Winter City Sweater

comments: 49


Should you be in need of some mindless knitting — and by mindless I mean the good kind that allows you to stop thinking too hard and just knit knit knit knit and then knit some more, and not even purl, and not even look at the pattern for looooong stretches of time — you could probably make an Elizabeth Zimmerman sweater in the round (which someday I swear I will actually do, maybe even for myself [I started one but didn't finish it] ), because she knew just how to make knitting as pleasureable as possible. Or you could do a garter-stitch sideways sweater. Remember the Lichen Sweater? This is the same sweater, done in different yarn and I one size smaller needle (can't find the 2.5mm).

I'm calling this one the Winter City Sweater (follow the link to Ravelry for yarn/needle/pattern details). That is because the colors remind me of winter in the city (genius!!!). That's as creative as my brain is able to be lately. When I made the Lichen version, I remember thinking, "Holy lichen, am I bored with this." HAH. This time around, my days are so hectic and charged that when I finally fall onto the sofa to work a few rows before I start snoozing, I am thinking, "Oh, this is wonderful. This is glorious. This is relaxing. This is just enough. This . . . Zzzzzzzzz." Awesome. It's very Goldilocksian: the perfect amount of required thinking (i.e.: hardly any) with the perfect amount of repetitive, mind-numbingly boring knitting (i.e.: a ton, as garter stitch grows slowly, so you need lots and lots). And mind-numbing is, after all, quite the perfect point: Nothing seems to massage the hectic brain into happy, long, smooth, agreeable waves like garter stitch, somehow. Especially if you've placed your markers and you can go for row after row without stopping to do anything fancy. Don't you love how what feels seriously boring at some times can feel seriously soothing at others? I think that's one of the best things about knitting: It's always more than a sweater, somehow. It's an antidote. You can pick a project to be almost anything you need it to be.

In case it's not obvious — I guess I should've explained this earlier — a sideways sweater is not knit from the bottom up or the top down. It's knit starting with the left-front edge, where you cast on the entire length from bottom to neck. Then you work what is called "short rows" back and forth along that edge: Knit up the first marker, then turn around and go back on the return row. Knit up the the second marker, turn and go back. Knit up to the third marker, turn and go back. Now go up to the second marker again, turn and go back. Up to the first marker, go back. Then knit all the way up to the top (neck edge) and come back. You've just created a little wedge: For every 12 rows at the bottom edge, you have 2 rows at the top edge. This creates that adorable A-line shape. When you get to the side, you place all of the stitches up to the underarm on a holder, then cast on a bunch more for the sleeve (which is knit straight, until the "second" marker, and doesn't repeat quite as often). See? Cool idea, huh?


Oh I love this!

Short rows are so cool! I'm always amazed at what you can do with them. It's like you're doing really difficult geometry problems...but you're knitting. Which is just a boatload more fun!

I don't understand anything you just said in that last paragraph because I don't knit, but you make me want to knit.

And "Goldilocksian" is a truly wonderful word, and these ideas are wonderful: "It's always more than a sweater, somehow. It's an antidote. You can pick a project to be almost anything you need it to be." and "Don't you love how what feels seriously boring at some times can feel seriously soothing at others?"

The very best writers make people so excited about their writing that they are eager to read that person's writing even when the topic is completely foreign to them. :) Yay, Alicia!

I'm getting the distinct impression that you're the kind of girl who could magically make this into an adult-sized pattern in the blink of an eye.

Would you, please?

Because I don't think a 6-9 month size will fit me and I think I need one!

M'kay? Thanks!

Winter City Sweater is such a great name. You make knitting seem so easy. i've never been able to wrap my head around it. When I was ordering my Christmas decorations from you I noticed we have to knit out own little scarf for the polar bear. I was a bit worried about it until my partner of 5 years surprised me by offering to knit it for me. I never knew he could knit!! Anyway, your little sweater is really gorgeous.

Really beautiful...I need to a side to side sweater sometime. But I'm making it adult-sized!

I'm with you on the garter stitch---I've been going through allot of drama on my job, and soothing myself by knitting metric tons of dishcloths and a BIG blanket made out of garter stitch squares like the Mason-Dixon ladies do. (I love these blankets, but all that joinage at the end is kind of tedious.) I'm knitting the blanket with Bartlett wool in cream, two shades of natural gray, aqua, and teal. There is something very soothing in knitting along with that really wooly wool on my wooden needles. I'm hoping that by this time next year, I'm out of this job and have a warm, cozy blanket to show for it.

I forgot to mention that watching "Gone with the Wind" while you knit makes the garter stitch even more potent. Holy Cow! Compared with the Civil War and Rhett & Scarlett's marital problems, my life seems like a piece of cake.

Winter City Sweater is a great name for this lovely colourway! :)

I knit and I don't understand what on earth you're doing with your short rows and knitting from the side not the bottom up/top down. But I want to do it too.

Can't wait to see it finished. I love the lichen sweater.

And that is my favorite kind of knitting. Mindless rows upon rows of knitting. I am making an enormous (Elizabeth Zimmerman) sweater for my husband and it has kept me happy for months. I don't have to use my brain AT ALL.

Beautiful colors ... and it does remind me of winter in the city. We went to NYC one year when my son was 5 and my daughter was 1 in the winter and at dusk it looked magical with all grays and purples. Just like this cute little sweater :)

Very interesting, short rows, beautiful colors. I love the idea of mindless knitting for my own monstrous days. I didn't Zimmerman had such sweaters; I was a little "aferd" of them. Thanks for sharing.
Peace, Angela

Who needs therapy when there is garter stitch? :D The colorway is lovely. Hurry and finish so I can see!

Yes, I just started mindless knitting. I am doing Sally Mellville's Einstein Coat--so pretty and ALL knit! I just finished the eleanor slouch hat by Melissa LaBarre and the lace---oy ve! Anyway, pic of it on my blog if you care to look. I love the thing though!

can't wait to see it all finished! the name is perfect! :)

WOW, i love love love that yarn. Can't wait to see that sweater completed.

Sometimes you need a little mindless handiwork in your life :)

Love your thoughts on knitting, though the last paragraph was another language to me. My grandma taught me how to knit when I was young, but then I started crocheting and forgot how to knit. You make it sound so lovely. And I'm afraid if I knew how to make those sweaters, it's all I would ever do.

Melissa L. says: October 28, 2010 at 08:17 PM

Wow, that yarn is absolutely gorgeous and it knits up into something magical. What is it and what colors are those? (I can't knit a lick but I surely can appreciate color and texture!)

Now I want one too. What a perfect color.

Err, as clear as mud! But, although not being an experienced knitter, I do understand that the restfulness/boringness of garter stitch depends entirely on one's state of mind. It's also a good feeling to feel productive too!
Jak x

Mindless knitting is just great! And you phrased my thoughts about knitting so accurately-Thank you.

love the colour of your wool. x

It's beautiful, where can I get the adult size version?

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at