Beginning A Rainbow Striped Jumper

I had mentioned during the post for the last jumper I’d knitted that I’d seen a photo of Jools Oliver in a recipe book wearing a white jumper with rainbow stripes across the chest. I really liked the look of this and wanted to knit something similar for myself. I found out the original jumper is from Chloe with the price tag of £465.

To me this seemed just a straightforward crew neck jumper. Looking at the patterns on Love Knitting I found a Breton style jumper knitted in DK. I had used the Paintbox DK yarn for my daughters jumper but even though I didn’t have a problem with it I wanted something better than 100% acrylic so I found a yarn that was 50% wool / 50% acrylic. For the rainbow stripes Paintbox do 10gm mini balls in a range of 60 colours so I picked the 7 colours of the rainbow I needed.

I wasn’t totally convinced by the knitting pattern. I thought that it wasn’t a great fit on the model, too wide across the chest but thought I could alter if necessary.

love knitting breton

The fit of this looks dodgy, especially around the neck.

 

I knitted up my tension square to check the gauge and I hated it. It just reminded me of something you’d knit for a baby. I also thought it was too white. So time for a re-think. I thought I needed a finer knit so looked at patterns for 4ply yarn and found another free pattern on love knitting. It’s the basic shape I was after and I could easily adjust the body length.

I sent back the white dk yarn I had bought, I had to keep the ball I had started. When I was looking at yarns I came across ‘sport weight’ which is described as somewhere between 4ply and DK and decided that this was what I needed. This time I went for a cotton yarn which gives a much smoother knit. When it arrived I knitted a tension square and was happy with the look and feel. Also by using 3mm needles I got the exact tension that was required on the pattern so I know that the my finished measurements should be the same.

guage square (1824 x 1368)

On the left is the sport weight cotton knitted on 3mm needles and on the right the 50% wool 50% acrylic DK knitted on 4mm needles

 

In hindsight I think the DK cotton would have work for me, the bug with knitting with the sport weight and 3mm needles is that it’s going to take longer to knit. I did even think about sending the second lot back and trying a cotton DK but as the gauge was exactly the same as the pattern I had found I decided to plough on.

I wasn’t sure if the DK mini balls would still work with the yarn but I tried 2 stripes in colours that I already had and they look fine, you can see that there is a bit more fluff in the texture but I don’t think that is a problem.

knitted stripe swatch (1824 x 1368)

I didn’t like the original green colour I ordered as it was very bright so I chose another two, one is a paler spearmint and the other a jade. I’m still not quite decided on which to use – I think I’m favouring the spearmint.

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You can’t quite tell in this photo but the green at the front is very bright and I’ve decided to use either the paler spearmint or the jade

 

I’ve started by knitting the sleeves together on the same set of needles and I’m nearly up to the armhole, so a few more cm and I’ll start the stripes.

My thoughts on making this swing wildly from one view to another, I either think it’s going to be horrendous or it’ll be a success and I’ll get the look I’m after. This is one of the problems with kitting, it’s going to take about 5 or 6 weeks of an hour or so every evening, it’s a time commitment and in the end it could be a damp squib.

I should be able to show you the finished sleeves next week and hopefully I’ll be in a positive mood about them! 🙂

Purl Alpaca Mayan Jumper – Downsized

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.

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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.

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Top knitting is the first attempt, you can see how small it is! Plus I’d made a mistake in the cable which I couldn’t live with.

 

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.

cast off edges (2160 x 1620)

The top sock shows the standard cast off method and the bottom sock shows the stretch cast off method

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.

Adding A New Neck To The Cable Jumper – Definitely Finished This Time

When I posted about the finished jumper last week I mentioned that I wasn’t completely happy with the roll neck and was planning to knit a new piece and take the first attempt off.

For the second attempt I knitted a straight piece of ribbing, I had worked out that I needed approx. 144 stitches to get the width of neck I needed and knitted it 15cm deep. To check I was happy with the appearance I knitted the last row on to a circular needle which gave me the flexibility to wrap it around the neck on the dummy.

Then came the time consuming bit. I took off the original neck by cutting off the casting off row and unravelling, which was harder than expected and left me with lots of small bits of wool everywhere. I had to be careful and make sure I picked up all the live stitches that were at the centre front and centre back. I then had to graft the new piece on to the neckline which was still on the circular needle. It took me a while to work out the instructions for the grafting were the same as Kitchener stitch which is used for finishing off the toe when knitting socks.

That was fine for the stitches at the front and back but there were no instructions for when you are grafting with stitches on just one needle and a finished neckline but I managed to make something up that worked. Anyway, it took ages, I had to do it in two sittings. Once grafted all the way around I stitched up the seam on the neck piece and finished.

cable-jumper-complete

Last week when I put this garment on I wasn’t knocked out by it which was disappointing considering how long I’d spent knitting but I’m much happier with the look of the new neck and I’ve been wearing it over the last couple of days and I do really like it. It’s super comfy and really warm, I wore it out today in place of a coat. I really enjoyed knitting this but it was a real commitment! That was a quarter of year taken up with the making of one garment but it’s one garment I’ll probably still have in my wardrobe and wear when I am an old lady.

Now it’s done I’m going to think about sewing a few things.

 

Cable Knit Aran Jumper Completed

After 3 1/2 months of knitting, the jumper is finally finished. I got there in the end. I can’t even imagine how many hours have been spent on it!

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I finished last weekend and tried it on and there was something not quite right and after thinking it came down to the size of the roll neck. The jumper has a bit of an oversized fit and I think the neck is just too small. So I’m going to re-do it. There’s a story to the neck so I’ll start at the beginning.

I decided that I’d knit the neck on a circular needle so I stitched up both shoulder seams ready. The rib areas on the jumper use 3.5 needles and I had a circular needle that was 4.5 which I thought would be OK to use. So starting at the left shoulder seam I picked up and knitted the stitches I needed all around the neckline. Because I’m not knitting to any specific pattern, just merging patterns together, I didn’t really know how many stitches were required. I knitted a few rows of rib and it just didn’t look right. What I hadn’t thought about was how long the circular needle was supposed to be and I was using one that was 80cm in length. It was just a massive hoop that was way too big.

I unpicked what I had knitted and didn’t know what to do next. I regretted sewing both shoulder seams together as if I hadn’t I could have knitted on straight needles then sewn the open shoulder and side of the neck up when finished. I even thought about unpicking the left shoulder seam. I sat with the knitting on my lap with a pair of scissors in hand staring at the seam trying to decide what part was the seam stitching and what part was actual knitting. Luckily common sense prevailed and I stopped myself from doing something stupid. Before I went to bed that evening I logged onto Love Knitting and ordered a 3.5 size 50cm circular needle.

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When the needle arrived I picked up less stitches than the first time and used a whole ball of yarn to knit the neck. I would have made it a few cms longer but I wasn’t sure with knitting the rib on a circular needle how well and secure a join would be.

When it came to cast the neck stitches off I ending up doing it 3 times. First time I got half way and realised I didn’t have enough yarn left from the ball to do it. So I unpicked the cast off and knitted stitches ensuring I had enough yarn.

When I had finished I realised that I had started the cast off on the front of the neck, I thought I’d unpicked back to the left shoulder seam but obviously not. Knitting circular means there is a bit of a step which you can improve the appearance of when stitching in the ends but you wouldn’t want it in an obvious place. So had to unpick and it was 3rd time lucky.

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What am I going to do about it? Well. There is a roll neck jumper in the pattern book which suggests knitting the neck on straight needles as a piece on it’s own and then grafting it on. I did read this but I haven’t grafted before, you knit a neck trim by picking up stitches around a neckline because that’s how I’ve always done it before….and I want to do it on a circular needle.

We have a new guy in senior management who last week in a getting to know you chat mentioned how one phrase he really dislikes is “that’s how we’ve always done it before”. Yep – guilty!

So, I reference the old beige jumper that I knitted years ago which has bigger neck, it measured 60cm around the top edge. The neckline edge of my new jumper was measuring 60cm and the top opening 48cm. So to make my new roll neck piece I measured how many stitches were in 10cm of width. Which was 24 then multiplied by 60 to get 144 stitches then I added a couple on for luck. So I have started knitting a separate piece.

I haven’t taken the first neck off yet, I’ll leave it until I’m sure I’m happy with the new neck. So if all goes well I’ll have an updated jumper to show you next week.

Pattern – a mish mash of patterns from  this book of patterns from Bergere De France.
Yarn – . recycled yarn from Bergere De France ordered from Love Knitting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aran Cable Jumper Update

After nearly 4 weeks of knitting the front of the Aran jumper is finished. It was very exciting to reach the point of shaping for the neck.

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So far so good. There was a tiny bit of unpicking when I realised I had cabled one of the plaits the wrong way. I was dreading sorting it out but I found the quickest way was to lay flat on a table pull out the needles and gently unravel until you’ve got back to where you went wrong then carefully pick up all the stitches again with the needle. I was thinking I’d have to unpick one stitch at a time but this worked and was undoubtedly much quicker.

2016-11-08-09-20-16

 

I’m now about 1/5 up the back and I think I’m getting quicker.

You can see from the photos that one of the outer strands of the plait is thicker than the others, on the back I’m now trying to knit my cable twists more loosely and tighten the tension when I come out of the plait, this seems to be giving a more even appearance.

Chris at Make and Wear gave me a great tip for knitting the sleeves.

“It can be hard to keep the enthusiasm going ..! I haven’t knitted a flat jumper in a while, but if I do, I’d like to try knitting both sleeves at once – on the same needles, using separate balls of wool – it seems like it would be easier to keep on track !”

I think I will follow this advice and give it a go. I’m currently using 35cm long needles so I thought I’d get a longer pair but it seems that 40cm is the longest you can get and I’m not sure that 5cm will make that much of a difference.

My projected finish is the first week in January, I just can’t help working out how long things are going to take!

Christmas Present Socks

These were my last make of 2014. A  pair of socks as a Christmas present for my other half.
They are knitted in Regia Mix It Color with the toe,heel and cuff using West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply. I did have to buy a 100gm ball for this as the local yarn shop doesn’t sell smaller balls of sock yarn but anyway it’ll do for either a smaller pair of socks or more contrast areas.

Self patterning yarn with contrast heel and toe

Self patterning yarn with contrast heel and toe

These were knitted cuff down with a 1 x 1 rib for 12 rows then stocking stitch. I’ve used the short row heel, which is my heel of choice now. Then finishing off the toe with the Kitchener stitch.

As these were a present I had to do them in secret. I got most of them done when I was away on a business trip for a week. I had a the joy of there and back 12 1/2 hour flights, the return leg was a day flight so whilst I watched in flight films I managed to knit most of the second sock.

They were opened on Christmas morning and much appreciated!  🙂

 

 

RTW Fast 2014 – Achieved! (and stuff I made in 2014)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2014 is over and it’s the end of the RTW Fast 2014 (Ready To Wear). I’m confident to say that I achieved the goal of avoiding buying any ready to wear clothes in 2014.

I will come clean, there was one item I did buy, a pair of waterproof reflective cycling over trousers from Aldi for my commute to work. I think these can be excused as they were something I couldn’t have made myself and in the couple of weeks before Christmas were definitely needed. So I reckon that these don’t count.

I found it quite easy to avoid shopping, since having children & less money (due to having children) I don’t often get the chance. It did make me focus on what I really needed in my wardrobe. If I hadn’t been on the fast I’d have bought some new jeans at the beginning of the year as my current two pairs are a bit scruffy but this pushed me towards wearing more skirts and dresses.

There isn’t an official RTW Fast 2015 so I’ll see how long I can go on.

Did I save money?
This wasn’t the main incentive but it would be interesting to know. Roughly totting up what I’ve spent making the items just for me and not including socks I’ve spent about £190. Add to that about £40 on patterns, Coco and Renfew patterns are a large chunk of that but I know that these will be used again and again. So I think I probably did save money. Some pieces were real bargains like this black wool Renfrew with fabric at £4 per metre at the other end of the scale was the Coco where I paid over £17 a metre along with an expensive pattern.

Sewing in 2014
The fast pushed me into making clothes I really needed and in 2014 I managed to make myself 14 items of clothing and knitted myself 3 pairs of socks. This included 3 shirts, 3 dresses, 2 skirts & 6 jersey tees / tops.

I also made 2 items for the children and during May I made 4 bridesmaid dresses, that was one stressful month!

4 bridesmaid dresses - hard work but they looked great finished

4 bridesmaid dresses – hard work but they looked great finished

The overall winners have got to be the 3 dresses, the lady skater, the Lucian Day dress & the Lady skater with the Renfrew cowl. I made the striped Lady skater too late in the summer for it to get much wear but it’s something I know will get a lot of wear next year.

from left to right: Lady Skater dress, Luciene Day dress, Lady Skater with Renfrew Cowl

from left to right: Lady Skater dress, Luciene Day dress, Lady Skater with Renfrew Cowl

There’s no real losers but if I had to pick it would be the red and black Maria of Denmark Kimono tees and the polka dot Renfrew. The issue with all 3 is that the quality of the fabric let them down. The Kimono tees looked saggy after a few washes. The grey tee I made last year still looks fine, as the fabric was a sturdier cotton jersey. The fabric I used for the Renfrew faded really quickly which was a real disappointment.

I was also a bit unsure of the ponte roma skirt when I finished it at the end of November but it’s turned out a surprise hit. It looks great with the black Renfrew and the grey tee. I took it away with me on a business trip and the fabric was great, no creasing.

I am completely converted to hand knitted socks, I still have some shop bought ones but I hardly ever wear them. Hand knitted are more expensive but they will last so much longer. I seem to be relying on self patterning yarn for interest rather than knitting a pattern. I think I need to stretch myself a bit but I can see the love of self patterning yarn continuing. Actually my favourite pair of 2014 were these plain grey socks with the contrast heel and toe.

Hermione's Everyday Socks, toe up with a short row heel

Hermione’s Everyday Socks, toe up with a short row heel

Sewing for 2015……
After all of this year’s makes my wardrobe is looking quite healthy so I don’t feel the need to put myself under too much pressure to get sewing. One thing I’d like to get to grips with are trousers. I’ve recently bought the Craftsy ‘Jeanius’ course and I’m going to tackle copying my Levi’s. I’m a bit apprehensive about this, I really hope they are a success or else it’ll be the thing to break my fast!

Many thanks for reading during 2014, I love being part of the blogging community and keeping up with what you are all making  – Happy 2015 🙂