My version of the chunky sleeveless jumper

For those that are following the saga, you may remember that I have been tempted by a promise by avid blogger Karen Templer that she would offer a free pattern for a sleeveless sweater on 1 May. My impatience led me to measure up a chunky wooly I had at home and work out, roughly, how to knit something like it. To a woman you told me to have a go and “just do it”. This post covers my experiment.

Here I am in my new Cotswold work room, wearing the jumper and taking a selfie with Nick in his dungarees (he has now completed one cupboard and has started the second).

Kate’s sloper

Now the sweater is not perfect; nothing I ever make is, ha ha ha! This jumper is not yet washed or blocked; the shoulders are not sewn well, but I managed to work out how to do mattress stitch on the side seams. Hooray. (It is like ladder stitch, done from the right side, ensuring the seam looks nearly invisible). I am pretty happy with it. There is a thread at the back that needs trimming off, and my chunky knitting is not the best in the world, but overall I really like this jumper. I made a few adjustments as I went along.

The pattern

So the pattern. I couldn’t wait for Karen. So I measured an existing jumper and then I used the gauge to work out how many stitches I would need. I produced a scruffy piece of paper with the numbers on and launched into it. I wasn’t sure about how to shape the armholes or neck (before I knitted the collar), but I winged it. I didn’t stick exactly to my original plan, but I did more or less. I made the back just a little different from the front.

Here is my original pattern, compared to the pattern I actually knitted. I hadn’t thought about the back and front being different, but the back has one less stitch decreased for the armhole and I made it longer by the length of the ribbing (2″).

For the neck line I put 13 stitches on a stitch holder for the front and 15 for the back, having a shoulder width of 13 stitches which worked well. I only knitted two rows for the neck opening, casting off on the third row. You can see how it looks like a big square. I picked up eight stitches along both sides of the neck edges, giving 44 stitches in all. I then knitted these in ribbing. I was keen on a lower neck than Karen has on hers as I don’t like too much height on my roll necks. I was hoping for something more like a 1960s stand away, sort of Nehru height collar. I don’t think high polo/turtle necks suit me. On my original pattern I was thinking just seven rows. But on its own the yarn was too floppy. I carried on knitting until I had 18 rows and tried it on. I found that by turning it inside I had about the look I wanted and considered stitching it down so it was double thickness and fairly firm. But in the end I left it with a turn down to the outside. I think it looks OK, and summery rather than a kind of armless ski-wear look.

The yarn

I bought small pieces of left over cashmere yarn (a yarn set) in harmonious colours that I love, and I made two balls of wool. One with the darker greys, and a second one with a light grey, a very light grey and a soft, light muted turquoise. Close up the colours are rather lovely and shimmery, although from a distance the jumper just looks grey, with a darker shadow across the bottom. I hadn’t realised that you could mix up three DK yarns to create a thick “super chunky” yarn, but what a great idea for using up similar but slightly different colours.

Mixing three light grey yarns

It’s minimalist, very simple, soft, and I think very wearable. I think the structural look is enhanced by the toning grey yarns. I may have a second go at this once Karen produces her #SloperKAL and pattern. Or maybe, just for fun, I could try to turn this into a knitting in the round experiment.

The outcome

Kate’s sloper, side view

21 Responses

  1. Kerry

    Your impatience had you jumping in with both feet-and you’ve produced a very nice-looking very wearable summer top. Well done! I think you will be getting quite a few compliments from others when you wear it. It sounds like you experimented a lot and learned a lot, so perfect in all sorts of ways. Did you find this knitting project harder/easier or different to similar sewing projects/experiments?

    • fabrickated

      That’s a hard question to answer. Choosing the chunky yarn let me get to the answer sooner. Overall maybe fitting knitting seems easier to me as it is stretchy. But when you wash it it changes too much. So it’s more unpredictable too. Overall I am more motivated by learning than virtually anything else so the pure excitement of the unknown is what is powering me up at the moment. What about you?

  2. Eleanor Sealy

    I love that you were too impatient to wait for the pattern! And the doubters about a ‘chunky’ sleeveless can now see a very wearable top! Well done.

  3. Jay

    It looks good, the toning colours give it just enough interest. I like the way the neckline stand away, it works better with the sleeveless style than a close fitting high polo.

  4. Katja

    I like the subtle colour blocking, this turned out very well. And it suits you 🙂
    Isn’t it marvellous, to look at something and then be able to figure out how to replicate it but to your specifications? I’ve been knitting for > 30 years, and I’m still learning new things all the time.

  5. Stephanie

    I like this, Kate. The colours are really pretty and with the gauge/weave it has the appearance of a linen knit from here. I like the colour blocking. I suspect that Karen seamed hers to create a side split, if I remember her garment correctly, although of course you could easily just knit it in the round, either entirely or just to the armholes.

    In terms of sizing, this is exactly what one does – measure the size desired and compare with gauge. I don’t know if you blocked your swatch and then measured against that one but it can be a good idea to consider both the unblocked and blocked gauge so you know what the final fabric will look like. I usually soak my swatch for about twenty minutes and then pin it out to dry, but that is with wool as I don’t knit with cashmere (so don’t know much about how it behaves, although I think it has more limited spring/recovery).

  6. Annie

    It’s turned out well and it looks good. Working out your own pattern will give you confidence to experiment further, not that you need more confidence, you’re intrepid, going where others (me) fear to tread. Excellent!

  7. Giorgia

    I find this kind of jumpers difficult to wear (chinky without sleeves) but how good it is to see what amazing progress you made. I was thinking that less than a year ago you were setting yourself the goal to become a competent knitter and here you are, making your own patterns and getting creative making your own yarn. Fantastic work 🙂 Needless to say, I love what you did with the colours there!

  8. Mary Funt

    It looks wonderful and I love your colour blending and blocking. To eliminate the shoulder seams in this bulky knit try grafting ( also called Kitchener stitch). There are loads of tutorials online. Thanks for the glimpse inside Rainshore. Enjoy your weekends there.

  9. Chris

    I love it Kate! I also love seeing how quickly you have mastered knitting. I have gotten a great finish on shoulder seams, especially with chunky yarns, by using a “three needle bind-off”.

  10. Penelope

    Kate – this is great! It’s very flattering and I love how adventurous you are. I’m both a sewist and knitter and your blog and Karen’s are my two favorites. How wonderful to have them “knit together!” It’s such a small world. Please keep experimenting – it’s inspiring and encouraging!

  11. viliene

    Nice one! Suits you really well. You might try what is called grafting on the shoulder seams so they come out as invisivle as the side seams and are not bulky at all. (I am a much better knitter than sewer though I have almost given it up in favour of sewing).

  12. Michelle

    Lovely jumper! I had wondered if using three strands of wool together might give quite a bulky finish but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. It looks great, and as you say, very wearable.

  13. Helen

    You have done a really great job with this! I love the way you have used 3 strands of tonal colours to get a chunky yarn. There is mention in comments about grafting the shoulder seams. I haven’t tried this myself but have grafted the toe of socks and the first time I did it was amazed at how great it looks.

Leave a Reply