I am done! After four and a half months, I have finished my very first sweater!
I'm just really tickled at how this turned out. I used a different (smaller) needle size than the pattern called for so I had to rework the pattern based on my new gauge. Math told me to follow the directions for the large to get the sizing for the small (factoring in how much the yarn loosens with blocking) - and it worked! I know that math makes sense, but I always have some level of stress after making math-based changes to a knitting pattern until the project is all done and it is proven that yes, my math was correct.
I made a few other changes from the pattern, too, which calls for a rolled stockinette edge on the sleeves, bottom hem and collar band. I'm not a huge fan of rolled edges so I tried a few different thing. First, I did a folded hem (with a row of purl bumps for a fold line) on the bottom hem.
The last change (I think) that I did was on the collar band. I did a 5/1 ribbing hoping that it would prevent the stockinette roll (I had tried 2/2 ribbing but it pulled in too much and I just didn't like the looks as much). It did reduce the roll greatly but not completely and I wasn't thrilled with having the bind off edge be the edge of the fabric (it didn't look as finished as the other edges), so I folded the edge over by about three rows and stitched it down.
Funnily enough, making my own knitwear has made me less protective of my store-bought knitwear. Not because it is store-bought but because I don't want to make knitted things and not wear them for fear of kitties or other damages. I make my knit goodies to be worn and used! And if I'm determined to wear my handmade knitwear (which, thankfully, I know how to fix if a kitty claw damages it) there's no reason to be more protective of machine-made sweaters. I suppose it's a bit like using the good china for a regular dinner.
Anyway, so there's (way too much information about) my first sweater! There is more detail (shockingly, it is possible) on my Ravelry project page if you want it. Now I find myself hoping for a cold snap so I can wear my new sweater! And I'm looking forward to starting another one (which will be after about two or three smaller projects). I have discovered that love knitting sweaters! Honestly, I think it is something about the sleeves. Perfectly fitting sleeves is awesomely exciting. I love it!