How to Knit a Sweater from Stash in 8 Days
Sometimes you just want to make a sweater as quickly as possible. While packing for our upcoming trips to Los Angeles, Tahoe, and Colorado I realized that I really really wanted a red sweater for all of the holiday events we were going to be attending.
Imagine my dismay when I realized I did not own a single red sweater. It turns out that in my massive closet I only had one red garment - a red silk tank that I bought ages ago that’s not quite winter weather friendly. I could have rushed out to the store to try and find one that fit the outfit images in my head but I quickly reminded myself that I am a knitter and I can make exactly what I want! So I quickly got to work and thought it would be fun to share my journey to make this red sweater in only 8 days.
Yarn: Swans Island Colors 100% Merino Wool in #120 Garnet
Needles: Size 8 US (Body) and size 7 US (neckband, cuffs, hem)
Because I am knitting from stash I know two things before I even cast on: I want full length sleeves and I am going to need to work my sweater from the top down to maximize the yardage I have. I don’t like knitting set-in sleeves from the top down so I resorted to a mix of bottom up & top down construction techniques.
Day Zero - The Gauge Swatch
Every knitting project should start with a gauge swatch, and if you’re not doing that I’m definitely wagging my finger at you. This is the easiest way to ensure that your finished garment fits the way you are expecting yet so many knitters push it aside in order to “get started”. I challenge you to enjoy the swatching process, appreciate the yarn and listen to any clues it might be telling you. Once you have your gauge swatch (blocked & measured) you can do the math to determine the number of stitches you need to cast on for the body.
Day One - The Upper Body
I start with a provisional cast on, work a few rows and quickly begin my armhole & neck shaping. You can start with either the front or back depending on your personal preference. I start with the front based on a long standing habit. I’ll leave the provisional cast ons in place until I get to the lower body in Step Five.
Day Two - The Sleeves & Neckband
Next I made my sleeves because I wanted them to be long sleeves and I wasn’t sure how much yarn I was going to use up on the body. If you don’t have a sleeve length preference, you could leave the sleeves to the end. However, I tend to be a victim of sleeve island so I’m happy to knock them out as soon as possible.
You may be wondering why I chose to do the neckband next, instead of starting the lower body and finishing the neckband later. Essentially, I want to maximize every inch of this yarn and I know I’m going to need enough to complete the neckband. So I do that next and now I know that all the yarn I have left can go towards making the body the desired length (or as close as possible).
Days Three to Five - Lower Body
Finally, we’ve arrived at the meat of this sweater - the lower body. I unpick the provisional cast on’s from Step Two, join for working in the round, and knit knit knit.
Day Six - Blocking
Now that the sleeves & body are completed, it’s time to block everything. I’m a big fan of wet blocking and it always takes at least one day for a garment to fully dry. Normally when I have one garment blocking I start thinking about the next item I want to make. This is the time I use to swatch, sketch, and swatch some more.
Day Seven - Seaming & Finishing
Once all the pieces have been blocked it’s time to start seaming everything together. Since I used the top-down approach this really just means seaming the sleeves and setting them in to the armholes.
Day Eight - Photographs!
Now that my sweater is done it’s time to head outside and convince the husband to take a ton of photographs. I’m a terrible photo subject, so this can take awhile! I hope you enjoy this process, and keep an eye out for the finished pattern, launching on Valentine’s Day.