Coming to a critical, woolen juncture

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I was sorting my Ravelry projects page the other night and came to a startling realization: in the last few years I’ve knitted myself a LOT of sweaters. The hand-knit side of my winter wardrobe is getting pretty respectable. Without trying too hard, I could probably wear hand-knits every single day. This brings me to an important question: what should I do with my commercial sweaters?

I’m wearing my commercial woolens less and less often. I have a few favorites, and a few special-purpose items (like my Icebreaker winter running gear). But most of my mountain of winter woolens don’t get much wear anymore. Why wear the turtleneck you bought on sale at TJ Maxx when you can wear the similar, but much more special sweater you knitted while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

Here’s the thing though: there’s a certain security in owning a set of sweaters I don’t care that much about. My hand knits are specialspecialspecial.  I wear them gently and wash them with care. My commercial sweaters…I don’t actively try to be destructive toward them…but if a cat snags a claw in them and make a hole, or if I get a molasses stain on the sleeve, it doesn’t matter so much. The only thing I have invested is money .

I’ve come to a critical, woolen juncture, just as many knitters have before me. There’s only so much storage space in my home for sweaters. If I want to go on knitting sweaters, I need to start getting rid of some. Stuff comes in, stuff goes out. Donate them, unravel them, whatever. They need to move along.

Am I ready to start jettisoning some of these commercial sweaters? Am I ready to depend on my knitting skills to outfit me for my real life?

17 thoughts on “Coming to a critical, woolen juncture

  1. I don’t have nearly enough sweaters to face this problem, but my knitted sock collection has taken me to the same place. My solution: I have a section of store-bought socks, my *precious* socks, and the socks that are starting to wear out/aren’t as nice as I hoped they’d be/are more than a year old. The socks in the latter category get removed as I make new *precious* socks. I either reclaim the yarn (from the leg – which has less wear) and add that yarn to the sock blanket I’m making, or I make a new, color combo sock out of it! Yay for more knitting!

    Then, of course, there’s always gifting!

  2. Donate! Unless they’re feltable, I find that even commercial knitwear worked in pieces is usually a strange consistency for hand knitting.
    And now I wish I had more handknit sweaters.

  3. Such a tough call. I’ve only started into sweater knitting and have yet to make anything that I need to seam myself. I’m culling my closet everyday tough in hopes of being able to fit all the lovelies I would like to knit in there.

  4. Lynda in Oregon

    I have one — count ’em — one — commercially-made sweater still in my wardrobe, and it’s probably 20 years old. But it’s a lovely, drapey, extremely-fine-gauge lambswool, and I couldn’t reproduce it unless I was willing to use laceweight something and work it at 12-15 st/inch . . . and I ain’t! So that lovely cream-colored commercially-made sweater isn’t going anywhere — except out the door on my back, several times per season!

    You’ll have to make your decision(s) one at a time on whether to donate or keep. But, yes, we all have a limited amount of closet space!

    • caityrosey

      You’re right. I suppose there’s a permanent place in my wardrobe for very fine gauge garments I can’t imagine knitting by hand.

  5. Looking at all the sweaters you’ve made, you’re definitely ready. I still have 2 commercially made sweaters and a sweater dress, all of which were given as gifts, and all of which get worn occasionally. That just means I have way more sweaters to choose from than any other type of clothing. I’ve also gotten to the point, though, where I donate the occasional hand-knit sweater that doesn’t strike my fancy anymore.

  6. I have exactly the same. My RTW sweaters are in a box on top of my closet, unworn for already 2 years but I’m not able yet to part with them. I guess I will donate them when I feel ready for it.

  7. Hey, I was just having this discussion with myself the other day too… and what I think I’m going to do is unravel a couple and then re-knit something with both yarns, so it will be a bulkier and faster sweater to knit and feel a little less precious since it took less time and the yarn was basically free…

  8. Kudos to you! All of your sweaters are beautiful. I have to admit I do not seem to have the attention span to knit a sweater. Curls does all of the sweater knitting. I say depend on yourself! Your get to choose the exact fiber and colors you want.

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