Purl Alpaca – Cyrene Jacket

I loved my first Purl Alpaca jersey (sorry for going on about it but I wear it all the time – soft, light, warm and such a gorgeous colour) so much that I decided to make another Kari-Helene design. At the Knitting and Stitching show I was able to try on several items and ended up purchasing (at a slight exhibition discount) the Cyrene jacket kit.

I want to make it in the featured colour – brownish grey “Rain”. Or taupe as I like to call it. After a French mole. This ashen-brown is the underlying colour of my hair at its darkest, although it is getting very grey these days. I am thinking of making a pair of taupe corduroy trousers to go with it. My friend Deon-Nadine wrote (on Instagram)

“I know you like vibrant colours but I love the depth and warmth of this colour @fabrickated. Lovely!”

Yes it is an interesting shade that seems to change colour with different light. Reminds me of the Farrow and Ball colours that are going on the walls at Rainshore, as I write.

Rainshore Kitchen (painted)

My Lorelle was knitted with “fine”, whereas Cyrene requires “medium”. If you knit any of the Purl Alpaca patterns, and want to substitute a yarn, this may help:

Our yarn comes in two thicknesses; Fine and Medium. Fine is equivalent to Sports weight (this thickness is in between 4 ply and DK) and Medium is a Worsted weight (this thickness lies between DK and Aran).

For the Cyrene, I knitted it, as proposed, with 4mm needles, and the medium yarn creates a much firmer fabric compared to much looser, softer feel for the Lorelle. I think this texture is right for the garment, but the finer yarn felt alot softer and more “snuggly”. But obviously this one hasn’t been soaked in water or washed yet.

But first I have to finish the jacket!

I found the pattern both curious and challenging. The border (in moss stitch or seed stitch as I think you Americans call it) is knitted first. Then the body of the jacket is created between the edges, in one big piece, knitted on circular needles as there are so many stitches (nearly 300 to start with). I got into trouble fairly early on by making messy corners on the border. Here is a nice version by prolific knitter, Susan Crowe.

I failed to understand how to create the lower curve. This involves “short rows” and something called wrapped turn, just WT on my pattern sheet. That took a little while to understand, with You Tube, and emails to Kari-Helene (“trust the pattern!”) but it was surprisingly successful. I was learning. But there were lots of failings. My mitred corners, for example. But also I didn’t understand that each of the middle rows just needed to pick up the border at the end of a row. Once or twice, or even more often, I had a strange compulsion to pick up stitches at the beginning too. This used up too many of the border stitches. in the end I knew I needed to start again. I looked at the moss stitch borders, counted the stitches and realised it would never be long enough to come right up to the upper chest. Also I felt the jacket it would be better if I had an extra inch or two in the hips. But I couldn’t bring myself to destroy what I had created.

Cyrene Jacket
Cyrene jacket #1

It took alot of resolve.

In fact I had to step away from my work for a whole week to gather the courage to tear this up. Completely. Kari-Helene suggested I could just go back to the border. But I wanted higher quality plus that little bit of extra width in the bum area. So, sitting in the car at 6am on a Saturday morning, I unravelled this jersey right back to nothing. I even undid the loop that you start casting on from, to create a sort of empty Zen headspace.

I was left with a gigantic ball of wool and nothing to be seen on my needles. But, like creating a toile first, I now knew what I was doing. For four and a half hours to Lancashire, several hours sitting with mother, and for four and a half hours on my return journey I reknitted where I had been before. Creating a new jumper that was Small at the base and Extra Small from the waist up, I reknitted the jacket.

By Tuesday night, with a little bit of sneaky knitting at a conference organised by Becci, I had almost reached the armholes!

Cyrene jacket Purl Alpaca
Making progress on the Cyrene jacket #2

I am worried I may not have enough yarn, but I am really enjoying this knitting malarky. I hope it fits…!

23 Responses

  1. Jenny

    I have never seen a pattern quite like this before and I do wonder what the advantage is. Apart from the mitred corners could you not have achieved this more easily by simply knitting the moss stitch hem and then adding the moss stitch button band to the end of the st stitch body as you go or indeed separately at the end. Having said that I know you like a challenge and that wool is a lovely, warm colour. Looking forward to seeing the finished item.

    • Kari-Helene Rane

      I love designing garments with as few seams as possible, and as a designer it gives me a challenge to come up with new construction methods to achieve this. I also feel like the border on this designs has a better fit and finish than if it had been knitted bottom up with the rest of the garment or sewn on at the end. I think it is totally possible to knit it the “normal” bottom up way, but I believe this designs works better because of the way it is constructed.

  2. Giorgia

    Great stuff K! As for me, even if I don’t mind toiling I get seriously annoyed when I have to undo my knitting. I ended up with a cardi too big last year and I preferred giving it away to a friend and starting over than frogging it. I guess the pain of un-creating was too much.

  3. Jay

    This is interesting technically, as well as looking good. It’s the kind of project my mother would have excelled at; Being able to instantly recognise where to pick up on borders – I should have taken the trouble to understand how she did this instead of just relying on passing the work over to her and getting it back with the hard part sorted. Well done for taking the bull by the horns and ripping it back. Once you’ve got over the misery of recognising that it’s going wrong, the process of pulling the work down is quite therapeutic isn’t it? Super colour btw, subtle and rich.

  4. Martina

    I envy your quickness…I tried a sweater once and I think it took me 8 hours to knit an inch! Back to sewing and crocheting for me! That’s going to be a gorgeous sweater jacket, love the color.

  5. ceci

    Very pretty and rich looking; like everyone I marvel at your quickness! Do your wrists not get tired? My hands/wrists hurt terribly the next day if I go over my quota!

    Thanks for sharing the Rainshore picture – it is coming along! Fascinating kitchen!


    • fabrickated

      Ah yes! I was wondering why my hands and wrists were a bit sore. I thought it might have been anti-gravity yoga. I will have to slow down a little bit and make a skirt or something. The house should be finished in a fortnight – the kitchen is nearly done now – it is just everything is covered up to protect it from the workmen.

  6. Joyce Latham

    Oh, that is going to be perfect! So exciting to Rainshore in its finishing stages!! And now your have a cardigan in its honour, I sure it will feel extra special for years to come. I bet it will remind you if the successful completion of Rainshore each time you slip your arms in , like a hug from ” home” and will bring a small smile each and every time.
    I understand what you mean by stepping back and giving it some time befour you start again. It sort of feels like a new project instead of a mistake having to be redone. Good on you .Kate. It’s is going to be fabulous. I’m about to start another knitting project myself, but still in the ” search and find ” what I want to make stage.
    Anyhow….I’ll be waiting for the next Rainshore pics…so keep em coming!
    Joyce from Sudbury

  7. Stephanie

    Looks like a nice, rustic jacket, Kate, and I love the colour. Like Jenny I am maybe not convinced by the mitred corners but it’s a nice way to learn. There are lots of really neat ways to make nice bottom bands using curves etc by exploiting short rows.

    I always tear back when I make a mistake as in the end I am creating an investment piece so i want it to be right. I also enjoy the simple act of knitting so I don’t mind projects taking time. I have only once had wrist trouble from knitting and it was when I made sweater over maybe a week. I won’t do that again, as knitting longevity is what I am after. I hope you don’t end up with any repeated stress injuries from your knitting marathons! 🙂

    • fabrickated

      Thank you S. I had no idea there was more than one way to do this. I have had RSI from too much typing so I need to watch it – thanks for the warning. Luckily I can move across to sewing – it’s just at the moment I prefer the knitting which, while slow, is more unexpected with huge learning potential for me.

  8. Su

    Putting it away for a few days is the right thing to do before ripping open- its makes it less painful and you don’t regret doing it as it ends up being the right thing to do. Sleeves take a lot less yarn than the body. My long sleeves typically take 11/2 to less than 2 balls compared to the body (back or front) taking 3-4 balls.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks Annie. I really wanted to do a cardigan (and this is a version of cardigan) and I wanted waist shaping. I have sort of exaggerated it by going down a size so I did two lots of decrease where one was specified. And on the sleep front I am not sleeping well at the moment so I am using the time productively but I will probably crash very soon….

  9. PendleStitches

    The only good thing about frogging knitting is that the yarn can be reused. Not always the case with sewing. This doesn’t necessarily make it any less frustrating, but is the thought I hold to when I need to rip back.

    It will be worth it. This is such a beautiful jacket.

    • fabrickated

      I had never heard the word frogging until this week! But I have to agree – once the deed is done it is not so bad and the yarn is not spoiled in the slightest. I am hoping to finish the body this weekend.

  10. Sue

    This is looking really good now and you are going to have a beautiful jacket whilst acquiring some new skills. The kitchen in Rainshore is looking very exciting and extremely tasteful, which is not surprising now that I have seen your lovely home.

  11. Kim

    I love that jacket, and the shades alpaca yarn are just gorgeous. I agree, it is very frustrating having to redo knitting – but could you live with a known error? No, I didn’t think so.
    Knitting is more forgiving than sewing in that the yarn can be taken back to zero and worked again. I have had some sewing situations where I would have loved that option.
    I can’t wait to see this finished. It will be stunning I’m sure.

  12. Alli

    I’m just so impressed at how much you’re tackling and accomplishing as a beginning knitter! I learned to knit as a kid, and I still haven’t finished a sweater — the one I started has been a wip for longer than I’ve had kids because I get sleepy after half an hour of knitting. 😀

    • fabrickated

      I know what you mean Alli, but sometimes you cannot do anything else. For me car journeys are not suitable for reading as I get sick. But I can knit for hours. And when watching TV.

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