Whole vs. Pieces

This is the February Lady Sweater, which I just finished for Z.  And that is in fact Z wearing it, and she is in fact pregnant.  Here are the answers to all of your questions, in the order that they’re usually asked:

1. December 18th.

2. Both.

3. Fraternal. Different sexes usually are.

4. Yes, in both of our families.

5. Yes, but we’re not telling anyone what they are.

6. Sure, I’d love a doughnut right about now.  Thanks!

Now, on to the sweater. If you’ve knit this pattern before (and odds are that you have, given how immensely popular it is) then you know that it’s worked as one piece, from the top down. If you’ve spent any time reading my earlier posts, then you know that there’s a special place in my heart for seaming, which translates into a general avoidance of top-down sweater patterns.  So, with the exception of a baby sweater or two, the February Lady Sweater is my first one-piece sweater. Now that it’s under my belt (and over Z’s) I can see certain significant advantages to knitting sweaters top-down, one piece:

  • Size as you go. At various points in the knitting, I was able to drape this over Z’s shoulders and ask her how much farther/longer/wider.
  • Fewer g#dd%&m f!*&%#g yarn ends. I think I only had to weave in about ten yarn ends for this sweater, thanks to the fact that there were yarn ends only where I cast on, started a new skein, picked up stitches for the sleeves, bound off, and one other stupid place where the yarn manufacturer got lazy and and tied a knot instead of spliced.
  • “Garment satisfaction” comes earlier. You know that magical moment when the work on the needles turns from a collection of rows into something that actually looks and feels like a garment? That moment comes a lot sooner on one-piece items.
  • You’re done faster. Ain’t no two ways about it, really. When there aren’t any seams to sew, you get to wear that sweater that much sooner. Or your wife does. Which, in some ways, is more satisfying.

So what’s the problem?  Why haven’t I joined the ranks of the converted?

  • Mass transit. Regular readers know that I’m a regular (albeit unwilling) patron of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.  That half-hour of train time each way is perfect for getting some knitting in——so long as your project doesn’t spill on to your neighbor’s lap.  Unfortunately, the moment garment satisfaction arrives is the same moment you can’t work on that sweater on the train anymore.
  • Cat fur. The ugly affinity between yarn and cat fur is a perennial issue, but when you have an entire sweater on your needles, you end up with a cat’s worth of fur on your work.  Each time you turn the needles, your sweater drags up every feline filament within ten yards.  It took an entire roll of packing tape to get the sweater into the fur-free state you see above.  Please put that magnifying glass down and take my word for it.
  • Twisting sleeves. It’s great to have a shoulder with no seams, but when you knit those sleeves from the shoulder down, they just don’t turn as freely while you’re knitting them.  And any resisting force on your needles, however minuscule, is really annoying.  You either have to stop in mid-round and untwist the sleeves, or pick up the entire sweater and turn it around.

I do knit all of my Halfdomes in the round these days, so it’s not like I’m totally opposed to the seamless knitting.  The February Lady Sweater is an elegantly-written pattern, with truly stunning results, and I know better than to go rewriting patterns that work just fine on their own.  And besides, now that I think of it, didn’t I design a one-piece sweater once?  But I like having controversy in my life, so I’m going to leave this one up in the air.

Speaking of being totally opposed, if you live in California, please vote no on Proposition 4 and Proposition 8.  Keep access to medical care and advice available to teens, and make us all equal in the eyes of the law.


  • tiennie says:

    Congratulations!!! That is exciting news. That is a beautiful sweater on her too!

  • Trish says:

    The sweater is lovely! The perfect thing to knit for someone whose belly is rapidly expanding. I am the proud mom of b/g twins…. I can say you are in for a treat! I’m not gonna lie, though, the first few years are challenging. Definitely check into the moms of twins group on ravelry – lots of really great info there.

    And keep trying with the top down thing. I totally get your point about mass transit, but don’t you think it’s outweighed by the fact that you can wear the sweater right away? I left a sleeve on the el in Chicago once and I haven’t knit in pieces since……

    Keep on knitting – your work is an inspiration!

  • Sam says:

    I have a twin brother (I am female) and it just dumbfounds me how many people will ask if we’re identical. And then still try to argue that its possible for us to be identical and I watch as their minds form theories involving hermaphrodite babies and some surgery, before they finally give up.
    What a beautiful sweater! I am suddenly struck with the urge to cast on..

  • Elena says:

    Jay, what lovely (two) news!

    I definitely love top down technique, and would add one benefit about fewer yarn ends – when knitting with wool I use the technique which I can’t remember the name of when you “spit” on the yarn ends and put them togehter. Such I end up having 2 or at the most 4 yarn ends to weave in. That is so sweet!

  • Heather says:

    Yes – what Sam said. Not only do people ask if my brother and I are identical, sometimes they ask if we have the same birthday! Good luck, according to my mom you are in for a real treat 😀 And I love the sweater – this may be just the thing I’ve been looking for.

  • Melissa says:

    Congrats on the twins! As a pregnant woman, I can fully appreciate and enjoy your answers to the usual questions. The sweater is lovely.

  • Susan says:


    I’ll throw in a question whose answer you didn’t already provide: What yarn did you use? It’s stunning!

  • yarn boy says:

    Thanks Susan! I used Boomerang from Fiesta Yarns. The color is Moulin Rouge. Took about three and a half skeins.

  • Narayan says:

    Dude! (I will break from tradition to use that term on such momentous news).



  • Betsy says:

    I’m here for the first time via Superhero Journal. Such lovely pics of you & Zoe. Congratulations on the little ones!

    I’ve seen several FL sweaters, but this is the first I’ve seen on a pregnant belly. I’m pregnant myself, and have been eyeing patterns that will work both pre- and post-baby. I may have to succumb to peer pressure and make this sweater. Your version is gorgeous!

  • mamie says:

    hi there, i found you via andrea’s post on your photo session with her. i was intrigued by the knitting and the twin pregnancy so i cam to visit. i am an avid knitter myself with twin 18 month old boys….and i just finished my FLS (nicknamed Bandwagon by another raveler). I love yours, it looks perfect of your very lovely and pregnant wife.

    just thought i would say hi and introduce you to another great blog written by and for twin parents…it is called How Do You Do It and if I had more interet savvy I would know how to link it here (but I do not). there is some great info on lots of twin stuff, hence the name.

    feel free to say hi and ask questions at any point in your new journey. it is the craziest and most wonderful thing to have twins and i am so glad to see such wonderful people about to become wonderful parents.

    enjoy, and yes, you will knit again post-borth. it just might take awhile to remember how. Smiles, amiee

  • Kage says:

    Saw you on Superhero Journal. What a lovely couple and beautiful sweater. If you find you get to nesting, please consider whipping up a few items for the Love Scarf Project. That would be amazing. Blessings on you and your new additions.

  • Alex says:

    What Talent!

  • Liz says:

    Oh my I love your site! Gonna come back and check out more later.

    I wish my husband knitted. 🙁


  • celeste says:

    i so hope that the babes come on December 18th — it’s a great birthday!!
    loved the answers…so exactly the experience. our little man is 4 months old and we did feel like putting the answers on matching t-shirts! (really it’s great that everyone is so excited about babies, right?)

    great sweaters…

    oh, and….yes to your no’s! so hoping that the big turn out for Obama will mean that 8 fails (i’ve moved away from Berkeley last October, don’t really know what 4 is).

  • pixie says:

    WOW! I’m so happy to have found you and your blog at my dear Andrea’s blog today. Congrats on your babes and on your wonderful knits!

  • Slowish Food says:

    Wow! Congratulations on your family! I used to follow your blog and just realized that you’re back writing to it. Lucky me. And I just made that February Lady sweater (I don’t know what rock I’d crawled out from under, but only recently saw it and only since making it realized that something like 90% of the knitting population has made it), and it was wonderful for all the reasons you note. Your wife is absolutely lovely in it.

  • Maddie says:

    Wow, I Googled you because I was looking for that man’s sweater pattern, but oddly enough, I’m knitting the February Lady Sweater as well! It looks fantastic on your wife, and you’ve done a beautiful job with it. Congratulations on the imminent babies!

  • monica says:

    do you recall what yarn you used in the feb lady sweater? it is gorgeous on your wife. happy babies!

  • Jo says:

    Two words for the cat hair issue – lint roller.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *