I finished my first official sweater today!  One could argue that the Raglan Sleeve Topper was my first official sweater, but honestly, the construction of that thing is nothing like that of a traditional sweater.  It is more of a shawl or poncho with sleeves, and the finishing involved seaming together what is essentially 6 triangles.   

 This is my first sweater with all of the typical sweater parts, and I finished seaming them together today.  I almost didn’t because once I had the second sleeve attached, but not yet seamed, I realized that I had a problem.  The sleeves were really big, and really heavy.  They were so big that they extended beyond my arms by an easy 6 to 8 inches.  They were so heavy, that once attached to the shoulders of the sweater, they stretched it width-wise so that the neckline got wider, and the pulling made the sleeves even longer and made the arm pits hang as though the garment was a choir robe.

Hmmm.  Not good, people.  Not good.

So this begs the question:  What do you do when your sweater is too big?

When you think about it, you don’t have to just lay down and accept it.  We knitters are meant to handle these situations.  I tried not to wither with dissapointment.  The bad news is, my sweater that I carefully planned, became attached to, and toiled over off and on for months doesn’t fit me.  

The good news is that I’m pretty sure that ‘the giant sweater project’ is a right of passage for every knitter, just like the mushroom hat, and the Bigfoot sock that most of us never speak of, but have tucked away somewhere as a reminder of these important lessons that we learn (the hard way). 

So if you find yourself, as I did, with a giant sweater on your hands, you mustn’t despair.  You have options!

  • Option 1:  Depending on how in love you might have been with the idea of your sweater, or on how much you might have spent on some high-end yarn for it, as well as the amount of time spent toiling over its creation, you might consider gaining weight in order to accommodate your giant sweater.  I suggest Culver’s cheese curds, Dove ice cream bars, and Baker’s Square’s Grown-up Grilled Cheese with a side of pie for achieving this goal.


  • Option 2:  If you are not overly attached to it, you could donate the sweater.  In my case, for instance, I’m sure that there must be a needy orangutan somewhere who would greatly appreciate a lovely hand knit sweater.  Contact your local wildlife park.


  • Option 3:   Remove those sleeves!  This option is much less fun than 1 and 2, but it is what I found myself considering once the sleeves were attached to my sweater.   Initially, I entertained the idea of removing both sleeves, and then soaking them and running them on high heat in the dryer in the hopes that they would shrink.  It might have worked.  I also spent time reworking the pattern, and at one point had decided to stop seaming the sweater in order to knit two new, appropriately sized sleeves.

I had basically convinced myself of the above plan until I tried the sweater on one last time.  This time, in examining my creation, I decided that the whole sweater was just plain oversized, and that the sleeves were merely a symptom of this overall issue.  I wanted the sweater to be loose-fitting, so I chose the size accordingly, which I think contributed to my problem.

My sweater is knit from Lion Brand Recycled Cotton, and from this detail I derived option 4.

  • Option 4:  Finish seaming the thing as planned, then soak it and cook it up in the dryer on high heat. 

I figured this would either be my solution, or it would ruin the whole sweater.  I decided that it was my best option, and that I would give it a try.  I could always remove the sleeves and start over on them afterwards if I still feel it would improve the garment.  I have yarn left over.

I turned the sweater inside out and soaked it in cool water with some SOAK wash (the special Ravelry scent called Unleash which I love because it smells like watermelon).  Then I drained off the water and ran it in the dryer on the highest setting along with a towel for good measure.  I checked on my sweater periodically, and ended up heating it a good long while (even beyond the point that it was actually dry).

Here is my sweater as it fit me prior to the dryer experiment.  It actually doesn’t look as oversized in the photos as it actually was, so you’ll have to trust me that the thing was huge.



Here is the fit after the dryer experiment:  it worked!


My only complaints are that I enjoyed the drape of the sweater more before I cooked it, and that it is still bulky at the attachment point of the sleeves to the body of the sweater.  I’ll still wear it though, and I have to say that I will also approach my next sweater differently based on what I have learned with this one.

~Happy knitting! 

Sorry the photos are so crumby.  It was storming all day, so the lighting was bad, and after all of the trial and error with my sweater, I wasn’t in the mood for trial and error with my photography.  I left them as is and decided to post with them anyway.