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KNITTED // CROSS COUNTRY COAT BY WOOL & THE GANG


Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files

Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files

Or, how I handknit the hugest sweater of all time by making it 30% too big. Warning: the following post contains scenes of extremely oversized knits, knitting without swatching, and country house eye candy. Reader discretion is advised.

Marking my return back to “serious” knitting (read: not an infinity cowl or ribbed scarf) I thought it would be best to dip my toe in with something easy and fast. I fell in love with the Cross Country Coat when I was browsing the Wool & the Gang patterns. It’s simple and boxy but I liked the shape and figured it would be perfect for wearing around the house and using as a transitional coat in between fall and winter. But because I was feeling cocky (read: lazy and stupid) I didn’t swatch. I have no good answer for you. Sometimes you have to spend a small fortune on wool to learn a very important lesson. As a result, I basically made a Cross Country House Coat. Witness me in all my blanket-as -a-sweater glory:

Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files

Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files

Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files

Since there is no way in hell this duvet masquerading as a cardigan could ever fit under a coat, I basically just wear it around the house. Every day. Sometime over pajamas but mostly over leggings and button down shirts. I have gotten SO MUCH side eye from delivery guys when I swan downstairs wearing 50 pounds of wool.

Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case FilesCross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files

As for why I knit it so damn big: the pattern did include measurements, but I didn’t realize this until after the coat was knitted (I apparently forgot how to read). When I discovered what I had done (seriously, who knits this something at this scale without swatching?!), I considered ripping everything out and starting over since I had made it relatively quickly, but the idea made me want to throw myself in the river.

Speaking of rivers: have you seen The Revenant? You know all those scenes of Leonardo DiCaprio jumping in the water wearing a  huge bear skin? That’s basically what it was like trying to wet block this thing. It weighed a million pounds and despite my best efforts I’m sure it stretched a bit as I was trying to wrangle it out of the tub and onto my wringing towels. And while blocking is kind of magic, it simply won’t shrink a gigantic sweater that you knit on the wrong needles. I am not ablogogising here; this sweater is huge. These are the facts.

Having said all that, it’s a super simple pattern (literally 5 rectangles seamed together) and is a good beginner knit project so please don’t let me turn you off if you like the shape. Just swatch first. Please.

Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files

I didn’t use any WATG wool for this make, rather some Cascade Magnum in Ecru. My butt got saved by Emily for sending me a half skein when I inevitably ran out as it was time to seam. Because it’s an untwisted strand, it is pilling like crazy. I was warned about this on instagram and thought y’all were being a bunch of Debbie Downer buzzkills… but you were right. Chunky knits pill like mad. However, when you’re already swaddled in a gigantic wool sleeping bag like some kind of hypothermia victim, who cares about a few fluff balls, am I right?

Incidentally, it turns out it’s the perfect thing to wear on a Vermont country weekend, even if it does take up half a suitcase when packed. Even better when you pair it with some wool slippers you picked up at a Scandinavian church bazaar and a warm fire.

Cross Country Coat pattern by Wool & the Gang // Closet Case Files

Please make me feel better about this knitting blunder and tell me I’m not the only one who’s accidentally knit a floor rug. What’s the silliest knitting mistake you’ve made?

  • jain1023 .

    I love it! Just the way you did it!

  • I have twice knit bottom up raglan sweaters and had to rip them back, having placed my markers such that I’d have had one sleeve coming out of the side (y’know, where your arms are), and one coming out somewhere around a boob.

    I’ll just leave that there for you to laugh at, while you are warm and cosy in your coatigan! 😉

    • I would love to see a picture of that hahahha

  • This looks so cozy and wonderful. I’d totally wear that out of the house on warmer fall days or in the late winter. I love it!

    • Thanks Andie! I can’t fit it under any coats so its been solely housebound but maybe i’ll try this spring 😉

  • Polly

    I highly recommend a large sweater bag and a trip thru the rinse and spin cycle in the washer (on cold of course) Gets almost all the water out and the bag keeps it from stretching out. Then you can block as you like.

    • I may just give this a try Polly! Do you think I could use a pillowcase as a “sweater bag”?

      • Sara A.

        The main thing is you want it to seal shut.

  • cmg16

    I think it looks great, but would you consider felting it ever so slightly?

    • I think I am going to try that this weekend!

  • Lolo

    Err I knitted a countrycoat too….and it looks awful! (I did not swatch either by the way – I never do and most of my knits are either too small , too big, wonky, ugly….) Anyway the shape does not suit me – I am short and squatt-ish and the country coat just makes me look even squatter and shorter! It is folded in my wardrobe….I don’t even dare wear it around the house. Lolo

    • Oh no! hahaa. Someone made a good suggestion about felting it and making cushion covers! Put that beast to work!

  • This happened to me with my first sweater too. It was a chunky rowan wool pattern, and it looked lovely but it was sooooo big. So you know what I did? I soaked it in water, then squeezed all the water out so that it wasn’t drippy, and threw it in the dryer. GASP! I know – I watching it very carefully, and checked it every 3 minutes, but the result was a felted together sweater that is super warm and fits me much better. It is mostly reserved for camping, dog walking and the cabin, but I still love it.
    I love the colour you chose and I think it’s perfect for lounging around on those days where you wish you wear a blanket. So cozy!

    • You just listed 3 of my favourite activities! I’ll experiment with felting this weekend!

  • Giant wearable blanket is definitely no bad thing. You could definitely try felting it to shrink it up a bit though. If you have any yarn left, knit a little swatch and see how it reacts. Or if you get bored of it, felt it right down and make cushion covers or a hot water bottle cover or something.

    • I may try felting it at some point. ANd cushion covers are a brilliant idea!

  • I’ve only ever made the front of a sweater, so making five pieces is pretty impressive. Plus, you can consider it as work out every time you wear it! 🙂 That said, it looks rather stylish to me.

    • Thank you Stina. I’ll just call it “Avant garde” and call it a day 😉

  • It doesn’t look that bad! Cosiness has a lot going for it. I’ve been knitting years, and have just finished a lovely jumper that’s at least a full size too small… I WILL learn one day…
    X

  • That sweater totally works as a house coat! But I totally understand your disappointment.

    I stopped working on a knitted scarf for about two years, and then went back to finish it – my gauge changed! I didn’t realize it, but I became a much tighter knitter in that intervening time. Ended up looking totally strange, and I ended up kind of salvaging it and I now use it as a rug!

    • Stupid gauge! I think I had the same problem in teh past. But I love your solution – must be such a cozy rug! I hope you put your feet on it when you get out of bed in the morning!

  • missceliespants

    I love your sense of humor.

  • Robin

    Yup. Been there, done that! Also, I have found finer gauge yarn is a bit more flattering on me. My giant white sweater was out of bulky alpaca, which has literally zero elasticity. Drooop!

    • So much new stuff to learn about this hobby! I love a little fingerling weight sweater but i do not yet have the patience to actually make one….

  • Okay, I said this on IG and I’ll say it again: IT’S NOT THAT BAD! Maybe that’s the new knitter in my talking, because anything beyond a square or rectangle impresses me right now. But seriously, it’s not that bad. It’s not what you were after, true. But it’s still pretty darn awesome.

    • Oh, I still love it even if I like teasing it about the area rug it became! xo

  • QSue

    Looks so cosy! I have knit a sweater and it is on the small side… so I never wear it. 🙁

    • I think the concensus is better too big than too small 😉

  • I’ve done the same thing quite a few times, totally forgetting to check my gauge or picking a too large size. I usually just unravel and repeat. But this looks so wonderfully cozy I wouldn’t care at all. Perfect for wearing around the house.

    • I probably would have unravelled but I had already blocked it and this wool is so “sticky”…it would have been a nightmare!

  • Lisa Poblenz

    Oooo! I have a good one for you! I present to you not one, but two of my elephant sweaters: https://patternandbranch.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/craft-fails/ The first sweater I ever made was a perfect fit, so I got a good long burst of false confidence and that happened. I think yours looks amazing in comparison. I actually have a few more elephant sweaters in my past beyond what’s on the blog, so I’ve sworn off sweaters for the foreseeable future. I tend to get a better fit with sewing. 😉 I think your sweater is a perfect Vermont weekend sweater. You are not alone!!! 🙂

    • Lisa, full disclosure, I laughed out loud for at least 30 seconds when I saw your husband in Andre the Giants sweater. That made my day. THANK YOU!

      • Lisa Poblenz

        🙂

  • sallieforrer

    I might be knitting a floor rug as we speak. Eh. Oh well. I sort of love this look! It’s slightly crazy, but in such a cozy, hibernate-y, please-don’t-expect-me-to-wear-actual-clothes-until-May kind of way that I think it totally works! Also, I think knitting a too small sweater (despite all your best efforts at blocking) is way worse. And that last picture of you…. basically my wintertime dreams.

    • Too small! I never even thought of that! That would be heartbreaking

      What rug, pray tell, are you currently knitting?!

  • I’m pro-sweater-as-blanket look. In fact, I just finished knitting my own–an Effortless Cardigan. I didn’t swatch either, and I also started it over a year ago when my measurements were larger than they are now. It’s huge, but I kind of love it.

    I feel like I am ALWAYS making knitting mistakes. I picked up the stitches wrong on my first sleeve of the Effortless Cardigan, so there’s literally an entire row of purl stitches that shouldn’t have been there. I was like, eh, whatever, I’ll leave it. I then proceeded to make the EXACT same mistake on my second sleeve, but figured at least they were symmetrical then!

    • We have so much in common. I can rarely be bothered to rip out for small mistakes. Who cares? No one but me. And apparently I don’t care *that* much.

  • Becky

    It didn’t turn out unwearable, and I have knit things that were. IF you want to make it smaller, I would suggest running it through the dryer to see how it shrinks up before you consider running it through the washer. I have shrunk a lot of sweaters, including RTW, in the dryer just enough that they were more wearable afterwards. It is a much more controlled process than putting something in the washer. I would just “dampen” it up a bit, then run it through the dryer on a lower setting for 5 minute intervals and see how it progresses. If you love it just the way it is, then great! It looks warm as heck and very comfortable. I have been knitting for years, and I recently knit a hat about halfway without swatching that would have fit a giant. I was feeling cocky, and I didn’t swatch. Had to rip the whole thing out and re-do. So, the lesson is, always swatch, no matter the size of the garment. If you hate swatching as much as I do, then partially knit a sleeve first. If it’s not right, then you can rip it out. If it is, then you are ahead of the game. And as to bulky yarns, I have found that using 2 or more yarns held together generally produces a fabric that has infinitely more textural and color interest and results in much less pilling. You were an ambitious gal to knit something this big as an inexperienced knitter, but then you are a successful and ambitious gal in general! Stay cozy!

    • So many great suggestions! Totally gonna try and “tighten it up” in the dryer, and I love your bulky yarn hack although my head boggles at the price of double yarn project….

  • Grace

    Owning my Instagram words of warning! I spoke from my own experience and alas, I have no awesome blanket/housecoat to show for it. I made my Twinkle Tuxedo Jacket out of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Bulky and that was a horrific blend of acrylic. Your coat looks very squishalicious and the color is lovely. I’m sure it is super comfy and warm. All in all, I think it’s a success.

    • Thank you Grace! You were totally right on the nose but who cares about pilling when I’m dis cozy?

  • ciara

    I think the coat looks cozy – perfect for a montreal apartment. I also think that even if you had used the WATG it would have pilled – it’s kind of an occupational hazard with a single like that. If you want to fix it I’d be really, really reluctant to try and felt something that’s made from such a bulky single. Much better to maybe get rid of some of the extra length by cutting to say about 10 rows before you’d like it to end , unravelling those ten rows and then re-knitting the edging. If you really want to know what the yarn is going to do, you can’t just swatch, you have to swatch, then launder it in the manner that you’re planning on laundering the garment, and then (as a something like a coat is hella heavy) hang the swatch for a bit to see how much it grows horizontally and vertically. Oh yeah, and I learned this after my first sweater grew by 10 inches due to poor yarn choice/deciding that I didn’t haaaaave to get gauge exactly… Now, i still never bother getting gauge, but I re-write the pattern math to fit my post wash gauge.

    • Oy, that sounds too ambitious for me….. I am the worst about undoing mistakes. “No one will notice! Tra lalal!

      Also… 10 inches!?!?!? You must have had a heart attack.

      • ciara

        I cried, then I drank some wine and cried some more. Then I ripped it alllll out.

  • Lety

    I love the oversize, even if it isn’t the look you were going for! Call it intentional, no one will know different.

    Swatches are a pita, but Elizabeth Zimmerman (the goddess of knitting) suggests making a swatch hat so it doesn’t feel like a waste of time. Just cast on enough stitches for a hat and knit it in whatever your stitch pattern is then take your gauge off of that (washed and blocked).

    I’ve been knitting so long, but I still make the mistake of knitting when I’m watching a tense sporting event or when I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. One results in angry, tight knitting and the other in very relaxed loopy fabric. On my husband’s sweater, I had both tight and loose spots and can point them out–one is Red Sox, the other red wine.

  • L keown

    I love your blog because it is inspiring and often makes me laugh. I hope you have checked out the Yarn Harlot. Either blog or book form. Funny. Canadian. Knitter.

  • I think it looks super cozy and cute. We are our worst critics, and honestly, I don’t even understand how to read knit or crochet patterns, so I do commend you. You still did a fantastic job. 😉 Lately, I have been interested in crocheting, and have thought about taking a class or two, but I think I am now going to have to add knitting as a new skill I would like to learn as well.

  • I can’t believe you knit a monster that much bigger than intended and you were only down by half a skein of yarn! That’s pretty impressive. I once finished about 85% of a fisherman’s gansey for my dad before realising it was way too big, not because of lack of swatching but because I’d stupidly taken his measurements down wrong. And we’re talking dk weight, patterned, all in one piece with yokes and gussets knit in so there was nowhere I could sneakily take in the seams. I nearly cried when I had to start that thing from scratch.

  • You are in good company. I don’t even want to remember my worst knitting mistakes, so I just thank the crafting gods that I didn’t blog twenty years ago. So much knitting. So many traumas.

  • mokosha

    well, you can totally wear it, and it looks damn cozy, and you learned a lot while making it, so it’s a win in my book 🙂

  • olaf78

    Try every jumper/cardigan I’ve ever made!!! Except for kid’s ones.
    The first one (which I also wear around the house) was a beautiful tweed and it ended up both too big AND too small! I got gauge, but the fabric wasn’t great (too unstructured, I can put my fingers through it).
    The second is just too ooooo big. And I am weekly considering frogging it.
    You look great and more importantly, warm!

  • Sara A.

    Somehow, despite swatching I always end up with a sweater 1 size too big. Five sweaters later you’d think I’d be clued in, but I’m not. Nothing was as bad as when I decided to knit myself a bottom up sweater when my gauge relaxes as I knit. This sucker was fine around my hips and then as my tension relaxed it grew to the point where it was 10 inches too big around the shoulders. It took me 8 months to knit and only 3 hours to frog. I later reknit it into a big comfy sweater I wear all the time.

  • Theresa

    I did a similar thing when I was knitting a sweater for my daughter when she was little, the sweater ended up taking on a life of its own, came out much bigger than I had expected. In the end it was a beautiful multi-coloured creation that even her younger brother enjoyed wearing even as it was sporting a few holes.

  • I will only say this: I had to knit, rip, reknit, rip, rereknit the sleeves of my last chunky sweater only to leave it sleeveless (for now?) How can we learn to love swatching?

    Apart from this, I really like your sweater coat. I bet you could wear it in spring with a big, chunky belt?