Once Upon A Time there was a girl who had a favourite sweater…

You see, she moved to Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland during July of 2002 and quickly realised that a Northern Irish summer was much different from the Michigan summers that she was used to.  She needed a cardigan that she could pull on during the brisk mornings and cooler evenings, something lighter than a jacket but still would look smart and go with everything.  With a budget of a student a handknit aran was out of the question so she went to Primark instead.  After searching and searching through racks of girls clothing and finding nothing sensible and everything thin, frilly or fashion rather than function focused she was about to give up and try elsewhere but then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw it.  It was sandy coloured with a bit of grey on the inside hem at the wrists and collar, ribbed in the front body but with plain stockinette (read: just knit) back and sleeves.  It would go with everything, always look smart, was in her price range and, despite being in the Mens Department, fit her suitably.  She bought it and proceeded to wear it nearly every day

…for the next 2 years.


I wish I had more photos of me in this sweater because I think that, short of June, July and August in Michigan, at which time I had it in my bag or in the car for cooler evenings, I was wearing the darn thing constantly.  It was perfect.  It went with everything that I owned because it was that perfect neutral.  The ribbing in the body gave it that little bit of shape that I only vaguely needed in my round shape and the fact that it was an Acrylic/Wool blend, probably 75/25, and wore like iron made that sweater indespesible to me.  I moved from Marine City, Michigan to King County, Washington and found that the sweater was even more useful there because of the Seattle climate and, since it was completely machine washable and dry-able, it was wonderful for me to wear while playing with kids as a nanny and getting gloriously messy with kid wipe-ings…you know, like runny noses, tears, fingerpaints and all manner of crumbs that the youngest would drop on me from his seat in the backpack.

Sadly, that is where the story of this amazing sweater ends.  I believe that I lost it one day, most likely between juggling kids between the Seattle Aquarium and Pike Place Market where we would have chowder for lunch at the Market Grill.  Trust me, McGeaths review of the food is in no way an overstatement and I would be right there along with him, including the beef brisket, to get more of that amazing chowder or another sandwich with the heavenly rosemary aoli.  The kids loved the chowder too and we were such regulars there that I would phone over there and one of the guys would ladle me two large bowls so they could cool while I walked up from the aquarium with the kids, 2 and 3 at the time, and be ready to eat when we got there.  Anyway…back to the sweater.  I think that it was during a late spring heat surge that I managed to take it off while shifting children and forget to pick it up again and lost it to the whirlwind that is the Seattle waterfront.  I didn’t realise that it was missing until maybe weeks later when the temperature dropped and I went looking for what was never to be found again.  Sad Day for sure.

Fast forward 2 years and I made a replacement.  I had found an AMAZING pattern online, the Ribby Cardi by Bonne Marie Burns, and thought it would be the perfect sweater to replace the one I lost.  I finished this one on March 26th, 2008 and, sadly, shrunk it in July ’08 when I learned that my new washers “Delicate” cycle was nowhere near as delicate as anyone would have though.  As sad as I was to lose nearly 3 months of knitting, the sweater was not without its flaws.  #1 was the colours.  I LOVED the look of the blue and the brown and both suited me very well…but they didn’t go with everything so the sweater didn’t nearly get worn as much as I would have wanted.  #2 was the fact that I managed to do some interesting things with the sweater, like seam a sleeve inside out and not notice until weeks later, and I was never entirely happy with it.  It may have been the colour choice, it may have been the strong but just shy of next to your skin soft Wool of the Andes, my usual workhorse yarn, but there was always something…missing…for me.  I think this is evidenced by the fact that in the end, despite being around multiple craft and sewing stores, I never got around to buying and sewing in a zipper.  It just wasn’t true love like the original sweater.

This time around I did it much better.  Instead of knitting in pieces and seaming, I did this one in the whole body and the sleeves in the round.  With only the sleeves to seam in and the body done together to the underarm, I felt that this one went much faster and I was on to the sleeves before I knew it. 

Then, 22 days after I originally swatched, I had a sweater.

And its even better than the original!  While the original had ribbing only in the front of the body, this one has it on the sides, which creates waist shaping and hugs curves quite nicely. The ribbing on the sleeves mean that they hug my arms instead of being loose, something I always disliked about the original.

The original only had contrasting stitching at the inside of the cuffs, collar and hem and this one

has it as the first two rows of the cuff, hem, up the centre where the zipper will go and at the collar …which also got a makeover: and was made double thick so that it would block the ever constant wind of Nelson Lagoon and the future cold of Pilot Station, which was -25 yesterday, from seeping down my neck.  Even without the zipper, which will go on March 9th, the day after I arrive in Sitka and buy one, I LOVE this sweater. The City Tweed HW yarn is so very soft and warm, undoubtedly from the Merino/Alpaca fibre blend, and I dont think that I’ll ever wear another sweater as much as I will wear this one and barring any fate of felting, which will never happen because this sweater will ALWAYS be hand washed, I would like to think that this sweater will outlast the original.

PS: The sweater is being held by a shawl pin made by ThatLoganChick who, sadly, doesn’t make shawl pins anymore.  She does, however, have some lovely shawl patterns for sale in her Ravelry shop which is linked above.  I had won two of her pins in a contest back in ’08 and I’ve gotten some great use out of both of them for holding various sweaters closed!


PPS: Please ignore the horrific “halo” of hair made much, much worse by the flash used and my placement under the overhead light.  I have lots of new hair growing in for some reason and they all seem to be in the sticky-up stage of growth and no number of clips, headbands or amount of product are able to keep them tamed so I’ve stopped trying and let them do their own thing for now.  Much less stress but makes for much worse photos.


PPPS:  I had to laugh at myself and realised that I am nothing if not constant.  In the first photo I am wearing jeans, long sleeved t-shirt and The Sweater and have my trusty backpack sitting on the step next to me.  In the last photo I am wearing jeans, long sleeved t-shirt and The Better Sweater and have my very same trusty backpack sitting next to me on the floor…You can see it here, just hiding under the chair.  See the red?  Yup.  Nothing if not constant.