Completed: The Martine Sweater

13 Nov

It’s been a minute since I posted a knitting project, but that doesn’t mean I ever stopped knitting!

Martine Sweater - front

I took some time off from knitting sweaters (other than my yearly OAL makes!) and have spent a couple of months furiously knitting socks. I love handknit socks – I love making them, I love traveling with them (so portable!), I love wearing them, and I love buying yarn for them (way more economical than buying sweater yarn – even if you end up splurging haha). But then I started to get a little sock’d out, so I turned my focus back to sweaters.

Part of the reason why I stopped knitting sweaters as much is because I couldn’t really find patterns that stood out to me. There are TONS of patterns on Ravelry, but the selection dwindles down quite a bit when you factor in personal style and taste. I simply don’t wear very complicated looking clothes these days – which is what seems to be most available on the market (along with variegated, hand-painted, and bright yarns. Pretty, but again – not my style!). While I used to love cardigans, I really don’t wear them so much anymore (blame it on my lack of working in an office these days!). And I live in an area with a reasonably mild climate, so bulky sweaters are a bit unnecessary. TBH, even worsted weight sweaters are more than I need.

What I really like are plain, uncomplicated sweaters knit with fingering weight yarn in a very small color palette consisting of mostly greys and blacks. Ha! I know that sounds boring as hell, but I’d rather make something boring that’s going to get a ton of wear, than something crazy looking that doesn’t go with anything I own. I know a lot of us have fallen in the camp of “I love this pattern, I need to make one in every color!” whether it’s with sewing or knitting (or whatever craft’s ass you’re stuck up at the moment), but I’m realizing now that it’s ok to have one thing in one color and call it a day. And that color can be grey and that’s fine too.

Martine Sweater - front

Let me tell you – I’m SO HAPPY I reached this conclusion and stuck with it! This grey sweater hits all my needs – it’s cozy, it’s cotton (see: mild climate), it’s a great color for my wardrobe, and I actually really really enjoyed knitting it!

Martine Sweater - front

The pattern I used for this sweater is the Martine by Julie Hoover. Let’s just get this out of the way first and foremost – yes, its the same color as both the pattern photographs *and* Jen Beeman’s version. Specifically, I 100% ripped off Jen’s sweater after seeing it first and I’m not ashamed to admit it haha.

Things that I like about this sweater:
1. It’s knit in a cotton yarn, which is ideal for Tennessee weather – it’s great in the fall, early winter, and I reckon it’ll be ace in the spring as well. I love knitting and wearing wool, but sometimes it’s not always practical.
2. The design is simple and understated, but has a beautiful texture that I knew would be fun to knit.
3. That raglan shaping! Jen waxed poetic about how much she loved the raglan shaping and I was INTRIGUED. I wanted in on some of that action, too!
4. The sweater is knit in pieces and then seamed. In the past, I only ever knit seamless sweaters – and I’ve definitely announced this publicly numerous times. But as I’ve gotten more into knitting, I’ve heeded the advice of more seasoned knitters that a seamed sweater is truly the way to go, in terms of longevity and the sweater keeping it’s shape. This is especially important with a cotton sweater, since it’s already destined to stretch out of shape and really needs all the help it can get. Further, I figured knitting in pieces would make this a much more portable project – it’s annoying to schlep around an entire sweater on your needles, but just the front? Sure, why not! Finally, I wanted to learn how to properly seam (I’ve seamed before, but it was.. uhhh, well, the pieces were held together, and that’s about it haha), and this would be a great project to start with.

Knitting this pattern definitely stretched my comfort level, and I picked up some new skills as well! The pattern is loooong, but well-written – I didn’t have any problem following any of the steps or learning any of the techniques. I did make it a point to follow every single instruction in this pattern as written, in order to get the best results (this is not something I have generally done in the past, but I have changed my ways and have chosen to trust the pattern writer now!), which definitely paid off. This sweater is one of my best makes yet!

I made the size 35 3/4, and as you can see the sweater is quite loose on me (my bust is 32″) but not overwhelming.

Martine Sweater - back

Martine Sweater - back

Martine Sweater - side

Martine Sweater - side

The only part of the pattern that I did not follow was the suggested yarn – I stuck with a cotton, but used Quince & Co. Willet. This was mainly due to cost – the suggested yarn (Shibui knits) is expensive, while Quince is much more economical. Add in that I work at a shop that carries Quince & Co., which means I get a discount – and not only that, but I took advantage of our “employee layaway plan” (meaning I grabbed all the skeins I required and put them in my box in the back room, then just paid for each skein as I needed it haha). So yeah, I went with Quince! My coworker Hannah, who is as big a yarn snob as I am a fabric snob, assured me it was a suitable substitute for the Shibui. I haven’t seen the Shibui in person, but man, I LOVE this Willet!

I knit a few test swatches before casting on – surprisingly, I got gauge with the suggested needle size (this NEVER happens with me, I always have to go down at least 2 needle sizes because I tend to knit so loose), but my row gauge was way, way off. Going down a needle size only messed up my width gauge, and barely budged the row. Row gauge isn’t always super critical, but it is when dealing with raglans – and as someone who already has a pretty small armscye, I don’t want any extra room there! So I math’d that shit out, and took a few rows off the raglan shaping to compensate for a larger row gauge. I wasn’t sure if it would even totally worth until I was finished with the front piece – but it totally did, thank god! Unfortunately, I didn’t think to adjust the row gauge for the rest of my sweater, so it’s a bit longer than it should be. Which is fine, we are gonna call that “cozy.”

Martine Sweater - front

I named my sweater “Carrie” because I knit the majority of this while watching Sex and the City. I don’t remember why I started watching that show this year, but once I did – I was hooked. Ugh y’all it’s embarrassing how relevant every character and situation is to a single woman in her 30s haha. I recall trying to watch it as a 20 year old, and thinking I identified the most with Samantha (no, 20 year old Lauren, you don’t) but also really not getting it. I get it now. And also, I definitely identify the most with Miranda these days, who is arguably both the most annoying and boring of all those women. Oh well. Welcome to your 30s I guess haha.

Anyway, I blasted through the entire series while happily knitting away at this sweater. I knit the front and back separately, blocking each one after it was finished. For the sleeves, I cast those both on at the same time and knit them 2 at a time until I got to the raglan shaping, then transferred one sleeve to waste yarn so I could knit them separately (the raglan shaping differs on the front vs the back, so the sleeves are not identical – they are mirror images). I didn’t want to risk Second Sleeve Syndrome, and I’m glad I did this! After I finished the first sleeve, there was only raglan shaping remaining for the second sleeve – not the whole thing πŸ™‚ Finally, blocked the sleeves, seamed the whole thing together, and knit the neckband.

Martine Sweater - neckband

The neckband on this sweater is funny – it’s knit in the round after the sweater is assembled, and you don’t actually bind it off. Instead, the band is folded to the inside and the live stitches are sewn down. I’ve never seen a neckband like this, but I admit that it looked polished as fuck and feels nice and sturdy. I like that!

Martine Sweater - texture

Here’s a close-up of the texture! It’s not a moss stitch (which is what everyone asks), it’s a double knotted stitch. You purl 2 stitches together, then knit the same two stitches together. It’s easy enough so that you can do other things (like talk, or watch Sex and the City) while knitting, but interesting enough so that I didn’t feel like passing out or anything.

Martine Sweater- seaming!

Here’s my seaming! My finger is pointing to the seamline – it’s barely visible from the outside! The pieces are worked with a 1 stitch selvedge, which made seaming sooo much easier. My coworker Amanda (yes, I knit a lot of this while sitting behind the counter at Craft South haha) taught me how to seam, and I was surprised at how much I loved doing it! I always thought I’d hate it since that’s something a lot of knitters complain about, but man, I like hand sewing too so it shouldn’t surprise me that I would love seaming as well. I actually had to seam this twice – when I got to the last raglan, I realized I had seamed them on the wrong sides somehow. Whoops! So I just consider the second round more practice, ha πŸ™‚

Martine Sweater - front

The ONE downside to this sweater is the fact that is it cotton – so it stretches and grows when I wear it! Which means it is basically a very short dress by the end of the day. Kind of a bummer, but the good news is that it snaps right back into shape when I throw it in the washer and dryer. I don’t even block it out – the dryer shrinks it up perfectly. It’s super easy care, but not really ideal for traveling as I basically have to wash it every single time I wear it. These photos were taken after a couple months of wearing + washing, so you can see how the yarn has held up. Cotton is pretty sturdy!

While I did say this sweater is one of my best makes, it’s certainly not perfect – there are visible inconsistencies with the row gauge, and I need to fix one of the raglan seams because it appears to have stretched out a bit, oh, and there’s a tiny hole between the collar and body of the sweater where I forgot to pick up a stitch (but TBH I probably won’t fix that one because I use it to determine which side is the front lol), but you know what? I gave this one my best efforts, I ripped out all my mistakes, I learned SO MUCH new shit, and I had a blast knitting it. If that doesn’t count as one of the best, I don’t know what does.

That’s all for this one! Full Ravelry notes are here.

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26 Responses to “Completed: The Martine Sweater”

  1. Anonymous November 13, 2017 at 10:55 am #

    I am so impressed. I havn’t a clue how to knit and it looks really great to me. Better yet is that you feel you learned during the process and that is always a good thing. You might want to make another so that you have one on standby while one is in the wash since cooler weather is coming.

    • Anonymous November 13, 2017 at 10:57 am #

      Sorry, didn’t mean to post as anonymous

    • LLADYBIRD November 13, 2017 at 11:41 am #

      Yeah, the learning is my favorite part! I love it when my project is successful AND I get some knowledge out of it! Best of both worlds πŸ™‚ thank you!

  2. Aleksandra November 13, 2017 at 11:03 am #

    This looks awesome! I definitely want to make this sweater since it’s actually designed for cottons — those are so tough to find since I’m one of those totally sad people who can’t wear wool in any amount at all. haha

    I share your frustration with compensating tor stretch, though. Sometimes a blend will fix that issue for me, but it’s hard to tell until you’ve tried it out since most patterns aren’t designed for that!

    • LLADYBIRD November 13, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

      Yeah, I love that it was designed for cotton! The stitch pattern, fit, seaming and collar all really help work with the cotton instead of against it.

  3. HEATHER MYERS November 13, 2017 at 11:40 am #

    This looks great, Lauren. I think it is exactly the best length ( right now anyway ;-] ). I have trouble knitting the same stitch repeatedly, so yay for you on that. And also for knowing what you like and need! Interesting about best to knit pieces and sew together, I’d not heard it before – although it is what I always do. Also really like your hair! I forgot to mention before.

    • LLADYBIRD November 13, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

      Oh haha I love repetitive stitches since it means I can do something else! πŸ™‚ And thank you! I am loving the new color πŸ˜€

  4. bethnegrey November 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    What a beautiful sweater! And, I love this knot stitch. You’d never ever find this sweater anywhere, for any amount of $$. If I had enough yarn I’d try this pattern, but instead I’m knitting the Feathernest Raglan that was in Interweave Knits a few winters ago. And I’m really glad to know about this yarn. My sister’s like Aleksandra — no wool/animal fibers AT ALL — so I’m always on the lookout for Paula-friendly yarns (wish I could find Quince & Co. yarns in the LYS’s around here). I’ve used Universal Cotton Supreme (worsted and dk) as well as Berroco’s Vintage, which is more acrylic than cotton, but I’ve made some much-loved tops from it! Now, back to my latest pair of socks :-). The pattern’s Charade (found on Ravelry), subtitled “heroin, peppermint-flavored heroin. ” And if you know the movie, you’ll get that one in a blink!

    • LLADYBIRD November 13, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

      Quince & Co is the best!! I never tried knitting with it before working at Craft South, but I am a huge fan now. The quality is so lovely, there are tons of colors to choose from, and the price point is pretty manageable. And yay that looks like a great sock pattern!

  5. Let’s Get Sewing November 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    I absolutely love it! Your hair looks awesome by the way.

  6. annafranziska November 14, 2017 at 2:13 am #

    I saw your sweater in my bloglovin feed, and I was like “oh my gosh, what pattern is that, I have to .. sew(!?) it” …. upps, … It is amaaaazing!! I really envy this skill. I still remember the crafts projects in high school, where my grandma had to help me out a bit (or a bit more)… Love, love, love!
    Greats from Germany, Anna

    • LLADYBIRD November 15, 2017 at 9:26 am #

      You should learn! Knitting is one of my favorite new skills I’ve acquired in the past few years πŸ™‚

      • annafranziska November 15, 2017 at 9:35 am #

        I was actually thinking about it. I travel to work by train. Takes me approx. 30 min. … =)

  7. Becky Thompson November 14, 2017 at 4:59 am #

    Love this! It looks excellent on you. What an amazing skill to have. As I’ve posted before, I’d love to know how to do this however, very recently I have the most incredible achy pain radiating from just above my right elbow down the top of my lower arm to the point that I can’t even brush my teeth right-handed any longer. I Googled it and guess what? Mouse Elbow! Truly! LOL And guess what aggravates it? Knitting. Crap…

    • LLADYBIRD November 15, 2017 at 9:27 am #

      Oh man, that sucks!! I live in fear of the day I get arthritis or tendonitis or Mouse elbow… not being able to do stuff with my hands sounds like the most depressing thing ever 😦

  8. SewPaula November 14, 2017 at 8:53 am #

    I am impressed — I don’t know how to knit but this sweater makes me want to try. I like your approach to style as well. It is very similar to my own in that I make what I am likely to wear a lot. I enjoy your blog and love to see the things you make.

  9. Jessica November 14, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    Such a pretty sweater!! Well done!! I just started learning how to knit two weeks ago and I love it! I hope to someday knit sweaters and socks. I love the way this sweater looks, I might be jumping ahead of myself(since I’m a totally new to knitting) but I’ve already started looking around at sweater patterns and like you I’ve been disappointed that most of them just are not my style. I will for sure be knitting this sweater someday!

    • LLADYBIRD November 15, 2017 at 9:30 am #

      Dude, just jump in and start that sweater! I knitted my first sweater after 1 month of knowing how… it definitely pushed me to learn more knitting skills very quickly, and it took FOREVER, but absolutely worth it since I’m not really a scarf/hat person. I wanted sweaters and socks! As long as your tension is pretty consistent, you know how to undo mistakes (which is a marvelous thing to learn – and super easy), basic increases and decreases, and knitting in the round… you can do it. And you can learn most of that stuff while you’re working on your first big project. I really recommend it!

      • JP November 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

        Alright maybe I will! Thanks for the encouragement! I have a 18 month old daughter, I might start with some sweaters for her, get some practice on a smaller scale with less of a yarn investment.

  10. Tomasa November 14, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    Love your sweater. It looks so comfy cozy. I would live in that one.

  11. Melissa Watson November 15, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

    SO talented! Xo

  12. Miss Celie November 16, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    I appreciate so much about this post. Mostly that you realized what you liked to knit and don’t get caught up in trend knitting. Interesting what you said about yarn. So much of what I buy from cones are industrial yarns. Very little color variegation. so, I’m glad to hear people still want to knit with non hand dyed yarns.

  13. Heather (Thing I Make, Plus Rocks) November 20, 2017 at 3:45 am #

    Okay, this looks like the perfect casual summer sweater! (Summer because I live in the Yukon and our summers are shit and our winters require wool.) Sounds like it’s just right for your temps down there. I adore how this turns out, the fit on you, everything!

    And yeah, I hear you on giving yourself permission to knit “boring” but oh-so-wearable projects. I’m starting to admit that to myself (though I’m currently in progress with a 3 colour fairisle sweater and a bulky Stephen West knit – so obviously I’m ignoring that at the moment). I finished knitting a black simple cardigan, and it’s my most worn project to date!

    I’m looking forward to seeing what other perfect knitted project you take on next!

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