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Did you know that instead of spending $125+ on a cardigan, you could spend the SAME amount — plus LOTS of time and labor! — on knitting supplies to make it yourself? Wow!! I know you’re all running to the yarn store now. After all, instant gratification is soooo 2019. I mean why buy it, when you can make everything from scratch?

I know not everyone is programmed this way. But my need to figure out HOW something is made often supersedes the actual need for the finished product. This has led to me learning how to make all sorts of random things, from ketchup and kombucha to leather sandals and websites. I like to make things complicated for myself. Which is why I’m making a sweater from scratch, while fully knowing that I’ve never knitted anything more complicated than a beanie. A minor detail.

All I needed was a cardigan …

I’ve been needing to break out of my sad pandemic winter wfh wardrobe for a while. I recently spent a weekend culling my closet and found myself with NO good winter layers — just an old oversized “cardigan emergency” Target purchase that was acrylic, pilly, and gave me the wrong kind of Statement Shoulders.

Not wanting to start a pattern of buying cheaply-made sweaters I don’t love, I went to Pinterest (as you do) for inspiration* and came up with two options/ideas: this simple open jacket in boiled wool (which I’ll share in another post, someday), and this chunkier fisherman-style cardigan in organic cotton for $125. Not cheap, but quality over quantity right?

Oh, it could have ended there. But no. Partly because I took up knitting again for the first time in 20 years. My intention was to help my 8 year old with fine motor work, but I got super into it! It was like reconnecting with an old friend. It feels like magic when your hands remember steps before you consciously know them yourself.

This is also the point in my shopping process when a little voice inside always whispers “You could make that. Make it yourself.”

“I could make that”

I definitely grew up with DIY in my genes. My dad was a minimalist before it was cool, driving the same ancient powder blue pickup for almost my entire childhood. My mom was a dressmaker, and worked for a manufacturer in Manila before coming to the US. Our family was comfortable enough, but didn’t spend much on non-essentials. Mom made a lot of my clothes when I was little, and was the first to teach me to inspect seams & stitching before buying something. As I grew older and my fashion tastes grew more elaborate/expensive, she would often respond “ah, we can make that nalang” if I asked for a dress or some other clothing item. As a result, my best style moments were always the result of something we made with our own hands:

My 8th grade graduation dress? Saw it in a shop, made it at home.
My prom dress with layers of grass-skirt-inspired chiffon ribbons? I sketched my ideas and mom helped me make it a reality.
That time I accidentally tried on a pair of $8000(!!) pink Gucci pants covered in Swarovski crystals (this is a whole other story lol)? My mom helped me knock those off at home too. I wore my pink sequined pants to school with PRIDE on a regular basis. Dang, I wish I still had those!

The rabbit hole of a new project

Back to the sweater. I could’ve just bought it. What I did instead was go down a Pinterest/IG rabbit hole of knitting patterns to find something similar, but beginner-friendly. I found a pattern that matched what I was envisioning, and got swept up in the excitement of figuring out a new project!

So, how much did I spend on knitting supplies (yarn, needles, stitch markers, etc) altogether? Yea…about $125. I definitely didn’t save money, ha! For me though, I get so much more out of learning a new skill and being able to say “I MADE this!” (even if it’s just to myself lol). Yes, I could’ve just hit “add to cart” and that would be that. But would I value it the same way that I value the clothes I make myself? Probably not.

Want to follow my cardigan making progress?

I’ll be sharing my knitting progress throughout the year on Instagram stories. Will I make mistakes along the way? Probably! Will it be wearable? Hopefully yes! I’ll see you over there.