Thank you for all the warm reactions to my first, ever, sweater. The Purl Alpaca Lorelle, designed by Kari-Helene Rane. I like it so much I have been wearing it nearly everyday. Now my son Gus says he would like one (!).
In the meantime, when I couldn’t fathom the Lorelle yoke, I started a second jumper. The pattern I chose for jumper #2 was this one.
It was designed, before I was born, for a girl rather than a woman but it went up to 32″ chest. The very simple style appealed to me with its T-shape, knitted in stocking stitch, with an adorable square neck. I worked out it was four ply or thereabouts from the swatch test, and I ordered some nice yarn on the internet. Although I visited Loop, as suggested by many London knitters, I found it overwhelming and expensive. In the end I bought some inexpensive Norwegian yarn, Drops Baby Alpaca, which is just £3.75 for 50g. I only needed four balls to make this top, and felt that a jumper for around £15 was reasonable. I don’t really want to spend much more than that. But I also wanted to use natural fibres and this yarn is a mixture of alpaca, which I had already used and loved for my first jumper, plus silk. I liked the very soft feel, with a slight sheen, and the good colours. I would definitely use this yarn again.
I also scored some nice circular needles, I think from the 1960s or 1970s. I like to buy my knitting needles second-hand from Sharon on Clitheroe market (where my Mum lives). Sharon charges around £1 a pair, or set of dpns, and she has tied each group together with embroidery floss. The needles have been given to her to sell in aid of the children’s hospice where her granddaughter died. I try to buy all my knitting needles from her. Maybe next time I will just buy up a whole set. Don’t they look nice arranged by size on the back of the Aero packet?
But of course this simple jumper foxed me too.
I was fine with the casting on and the ribbing. And the knitting up the bodice, until I came to shaping the shoulders and the neck. Even though the shape is very simple and basically a cap sleeve shell top I couldn’t at first read the knitting instructions and understand what to do. I thought I followed the instructions, but I got this. If you are an experienced knitter you may know what I did. Once I worked out that there should be a neckline between the two shoulders (obvious) I unpicked the knitting and got back on track.
I also had to learn some new techniques.
- Firstly I didn’t want to just knit a plain jumper. I considered doing a FairIsle pattern with the three colours, but then I settled on a simple striped pattern, in honour of Sonia Rykiel who has recently died.
I created stripes which was pretty straightforward. I learnt that the front and back need to be matched correctly, especially at the shoulder seam.
- I had to pick up stitches along the neck and sleeves, so that the navy ribbing could be created at the neck and sleeve edges. I learnt this is very difficult. I discussed how to do it with my friend Bridget, who gave me important advice. The advice was to create really nice, neat edges to the knitting so that the stitches can be seen clearly. “Never knit the first stitch, just slip it” she told me. Then you pick up the stitches evenly with the knitting needle. My edges were very ragged. As a result my ribbed edges do not have a nice sharp edge. But I am a beginner, so I will let myself off, and try next time to create the right back ground for picking up stitches
- Blocking the pieces. I didn’t look at the internet, you tube or even Stephanie’s blog for this. I just did what I thought might work. I pinned the fabric to my ironing board, lining it up nicely on the grain of the ironing board cover. I sprayed it until it had absorbed quite a lot of water. I hovered over it with the steam iron. using just the tip at the edges where they were curling under. Once it was flat I left it dry over night. This seemed to do the trick and I stitched up the shoulder seams the next morning.
- Stitching seams together with a fat, blunt needles, using backstitch. I learnt it was important to sew the seams with the same shade of yarn to avoid the stitches showing.
- I was worried, having worked in a fairly chunky yarn for my first project that I might find it harder to get an even stitch with a four ply yarn. But as someone suggested in a comment the stitches seem a bit neater with a smaller gauge.
So does it look OK? I really like it – so simple and sweet I think it could be fun in almost any colour.