Here's something embarrassing to admit: I didn't knit my first sweater until after we opened Scratch.
And here's something else: it was terrible.
There it is, all lumpy and pilled and generally awful.
I was so excited for this project. I picked gorgeous yarn, an alpaca blend that makes me want to curl up in a big pile of it. I spent ages choosing my color combination, and the exact right pattern: slouchy but not too slouchy. Nothing too complicated. It was my first one.
I had to knit the thing three times.
Well, two and a half.
It didn't come out well. I hate it. I never wear it.
The first time, I seamed the sleeves on incorrectly, which scrunched the neck up in a really unappealing way. I've spent all this time on this thing, I told myself. I should do it right.
I tried to just take the sleeves off and try again, but the sidebody laddered on both sides and I ended up just frogging the whole thing.
I was determined to finish. I cast on again.
At some point about halfway up the body, I set my yarn down. When I picked it up again, I didn't notice the the working thread had worked its way through the center of the project, twisting the whole thing into a mobius strip.
I cast on for the third time with considerably less enthusiasm. I remember that the sleeves, especially, seemed to take an eternity. It was entirely too much fabric in my lap. At one point working on the collar I became the kind of angry that makes my housemates just get up and leave the room.
It was a terrible sweater. I'd wasted time and good yarn on a piece of garbage. I hated everything about it.
All that was forgotten, however, when I finally finished it and was able to put it on. My very first sweater! On my body! It was so exciting.
And then: the pilling.
Oh, the pilling.
That thing pilled like crazy. Everywhere. The yarn was too soft and squishy; that good feeling that had drawn me to it made it a poor choice for a garment that would be coming into contact with itself all day long. It was terrible.
I shaved it. It pilled again.
It's hanging up in the store now as a cautionary tale and a testament to the learning process. It's easy to forget, as we get better at things, just what those beginner stages feel like. They feel like frustration, often without a satisfying ending. But hey, I made a sweater. It's right there, hanging behind the sock yarn. I doubt I'll ever wear it again.
I've knit three other sweaters in the meantime. All different, all with their own flaws but ultimately successful. It might not be a good sweater, but it served its purpose.
Thinking about casting on your first sweater? Feeling a little overwhelmed, not quite sure if you're ready to take the plunge? You are. It'll be fine. And even if it's not, you'll learn something.