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.
Sweet! Looks terrific!
The shape is nice on you! Blocking is just variations on getting it wet, so whatever works. 🙂
Wow before a new knitter you are doing extremely well. It looks very nice on you and is a great fit . Well done
Oh my goodness, that sweater is adorable. Well done, and thanks for explaining how you proceeded, challenges and solutions. I’m so excited for you…sweater two! Phenomenal!
Joyce- ( sorry imbehind in comments. I love it that you are going to make some garments for your son, really cool. I especially look forward to the corduroy pants – “yeah yeah yeah! “)
Looks lovely. I’m very impressed! The colours really compliment the design.
That is exactly how I block my sweaters. It makes such a difference, it’s almost magic how any uneveness in the stitching disappears.
You don’t say how you feel about your seams but one tip I would give you is to look up something called mattress stitch which will give you a invisible seam from the outside
Sorry just had to have another look at this. There is a designer on Ravellry called Isabell Kraemer who is one of my favourites. She is completely obsessed with stripes. This is right up her street.
Colour of your pants are a great match to your top.
Would like to get the needles our again, If I start now I might be finished by winter (July down under)
You are as fast as knitter now as a sewer!
Lovely top and the navy ribbing adds so much
Great stuff K! That’s a lot of learning in ine project and you finished this very fast too.
The colours, as usuall, are very cleverly picked. I really like the stripes and the contrasting neckline (I also agree on picking stitches on the neckline – it’s a pain).
Enjoy wearing it!
that is absolutely gorgeous!
It looks really lovely. And fun too. You knit so fast. That would have taken me over 6 weeks. More even. Back stitch seam is not as nice as using a mattress stitch for doing the seams.Makes for a neat seam with little bulk.
Fabulous! Your perseverance paid off – thanks for being a great role model
So impressive, Kate! I love the stripes.
It’s great! Love the shoes, too. With your interest in the details of sewing, I’d bet good money that you will get into the details of bind-offs and cast-ons as well at some point. The 3D geometry of it can be fun to get your head around, and then when it works really well and the stitches just sink into eachother it really is a kick.
Just stunning! Who doesn’t love stripes and what a flattering shape, just the right amount of sleeve and the neckline looks perfect. I don’t know how yoiu get so much done while having a full time job and babysitting too!
it suits you so well, it looks great.
I’m so impressed! Two beautiful sweaters that suit you so well–
Well done! So beautiful! I have been knitting for over 40 years and I think I would still think twice about putting a navy neckline onto a red and white striped sweater — because the colors will require a very tidy pick-up to make a neat edge. You absolutely achieved this! And in a square shape! Fabulous. The sweater is wonderful and I very much appreciate your discussion of your work. Thank you!
Classic style, it really suits you.
You’re so creative – I would never have been able to see the potential in that little girl’s jumper, sweet though it is. Thanks for all the detail about choice of yarn, and blocking. The finished product looks great, and looks great on you, too.
I think both new knits look fab, congratulations. I admire your resolve to keep your knitting stash under control ?
I am not winning. I have two patterns with yarn. And one lot of random yarn for an undefined project.
It looks fantastic! I love the stripes and the colour combination – very classic and relaxed. The fact that you are creating your own fabric as well as the garment itself is one of the things I like best about knitting.
What a success, you must be proud. Your tenacity puts me to shame, well done for sorting the neckline and not giving up, I’ve got a knitting UFO languishing and it reproaches me every time I catch sight of it, I’ve gone off it now, story of my life, when the going gets tough, give up!
This is exactly the sort of vintage jumper that I love! That little bit of navy trim just lifts it to another plane. Gorgeous! And might I add, that you look as though you have been knitting for years!
I am very very impressed! The colours you used and the fit of the top are spot on! I’ve been knitting for a long time, and haven’t cracked fit yet. One of these days. Can I ask where you got the pattern from?
Brilliant jumper. The colours are great, and I particularly like the contrast ribs. You really are doing amazingly well with your knitting!
Thank you Kim. You are very kind.
Kate next time you come up to the Cotswolds there is a great shop in Warwick, Warwick Wools. There are v reasonable and v knowledgable. It would be lovely to meet up and I’ll take you there x