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My favorite sweaters ... have no patterns at all.

My favorite sweaters ... have no patterns at all.

By Meg Dedolph

We have some books in the shop by Ann Budd right now that I love. They are copies of ones I have on my own shelf that I turn to over and over.

Here’s why I like them. It’s not the beautiful photography (there isn’t that much), or the fantastic patterns (there aren’t that many), it’s the rows and tables full of numbers, which I used to make my two favorite sweaters.

The way these books work - and we have ones that will help you make hats, socks, mittens, sweaters - is this. (If you took Knit 102 with us, this is going to sound familiar.)

Knit a gauge swatch that gives you the fabric you want. You’re going to have to make some decisions here, so remember, if you want the fabric to be tighter, knit it on smaller needles, and if you want it to be looser, knit it on bigger needles. If I’m working with a yarn I haven’t knit with before, I often start with the needle size recommended on the ball band and see if I like it.

Wash and block your swatch. Dry it the way you plan to dry the finished object.

Measure your gauge and count how many stitches per inch you get.

Use the tables in the book to find out how many stitches to cast on for the size item you want to knit. 

Follow the directions, making sure to use the correct number in the table each time. I find that using sticky notes helps me to keep track of which number I want to use. 

Presto. Now you can make mittens out of anything in your stash. Or a hat. Or a sweater.

Release yourself from the tyranny of the pattern and start making things the world has never seen before! (And then show us what you made with that gorgeous yarn in your favorite color that you didn’t have to pass up after all.)

For myself, I made a blue cardigan in some yarn a friend gave me out of her late MIL’s stash. That woman had good taste - this unlabeled yarn has some silk and wool going on, and the tweed made it fun to work with. It's not a perfect sweater and I learned a lot by making it, but that's why it's my favorite one. It’s a worsted weight yarn, so I’d probably use Dream in Color Classy or one of the variegated Rios colorways if I were to knit it again.

I also knit a sweater for my then-toddler - a red, top-down pullover with Kate Atherley’s owl cable added to the yoke. I had to fool around a little bit to add some stitches to make the cable section work because cables can sometimes pull in. I used superwash wool, so you could use - DiC Classy or Rios. It would also look cute in Blue Sky Sweater.

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