Sweater inventory, part 3: The pullovers

Sweater inventory, part 3: The pullovers

And wow, we’re back to entirely black/grey/natural. I guess you could argue I know what I like, but this actually surprises me. When you look in my closet you see mostly a lot of blue clothes, definitely assorted blacks and neutrals, a little green and a little purple. I had no idea my only blue sweater at this point is the weirdly blue Bellows in progress, or that the only color in my sweater collection falls within the cardigans. That is certainly something I’ll be bearing in mind going forward.

The other surprising thing is simply that I have 10 pullovers, or nearly so — 5 I knitted (and 1 more in progress), 1 Meg knitted (which also means I have one Meg sweater in each of my three categories!) and 3 remaining storeboughts. It was just a couple years ago that I was lamenting the fact that I had essentially no pullovers, by which I meant I had the little cotton L.L. Bean fisherman and the two wintry turtlenecks (no handmades), and nothing for in-between weather, which is what we actually have here in Nashville. In those two years, I’ve amassed 6.5 handknit pullovers — and I still have almost nothing for the in-between!

Once again, click through on any sweater for complete pattern, yarn, modification and other details—


Black lopi raglan (Feb 2016) — 100% Icelandic wool, worsted weight
I get away with a lopi pullover in Tennessee by virtue of its being cropped and elbow-sleeved — and I am really eager to wear it this year with wide-leg pants — but it definitely stays in the closet until the humidity is well and truly gone. Any dampness at all in the air, and this is a no-go. But it’s cute and cozy and quick and inexpensive and I love it.

Striped raglan (Dec 2016) — Silk/merino/cashmere blend, sport weight
This is the thinnest, lightest-weight sweater I’ve made, and with the fiber content this one is truly a 3-season sweater here. It’s also crazy cute and easy to throw on with just about anything. I think the only reason I don’t wear it even more than I do is that it feels a bit delicate to me! Just because I’m used to thicker, more rugged sweaters. But it’s a total gem.

Black yoke sweater (Feb 2017) — Merino/cashmere/silk blend, aran weight
If you told me I could only keep one sweater from my whole collection (for some horrible, unthinkable reason) I would choose this one. I love the yarn, the fit, the memories of bending it to my will, the way the scale of the yoke patterning cooperates with my big shoulders. Everything. Can’t wait to wear it again.

Fisherman sweater (Aug 2017) — Merino/cashmere/silk blend, aran weight
This is my holy grail, the thing I wanted to make when I learned to knit, and omigod it was so much fun charting the vintage pattern and knitting the whole of it. Even after taking steps to scale this down a little bit, though, I still think there’s a little too much of it, so I’m going to attempt to shrink it and/or might find it a new home with a taller friend. I would happily knit this again — in fact, I’m kind of dying to! — so there’s no down side.

Grey pullover (Dec 2017) — Rambouillet/Wensleydale blend, worsted weight
This one would be the ideal everything/everywhere, better-than-basic grey sweater … had I not opted to knit it in such an incredibly warm yarn. As it is, it’s a truly amazing winter sweater. But it leaves me wanting a non-wool counterpart in a heather grey shade that’s just as perfect as this one.

Charcoal swoncho (Meg-made, 2012) — 100% wool, aran weight
The other sweater Meg gave me earlier this year. It’s more sweater than poncho, but the shape of this one definitely changes the equation from if it were a pullover with long, cuffed arms, which would make it strictly for really cold weather. As it is, I can get away with it in borderline cool/cold weather, depending what I pair it with.


Ivory aran-gansey (begun in June 2018) — Cotton/wool blend, worsted weight
I can already tell you I am going to wear the crap out of this thing. The fabric is so incredible, and 3-season friendly. Plus it’s the perfect bridge between the shrunken cotton L.L. Bean number below (which is cute and useful but not warm or cozy at all) and the heavy wool fisherman above. An ivory sweater for every month of the year, I say!


Grey cable turtleneck (H&M men’s, 2002) — Wool blend, worsted weight
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I bought this sweater in the men’s department at the first U.S. H&M store when I was in NYC launching a magazine in fall of 2002, so it has all sorts of very specific memories attached to it. It is definitely looking worse for wear at this point, and only gets hauled out a couple of times per winter anyway, but I’m hanging onto it until I have a suitable substitute. Because on the days and nights where it makes sense, I am very happy to climb into it.

Grey cropped turtleneck (J.Crew c. 2009) — Cashmere, sport weight
This was an epic clearance score back when I was all about scoring everything I ever wanted an mega-clearance. It has been very loved and worn, has a few little holes and bare spots, but it’s still the softest, coziest thing I’ve ever owned. Having cashmere around my neck on a cold day is heaven. So I can’t seem to quit it.

Ivory fisherman (L.L. Bean c.2010 but still available) — 100% cotton, worsted weight
Like I said, this is cute and useful, not cozy as it’s a really ropy cotton, but I do love getting to put it on each year when my mood is fall but the weather is not quite there yet. It’s been in my closet almost ten years at this point, and is welcome for a long time to come.


At this point, it’s hard to argue that I “need” any more pullovers, but it is a genuine issue that most of these are warm enough that it limits their wear and utility. It means they’ll last forever, of course! But to the extent I make any more pullovers for life in TN, they need to be non-100% wool. And a little color wouldn’t hurt!

Bottom line from all of this: I have 26 sweaters in my closet or in progress, and it’s a pretty epic collection! Not a throwaway in the bunch. What a nice place to be after these years of effort.


PREVIOUSLY in Sweater inventory: Part 2, The cardigans and Part 1, Vests and other sleeveless

17 thoughts on “Sweater inventory, part 3: The pullovers

  1. For your next pullover, which needs to be cotton, I want to suggest you look at Brown Sheep’s Cotton Fleece. Brown Sheep is an American company around long enough to be dubbed “heritage”. They have develpoed a more green method of processing cotton, and the little bit of wool added to the cotton in the Cotton Fleece line gives it more resilience, but also a more cozy feel. It comes in two weights. I have used it for years because its a great yarn for kids clothing and its pretty affordable, and i have used it for heavily cabled items with good success. Fewer LYS carry Brown Sheep these days as room has been made on the shelves for all the lovely and imaginative small batch indie yarns we all covet, but Brown Sheep is easily ordered directly from the company which has an easy to use website.

    • Much as I love Brown Sheep, one caveat for Cotton Fleece: it acts more like cotton than wool, which means it sags over time and the ribbings stretch out. Just something to take into account when planning a project.

  2. Unless by color you mean another shade of grey, I wouldn’t feel like its necessary to add it to this collection. Neutrals are what you’re drawn to and what you like wearing. It seems that several of the color sweaters you’ve knit in the past have been given away or turned into something else. Think of it that you just know what you like ;)

  3. Out of all those lovelies, the one I want to add to my own inventory is that striped one. It is SO nice. I’m thinking of it in some of Anne Hansen’s wools in all those shades of natural colors.

  4. I don’t need any more pullovers but I enjoy knitting them, especially in the round. Knitting for me has become my therapy and I guess having something to wear is almost a secondary bonus. I also end up giving some away. Can’t wait to see your finished gansey modeled!

  5. I have enjoyed reading your sweater inventory this week — thanks for posting these! One thing that I noticed is that most of these sweaters are worsted weight or heavier. Maybe try a fingering weight project? Even though they don’t knit up as quickly, fingering weight wool sweaters are easier to wear–lighter and not too warm.

    • I’d never finish the knitting, but I’m also just not a huge fan of thin sweaters — I like a sweater to have some heft. So a change in fiber is the best course for me.

  6. How do you store all your sweaters? Drawers? (I have limited space and am curious)
    Love all your sweaters!! I have made lots of baby sweaters but only two adult and both were learning experiences..I just can’t wait to knit ones I just want to wear all the time! Black fingering weight cardigan in linen quill is taking so long for me.

    • I have two of those obnoxious cloth cubby things you hang from the closet rod. All of my sweaters are folded and stacked into those, along with sweatshirts, underwear in baskets, and some odds and ends. It’s amazing how much you can fit into two feet of space like that.

  7. Late reply but just wanted to say I enjoyed these posts a lot. Inspired me to analyse my own sweater situation – I pulled out everything from my closet and laid them on my bed, sorting them by catagory: cardigans, pullovers, thin to bulky. Turns out I have fewer cardigans than I thought. Funny how seeing everything laid out like that gave me that much more information about what I own and what I could use for the coming autumn/winter.

  8. Hey Karen! I think your sweater collection is awesome but I was wondering if you would knit sweaters using a difrerent construction method since most of them if not all are raglan sleeved or a variant or round yoked, and if not why?

    • Hi, I actually have a little bit of everything in here, and always like mixing up construction methods and techniques within that. There are a lot of raglans and round yokes because that’s what works best for me and I like to wear, but even within that there’s top-down, bottom-up seamless, bottom-up seamed …

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