sweater yarns

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david’s new red christmas fatigue sweater, knit in briar rose charity, a 100% corriedale worsted weight yarn, colorway cranberry. i based the design on the EZ seamless hybrid, and plugged in my own detailing and numbers for a custom fit.

and of course we both have chris to thank for taking the time from her busy pre-christmas schedule to custom dye this luscious stuff into just the right shade of holiday cheer.
thank you chris!

(see what i mean about the tapered body?)

i love knitting for david, and have been making sweaters for him ever since our first winter together, when i realized how much he craved and enjoyed handknits (never mind that silly boyfriend curse stuff; he will stick around if he loves you, whether you smother him with handknits or not). he seemed to ferret out whatever i had around my house that would fit, and then wear it every chance he got.

“well, the handknits are just better,” he’d say in a talkative moment. if pressed, he’d elaborate, explaining that the fit, particularly for socks, was simply not equaled by store-bought clothing.
my kinda guy, right??

i wanted to make him a sweater for our very first christmas, but only came up with the idea about 10 days ahead of time, and still needed to purchase yarn for it. at that time, there were only a few yarn shops in NYC, so i had to send away to patternworks for what i wanted. it arrived only a couple of days before christmas, and i can’t knit that fast, so i wrapped up the yarn, needles and pattern and presented the box to david on christmas day.

i can’t even describe the horror on his face as he slowly pulled back the tissue surrounding the yarn. he tried hard to hide his shock as i beamed.
i explained the time issue and that i couldn’t make a christmas deadline, but would work on it in the new year. finally, with a quiet cough and great relief, he said, “oh—i thought my “gift” was that you were going to make me learn to knit.” i knew not to force the issue . . .

those materials became the old red sweater we have been laughing about this month, for which this new sweater is something of a replacement (i knew i was kidding myself about getting him to discard that old rag when he said the other night that it is his—ready for this??—after hours sweater. heh, yeah, i knew you would appreciate that one).

the next sweater i knit him was the cream cabled one that everyone so admired in this photoshoot, though it was not knit as a christmas gift. i worked on it all through the television coverage of the giro d’italia in may, 2000 (it was hotter than hades that year, i remember).

the yarn in that piece has an interesting story though. we had been shopping at patternworks (back when they still had that giant store up in poughkeepsie, a fun day trip from NYC); david was always willing to take me for a drive up there and we did so several times a year to stock up on supplies. most of the time he’s sit in a corner and listen to music or look at patterns, happy to give me all the time i needed to shop (usually all day . . .).

after we got home, he mentioned that he always wanted a fisherman-wool sweater, and i said, “oh too bad—when we were at patternworks i saw a 2-pound bundle of that wool in the sale bins; it would have been perfect, and it was the right amount too. oh, darn.”
and then i promptly put the thought out of my mind, assuming it would be gone by then.

a few days later he came home with the very bundle in his messenger bag. he’d called the store, asked them to locate the yarn in question, purchased it, and had it mailed to him at work.
i agreed to marry him shortly after—i mean a non-knitting man who can hunt and forage yarn??
you don’t let that go.

since then i have made him a sweater for nearly every christmas. in 2001 there was a moss-green cardigan knit from cashmere we bought in florence, italy while we were on a biking trip there in 1998. i had a plan to felt the sweater slightly when it was finished and i almost didn’t do it, but it wouldn’t have fit (the felting step would make it wider and shorter, and i had calculated the finished size accordingly). that idea was inspired by some DKNY felted cashmere pieces i saw in loehmann’s; why i was inspired by that craziness, i have no idea.
so, i took a deep breath and ran it through the wash. all was well . . . it fit perfectly afterward.
(i don’t think i’d try that one again though—too stressful a decision in the end).

then in 2002 there was a plum crewneck in a beautiful herringbone stitch that was a real challenge to incorporate the shaping into, but it turned out well and he loves it.

so much so that i’m afraid this one will soon go the way of the old donegal tweed sweater.

in 2003 he got a fairly plain gray crewneck . . . in a very subtle stitch pattern chosen by himself. it was a real yawn to knit, but he obviously gets a lot of use from it.

the yarn choice may have been unfortunate, being a tad too delicate for the job of housing a man that Works in his sweaters.
he inherited another sweater from me that year that i’d knit for myself in a rib which looked too small on the needles, and which i made bigger, only to find that, indeed much as i’d like to be, i am no arnold schwartzenegger, and i do not need a sweater that size either.

in the fall of 2004, he started leaving pictures ripped from jaeger yarn ads about the place for a certain zip-front cardigan with jeans jacket detailing. no elaboration on his part—just the photo. at first, i didn’t get the connection, so i tossed the picture back in the trash, but when they re-appeared, this time right at my spot on the coffee table, i got the hint. by then i’d learned to spin so i bought the book and used some chestnut alpaca/romney handspun to knit it up, completely in secret. he was totally taken aback when he opened it. in fact, he wore it last evening at our dinner party.

next time i make a zip-front, i will order a color-matched zipper from one of the wonderful internet sources that now exist, and which i know about thanks to the online knitting community i now belong to.

that was actually a big year for sweater knitting around here—i didn’t have a blog yet, i was out of work for 4 months in the winter, and i’d learnt to spin. YOU do the math.
here’s another one that materialized very quickly in the space of a week or so—nothing special in design but the yarn was landscapey and wonderfully variegated with all our favorite natural colors.

two years ago i made a real quickie after i’d finished all my christmas knitting with about six days to spare. i hadn’t planned on knitting david a sweater, but since i had time . . .

i’d seen this one in the rowan vintage knits book and though the yarn i had would not make gauge, i was able to adjust the ribbing to the gauge i was able to get, and from there it went very quickly.

shamefully, there was no christmas sweater last year . . . there was lace and a new pattern business, and actually neither of us got a new sweater all year.
i vowed that this year would be different, no matter how much lace there was to knit.

david does SO much to make sure i always have time for knitspot. he takes up slack all over the place and soothes the havoc that having an extra business wreaks on our “free time”.
i wanted so badly for this one gift to say how much i appreciate and love his thoughtful, generous, nurturing and encouragement of my work.

what better way than to say it with handknits? thank you david!

(ps: that makes eleven FOs for those who are counting; the zig zag mitts are also done so that makes TWELVE.)

today, i am spending the whole day talking to my family, writing, listening to a book (bridge of sighs by richard russo), and knitting something for me.

oh yes, and i believe there are a few things under the tree that need my attention . . .

(he’s not big on gift tags, but i get the message)

72 thoughts on “sweater yarns

  1. What wonderful sweaters! I’m always at a loss as to what to knit for my picky husband, so I haven’t — yet. Your latest is just perfect, though, so I may have to steal your idea 🙂

    I loved “Bridge of Sighs,” too.

    Have a great holiday!

  2. David looks mighty fine in that sweater – yeah, and the sweater looks mighty fine too 🙂

    Loved taking the walk down sweater memory lane. You really do some beautiful work, and it’s so cool that David loves his sweaters – to death 🙂

    Hope you two are having a wonderful relaxing day!

  3. What a wonderful post! It made me laugh in several places–what CAN you do, when your man forages for yarn, and leaves hints torn from yarn ads? The sweaters are gorgeous. One point of disagreement: the “boyfriend curse” does exist, if the girlfriend knits the boyfriend a sweater before he’s fully committed. There’s something so DOMESTIC about knitting garments for someone. 🙂
    Are you going to publish a pattern for David’s 2007 Christmas sweater? I know someone who’s interested . . . .

  4. I think that’s one of the very best men’s sweaters I’ve ever ever seen!! I love it! David looks fabulous in it. I’m so glad things worked in your favor and you finished it in time. I do wish for the pattern, because now that I see it on David I can tell I really do want to knit this for my hubby someday! My hubby is shaped very similarly, and needs that type of shaping in the waist of a sweater as well. Job wonderfully done, what a wonderful way to show your appreciation for sure. I love the tales behind all the handknit sweaters you’ve made for David over the years, thanks for sharing them. Merry Christmas to you both 🙂

  5. Awww . . . I loved the walk down the memory lane. I love the aesthesticity of the red sweater – I really like how the decrease makes the ribbing flow smoothly into the saddle shoulder shaping – I know how hard it can be to pull that off with ribbed patterns.

    Too bad my husband is a heat furnace or I’d be knitting sweaters for him. Socks will have to do . . .

  6. I had to write to tell you that when I showed David’s new red sweater to my husband, his reaction was, “wow, that is a great sweater.” That might not sound like much but this is from a man who, when pestered about what knit items he might like always says, “no, no, don’t waste your knitting on me,” mainly because I don’t have a lot of knitting time and he fears he won’t use or appreciate it in equal measure to the time and energy that went into it. This is the first time that he has perked up at a sweater design, and I’ve showed him dozens, with nary a flicker of true interest.

    He also has a similar build to David–broad shoulders, but tapered torso, so I think this design would work well on him. So, you know, no pressure or anything, but if you were to write this pattern up, you can count on me as a customer. 😉

    But seriously, whether you write this up or not, the sweater is gorgeous and it is so lovely to see all of your contributions to David’s wardrobe have been so well loved. A prolific and talented knitter/designer and a devoted wearer of knitwear. Could there be a better combination?

  7. The sweater is beautiful! So is the sentiment behind it. That is what is so awesome about giving hand knit gifts to those we love! Merry Christmas!

  8. All the sweaters are great but this year’s is especially dishy, and looks great on David. Nice to see a man who genuinely loves his handknits!

    Happy Holidays Anne!

  9. You two just have to stop it. Such a sweet story, it just makes me go awww! David really wears his new sweater well, It looks wonderful on him. And the story of all the handknit sweaters you have knit for him is really a testament to love you two share.

    Hope you had a spectacular Christmas!

  10. Ah, it came out so well! I’d better not let Andy see, or he’ll want one just like it…
    Great job, happy Christmas, and may your presents have good yardage 🙂

  11. Beautiful! It was a knitspot Christmas for me… Saturday night I finally finished my Orchid scarf (it had been on the needles for a while, but seemed to only come out while I was at the airport waiting for planes), and while I was reading this post my husband walked in and commented about how much he liked the new sweater! I guess I’ll have to start thinking about how to make him something for next year!

  12. it’s a great sweater and david looks absolutely fantastic in it. Loved reading the story — so sweet! Merry Christmas to you both. 🙂

  13. The right kind of life partner is the best gift life can hold. I love the story, thank you for telling it.

    Love, happiness, health and abundance to you and all those you love, in this midwinter season of relationship and always.


  14. Aw! This post had everything: beautiful knitting (I loved, like, all of those sweaters and would love to see patterns for any of them… especially that cream-colored one from the Simurgh shoot), great stories, and smiles for what you and your husband have together. (Especially the gift tags–that says it all!) Warm blessings to you this holiday season.

    Also, guess what I got for Christmas? A big ol’ hank of Thraven, plus a couple pounds of some beeeyootiful Marr Haven yarn which would be PERFECT for that cream-colored sweater. I’m just sayin’. You could give it a bird name since it was pictured along Simurgh. What’s cream-colored? An owl, perhaps?

  15. Awww!!! The story of your sweaters for David is beautiful. The sweaters are amazing also!!! What did you get for Christmas?

  16. The new sweater is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing all of the sweaters you have knit for David over the years.

  17. What a truly gorgeous sweater! I really enjoyed the visit with sweaters past. You have given me something to strive for — if I could ever finish that darned 56″ chest aran vest I started for him!

    Best of Christmases to you and David!

  18. the red sweater looks great, as everyone else has said. What a list of sweaters,keep going, it is quite inspirational. I hope you have had a great Christmas.

  19. And you’re going to link us to the color-matched zipper place, right? Merry Christmas–your knitting and your model are wonderful.

  20. The story of the sweaters you made for David was really touching. He really deserves this one you made for him ! It looks stunning on him too 🙂
    And the things he wrote on the presents are soooo sweet !

  21. So you are working on a book of David’s Sweaters, right? Stories and all. That way, it will be as much a love story as a knitting book.

  22. Brilliant idea, Chris! DAVID’S KNITS: A treasury of men’s sweaters, socks, and scarves by his amore, Anne!

    It all adds up to a warm and darling love story.

    All the best to you, Anne, and the knitters you’ve gathered round you.

  23. Merry Christmas Anne! I hope you and David had a wonderful holiday.

    David’s sweaters are beautiful. Thanks for sharing the story of each one.

  24. He is a lucky guy (you are lucky too, but I know you know that!). I don’t even have one-tenth that number of hand knits in my closet and I AM the knitter. Merry Xmas!

  25. A beautiful story, but the ending? Oh, the ending…. My eyes welled up that David not only knows how to call you his love in so many languages, but that he found a beautiful way to do it. Merry Christmas to you both.

  26. David’s a real prize! Oh how I wish my DH would wear wool – luckily my girls do.

    Merry Christmas

  27. David’s a keeper! I love someone who appreciates hand knits and gets real use out of them. Mine runs hot so he doesn’t wear any hand knits. But I don’t mind because I can knit selfishly for myself.

  28. Merry Christmas Anne & David!

    I love Davids new red sweater, it is lovely and the colour really suits him. The zigzag mitts are really nice too.

  29. Beautiful post – thank you for sharing – almost made me weep with all the beauty: of your love and of your knitting.

  30. Wow, lovely sweaters through the years. Is there anything better than a man who actually appreciates handknits?? I think not. By the way, I love that you considered 6 days before Christmas to be enough time to make a man’s sweater. I hope Christmas was all you hoped it would be, and more (and maybe some yarny goodness under the tree??).

  31. Mercy, Anne! WHUMPTHUMP…the sound you just heard was me falling out of my chair…. what a feast for the eyes, Beautiful Man in Gorgeous Sweater! The sweaters…. I can’t even begin to express how absolutely wonderful for you to have that man as your mate, again….Mercy!

  32. I love it: A History of a Relationship, In Sweaters. Beautiful (and it’s never bad to have pictures of gorgeous sweaters *and* a handsome man all in the same place!). If only we lived somewhere colder; Rick runs warm (it’s like living with a space heater), and now that we’re in SoCal, there’s not too much point. Alas.

    I am also loving the zigzag mitts! Is that a pattern you’re putting out? It looks like you’re test-knitting it for yourself 🙂 They’re on my list for New Year’s knitting!

  33. That sweater looks great on him. Lucky you, in so many ways, not the least of which is that your man will wear sweaters (mine won’t, although he has many other sterling qualities).

  34. This may qualify as my Favorite Blog Post EVER. Not only does your David appreciate the handknits, but he wears them beautifully, and you clearly have a relationship to envy. AND that latest red sweater….to die for. One of these days I have to start understanding EZ. I had a couple of her books, could not get into them, and gave them away. Clearly I have a defective knitter’s gene, as everyone else can make such masterpieces with her principles. I just can’t seem to understand her principles!

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