I love everything about this jumper. Choosing it, knitting it, thinking about it, washing it, and of course wearing it. The Autumn League sweater, details here.
The turquoise yarn I used is splendid. It was a special offer from Colourmart yarns – a “heavy” double knit merino yarn available in just one colour. I chose it because I love turquoise blue. Although at first I knit it on needless that squashed the yarn, I finally realised and changed my ways. With a fairly chunky 5mm needle it came out perfectly, with a 4 or 4.5mm needle for the ribbing.
It has heft and weight and has a kind of elasticity and drape that is solid and wearable and perfect for this coolish but still pleasant weather. I have worn it with one or two layers of Uniqlo long sleeved T and I feel comfortable and cosy without being hot and bothered.
I was unfamiliar with the top down/seamed knitting approach but it was a nice change from the Elizabeth Zimmermann bottom up/unseamed knitting that I had been practising. A change is always as good as a rest I find, and I love learning new things.
I was a bit surprised by the idea of knitting the jumper as a big cross, as it were, with just the yoke constructed in the round, and then only after the back and forth for the built up back neck had been completed. I don’t really enjoy stitching knitting together, especially as by then I had completely run out of wool. In fact the long tails, evident in the photo below, were all carefully incised, knotted together and used to finish the front half of the neck band. I had to use some beige wool to complete the inside, as it is a folded over neckband.
The instructions are well written I think – all the problems I had first time round were of my own making. But I ripped and re-knitted, and I am happy with the outcome. I can see there is still a loose end – now fixed – but of course this gives a semblance of authenticity. I washed it with a cold wash in the machine, and it all evened out nicely.
Most of the feedback I had to my first post suggested I should have knit the body in the round, but do the sleeves back and forth and then seam, as promoted by Karen Templer. So I decided to have another go.
Autumn League, version two
This time I used a very nice cotton/cashmere yarn, again from Colourmart, in a “dirty white” – a very light, bluish grey. The Two Wands pattern is knitted in a grey cotton (see top photograph) so I guess that was the idea in my mind.
Second time around I wanted to do as many of you suggested, and that was to knit the body in the round, but leave the sleeves to be seamed at the end. I did one pearl stitch at the side “seam” which is a nice effect. This time the finishing was fairly quick.
The main amendment I made to the pattern was to divide for the sleeves much sooner, at about 6″ rather than 10″, which meant that both body and sleeves were slightly narrower than the blue version. Knowing full well what sort of stitch numbers I used for my Zimmermann (DK) sweaters I knew I could get away with a body circumference of 180 stitches and sleeves that went from 60 stitches to 40. And so it came to pass.
The other idea I want to mention is the use of traditional needles for the initial part of making the sweater (before it is joined up to knit in the round), and for the sleeves. Using long solid needles rather than circulars (if you happen to have the right size) means the knitting is much quicker and easier. I find doing purl especially fast with long needles, tucked under the arm exactly as my Mum taught me about 50 years ago.
Final tip is making the folded over neckband. The designer’s advice is to bind off, then sew down. Using a Zimmermann technique i sew the live stitches down as it provides a flatter seam. Take a piece of thinner yarn, in a contrast colour, and using a blunt needle transfer all the stitches on to it, removing the circular needles. Now fold the neckband in, matching the stitches so that the collar is evenly distributed. Pin and then using a long tail from the knitting loop into the last stitch and stitch down every stitch. This time I left the contrasting yarn in, as it created a nice contrast inside.
Design-wise my grey version is less “boxy” than the turquoise one, especially as I made the body longer. I haven’t yet soaked/washed this one so things might change, but this photograph gives an idea.
I am planning a third Autumn League, this time in pink merino.
And finally I must share one more photograph, this time from Helen of Cut it out and stitch it up.
Helen is a very good knitter (designer and seamstress too) and has done a few EZ sweaters which you can see on her blog. She was mildly embarrassed about arriving late to the striped raglan party, but who cares? She looks amazing. Big round of applause Helen, and thank you so much for joining in.