The Cottonwood Sweater
Updated: Feb 2, 2019
Introducing my very first original design...the Cottonwood Sweater! A dolman-shape, turtleneck sweater with an oversize fit, and lots of ribbing!
For a long time I've had hundreds of sweater ideas floating around in my head. As I've gained experience over the last few years knitting and learning several different ways garments are constructed, I finally felt like I had the skills to put a design out there myself. Don't get me wrong, I'm still terrified! I'm feeling quite vulnerable putting myself out there in the world of knitwear design. I keep comparing myself to all of the wonderful designers out there who I look up to and admire, and feel very inadequate. I can't help but think that I'm not quite good enough. I felt this way all through knitting this sweater. There were moments when I thought, "Wow! This is coming together exactly as I hoped it would! It looks amazing!" But in the next thought think, "But it's not even half as great as most others out there." Or, "I really like how this is looking, but no one else probably will." The list goes on...
Then, as I was laying this sweater out for a final blocking, trying to decide for the thousandth time if I would really share this design and pattern, and make it available to other knitters, I had an "aha" moment. I really have nothing to lose. I LOVE this sweater! And I should be proud of myself! I had an idea, and step by step, through trial and error, and through months of work, I MADE it with my own two hands! I made it a reality! Even if no one else ends up buying the pattern, I still won't lose a thing. In fact, I GAINED not only a beautiful sweater as a result, but I proved to myself that I do have what it takes to design knitwear and knitting patterns. I have no idea if I did it the "right" way. But is there really a right and wrong way to do something? Especially when it comes to being creative? I would argue, no. There are multiple ways, and I got to the end result I was hoping for and more. So, I'm trying to be positive, and optimistic. And even if this doesn't result in an "official" career, I have the bug now. No one can stop me. I already have my next design itching in the back of my brain. Now, let's talk a little more about the Cottonwood Sweater...
I really wish I had a cool story of how I was inspired to design this particular sweater. But I don't. This was simply a compilation of lots of my favorite design elements. I love a good dolman-shape sleeve, and I can't resist an oversize fit. So those were the first two elements that came to life. The next was the want for a sweater that could stand on it's own. I absolutely love layering, but sometimes it's so nice to throw something on that is simple, comfortable, but doesn't sacrifice style. Incorporating the ribbing, not only into the hem, but into the sleeves and neck, help make the sweater achieve just that! This is a sweater that you can pull on with a pair of jeans and boots, feel completely cozy and comfortable, but still feel cute and fashionable at the same time! I will definitely be wearing this on days when I'm not feeling the desire to put in a ton of effort getting ready for the day, but still want to look put together! It will be perfect for my days volunteering in my boys' classes at school, grocery shopping, or my weekly target runs ;).
After I had nailed down the look and design, I had to decide how to execute knitting it. I wanted to make sure that any level of knitter could feel like they could tackle this project. I hope that I achieved that! Here's the basic rundown...you knit the front and back pieces separately and flat, working from the bottom up. Simple increase stitches create the dolman-shape, and a handful of Backward Loop Cast-On stitches create the length of the sleeves. Short row shaping is used to shape the shoulders and neckline. The shoulder stitches are put on hold and using the 3-Needle Bind-Off the front and back pieces are joined together. The sides are then seamed using the Mattress Stitch. From there you'll pick up stitches around the neck and armholes and work the ribbing in the round. My hope is that any knitter, especially beginners who are looking to learn a few new techniques, will feel comfortable knitting this! I love knitting sweaters this way, (in pieces), because I can break down the garment into segments and see the shape begin to form in simple steps. I also love completing each separate piece and feeling the accomplishment of it. I hope that others will enjoy knitting it this way! My other hope is that others will love the design as much as I do!
My favorite part of almost any project is picking the yarn, and when I was designing this sweater, it was no exception! It was so fun! I knew I wanted a rustic texture, feel and look. I also wanted to try something that was left natural and undyed. I landed on Purl Soho's Good Wool. I'm in love with everything about this yarn! It is 100% Andean Highland Wool and is left undyed. It is light worsted weight and so cozy and warm. This yarn is sturdy and has great stitch definition, making the ribbing of this sweater the star! One of the things I loved most about working with this yarn, is imagining the sheep. I mean, look at how beautiful this natural wool color is! I chose the color Hickory Nut. It comes in four other gorgeous undyed colors, and I think any of them would work beautifully with this design! Another bonus to this yarn is the yardage that comes in each skein and the price can't be beat! I love how affordable it is! I used three full skeins, and part of a fourth. This is a yarn I will be using again without question! I think it really made my design come to life in the perfect way. I would highly recommend this yarn, not only for the Cottonwood Sweater, but for any of your knitting projects that call for a light worsted weight yarn. It's beautiful!
I hope that you'll give this sweater a try! And please let me know what you think! Tag me on Instagram so I can see your finished sweater! I can't wait to see other's finished pieces! The pattern is available as a PDF download on Ravelry, and is available in sizes XS-2XL.
Pattern: Cottonwood Sweater by: Me
Yarn used: Good Wool by: Purl Soho in color Hickory Nut
Skeins used: 3 1/2
Size made: S (41 1/2)