyable and you love the fit??

  2. hmmm…there are a lot of patterns in my ravelry favorites (what I use to save patterns I am interested in) but when it comes to casting on, I like simple garments with interesting textures. I’m re-knitting bedford because I lost mine. I’m using a different yarn this time but I might make it again with the original yarn, I love it so much!!

    I just finished bellows and I think about casting on another now that I know what to expect in terms of seaming sweaters. I should have gone up a size or two, I’d like to have more ease.

    I knit four hermaness worsted hats from the hat a long!!!! love that pattern!!!

  3. As well as many winter hats in various yarns and designs, my all time favorite (currently) is Norah Gaughan’s Boxed Pullover as seen in Knit.Wear fall 2012. (I love the original Knit.Wear mags!!!)
    This sweater is the perfect layering piece for me, easy to make and also quick. I’ve used Noro as well as Araucania and Malabrigo yarns . I have 4 of these and will probably make more because they’re so easy to wear. If you love a pattern, repeat it!!

  4. Yes. I’ve made the same sweater twice. Once for Christmas I made the same hat for all my family (6!) and that pattern is now engraved in my head. I make the same kid’s hat that I gift to newborns. Same goes with sewing. I mostly make very simple things. I started with the idea that I wanted to be able to make basics for myself and basics naturally lend itself to repeats.

    When I started I wanted to make knitted items from quality garments thinking if I make them it’s “cheaper.” That turns out to be a complicated thing to compute in my head. I could have bought them cheaper (and on sale, dirt cheap), but I continue to make anyway when I have time. I’ve realized that I’m really more motivated by process. I’m curious about making and fascinated at the skills and thinking that goes into it. To be better, repeating is necessary.

  5. Only with super simple socks, the kind that are all stockinette. For a dress or a shirt that I really loved, I might be persuaded to make multiples of the same pattern, but I love the challenge of figuring out something new, so even a “repeat” is more likely to add a new twist so it doesn’t feel stale.

  6. I do knit more than one of the simple stuff but the challenging sweaters? No. Just as I have many Eileen Fisher ballet tops, I do not purchase more than one of anything complex. It’s a unique look and I prefer to spend my time knitting “one of”….

  7. i only repeat small projects; ie. hat and mitts. sweaters have to have a little variety. the only exception to sweaters that i have made is to knit my niece a mini version of a sweater that i made for myself. a sweater is a long time commitment. i just want that long time to be spent with a little variety. now i might take that stitch pattern that i can’t get enough of and reuse it on a sweater in a different way or by giving the sweater a different shape. that would be ok because it is a bit different. but the exact same … nah.

  8. Socks ands mittens aside, I have repeated sweaters in the past, but generally prefer to move on to something new. Right now, I do have two repeats on my to-make list: another Bellows (but want to make mine in a lighter wool, as mine feels physically heavy on and therfore doesn’t get the wear it deserves); and another Anna vest. I love mine, but it ended up a tad shorter than I really prefer (my adjustment, not your pattern!) that blocking hasn’t been able to solve. And I also want to use a softer yarn (mine was a lovely swan’s island but there is a scratchiness that also limits wear). That one is something I’d like to get to soon!

  9. I’m absolutely a repeater! Textured shawl, Stripe Study, Calligraphy Cardigan…sometimes I want it in another color combo, or yarn/weight, or I gave the first one(s) away. Or maybe my skills have improved since the first iteration and I think, “I can do it better this time.”

  10. I am! There’s an old Katya pattern (no name) that I’ve knit twice and I’m thinking of making another one. It’s got a nice blend of easy and interesting. I’ve knit 2 Haywards (one with the Loft color on the model, and one with a stripey Noro yarn) and sometimes think of making another. And every once in a while, I think about making another Central Park Hoodie…

  11. Repeating a pattern helps me understand knitted garment construction, helps to identify where my skills need improvement, and helps to commit the skills to my repertoire. In my Karen Templer Inspired improvised sweaters, I utilize elements of favorite patterns. By repeating and playing with the elements, I can ‘read’ potential patterns and spot areas that will be problematic for fit, avoiding frogging. By repeating a pattern with the same yarn [different colorway], I can also really get to know the fiber and utilise it to its greatest potential. I have three very different sweaters in Ultra Alpaca made with two different patterns, repeats across all three; it is beastly cold this morning and I am going to have a hard time choosing between them. But I can’t wait to wear one of them.

    Kind Regards, Michelle

  12. I will repeat knit, but will usually make changes to pattern as I go. I rarely repeat a big project, though: by the time I’m done, I’m often just sick of looking at it! :)

  13. Serial repeater here. I get addicted to certain motifs and designs and can’t stop knitting them. If I like something, I’ll make 3 of it – albeit in different colours, which makes it a bit more interesting than repeating a 100% identical knit.

  14. I am a repeater of many years. All my socks now have the foot from my favorite pattern, even if I change up the leg detail. Because they fit, I know it by heart, easy.

    Hats – I must have knit a million hats from three main patterns. I change out the color, I might change out the bottom, but how different does a hat need to be? :-)

    Sweaters – Yep, here too. I have a top down raglan pattern that I bought when I was in college. It has the numbers for every adult size imaginable, and is for a cardigan and raglan. I have replaced the pattern once, and wish I could find it again, as it is getting kind of dog-eared. And I have made so many sizes it is hard to tell which numbers I should follow, they are all circled.

    I think that for myself, and everyday wear, it is easy to change up these basic patterns to make thenm different – add a cable, change the hems, the basic sweater is the same, but those things coupled with different colors of yarn make it appear to be a different sweater.

    Now that I think about it, I have also made aLeGran ribbed vest at least 6 times. It is a pattern from the 90’s so it is boxy and cropped, but as I so often do, a little tweak here (fewer stitches, work it in the round instead of pieces) and there (6 inches longer) and I have a usable garment that I will wear.

    I think the reason I do this is that on these patterns, I have worked out the kinks, figured out how I need to change it so it works for me, and that is a lot of math and swatching. Why go through it all over again? Well, sometimes I do because I can’t resist a pattern, but mostly, I simply modify what works.

  15. Absolutely. I’ve knit the same sock pattern 23 times – it’s the only one I’ve ever used except for my first pair. I’ve even knit sweaters twice. I also have no issues knitting the same thing twice in exactly the same colour scheme (though that’s not a super common occurrence). It is so relaxing to reknit a project that worked out well because you don’t have to think as hard. You get to enjoy the corollary benefits like the texture of the yarn. Much less anxiety provoking than when knitting new.

  16. I am absolutely guilty of being a repeater. I like staple pieces, and when I find a silhouette that works I just go nuts. A lot of the time it’s for things I’ve designed myself that I want to tweak or make in a different color/fabric/whatever. I’ve got 2 of the same raglan in a dark and a light, one more of that same raglan I made for a friend, 3 of a low back woven tee that I designed and a dress made from that pattern elongated. I don’t know what made me the way I am, or how I have time to do anything else, but I manage!!

  17. I took a class from Sally Melville years ago. She taught me two things don’t knit it if not going to wear it, and if you knit something you love knit it again and maybe again and again!

  18. I repeat knit simple basics but with different yarn/sizes (mittens, hats, toe up heel flap socks) but I don’t usually track those on my Rav account. It’s really nice to have simple clean basis that I can knit either for myself in different yarns for a different look or for gifts. Unique items tend not to be reknit. I tend to use Tin Can Knits Simple Collection over and over even though I can knit most of the items with my eyes closed.

  19. Yes, and no! I have repeated many socks, using a vanilla pattern I made up myself, and newborn hats for the local hospital. But other than that, I rarely repeat, and if I do, it is a small project, like mittens or a neck warmer. I have never repeated a sweater or a shawl, or even a hat! I love to make new patterns. I do not sew, so nothing there.

  20. This is in line with a theory my partner has about there being two types of people (yeah, a common conceit) that are distinguished by their food choices. One has found the thing they love and order it all the time (my ladyfriend) and the other (me) is always wondering what other amazing thing she hasn’t tried yet (even if I have dishes I already love). That said, despite being easily distracted (see the Burberry sweater, which may have me swatching soon), I have repeated one sweater in particular (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/moss-stitch-and-cable-pullover); once I reknit the back because I’d messed up the pattern, once I accidentally felted it (and actually cried by the dryer door), and now I have my eye to knit it again because the replacement one is a little short, and I love the design. I also want to remake Julita (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/julita) because mine is getting long in the tooth.

    But generally, I don’t repeat (hah!).

  21. As in Karen’s first automatic response, too many fish in the sea. No repeats. If I live to 100, I’ll not have time to knit all the patterns (once) in my Ravelry library. Have a lovely weekend. And thanks for the daylight savings time reminder. I might have missed it.

  22. I’ve reknit many things, mostly because I have 3 babies and I love to do matching clothes and accessories.
    I found a pattern for a lacy cardigan recently that I am swatching today (my first ever swatch!). I plan to knit it many times as I want it in several of my staple wardrobe colours.

  23. I make the same sock over and over. There are a few baby sweaters which I knit for gifts and I do those again and again. I knit many many hats for charity and they are more or less the same, but sweaters: different every time. There are way too many ideas in my head to want to repeat them…as it is, I cant keep up!

  24. I actually am a repeater. I’ve knit 3 Togue Pond tanks (2 for me 1 for my BFF) and plan to knit a new one this summer. A lot of my repeats come because I love it and want it in another color or different yarn or I made it and my Mom or one of my sisters wants the exact same thing but in a different color. I also repeat hat patterns I love a lot. Oh and I knit the same baby sweaters repeatedly because it’s quick and easy and I know it. It’s almost a comforting thing to repeat something again.

  25. I have nicknamed myself the “serial knitter” because there are so many projects I have repeated in a different yarn. This includes a vest, a sweater and multiple accessories.

  26. No, not a repeater in knitting. Get bored too easy. That said I make baby quilts, and repeat many of the patterns. I think the fabric choices make it more fun, end result always different

  27. I seem to be on the same track as you, I’ve knit three different yarn/gauge versions of the hitchhiker shawl, but the more complicated/time consuming projects are a one and done. There are just too many awesome patterns to make!

  28. I’m finding that while I’m learning I’m eager to repeat what I’ve knitted before and also balance it with new challenges. So far have knitted a few hats twice in different yarns and often a different gauge.
    I’ve knitted a couple of cowls twice as well. And I most recently cast on my second improv. For me it’s still such a learning curve that I’m often excited to try new yarns with existing patterns that I’ve tried before to test out whether works best or doesn’t.
    But then I’m a tester (software) by trade and that curiosity does follow me into knitting and sewing.
    Sewing wise I was the opposite. I used to chase the new shiny patterns and never make something again but I find nowadays I stuck to a few patterns and if I try a new one it often ends up being made several times.

  29. For the most part, no. I think the only thing I’ve knit more than once are hat patterns and Elizabeth Zimmerman’s baby sweater. But, I will sew the same pattern multiple times. I guess the logic is that I love the style and fit so just change the fabric. Not really sure why that same logic doesn’t transfer to my knitting. I think, in part, it’s because there are so many gorgeous sweater patterns and so little knitting time (I still work full time) that I want to keep casting on something new.

  30. I haven’t been a repeat knitter – until now. I usually like to knit different patterns but there are a few sweaters that didn’ turn out right and I really loved those patterns and want those sweaters. I just recently started to knit a sweater that I had already knit before but it turned out way too large and was knit in the wrong type of yarn. Granted, a few years have passed so I am not knitting them back to back. Now I can learn from my mistakes.

  31. I fall into the REPEATER category in both sewing and knitting. I have fitting issues with ready-to-wear clothing. I have broad shoulders like you, Karen, long arms, bust measurement larger than my ‘size’, short waist, long crotch and short legs. Ready-to-wear slacks have always been a problem.

    Thank God for my pattern drafting skills! I drafted basic dress, pants/slacks, and a set of basic tops (blouse, shirt, etc.) and can add design elements to all of them. I used to draft basic’s patterns for men and women with fitting issues. I’ve seen every body size, fitting problem and malformed figure you can imagine!

    Knitting isn’t as much the issue since most yarns are flexible. However, when I love a cardigan or sweater enough, I will knit one for winter and summer. Fitted sweaters begin with my draft for fitting issues, and my peccadillo of not liking sweaters to hug underarm. My most repeated knits are sweaters and summer tops, with the caveat of adding or changing the stitch pattern, sleeve and neckline.

    When I sew or knit my own designs, I’ll often incorporate techniques I like from designer patterns.

    Most of my repeats are my sewing patterns. There are too many wonderful knitting patterns in my que to ever be able to make a sizable dent in, and though I have a lot of knitting time, it still is insufficient. I spend too much time grading patterns for others who fall outside ‘some’ patterns sizes. However, that may never change, as I enjoy helping others with fitting issues.

    I also enjoy knitting tedious patterns, but they are not the type you may expect. Have you seen Knit Picks new Persian designs? My eyes popped out of my head, rolled off into a dark corner, and my teeth fell out and scattered across the floor!!! ENJOY!


    Have a wonderful weekend everyone, and enjoy Daylight Savings… though it means dark earlier in the evening. At least SPRING is on the horizon!

  32. Oh my gosh! I’m tired just from thinking of all the ends to weave in, but it is pretty!

  33. I am so much not a repeater that I have still never knit a pair of socks or mittens. After I’m done with the first, I just can’t bring myself to do the same again for the other.

  34. I don’t sew, but I am not a knit repeater. Like you, I think “too many fish in the sea!” And like you, I have knit Fetching more than once because it is so quick for a gift, but now I think I would crochet mitts and have it go even quicker. I’ve knit two Neighborly vests, one for my niece in India in acrylic (so my sister won’t have to handwash, she’s a muggle) and one for my daughter in Lamb’s Pride and Noro Silk Garden (hey, I’m a witch, my kids don’t wear acrylic :)). Oh, and I knit the Ruckle hat twice, once for my friend who was going through chemo, and once for my daughter because it is an exceedingly cool pattern. That is it.

    I’ve knit some beautiful things over the years but have no great desire to make the same thing over and over. Time is too precious and my queue has nearly 1000 items…yikes!

  35. I have knit simple patterns for smallish things many times, but a sweater is one-of-a-kind. Mainly, I like to have some guarantee of success, and a pattern that I have knit multiple times is such a guarantee. The only sweater pattern I would consider reknitting is the Incredible Custom Fit Raglan, which is really a recipe rather than a pattern. Oh, and a kimono sweater — so simple, just rectangles.

  36. I think the only thing I’ve knit more than once is a baby sweater pattern. I see what you mean about all the work that goes into knitting a sweater, including modifying the pattern to suit you, but there are just so many different yarns and so many different sweater patterns to knit!

  37. I identify as a process knitter – do it once and onto the next. Except for the baby hat from leigh rad Ford’s one skein book, I must have knit it a dozen times. I just love it.

    Sewing – yes, repeats. I’m much more focussed on the product there. I make slight alterations on sleeves, hems, struggle a bit w fabric limitations (I generally sew my woven t’s from men’s XL-size shirts, cutting the front from the shirt back, seaming the shirt fronts together and cutting the t back from that) which can require some changes.

    Sewing doesn’t have the same therapeutic, meditative pace as knitting (for me). Maybe once I’m more adept at it, I’ll be better able to get lost in it.

  38. Does it count if it’s a different size? I knit a prototype of new designs, usually for me. Then I write up the pattern, then knit a second sweater for my daughter/model from my instructions. The Buttonbox Waistcoat from Knitty Spring 2013 is a perfect example, except in that case editor Amy Singer insisted that there be photos of my daughter and me (horrors!) Knitting two of everything doesn’t make for quick designing. I remind myself that even Elizabeth Zimmermann produced only an average of 2 published designs a year.

    • Emccarten, I LOVE the Buttonbox Waistcoat! Thank you for sharing it. I’ve been looking for a ‘new’ vest for a good while and only came up with one that’s a little too ‘dressy’. Beautiful otherwise.
      Had to laugh over your comment, “horrors!” I say the same thing, too. However, you are prettier than me, and your smile is wonderful.

      Have a great day… KNITTING, even if it’s a repeat!

  39. I love doing repeats. Different yarns, colours, fabrics but same patterns. Family also request same pattern in bigger sizes for growing grandchildren. Both sewn and knitted. I also do new patterns for me as a technical challenge. I go for both product and process.

  40. Tried and true items I repeat: Socks, some hats, a make the same baby sweater for every newborn in the family…big stuff like shawls, sweaters etc – like Karen says There are more fish in the sea! So many things out there I see that I want to knit, that the stuff that isn’t knit for a specific purpose (like socks or gifts) I always try new patterns.

  41. YES!!
    I have knit 3 Hithhikers for myself for starters. I also have repeated several cowls and hats for gifting. I have repeated baby buntings, hats, and sweaters. That said, I have never repeated a sweater pattern for myself…yet.

  42. I knit the same stockinette toe-up sock pattern, letting the hand-dyed yarn do the talking. I tend to knit the same ballband dishcloths, over and over. I favor mistake rib scarves and plain ordinary hats. But sweaters?!? Never have I repeated a pattern, although sometimes in my head I think, In my next lifetime….

  43. Repeater here.

    Most of my nieces and nephews are running around in some version of a basic fisherman’s rib pullover. Same pattern, but some have stripes, some have color blocking, etc.

    I’ve knit three of Purl Soho’s knitted tee, again with modifications. One is striped. One has 3/4-length sleeves. And I’ll knit more of them, with various tweaks, because it’s a good basic piece that is easily modified.

    I’m on my second Wolf River this year, the first for my daughter, this one for my youngest niece.

    Can’t even count how many Tegan hats I’ve knitted!

    Not every garment gets a repeat, but some do.

  44. I’m definitely a repeater of sewing patterns – as you said, it’s so much work to alter and get it just the way you want (and sewing patterns can be pricey!) I knit two Lila sweaters, but I think that’s the only one I’ve repeated. I’ve used a pattern that fit well as a starting point for a second sweater, but in those cases the mods I made change the sweater drastically.

  45. I would like to repeat more of the patterns I use.
    Whit all the time I spend on the pattern and the modifications I make, I should definitely knit more then one. I just finished a very simple dress for my friend, and I am going to make one for myself as well.
    I say repeat more often!

  46. I don’t use patterns for sewing, but since I sew about 80 per cent of my clothes I inevitably repeat items that I love or that suit my shape.

    I haven’t repeated a knitting pattern except for gifts yet, but I can see myself beginning to do so. You say plenty more fish in the sea but I am getting somewhat fatigued by the patterns – nothing really seems ‘new’ anymore. And so I have been toying with the idea of re knitting one of my favourite patterns in a completely different yarn.

  47. As I’ve become more intent on making things for an integrated, capsule wardrobe, and as I’ve become more focused in my aesthetic, I’ve become more repetitive (and generally less interested in designer-patterns). I trust the things that work for me.

  48. Only with vanilla socks, I guess because I try to use yarn that is fun and unexpected every time (I don’t repeat yarn either… too many other fish….heheheh)

  49. I knit six Christmas ornaments of all the same design in a metallic yarn one Christmas. I’ve made more of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket than I can count. Once you master the tricks on that it’s a very satisfying knit that works for boys or girls. Have made mittens using the same pattern a few times. And I’m planning to become an episodic sock knitter, and will use the same pattern over and over.

    I finished Kathy Zimmerman’s Plaits and Links Cardigan last year and might one day make it in 100% wool and a jewel tone of some kind. It’s a great looking and fitting sweater for me, and I remade each piece of it at least once. I should apply the hard won experience to a second sweater!

  50. I never knit the same thing twice. But I do make the same sewing pattern twice, largely because the sewing patterns I use are usually indy patterns in the $15-25 dollar range; because compared to knitting, sewing is instant gratification, and I don’t have time to get sick of a pattern; and because changing the fabric makes such a difference that nobody notices, especially if it’s a basic shirt or tee pattern.

  51. absolutely! Churchmouse Basic Socks, Churchmouse Shoulder Cozy, Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho.

  52. Yes! Usually the more challenging things, but not always. Sometimes just because they fit my lifestyle so well. I’ve knit at least 4 Haywards, 3 or 4 Haps for Harriet, 3 or 4 pairs of Jazz Hands, numerous pairs of several sock designs, ganseys, the list goes on. If I enjoy the pattern and the result, I don’t have a problem knitting it again. And again.

  53. I think I’m like you – I’ll repeat the smaller items (baby sweaters/hats/mitts/cowls), but only once did I knit a sweater twice – the first one was stolen out of my car, and I really wanted another. I can definitely relate to your desire to slow things down as the end approaches, but my knitting is so slow, I jsut can’t see knitting a sweater twice.

  54. As a sewer I reused patterns frequently, a different colour, a different hem length or sleeve detail and it looked totally new to my eye. As a knitter I rarely ever knit a single pattern more than once. Now that I’m designing my own patterns, I love exploring making minor tweaks to get something extra out of a pattern that has good “bones”. Afterwards I love figuring out what details make the one which is my favourite become my fav.

  55. Pingback: Q for You: How do you decide what to make? | Fringe Association

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