My Ombre Jumper

Thank you everyone for your kind, supportive messages following the Grenfell Tower fire. It meant a great deal to hear from so many kind people – it has been really hard and upsetting for so many people, but I do believe that things in our industry will improve as a result of this major tragedy. They need to. We don’t have any news of Jessica. I feel bad to speak about knitting – but life goes on – work, family and our creative work.

I so enjoyed making the seamless yoked sweater described in Knitting without tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I thought I would try her second seamless pattern – the raglan sleeve. I don’t really go for the raglan as I like a more defined shoulder line. But as the knitted raglan seems to be a variation on the yoke sweater which rather suits me, I decided to give it a go.

I wanted to use my four ply cashmere set which came in lovely shades of beige, soft blue and grey.

Four ply cashmere

In order to ground the jersey and make it work with my dark coloured trousers and skirts I started off by casting on 2×2 rib in deepest charcoal. This shade is my black. Although Zimmermann suggests adding the ribbing or hems at the end I had a clear idea of what I wanted with this sweater. I wanted an ombre effect – shading – from deep to light. Dark grey to light beige, via light blue.

cashmere 4 ply
Casting on with charcoal cashmere 4 ply

Zimmermann also suggests starting with dpns and using two lengths of circular needle cords I just stick with one, finding that magic loop works well for me.

As with the yoked sweater the three tubes of knitting – one body (200 stitches) and two sleeves (40 stitches, gradually increased to 66) – are joined on the needles, leaving a few stitches (16 in this case) on a thread at the underarm.

Knitting an ombre jersey
The body section

You can see in the photo above how I tried to blend the colours by introducing a line or two of the next colour before I progressed to the block of colour. Knitting with four ply and 3.5mm needles is slow progress, but I find the knitting most pleasant. The finer needles are easier to use, more precise and elegant. I like the effects I got with the chunky yarn but it is much harder on the hands.

Eventually I was ready to join the sleeves to the body and I put all the stitches on to the one long circular needle. At this point I came across a knitting pattern for a similar jumper. This is a top down, raglan sleeved jumper in two styles So Faded by Angela Mowry. Although Angela has made her jersey with some fabulous hand dyed yarns I think the basic idea is an ombre sweater. I decided to include a detail from this pattern – ie I purled the very top of the raglan sleeves. My neckline is lower cut and I produced a waist length jersey similar to her cropped version. Although I didn’t set out to copy the Mowry jersey specifically I soon realised that you don’t really need a pattern to make a straightforward jumper like this. Elizabeth Zimmermann empowers you to create your own jumper to your own specifications.

And as well as finishing my jumper I bought some new shoes! These are like trainers but made of leather. They come in navy, but like many commentators I wish that darker trainers had darker soles. But lighter trainers look good with a white sole. I think the cool beige leather is a great colour and picks up the beige at the top of my sweater. I like lighter colours on me, and this is a good summer sweater. Overall a really fun project. The main issue for me was I didn’t know how best to strand or join the yarns over several rows. I just twisted, and swapped colour but it wasn’t very satisfactory.

Elizabeth Zimmerman
My new Ombre jumper (EZ seamless raglan)

The sweater also looks nice for work – I haven’t really needed a jacket in this warm weather and a sweater is a good substitute that can be put in my bag if it gets too warm.

Elizabeth Zimmermann
Ombre sweater for work

Now I have made a couple of yoke jumpers, and this seamless raglan sleeved jersey, from Knitting without Tears I may try the third version of a seamless sweater – the exciting seamless saddle-shouldered sweater – “a little more sophisticated, but worth the effort, really, and great fun to make”, according to Zimmermann. I love the boring black and white photos supplied. They inspire because they are so blank. I am looking at this and seeing red – or stripes or colour blocked sleeves. Or maybe there would be room to do some patterning across the upper chest, or just a plain sweater. It’s so exciting – the endless possibilities implied by this simple photograph.

EZ Seamless Saddle Shouldered Sweater
EZ Seamless Saddle Shouldered Sweater

In the meantime one of my IG friends Lois has asked for a lesson in how to make these jumpers (which are all based on the same principle). I will do a blog post to explain it for her, which may be of interest and useful for others.

19 Responses

  1. jay

    I do marvel at how quickly you turn out hand knits. The lightness of this one is perfect for our variable summers. I’m so sorry that there has been no news, and understand completely how disconnected it feels to be writing about crafting when there is so much sadness. The process of creating something can be very helpful in dealing with the emotional turmoil of terrible events, we need these balances.

  2. Linde

    The charcoal looks beautiful. I saw the photo of you sitting down on the tube and knitting . well it’s not just that is it. This winter after an office meeting we hopped onto a crowded tube together. We managed to squeeze into the gaps and you proceeded to get your knitting out and knit with your elbows jammed against yourself by the other bodies. It caused an awful lot of interest in the carriage and ladies started to talk to us. Kate’s secret is she utilises all of her time unlike most of us.

  3. Kerry

    I particularly like this jumper with the light-coloured linen pants and the white skirt. It looks like it is going to be a versatile and useful addition to the wardrobe. Kudos to you, but I feel very self conscious when I get out my knitting on the train or with friends, but hopefully I will go over this – but I do so hate to draw attention to myself. I think it’s more of a novelty to see someone knitting these days, given that it’s less common occupation compared to years ago. Thank you so much for reigniting my interest in knitting. So far I have finished my cardigan from two winters ago, knitted a new one in the same pattern (tincanknits-lush) in the correct size that actually fits me, and I am more than half way through the Heavenly jumper after several false starts, and am plotting another jumper. I hadn’t heard of Elizabeth Zimmermann but through your blog can now appreciate how she revolutionised knitting and I can see how she has given you the confidence to adapt patterns to your own requirements.

    • fabrickated

      Its interesting Kerry as many of the people I socialise with seem to think nothing of whipping out their phone to have a look at what else is happening. At least with knitting you can also be present, open, listening and available. I knit when minding the kids sometimes. I have to admit my Mum is a bit jealous of the knitting though – not giving her my undivided attention can prompt somewhat sarcastic comments!

  4. Mary Funt

    I love how this one turned out and pairing it with light linen is perfect for summer. You do accomplish an immense amount of work, obviously by using every spare second of free time. You made a reference to Elizabeth Zimmerman’s statement, something like ” don’t worry about irregularities in your knitting; they will work themselves in with wearing and washing.” I had just completed the Heavenly pattern you blogged about and had several “ladders” in the narrow part of the arms. Not wanting to tediously work them in, I threw the sweater in a wash bag and put it through delicate cycle. The ladders were gone and the stitches were so even. Thank you. I’m so sorry to learn that Jessica is still missing. Maybe some good will come from this terrible tragedy.

  5. ceci

    What a great outcome for your cashmere color series! and perfect with the new shoes and pants. Since most of my subway time is spent standing mashed up against much larger people its hard to imagine sitting and knitting, but I remember seeing people knit on trains in the past. AND a great way to consider the tiny black and white Zimmerman illustrations, which I have always just considered to be useless….as a take off point for imagining your own creation!


  6. Joyce Latham

    Fantastic! Good on you in more ways then one. I really like this look on you, and the shoes are wonderful. I have just found some white and silver leather dressier looking comfortable sandles for my walking the dog collection ( in process) so I completely understand the thrill of your new shoes.
    Love the sweaters you are making and it will be fun to what your next creation.
    Joyce from Sudbury

  7. Annie

    Well done! I love how you just dive in and go for it. It seems to me that you get more satisfaction from your knitted garments and it helps that it’s portable. You really suit that light colour palette.

    When one’s mind is chaotic, knitting can be therapeutic. Have you read Hadley Freeman’s column in this week’s Guardian, so good.

  8. Brenda

    This sweater is amazingly wonderful. As I said on IG, my absolute favorite of what you’ve knitted. I see what you mean about the EZ photos as a blank canvas to see a design suitable for each person. I can’t wait to see what you’ll make next! The shoes are a great find. I agree about the light soles – they look great with a light upper.

  9. Elle

    I especially like the sweater (oops, jumper) with the white shirt underneath. The ombre manges to be both soothing and lively.

    It seems that daily tasks and comforts, and creative forays, are especially grounding in the face of grief. I think that bit of balance, that reminder of ordinary life, gives us the strength to deal with tragedy. And on we go, trying to right what needs to be righted.

  10. Michelle

    Another lovely jumper – your knitting productivity leaves me in awe.
    I learned to knit a very long time ago (flat knitting, two needles, follow the instructions stitch by stitch), and I have been intrigued by your experiences with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s method. So much so that I got a copy of her book. I’m still intrigued, but now also a little confused, so a ‘how to’ post would be much appreciated!

  11. felicia

    I would be very interested in a blog post with instructions for making a generic knitted sweater. I’m about ready to do some knitting again and have wool for two sweaters. But I’m still so unhappy with the sweater I made a few years ago and I want a better result next time! I like the waist on this one — it’s not one of those standard ribbed knit affairs that pull in.

  12. Kim

    Another winner – and great yarn again. I’m just starting a Purl Soho jumper in a cashmere set but it is a lace weight I am using with two strands which would make it more difficult to knit on the tube! (Now I see how you get so much done!!) I love your jumper and I’m sure it will be exceedingly useful throughout the warmer (but not too warm) days.

    • fabrickated

      Thank Kim. I have been wearing this alot as it is fairly thin and very nice and soft. I have gone a bit beigey recently and this pulls my greys and beiges together. I do like the Colourmart company and am enjoying using their products. I will be very interested to read more about your double stranded Purl Soho jumper. Putting two yarns together does give alot of additional options.

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