After a couple of false starts and various pauses while I waited for new needles, extra yarn, more new needles and buttons to arrive from the internet, the Silje Jacket is finished. It’s quite pretty.
The pattern, however, was not fun to knit. I’ve knit a few GarnStudio patterns before and I think they suffer firstly from being written for a different knitting culture and secondly from having to be translated. I tend to find them odd to read and despite having been knitting for about 35 years now I have to pore over them to ensure that I’m doing them correctly.
So what was wrong with this one? Well for a start it’s knitted from the bottom up. Every pattern I’ve ever encountered to date that has a yoked chest and arms is knitted from the top down. Knitting upwards it’s very difficult to incorporate the sleeves. It also means that when you get to the colourwork you’ve got all that weight of sleeves and body flopping around pulling your work hither and yon. Accurate, consistent tension is crucial if colourwork isn’t to pucker, so having to constantly stop the rest of the work sliding around is – frankly – a PITA.
Second issue is that the colourwork is done back-and-forth. Everyone’s tension is slightly different when they purl from when they knit. Really good colourwork cardigans are knit in the round and steeked (cut open) to be finished. This works well because knitting doesn’t unravel from side to side, only from top to bottom. Purling colourwork in one direction and then knitting it in the other makes for nasty ‘turning’ pulls at the ends unless you’re exceptionally careful and it’s also much harder to follow the pattern because you’re reading it backwards and from the wrong side.
I also wasn’t mad keen on the pattern requiring three colours to be carried for some rows and over very long distances as well. Not only do you have three colours to try and keep de-tangled but one of them has to be wrapped around one of the others every five stitches as otherwise there’ll be a great long loop of yarn on the back. Or several dozen in the case of this pattern. For a child’s cardigan that’s inevitably going to be yanked around and hauled on, that spells picky fingers pulling loops to see what will happen. In case of doubt, this is a Bad Thing to happen to colourwork. Proper Fair Isle colourwork has only two colours per row (as much as anything else so that you can hold one in each hand for speed and non-tangling-ness) and the patterns are by-and-large designed so that you don’t have mile-long floats. You can see on the reverse side where it’s ‘proper’ Fair Isle-style colourwork (the orange and white row that is in effect the negative of the right-side row) and where it’s not (most of the rest, particularly the white and grey where the grey had to be twisted in every fifth stitch).
Apart from grumbling nearly every step of the way, though, I did knit it according to the pattern. Except for changing the needle size down to 3.75mm because I thought the 4mms made the fabric too loose. Which meant I had to knit some sections in the next size up so it was big enough.
So apart from all that, I’m moderately happy with it.