Worsted is for winter

All of you long-time followers, brace yourselves: I’m long past due for a Wearability Wednesday post. This (for those who are new-ish readers) is a post where I look at a knitting project from some time back and check on its wearability.  Do I actually wear it? If not, why not? If yes, how do I wear it?  How do I style it?  How has it held up?  Would I knit it again?  The subject of today’s post is Arleen.  I knit Arleen in less than two weeks in March of 2013.  Here is a photo from back then:


Since that photo was taken, four and a half years ago, I went through empty nest syndrome, gained a post-graduate degree in an entirely new field, and started a third (or is it a fourth?) career.  This has meant (among lots of other things) that I have done less and less knitting and gained more and more weight.  But my Arleen keeps looking good.  Here is a photo from Monday morning:


And here is the back:


As you can see, the fit is still good.  The yarn is Cascade 220, a workhouse worsted weight yarn which is not expensive, comes in lots of shades, and is virtually indestructible. This is not a yarn which is going to sag after a few washes.  It also won’t pill much and it won’t bleed.  It is a good, solid, dependable yarn.  I never thought of it as a next-to-the-skin yarn, but in fact I do not find Arleen to be at all itchy or uncomfortable to wear.

Arleen is an interesting example for a Wearability Wednesday post because it originated as the result of a sweater I frogged and detailed in one of my earliest WW posts, Goodbye Levenwick.  The new sweater was blogged in the follow-up post Hello, Arleen. The fact that the yarn was frogged, and then re-knit without steaming or straightening, and that it looks so good, is another testimony to the Cascade 220.

All of this is good, but I have to tell you there is one serious potential downside to this top: worsted is for winter!  Whenever I see a short-sleeved or sleeveless worsted weight sweater I always have the same thought:  If it is cold enough for a worsted weight sweater, then it too cold for sleeveless.  But herein lies an interesting fact: a sleeveless worsted weight top works really well on a cold day under a blazer.

I sometimes think that we women go through four stages in life: first, we are always cold (this stage begins in childhood and lasts a long time), then we are always hot (this comes with being ‘a woman of a certain age’ to speak euphemistically), then we are either very hot or very cold usually in quick succession, and finally, we end up being always cold.  In these middle two stages, where overheating happens frequently, it is very nice to have a sleeveless but warm top under a removable jacket or blazer.

On Monday, we woke up to weather that was just above freezing.  It was cold.  I was debating what to wear under a jacket: a sweater could lead to me roasting in the middle of a meeting but a blouse may be chilly.  What to do? While rummaging through a drawer, I came upon Arleen and an answer presented itself:  grab Arleen and top it with a jacket!  And just to show you that it works, here I am trying it with a number of jackets.  (Please note, I only changed the jackets, keeping my black jeans and boots on throughout, so I have not bothered to coordinate my whole look here.  Also, it was cold out, I had not put on makeup or otherwise gussied up, and Doug had about 2 minutes before he had to leave for work – thus, we took only a few shots instead of the 40 that I would normally take to get one good one.)

With a retro, 80s, black jacket complete with shoulder pads and gold buttons:


With a rather boring, grey business suit jacket:


With a cool, cropped jacket in an interesting geometric pattern:


With a brown, flannel sporty jacket:


With my Escher cardigan:


I think they can all work pretty well, and give you an idea of Arleen’s versatility.  The neckline is a bit funny with the geometric jacket, although the colour works well.  I like it best with the Escher but think it works well with the blazers.  (If you are interested in my Escher cardigan and have the fortitude to read two very long and technical posts about knitting and modifying the pattern, you can check them out here and here.)  On Monday, I wore Arleen to work with the grey blazer, and sure enough, I took the blazer off when I got warm and put it on when I cooled off.  A good solution.  Clearly this is the exception that makes the Worsted is for Winter rule!

18 thoughts on “Worsted is for winter

  1. It’s always really interesting to hear how your knits have fared over time. I’ve had Arleen pinned for several years and still hope to make it at some point. I’ve heard so much about Cascade too that I really want to try it now. The two seem like an excellent pairing. Short sleeved knitwear never seems quite right though, but I like your solution!

  2. very nice! I like it with all those jackets. In fact, I love that 90’s jacket… hmmm, what is in the back of my closet?

    not worsted, but I often wear a light sleeveless knit top under a linen shirt int eh summer – keeps the shirt from being too cold or too hot. Makes sense it would work with a sweater in the fall, too. 🙂

  3. What a great post and a great idea! This week I was fishing out my winter woolies to wear as unfortunately the weather has turned cold and damp and the woolies are needed! My first discovery was an aran waistcoat I loved making 2 years ago. I still love it but it has piled and looks a little worn. I enjoyed it the first winter, not so much the second, probably will only wear it indoors this year. I also rediscovered a summer cotton top in the same bag – it didn’t make the wear it list this summer – I hope it will do so next year – unfortunately I ‘grew’ since I made it so it was too snug for 2017 ! Ooops….

  4. I’ve been saying I need to make more short sleeve knits because I love to layer. Might have to whip up an Arleen for myself with some leftover Cascade 220 in my stash!

  5. Finally! I’ve loved your Wearability Wednesday posts, and a big thanks for focus on an inexpensive workhorse yarn!

    I’d like to hear about Escher and Wearability. I’ve never quite understood the sweater without long sleeves, as I’m a push sleeves up person, and got thru that certain age without ever understanding the term “hot flash.”

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