A well traveled sweater – measuring time and space in knitting

Well Travled Sweater Body Finished

Part of what I’ve always loved about making clothing is how the finished object can retain the memories of the places we were, or the things that were happening, or the people we were with, while we were making them.

The sweater I just finished, is a rather well traveled one.

Flying West

Though the sweater technically started in San Francisco, it really started with a decision I made in NYC – to not pack any travel knitting projects.

There have been times in my life when leaving the house without knitting was unheard of – let along getting ready to fly across the country without a project for the plane.

Now though, I only leave the house knitting in hand, if I’m going somewhere with the express intention of knitting. And at the time I was packing for this trip I was also a thoroughly burned out knitter. (I ended up mostly sleeping on the plane).

Well Traveled Sweater Swatch

But the actual physical sweater itself, started as a yarn buying mission in The Mission in San Francisco. I went to Imagiknits rather determined to walk out with a knitting project.

And so I did.

I ended up with two cones of Ito’s Shio yarn, needles, and some stitch markers.

I walked out of Imagiknit, and then promptly walked from the Mission, through the Castro, over some giant hill, and to a cafe on Haight St.

If you know San Francisco, you know that, that walk was a beautiful walk, but certainly not a leisurely (or flat…) one. It was a rather profound instance of diving into something without any real clue about what you’re getting in to.


I swatched at the cafe, and then cast on a couple days later, while staying in Berkley.

knitting by a pool

Where I got to knit outside, by a pool, in January and marvel (yet again) at California’s weather.

I got through the short row shaping, plus a couple of the raglan increases in Berkely, before hopping on a train to Portland.


I spent about half of the train ride asleep, and the other half knitting away, while watching the sunrise, and the train wander it’s way through snowy mountains.

I got almost all the way through the raglan increases on the train ride. Arriving in Portland with only a couple increases left to do and no waste yarn for separating the sleeves (sad panda).

Luckily it seems you can’t walk a couple of blocks without hitting a yarn store in Portland, and the lovely people at Happy Knits were kind enough to give me some waste yarn.

So I separated the sleeves from the body, and began trundling my way through the decreases towards the waist. I got about halfway through them during my two weeks in Portland.

knitting on a train

The train ride back from Portland to Oakland was exhausting. I was incredibly thankful for my knitting (as well as my earbuds), and managed to get through almost all of the rest of the decreasing by the time we arrived back in Oakland.

knitting in the sun

I spent most of my last week and a half back in Berkeley & Oakland walking and wandering and thinking and knitting. I finished up the very last of my waist decreases (which always feel like they go on forever), and started knitting the waist itself.

Airplane Knitting

Unlike on the flight west, I had plenty of knitting to knit on my plane flight back east. I finished up the waist, and started knitting the increases for the hips.

(And yes, I am carrying fabric yardage as a humongous scarf. Because it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase.)


I continued through the hip increases holed up at my families outside of Boston.

And finished the body a couple days after arriving back in New York City.

Then I started the first sleeve, and realized I needed to fix the neck first. So I went back to the neckline, fixed it, and came back to finish the first sleeve. (Somewhere in there came a long pause for lime green swatching).

And then I started & finished the second sleeve – before packing this sweater project again, and moving apartments.

Well Traveled Sweater Adding Length

At the new apartment, I picked out the bind off for the body, reattached the second cone of yarn, and added that last little bit of length.

Gauging exactly how much yarn to leave for a bind off is always tricky, especially if you want to work an intricate or particularly stretchy bind off, so binding off this sweater was a game of yarn chicken. (Which I won!)

winning yarn chicken

And I even managed to win yarn chicken with a little bit extra left over – so I’m planning on going back to the neckline of the sweater again. I want to pick out the bind off, rip back a row or two, and work an I-cord bind off.

An I-cord bind off is my preferred neckline finishing for top-down sweaters, but I didn’t do it on this sweater the first time I fixed the neckline because I was worried about running out of yarn from the beginning of this sweater.

However wearing the sweater as is – with just a standard decrease bind off – is making me realize just how much more I love the I-cord bind off for this application.

Well Traveled Sweater Finished

All told this is a…
4 state (California, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York),
6 city (San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Portland, Boston, New York),
2 train, 1 plane, plus some cars, multi-apartment,
16.5 week sweater (Jan 27May 22ish).

I love how I can trace my trip along the body of my sweater – it’s sort of like a wearable scrapbook in disguise.

You may also like

bits & pieces, and a sweater body
all in all a quite week of knitting
Halloween costume, book edits, and a new sweater
Shawl Geometry Book 3 is (briefly) off my desk!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.