My absolute very first knitting project was a red sweater that I knit for a teddy bear. We were living in Melbourne, Australia at the time on a one year teacher's exchange program.
I was in school, grade nine, and my father had arranged for our family to exchange our home, car, and his job for one year with an Australian family.
Knitting in Australia is big business and almost all women at least knew how to knit even if they didn't. I had learned to knit some time earlier from my father and had not really taken off with it in Canada. Young girls and teens are generally not taught to knit. In fact, I think they only learn it if they happen to connect with someone who shows them, maybe a family member or friend, or if they take classes (and God bless those people who pass on this craft to others).
I was inspired to pick up knitting needles because of the others around me that would be knitting. I had no pattern, but used my knowledge of sewing to create the pattern myself. Of course nothing was on paper, the whole pattern being in my head (actually made up as I went along would be more accurate). It didn't turn out too bad .... I can be certain of this because the bear never complained ;)
After that my Mom bought me some brown and gold wool and asked me to knit her a hat. She had a pattern and it was pretty basic and easy. I finished that project, our wonderful year in Australia came to an end and my parents forced me on the plane back to Canada.
Years passed and I finished school and got a job, but I would always remember Australia. It was a life-changing experience for me and I longed to return. Ten years later I took a leave of absence from my job and took a year off to go back to Australia. My brother had returned many years before and had made it his home. I planned to stay with him. I had a work visa so I could work a bit and take time off to travel and visit with my school friends.
Of course, once back in Australia I was reintroduced to wool and knitting.
Many women knit on the subway or train on their way into the city to work. My brother's girlfriend had many hand knit sweaters and patterns. It didn't take me long to pick out a sweater that I liked. I decided I would make it.
The wool is mohair and the pattern used the seed stitch. I believe it was rated as easy and the pattern certainly didn't give me any trouble. The only mistake I made was I forgot to change needles after the ribbing to the larger size (like I don't STILL do that all the time now!!!!). Being a perfectionist, I painstakingly ripped out the rows of mohair and restarted on the right size needles.
The white trim is cotton. I wore this sweater with a white blouse and white skirt in the cooler summer evenings. I'm glad I kept this project from so long ago.
My second sweater was also mohair. Going with my success on the first project I opted for another pattern that really appealed to me.
This one was a little more complex, incorporating stripes, so a change in yarn colour, and the use of intarsia, using bobbins to knit with different colours in patches.
I carefully followed all the instructions. Thank God for the great illustrators of knitting books. I was able to figure everything out all on my own, by reading the books and looking at the illustrations. Of course I sometimes experimented and if it wasn't right I was willing to rip it back and start again.
I was quite happy with this cat sweater, both front and back. I liked it so much that I knit the same sweater again for my sister in pink and white mohair. She still has the sweater too.
I wore this sweater a fair bit in winter but I must admit I did find the mohair to be very warm.
These sweaters have stood the test of time and I still enjoy them today.