When I was knitting the cable jumper for myself earlier this year my 9 year old was asking if I could knit her one. I couldn’t really face months of knitting another Aran jumper but didn’t want to disappoint. I had ordered myself the Mayan Jumper pattern from Purl Alpaca, I found this company from reading a post on Kate’s Fabricated blog. I showed my daughter this pattern and it was to her liking.
With a fair bit of stocking stitch and simpler cables this looked like a reasonable quick knit. In fact I spent 5 weeks working on this, which after 3 1/2 months was a quick knit.
I didn’t go with the Purl Alpaca yarn. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that she would grow out of in a year and worst of all may not even like when finished. So I went for Paintbox yarns DK acrylic from Love Knitting. I struggled a bit with it just being too cheap, 4 balls for £9 and time will tell how it washes and wears. I wasn’t sure of the colour either but as she tells me, mustard is her 2nd favourite colour.
Now I did mean to knit a tension square but completely forgot. Because I was sizing down to a 26″ chest I studied the pattern and reduced stitches accordingly and started knitting away. It was very narrow, way too narrow! I then stopped and did a tension square and realised I was going to need a lot more stitches, I also found that knitting with size 4 rather than 4.5 needles gave the stocking stitch a much neater appearance. So I needed to order a size 4 60cm circular needle. Whilst I was waiting for my new needle I started on the sleeves which I knitted two at the same time on straight needles. This helped me sort out the issue of how many stitches I needed for the body as it was easy to see on the flat knitting how wide it was working out.
When I got around to starting the body for the 3rd time – second time I only had done the rib before I thought that more stitches were needed – I found that following the stitch amounts for the size M actually gave me what I wanted.
I had to think carefully about the sleeve head shape and the armhole on the body, I just couldn’t follow the pattern as ‘knit x amount of rows’ wouldn’t have worked out with the different yarn and smaller needles that I was using. The pattern had the measurements of the armhole depth so I followed that.
When casting off the neck the pattern advises to ‘cast off loosely’. Luckily I had my wits about me and remembered the stretchy bind off I needed when I knitted a pair of toe up socks. Jenny’s surprising stretchy bind off. In this method you wrap the yarn around the needle before each stitch, the extra stretch you get is really noticeable.
The body up to the armhole is knitted in the round on a circular needle. This is the first time I had done this and found knitting like this quite different from having straight needles. My only issue is when you need to start a new ball. I’m not sure of the best way of finishing off and starting. I made sure the join was at the side body and I when I came to sew in all the ends I knotted and wove the loose ends in. It looks OK but not perfect from the right side as you can tell that small area is just a bit thicker. I did Google this this but didn’t come up with any solutions. So I actually would prefer a side seam to finish the loose ends.
Anyway, the customer likes it. It’s better than I thought it would be, I was worried about the width and then about the length of the arms but it’s worked out fine. It doesn’t look it’s best being modelled with a royal blue netball dress.
I think I’ll make this later in the year for myself but will probably use a better quality yarn and will definitely do a tension square first. In fact I will never knit anything again without doing a tension square first!
What to knit next. At Christmas a friend bought me the Jamie’s family superfood cookbook and there is a picture of his wife Jools wearing a white jumper with a rainbow stripe across the chest and sleeves and I’m quite taken with it. Looking closely it seems as if the white area is stocking stitch and the stripes are purl, giving a different texture. It’s a basic crew neck pattern so I shall investigate and see what I can come up with.
As for sewing, I’m finding it hard to run sewing and knitting projects along side each other but I am slowly working on a shirt which if I try could be done by the end of the week.