I haven’t even finished my first knitting project and I am thinking about the next one. Not a problem – as the thinking and planning time is the most important aspect of a project, in my view. And I need help! Oh yes. Quite a lot of help.
I want to knit another top. Probably another jumper (not ready to move on to a cardigan yet) or perhaps a sleeveless jumper (tank top). I would like to try a new technique and I am keen to add some colour. So I am thinking a kind of fair isle type pattern. I think I am ready to learn how to do the stranding across the back. Maybe it’s a bit ambitious, but I am keen to learn, as you know. Here is a nice old pattern I got in a charity shop.
The two issues I have are fit, and fabric. There is so much information out there about knitting but I don’t really know where to start, or if it is reliable. When I consult the internet for sewing information I can judge the quality of the information. With knitting I am so inexperienced – I haven’t even made one garment yet.
The world appears to be absolutely full of both patterns (selling dreams, according to Bunny) and yarns. I do not know where to start in making a selection.
Let me explain my worries and issues, and what I would like some suggestions on. .
When I selected my first jumper project I didn’t think too much about fit. I just wanted something I could pull on over my head and I assumed, with it being a knit, that it would mould to the body so long as it wasn’t too baggy. But my first jumper is a tube. Readers suggested I might want a more fitted shape. And of course I am attracted to those 1940s patterns that show off the waist. But there are several alarm bells here for me.
- Getting a close fit will be much more difficult in terms of knitting
- I would have to get a pattern made for my size – these vintage patterns seem to be one sized and I haven’t got enough experience to grade up or down (is that even a word in knitting?)
- Vintage patterns were knitted in vintage yarns eg 3 ply which doesn’t seem to be a standard product anymore. One web site suggests using 4 ply and smaller needles – most of her patterns are 34 bust and she says that the 4ply should produce closer to a 36″ bust (which I definitely don’t want).
- I have no idea if modern yarns will work for vintage patterns, and if they do how to convert them so that they perform in a similar way in terms of size
- With Fair Isle I get the impression that the garment is basically double thickness due to carrying the other yarn across the back of the garment. I imagine this affects flexibility and stretch. Does this affect fit too?
- So far I don’t have the confidence even to lengthen a knitted garment in the torso or sleeve, although I am pretty sure it just involves knitting extra rows in a place where there is no pattern or shaping – using my sewing experience. How do I cope with making a garment to fit?
If I make a well fitted garment, by definition I will be wearing it next to the skin, therefore I need it to be soft and comfortable. This is probably my biggest issue. As a child I resolutely refused to wear anything made out of wool – knitted or sewn. The thought of a scratchy collar on a tweedy coat is one of my absolute nightmare childhood experiences (I know, compared to most people’s childhood, that is nothing). Instead of a coat we settled on a wind-jammer (which had some sort of polyester wadding in it) , and instead of woollies I would wear velour type tops, or acrylic (the only side effect being electrified hair). The jersey below was white with light blue stripes. I think the windjammer was light blue too. The alice band was red.
These days I wouldn’t buy an acrylic pullover (sweaty, cheap looking), so I generally buy cashmere jumpers for comfort, beauty, durability and colour.
- What sort of fibre has the right combination of strength, flexibility and softness? I used alpaca for “my first jumper” and it is quite soft, although I have been warned it will pill? What about cotton, silk, merino or alpaca for a fair-isle? Is it possible to knit with cashmere – if so any suggestions of what type and from where?
- Would you consider synthetics eg microfiber? Probably the ideal is a mix?
- If I choose say a four ply merino yarn, for example, do I have to stick to the same brand for all my colours (rather limiting) or can I combine with other four plys? Or just merino four plys? Is this all about washing the garment or is the standard “four ply” or “double knit” rather vague?
- If we need to stick to one brand and type there cannot be much subtlely to the design as there is “red”, “pink”, “blue” etc when I might actually like three or four shades of a similar colour – when I made an embroidered blouse I was able to buy around seven shades of the same bluish pink.
That’s what I would like, ideally.
- The yarns that come in lots of colours (probably ideally suited for colour work rather than knitting entire garments) seem to be at the scratchy/hardwearing end of the softness spectrum.
I will carry on doing my own research, but (as ever) I would appreciate your feedback. I will also look in the shops this weekend.