Knitting Blog: The best sweater I have ever knit (so far)

2010 was a bellwether year in the life of this family: our daughter is officially a full-fledged adult. I wanted to celebrate this with a gift from my heart, and offered to knit her a sweater. The offer was for a classic, sophisticated design that could conceivably look good for decades, and there was no doubt which sweater pattern I would use. I would knit Veronik Avery’s Military Jacket, which is one of the designs in her book Knitting Classic Style.

A project like this deserves, nay, demands excellent quality yarn. I chose to knit it in the yarn specified in the pattern: Cascade Yarn’s Ecological Wool. A. chose a rich, soft brown spun from natural, undyed wool. The yarn is two ply and very light and lofty. It was a great choice. The finished jacket is simultaneously firm and soft. It’s a sweater that will keep you warm on a cold day, yet be surprisingly comfortable in weather that is cool rather than cold. The yarn is first class, but the project cost was very reasonable because I was lucky enough to catch a sale at Webs ( The whole project, including leather buttons, came in under $70. Not bad at all for a sweater that may well last for A.’s lifetime.

According to my Ravelry page, I knit this sweater between May 17 and December 7 of 2010. I didn’t work on the sweater constantly or persistently during this period. I used to focus my knitting on one project at a time, but I’ve become a multi-tasker, usually with three projects on the needles. (The count currently is five, if you count two long-term unfinished objects). I don’t know what approach is better. My focus on this project grew more intense as my daughter’s winter break approached. When she walked in the door on December 8, the sweater was finished on the dining room table, waiting for her to put it on for the first time.

It fit her perfectly.

Getting that perfect fit was the result of a series of choices, all of which were the correct ones. The pattern was cropped in length, perfect for a short-waisted person. From there, though, it needed some tweaking. My daughter is short with a stocky, buxom, athletic build. The sweater was designed more for a longer, thinner body. I decided to start it as a small and increase to a medium at the waist, and make the armscye match the large sized sleeve. The sleeve was a large width and a small length. It all worked!

Veronik Avery is such a fine designer. The Military Jacket is filled with small details that make the sweater technically satisfying. She has worked as a costume designer, and her experience shows. When I sewed up the jacket, every piece fit together. There was no fudging or tugging or struggling to line up the seams. This is not always the case with knitting patterns in my experience!

I had a learning experience along the way with cabling. A knit cable looks very complex, but is quite simple; it is created when stitches change position in the garment. The traditional technique is to use a small needle to hold the stitches being moved as they shift to a new position. I learned an alternate way of creating a cable from designer Annie Modesitt that doesn’t require the use of a cable needle, and used it for the body of the sweater. When I used Modesitt’s technique for the front placket, however, the fabric did not look right. This placket is a very densely cabled, reversible fabric (that is brilliant in its own right), and it could only be created by using the traditional cable technique. I spent many rows in denial, and had to rip out a substantial piece of knitting to make the placket correctly. What I learned is worthy of a blog post by itself: SIMILAR DOES NOT MEAN IDENTICAL. The lesson: if you are substituting a different technique, knit a swatch to confirm that the end result will be what you want.

And now on to my next sweater - one for myself, different pattern, different color, but in the same wonderful yarn.


  1. That is absolutely gorgeous!

  2. Having seen this sweater in peerson, I know how beautiful it is. Thanks for sharing the story of the sweater.


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