Earlier this month I was SO excited to get to meet and learn from Marie Greene of Olive Knits in person at the Inaugural Flying Needles Knitting Retreat right here in Williamsburg, Virginia! I've "known" Marie online for a while now via some mutual interests, but it wasn't until I found out that she'd be teaching a class here that I had even the remotest interest in knitting a sweater. I actually messaged her to see if I would still benefit from her class as a crocheter, ha ha! To which she replied yes, of course, but I decided that I should give KNITTING a top a go anyway. Just for kicks. I figured I might get more out of the class that way, too.
So I set out to find a beginner friendly pattern from amongst Marie's designs and I landed on one of her older patterns, the Mainsail Tee. I had some Hempathy Prints by Elsebeth Lavold in Line in the Sand in my stash, so I was all set! Except for my deplorable lack of knitting needles. Oops.
I'd heard good things about using square needles, so I shopped around a bit and decided to try Foursquare circulars from Knit Picks. In the meantime, I knit up a tiny swatch with some size 7 straight needles I already had. Two things were clear pretty quickly: 1. size 7 was too big. Good thing I ordered the size 6 needles! 2. metal needles were NO good for me with that yarn! The cotton, hemp, and modal (fibers from beechwood trees) blend was simply too slippery to use with slippery metal hooks.
So when I finally got my Knit Picks order and was able to switch to smaller wooden, extra grippy square needles, it went MUCH more smoothly! Except for having to redo the cast on several times before I was satisfied. And the fact that it took me half a dadgum hour to do it each time, if not longer. By the time I'd gotten the first few rounds done, my hands positively ached!
But after a break, a few more rows, and several battles with my inner perfectionist, I was moving along at a reasonable pace. I wasn't happy with the eyelets because they were different sizes and I blamed it on the twisted stitches because I had a heck of a time with those, but no matter what I tried to fix what I percieved to be a tension issue, I coudn't get them to cooperate. I've since learned that the size difference was most likely a result of the different stitches that occur before and/or after each yarn over thanks to this video tutorial by Suzanne Bryan. Basically, the distance the yarn wraps around the needle during a yarn over varies depending on the stitches on each side. So I don't feel like a crazy person anymore but then? While I was frustratedly trying to fix a problem in the wrong way? Without knowing it? I wanted to start all over SO many times!
But I didn't pull it out. Somehow. I didn't frog it. I kept moving forward. Until I got to the sleeve divide, I was pretty skeptical. I had to look up how to put my sleeve stitches on waste yarn, but that turned out to be pretty easy and although I had to keep doing those stinkin' twisted stitches, there were no more yarn overs after the sleeve divide! So that was pretty exciting. And every round being the same made it SO much more enjoyable to knit. Next thing I knew, it was time to try it on! Now that was a little scary, but when I oh so carefully pulled it on over my head and it FIT!? Hooray! I was excited again! Can you tell, ha ha?
And despite some dropped yarn overs (I think that's what happened anyway) and my wonky eyelets, in the end, as a whole, it actually turned out okay! Most of the more visible mistakes were fortuitously located on the back and near the armpits, ha ha, so they don't jump out at you. And although I wasn't quite sure how to properly block the thing, I believe a bath and some stretching (and pinning) definitely benefited the final outcome.
Oh but the WAITING! It took SO long to dry. And I even flipped it over halfway through my available drying time - oh yes, I was working on it up to nearly the last moment! I finished it on Thursday, washed and blocked it that day, and was able to let it dry that night and the next before WEARING it on Saturday for my class with Marie! I was pretty excited to actually have finished it on time. But it was even more exciting to get to learn from THE Olive Knits! The Sweater Whisperer. Someone I admire both professionally and personally. I really can't say enough nice things about her! She was my biggest cheerleader while I was working on my Mainsail Tee and she helped me more than once along the way with a quick tip or other guidance (like making up those dropped stitches BEFORE the sleeve divide) that took me from knitting newbie to, well, a gal who's knit a shirt!
And the sweater workshop? TONS of great info! We got friendly with our neighbors, ha ha, to take lots of measurements to help us get properly fitting sweaters. We talked about gauge and some of the math that we can use to help us get better results. Oh and my favorite bit? A quotable moment: "Swatches are dirty rotten liars." Ha!
As a bonus, I got to chat with designer Josh Ryks-Robinksy of Sword of a Knitter and geoknittrix designs (we momentarily nerded out over using math in our design concepts) as well as the fabulous ladies behind Three Irish Girls Yarn during their yarn tasting. Which was a MUCH needed chill and crochet with tiny samples of yummy yarn time.
I ended up buying two skeins of yarn to play with. Rocket Man on Springvale Sock, which is destined to be argyled, of course. And Tres Chic, also on Springvale Sock (I'm just in this moment realizing that I chose the same base!), which is a really pretty robin's egg blue sort of speckled yarn that I'm going to make a buttoned cowl out of using these fabulous Raku Fired Clay buttons from Dana Higginbotham of Dimensions.
I also picked out a couple shawl pins and a sweater magnet. They were just too gorgeous to resist!
This was the first fiber event I've been to since I was pregnant at Stitches Texas in 2015 and although I was definitely overstimulated and exhausted by the end of the weekend, it was SO nice to spend a WHOLE day completely immersed within the fiber community. I learned a lot, met some cool folks, and got to squish all kinds of yummy new yarns.
And if you'd like to take a class with Marie, too, check out her upcoming classes here!