Knitting Bucket List Challenge: the Fan Sweater

After posting a recent article – one of what I’ve been calling “Knitting Bucket List Challenges” – I received a heartfelt and delightful tale of a very personal and creative bucket list item. This story came from a reader named Ash, and her email follows:

“Hi Nicole,

“This is something that I’ve been planning for years. I keep imagining the day I’m finished with it and how I’ll feel and… I guess it’s my biggest knitting bucket list item.

“I want to knit a sweater based off my favorite band, Fall Out Boy. Not just any sweater, but one of my own creation. I want the logo of the band on the front and lyrics on the back. Specifically, the first line of the chorus from every song on my favorite album of theirs. (Save Rock and Roll)

“I know this really isn’t one of those things you can find patterns for the readers to browse but I really wanted to share this. It’s my ultimate knitting goal right now.”

When I read Ash’s email, I got so excited! I’m a music lover myself, and I have a handful of artists and groups that are very special to me. So I understood Ash’s desire for such a sweater. Immediately I began wondering how such a sweater might be possible.

As she noted, this isn’t really the sort of item you can find a ready-to-knit pattern for online! It would take planning and some ingenuity.

A Plan for Knitting a Fall Out Boy Band Sweater

Even though I knew this kind of project wouldn’t be available on Ravelry, I did think it would be a place to start for my search.

Item number one was to see if a chart of the Fall Out Boy logo might be available on Ravelry. Unfortunattely, it was not. I realized then that I didn’t even know what the Fall Out Boy logo looked like.

So I did a quick Google search and found two varieties: black on white, and white on black.

I remembered at one point that I had read about taking any picture and converting it into a knitting graph to use for colorwork. So I did a Google search for this, and lo and behold, I came up with this gem of a blog post entitled “3 Easy Ways to Chart a Knitting Pattern.”

The three easy ways involved either a) using knitting graph paper to sketch or trace the picture yourself; b) using a free online image-to-knitting pattern conversion tool, or c) using free downloadable software called Knitting Pattern Generator.

I double-checked the links in this blog post, and as of this writing they are still working. So both of the online/software options should still be viable. So here is a great way to be able to put that logo on the front of a sweater.

The trickier part, of course, is the back side of the sweater; a logo is one thing, but a series of first lines of song lyrics is quite another. However, the great thing is that the graphing options for the logo can also be used for words. And there are a couple of different ways to put words on knitting; I’ve used a couple of these ways myself.

Option one is duplicate stitch. This is where you simply use a yarn needle and yarn to go over stitches already created in your knitting to produce different colors. This is often used for small designs that can be superimposed over the original piece of knitting. Here is a terrific tutorial for duplicate stitch.

Option two is embroidery. I’m sure most of you know what embroidery is; it is a little trickier to do it on knitted fabric, but it can be done. In fact, this is my go-to method of superimposing text, and sometimes small pictures, onto knitting.

This is the tutorial I used when I first set out to embroider my knitting; it uses lots of photos and careful step-by-step instructions.

Here is another tutorial, suggesting the use of waste canvas. This is so brilliant that I think I will use it the next time I want to embroider knitting.

And option three is to use colorwork knitting, the way you would a logo. This is a good option if you enjoy or, at least, aren’t afraid of colorwork knitting, and/or if you would prefer not to do tons of solid-color stockinette stitch on the back of the sweater (stockinette is the best stitch pattern for doing duplicate stitch or embroidery on later).

Now then, once you have your plans for the logo and for the lyrics, you may need an actual sweater pattern. This is where I can confidently recommend the best book possible for creating a custom-designed sweater. It is The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd.

I own this book, and for the past *cough* years I have been using it to knit a sweater for my husband.

No, I’m not finished with said sweater, but that’s not the point.

The point is that this book is fantastic at giving you options for types of sweaters, sizes, gauges, and so on. You can use the patterns in this book to create whatever sweater you desire.

The great thing about the plan described here is that you can do this for any person, place, or thing that you love. If you love a musician or group, you can do as Ash wants: put logo on the front and lyrics on the back.

If you love a book or a movie or a television show, you can put the title or a picture of the piece in question on the front, and maybe a few choice quotes on the back.

Are you an Anglophile or a proud American or Canadian or Australian or Spaniard? Put your country’s flag on the front and a snippet of the country’s national anthem on the back.

I could even see this being used for sporting teams. Put a picture of your team’s helmet or mascot on the front, and the name of the team or the team’s motto on the back.

The point is, there are a lot of great ways you can tailor the idea of the band sweater to any kind of sweater in which you might want to show off your fandom.

Ash, I hope this article has given you some ideas as to how you might want to create your Fall Out Boy sweater.

And the rest of you, I hope that if the idea of a fan sweater tickles your fancy, you can start making your own plans as well!