Ginger Made: Honey Cardigan

Here’s something you don’t see very often around here: a knitted garment! It’s also something else that you don’t see here very often: a made-by-me garment that I hate!

Things went wrong with this sweater from the very beginning. You see, I made the rookie mistake of choosing a pattern because I thought the stitch pattern was really pretty without even considering the fact that this isn’t a style that I like to wear. I don’t like cardigans and I really don’t like fitted sweaters. But when I started knitting this nearly 2.5 years ago (!), I didn’t have as firm of a grasp on my personal style and couldn’t have articulated exactly what I like to wear. That may sound funny, but it’s only very recently that I’ve really felt like I dress the way I like to. I’ve always hated shopping, have lived in big cities since I was 18 where shopping is chaotic and unpleasant, and was always on a tight budget, so I sort of grabbed whatever was cheap and quick instead of thinking about what I feel good wearing. Silly, I know!

The pattern is the Honey Cardigan by Veera Valimaki (Ravelry link here). When I first began knitting, I was really attracted to Veera’s designs. They are lovely, modern designs that are fun to knit and always look so cool. My original plan was to make this in a great gold color, so I bought Quince & Co. Lark in “honey”. But when I swatched for the sweater, I didn’t like how the fabric looked when I knit to gauge, so I discarded that plan (the yarn eventually turned into my Bough hat and Guernsey wrap, so it didn’t go to waste, luckily). I had enough Cascade 220 in “charcoal” to make the sweater (according to Ravelry, I bought this yarn in 2010, yikes!), so I cast on in that, finished all but one sleeve, and then let it sit for two years.

After finishing my Ginger jeans, I started to feel guilty about my stack of unfinished projects, so I pulled out this sweater and decided to finish it. I didn’t like the way the first sleeve looked, so I unraveled it and started over, following the instructions for the sleeve from the Effortless cardigan (here’s my finished sweater). I’d felt that the sleeves were a little short when I made that sweater, so I lengthened them by 1″, but they still feel too short.

At the end of the day, I’m just not into this sweater. I love the way the cables pop out of the reverse stockinette, but otherwise I’m just not feeling it! I don’t like the way the i-cord edging looks, although I suspect I may have screwed it up as it rolls under on the center front edges and out on the hem edges (huh?). And I don’t like that it only buttons at the top. And I don’t like how tight it is at the upper chest. And I really, really don’t like that I had to use such huge buttons. The buttonholes are made by knitting unattached i-cord, and then reattaching, so it forms loops. Buttons that look proportional slip through the loops, even with a substantial yarn shank, so I dug these huge buttons out of my stash (pretty sure I cut them off my thoroughly-trashed peacoat after it bit the dust), and I think they look crafty and cheap. Yuck!

This isn’t a failure of the pattern or even of the (admittedly boring) yarn… I just totally failed to think this through before starting in on it. Luckily, I’ve gotten much better about understanding what I like when it comes to sewing, so I very, very rarely have finished garments that I don’t like. Hopefully I’ll get a little bit smarter about choosing the right knitting projects in the future! But at least I finished this and got it out of my UFO pile, and it will be finding a new home with my mom or sister soon!

Before I go, I need to announce the winner of the Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book giveaway! There were 258 responses, and the winner, chosen by Random.org, was Kristin Bard. Congrats, Kristin! I’m emailing you now. πŸ™‚

Alright, guys, ‘fess up. What was the last thing you made that you don’t really like? Have you ever been silly enough to make something that’s not your style at all?

 

106 responses

  1. I manage to sew things that I don’t like on a fairly regular basis and it’s usually because I’m trying to sew clothes for myself out of fabric that was gifted to me. I may like the fabric, but I never would have bought it to make clothes for myself and forcing it usually leads to a garment that goes straight to the thrift store. Months away from my sewing machine has really made me think about what and how I want to sew, so hopefully I can be more mindful and not sew as many wadders when I get back to my sewing machine!

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    • Hmm, I can totally imagine that being the case… taste in fabric is so personal! It would be a hard thing to choose for another person! I bet after being away so long, you’ve really had the time to prioritize what you want to sew now that you’re back!

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  2. maybe if you took off the buttons? it could be cute an always-open cardigan. the cabling on the back looks really good! one time i made this scarf I was really into at the time. i had just learned how to purl so i thought, ooh i’ll do a checkerboard of knits and purls and it will be sooo cool. it took forever and it did not, in fact look cool. and i picked the worst colors – chartreuse and what i i thought was gray, but was really more like lavender. lavender and chartreuse. so sad.

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    • Oh dear, lavender and chartreuse… that’s pretty bad. I just did a “wearable muslin” in leftover pink-y red and turquoise linen scraps that I had laying around. Turns out it’s TOTALLY NOT wearable cause, GROSS! Oops!

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  3. Aww, I’m so sorry to hear it’s not a winner, even after all the trouble of finishing it! At least it sounds like it’ll find a new happy home, and it looks lovely. I used to do that all the time with knitting. I knit several sweaters I wouldn’t wear in a million years because they aren’t me, but they were the right combo of fun/challenging/whatever-at-the-time. But I did this with sewing, too, actually. I think once you start to really GET what you like to wear (probably only been about a year or so for me where I really feel I’m starting to get it), it’s much easier to pick projects accordingly. But yeah, I’ll still totally get entranced sometimes by the shiny new interesting thing, not gonna lie… πŸ˜‰

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    • It totally happens! Lately when I’ve seen something I wanted to sew, but not necessarily wear, I’ve made it for my mom or sister. They have totally different styles from me, but aren’t very picky about clothes, so I can scratch the itch to try something new without adding something to my closet that I won’t wear!

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  4. Hmm, I see what you mean about the buttons. I like what Devon said, maybe you can just remove them and wear it open. I think the rest of it looks nice and could even be something you wear around the house to stay warm? I don’t know about you, but my building has been taking its time turning on the heat. Sheesh!

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    • OK… so I share one thermostat with my Mediterranean neighbors, so Blake and I are sweating all winter long! They keep the heat CRANKED! I put on sweaters the minute before I walk out of the house! πŸ˜€

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  5. Hey, at least it’s a UFO that you can check off the list and I’m sure you learned a few things by making it. Even if it’s not your style, it’s still a pretty stitch.
    I have so many of these projects or wearable muslins that just don’t fit my style that I’ve been brainstorming how to give them a better home. Perhaps an Etsy sample sale or a finished garment swap.

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    • That’s a great idea! I did a clothing swap once, a long time ago, before I sewed, and it was actually really fun. I’d forgotten about that! And it was totally worth it to finish it just to get it out of the way. Sweater projects take up a lot of space!

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  6. Oh man, I am familiar with the scenario, as I’m not sure how I feel about my latest cardigan… But your sweater looks beautiful and I know your sis or mom are going to be so excited! Doesn’t it feel good to get an UFO out of the way though???

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  7. Earlier this year I made a dress (simplicity 1651) that I ended up not liking so much. It was just poor fabric choice. The pattern has a number of different bodice styles, but I just did the plain one, and added sleeves. However, the fabric I used was a gray that I liked, but contextually ended up looking too much like an Amish dress.

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  8. Well, you learned some things along the way, right? That’s a victory in itself. I have a much easier time knowing which knitting patterns to go-to than I do sewing patterns. There’s a total learning curve in the process of making clothes that I want to wear. But, every project gives valuable information towards the end goal.

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  9. My first 2-3 years of sewing were chock full of projects that didn’t suit my style or my life! I didn’t know how to look at line drawings or pick fabrics. I think it’s admirable that you persevered and made something lovely enough to find a new home, though.

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    • It takes some time to figure that out, doesn’t it? My first year or so was just about sewing whatever I could manage to figure out without even considering if it was at all wearable! There’s a learning curve, for sure!

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  10. bummer. it’s a cute cardi but the buttons do look a bit out of proportion. i finished knitting 2 cardigans over the summer/fall and i don’t really like either one of them. in fact, all i have left is sewing on buttons and attaching pockets but i haven’t done either one because i’m not that excited about wearing them. and yet i really need more cardigans. here’s to hoping our next sweaters will be better.

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  11. Ah, man. That totally sucks. Knitting is such a slow process ( for me at least) it’s just really gutting if it dosn’t work out. Fwiw, i think it looks cute πŸ™‚ Could you dye it and make it more wearable for you? You could go bat shit crazy and sew the front up and attach faux buttons , reverse the sleeves and have yourself a natty backwards sweater ala 50 ‘ s …. but that it’s probably one coffee past madness πŸ˜‰

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    • Awww man, that stinks! At least knitting failures don’t sting as much for me because the yarn isn’t ruined… it’s pretty gutting to ravel and start over, but I’m much sadder when fabric gets ruined. :/

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  12. It’s a cute cardigan, but yes, I totally get what you mean. I’ve yet to knit anything other than scarves for myself that I actually wear – I keep getting seduced by how well the model looks instead of picturing how it’d look on me. Same with sewing, actually, although my hit rate is slightly better there.

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    • It really takes time to figure out what works for you! I remember reading on someone’s blog a few years ago that the best way to figure out what you like is to look in your dirty laundry and see what’s always dirty… it’s what you wear and like the most! That hadn’t occurred to me, but once i started making shapes closer to what I would buy in stores, my success rate really skyrocketed.

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  13. The last thing I made that I didn’t like ended up in the garbage can. So, bravo to you for finishing it! My mom has taken a few things off my hands that I wasn’t too excited about once I’d finished; it makes me happy if she can save something from being thrown out or languishing in the dark corner of my closet. At any rate, beautiful work on that sweater. Knitting continues to be one of those things I wish I had time for–so many gorgeous sweaters!

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    • I wish I could knit faster! I just love the look of hand-knitted sweaters, but I think I’m at a pace of about one per year (and I wear them out faster than that). Now if I could just make cool bags like you do…

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  14. Such a lot of work and so well done, but it’s not quite working for you! (doing a good job of working it though – I would be extremely bumfaced in the photos at this point)

    Can you move the buttons down? When I looked at it, the first thing I saw was the way it was tight around the top but open below. It looks slightly… pinched.. for want of a better word.

    But if you could have buttons lower, it might be cinched instead?

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  15. I made a Lane Raglan, in a fabric I’d been saving for something I’d was sure I’d wear. Yeah. It’s been sitting in heap mocking me since. The neckline went wonky,,I haven’t figured out yet out to fix the binding with the raglan sleeves. I haven’t given up yet,,I love the fabric. (I like your sweater a lot, BTW.)

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  16. I’ve made this style of cardigan (twice), and hated both of them. Not sure why I had to knit 2 of them to figure out that I don’t like this style.

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    • Ahhh, that really stinks. Sometimes it’s so hard to know WHY we don’t like something. I don’t know how many shapeless knit tops I made before I realized, hmm, I feel ugly in these… maybe I shouldn’t make them! Silly!

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  17. Aw, I like it! But I totally agree that this particular look really isn’t a style I can see you wearing at all (except… I’m seeing it right now, and you’re blowing my mind almost). Good for you for finishing it! Now give it to someone as a Christmas gift and pretend like you made it for them on purpose πŸ˜‰ hahaha

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  18. unfortunately its not a rookie mistake 😦 sometimes you get so blown away by the structure or design of the sweater that you just want to knit it anyway, even if you know it’s not the right one for you…Ysolda Teague patterns do it to me everytime, the patterns look so good and have such great structures…

    however the joy of knitting is that you can always frog it and reknit the yarn as something else if you can’t find someone you want to give it to…

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    • It is nice that nothing is ever really ruined in knitting. I recently frogged a sweater that was 2/3 done (ouch) when I started realizing I wouldn’t ever wear it. It was disappointing, but not as irritating as it would’ve been if I’d ruined fabric.

      I agree that Ysolda’s designs are so beautiful, but I would never wear them.

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  19. I did that just last week! I had bought some corduroy online and it turned out to be shiny rather than normal corduroy. I hated it from when I first opened the packet, but I persevered all the same making some skinny jeans that I thought might make “evening” jeans. I don’t even go out pretty much at all and certainly not to places where it might be appropriate to wear “evening jeans”!!!
    Anyway, I soldiered on, finished the jeans and they went straight to the goodwill pile. Silly, really…

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  20. I’m impressed! I think it’s beautiful but I totally get it if it’s not your style. And sleeves that are too short, although they don’t look it in the picture, drive me mad! I’ve made plenty of things I don’t love b/c it was either making the rounds on blogs & completely NOT my style but I cave b/c “everybody’s making it” or it looked easy enough for me to make. Ha! I’m hoping I’ve learned my lesson.

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    • That totally happens! You get swept up in what’s going around and make something silly. Most of my early makes were just things that I could figure out how to do, but then I never wore them. A-line skirts? Hate ’em! But I sewed them because I could… didn’t wear ’em!

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  21. i love this cardigan, it looks really good on you πŸ™‚ shame you don’t like it, but i’ve definitely been there. when i first started sewing i made loads of misses that just ended up being donated to charity shops so i didn’t have to stare at them lying in my wardrobe every day! luckily i feel much more comfortable with my sense of style these days πŸ™‚

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  22. Totally understand – I’ve been knitting sweaters for about 7 years and I’ve accumulated a lot that I never wear because they’re not my style or there’s something about the fit I don’t like. I’m finally getting to the place where I feel fine with giving away nice sweaters I don’t wear, trashing ones that really are not worth saving, and fixing sweaters to make them more wearable. I have a stack of sweaters I need to re-knit the sleeves for. I’ve found that if the sleeves are too loose I feel frumpy and don’t like wearing them.

    But you’ve finished a sweater, which totally justifies casting on for a new one you’re excited about!

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    • It’s good that you know now what you like, and I totally agree that it’s worth it to take the time to fix things so they’re wearable. It’s silly to have stuff sitting around that you won’t wear because the sleeves are too baggy. It’s kind of nice to fix something, though, because you have a new item to wear with much less time invested! And luckily my new sweater project is off to a good start… fingers crossed it will finish up OK!

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  23. I sewed a cake Tiramisu dress one time, that was totally not my style. It was a pretty enough dress, but I never wore it, because it just wasn’t me. So it got donated.

    I think that if you don’t have problems giving away your makes, there may be a patient at one of your local hospitals that would adore having something warm and hand made. The way it only buttons on top would be easy for them to take on and off, or be able to keep it on while having routine exams. Just a thought though.

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  24. I feel like this happens to me constantly. I often get swayed by how great a pattern looks on someone else without really considering if it would look good on me or whether it would fit into my style or current wardrobe. I have a very similar shaped cardigan that I spent ages making that doesn’t suit me at all. I wear it though because it’s quite lovely and I spent so much time on it. It always gets compliments even though I feel like I look like a tent in it.

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    • It’s so hard to figure out what you feel comfortable in! And it’s not always a bad thing to branch out and try new shapes and styles – sometimes you get pleasantly surprised! But I think I would rather do that kind of exploration with simple sews rather than time-consuming knits, ack!

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  25. I can’t even count the number of things I’ve made that I simply didn’t like. Generally I realize it before I finish though and so I just quit before it’s done. I do know what you mean about not being able to articulate your personal style–I still don’t really know what mine would be if I were able to choose from anything and had either a) an unlimited budget or b) unlimited sewing time (and budget!). Probably mostly because I’ve never had a lifestyle where “fashion” has been a necessity. The cattle and the tractor couldn’t have cared less what I wore, and neither do my two boys.

    The sweater is pretty, but I can see why you wouldn’t wear it. It looks very “lady who lunches”, and you don’t put off that vibe, IMO. And there’s nothing wrong with that either way–everyone has different likes and lifestyles and we have to dress for those. πŸ™‚

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    • Totally agree! I really like reading the blogs of people who really seem to dress for their own lives. It’s cool to see the people who have figured out what works for them! It’s hard to separate your style from your lifestyle… they’re pretty intertwined!

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  26. I’m in my 60s and am still making things I don’t like. I have a large stash to send off to the thrift shop as I write. I rather like the cardigan, but if you don’t feel comfortable in it, you’ll never wear it and it’s just taking up space. Get it out of the house pronto! Jeans look amazing though – I’m about to make make a start on mine.

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    • Ahhh, can’t wait to see your jeans!!!!! I finally have my stash whittled down to only things that I like (except for stuff I’ve picked up for my family members). That was a huge hurdle- it was so easy to buy things that were pretty, but totally not my style!

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  27. Too bad this one wasn’t a win for you. I hate spending all the time and effort to make something and then not liking it. Although I find it’s always worse when I put something in my UFO pile then pull it out again. It’s like “what was I thinking when I started this?!” Hopefully it will find a good home because the cabling is really pretty.

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  28. I don’t have enough patience and knitting skill to make a cardigan, so I imagine it must be such a disappointment that you don’t like it after all the work!
    Recently I made a pair of slippers and I thought I was being clever by using leftover materials (while forgetting that the price of pattern is actually enough to buy a pair of decent slippers). They look fine but I feel that I have wasted too much time making them while I can buy more durable slippers.

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  29. I have an unfinished cardigan (started more than 2 years ago!) that I’ve been avoiding because I know it’ll be a similar story. I hope you’ll find yours a good home! Even though it’s not “you,” it is a very cute sweater. πŸ™‚

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  30. Totally understand where you are coming from! It’s a cute cardigan but I can see why you don’t feel like ‘you’ in it. I’m impressed that you were able to summon a cheerful smile for your photo shoot, I think I would definitely be looking grumpy! In fact I probably would have given it to my mum already, which is what happens to most of the things I make and don’t end up liking. I’ve made plenty of things that haven’t been worn for the exact same reasons as you, in fact I can think of at least five hanging in my closet right now. I’m getting better at knowing what will work though.

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  31. What about adding a button placket down the CF in a contrasting color to add width to the body, and add to the cuff to make it longer and so it can fold back? More your style, no?

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  32. Well, it looks really nice even if it isn’t your style. I totally understand, though. I feel like most of what I’ve made so far isn’t really my style, but I’m still figuring out exactly what that is. Plus, sometimes I want to learn certain techniques so I make something that I know isn’t really me. I actually just started a cardigan of this shape that’s totally not my style (Blaithin by Kate Davies) because I fell in love with the picture and I want to learn steeking, but I’m having serious doubts…

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    • I’ve definitely done that- wanted to try a new technique or style, even though I knew in the back of my mind that it wasn’t right for me. Lately I’ve sewn a few patterns that I just thought would be fun to sew (the Ninot jacket is one), so I picked out fabric that my mom or sister would like. My closet is quite small, so I don’t have room for stuff I won’t wear!

      PS- good luck with the steeking! It’s so scary!

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  33. Yep, I’ve totally made things I don’t like. Most recently I made a green jumpsuit that had no shape even though I knew it wouldn’t suit me. I wore it once and ditched it. We all have those moments but I think it’s a learning curve. Every bad garment brings us closer to knowing our true style!

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  34. I have only started to dress in a way I like now really, at the age of 38… I made the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt fairly recently. I love the way it looks on the hanger, and I am totally proud of myself as the invisible zip looks awesome, and I did piping which also looks great (if I say so myself!) but it is not great on me, just not my style at all, so I have never worn it, and probably won’t.

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    • Well, then it was good practice and you built your skill set so your future projects will turn out better. I try to remember that we’re not just wasting time- even projects that are “failures” help us to become better sewers and better at determining our own style.

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  35. I’m still struggling with identifying my style and sewing up things that I will actually wear.
    I’m so inspired by anyone who can knit. I just picked up some yarn, needles and a how to book. Wish me luck πŸ™‚

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  36. It’s a shame you feel a bit meh about it as the cabling is lovely especially the back. I agree with your feelings about where the buttons are. I feel I’m more sure about my style and have made things in the past I wouldn’t sew now so completely sympathise.

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  37. It’s a nicely knit sweater, so hopefully you’ll find some use for it (or a new home that will appreciate all of your hard work!) I’ve gotten pretty good about sewing things I like, but knitting is definitely a challenge. I have a friend I regularly chat with online who is also a knitter, and we thought it might be fun to knit a sweater together. So I searched high and low for yarns that might work with the pattern, because I needed two that coordinated but were different thicknesses and nobody makes those in not-wool, could not figure out the directions for the very beginning of the sweater for the life of me, and finally threw in the towel before I even got past the shoulders. So now I have these two different blue yarns that I need to figure out what to do with. It’s probably for the best, because the sweater pattern was more her pick and one that I would have found challenging to mix with my existing wardrobe.

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    • Sometimes I think we know at the back of our minds that something isn’t going to work out. I always take longer to make the things that I don’t end up liking! I hope you’re able to find another use for the yarn!

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  38. Oof, it sucks when you sew something you don’t like, but it REALLY sucks when you knit something you don’t like! All that labor!! All that time! But I must say, you’re totally rocking the look here! And I think it’s an exceptionally lovely knit! I love the yoke detail, and I even like the big buttons! And the color! I’m super impressed that you finished this even though you were feeling ho-hum about it. Great idea to pass it off to someone else, and then get started on some knitting that you’re REALLY excited about!

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  39. Oh it’s too bad, I think that this sweater looks really cute on you! I know what you mean though about things being wrong proportionately, I have been lamenting some shoes that I purchased, they are huge and clunky and not right at all. I hate wasting time and money, but it is good to get more insight into your own personal style I guess.

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  40. I’d just say you earn points for seeing it through. And recognising that what seemed like a good idea several years ago isn’t where you’re at now, it kinda sucks but at least you know it’ll be re homed and appreciated.

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