There are few things I like more than a free knitting project, as I’m generally thoroughly broke, and when a sweater has proved unsatisfactory it’s better to frog it and knit Something Better.
This sweater started out life as this one:
It was very generously knitted for her – unfortunately a bit too generous. The neck was so large that the whole thing would just slide off her like a gigantic cowl – cotton is pretty stretchy anyway and the moss stitch made the situation worse. So, obv, I frogged it.
That time, it got turned into a Debbie Bliss hoodie from Junior Knits. I wasn’t especially happy with it so I don’t have a photo of the completed sweater. It wasn’t great because, like a lot of knitted hoodies, the hood part was so heavy that it dragged the whole thing backwards, meaning that you end up with a bare tummy. Also, like a lot of Debbie Bliss’s patterns for children, the length of body is short compared to the length of the arms. I always find with her patterns that I have to add a few centimetres to the body length otherwise by the time the sleeves fit the body is too short.
So, it didn’t get photographed until I was casting around for a new project. I’d started a new sweater for Smallest Boy and had run out of yarn (of which more later) but I really liked the pattern – Rowan’s Jack Pullover. Frogging seemed like the best option. So, here it is after the start of frogging:
I was hauling the yarn directly off the old sweater and knitting it into the new, as I couldn’t see any reason to pull it all apart before starting, so after a bit it looked like this:
And now it’s this:
It got the ultimate vote of approval, which was that Oldest Daughter immediately started wearing it and hasn’t taken it off since yesterday. Definitely Better.
Okay, it’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting into. Alice Starmore herself, in the book (Fisherman’s Sweaters), describes it as an ‘heirloom’ sweater. Which is delightful knitterly shorthand for ‘will take you literally the rest of your life to knit and if you’re not done you can pass it on to your children’. It’s a big sweater on tiny needles (2.25mm and 2.75mm, which as a rough guide is normally what you knit dress socks with, not giant jumpers) and I knit and I knit and I knit and NOTHING HAPPENS.
As an aside, it would probably help if I hadn’t cast on a sweater for the Husband in the interim, but I swear they’ve had equal knitting time since Christmas and while His sweater is now half done, I have achieved exactly those five inches of sleeve on My sweater. No chance it’ll be done this winter – that’ll mean it goes into its fourth winter on the needles.
However, it does mean you get a look at His. It’s Mr Darcy, a free pattern from Cheryl Niamath and it’s a nice, plain sweater livened up with a funnel neck and dot stitch.
Given that the Husband has the deepest suspicion of anything smacking of pattern (unless it’s a skull, or a wolf holding a flaming torch, or a Viking zombie, which I decline to attempt), a very simple sweater in a lightly variegated yarn is about as much as I get to knit.
The yarn is Debbie Bliss Riva in Cork, which is warm but also (judging by the cowl I wore all last winter) fairly disinclined to pill. I’ve knitted him sweaters in merino before:
but this is what that lovely soft merino looks like now…
Pilled to death. Anyway, back to the hell of tiny needles, skinny yarn and the Sweater That Just Won’t Quit.
This sweater is called – by the good folk at Sublime – Boris.
But it doesn’t look like a Boris. Boris conjures images of enormous blond eastern-European men in tight black polo-necks (leaving aside for a moment the shudder-inducing vision of Boris Johnson in a tight black polo-neck). This sweater is much geekier than that – with its ribbed stand-up collar and its big buttons there is more of librarian than KGB killer about it.
It’s also, frankly, doing my head in this morning. Descending from the high-flown world of pattern names and getting down to brass tacks, it asks me to pick up 31 stitches up and down each side of the neck. Where’s the problem? Well, that ‘each side of the neck’ represents only about two inches of knitting – five stitches across and ten rows up, to be precise.
Getting 31 stitches out of that has proven to be more than my temper and will-to-get-it-right will bear. So I’m eight stitches short each side and count myself lucky to have got that many. I am prepared to rip it back if it becomes clear I’ve got it wrong, but so far it looks fine.
Colin is coming along nicely.
Over the years it has been borne in upon me that when it comes to starting new projects I have no self control at all. New yarn? Cast it on! New idea? Cast it on! Knit on it obsessively for a week! Then do something else new! I have the attention span of a gnat.
Which is why the baby blanket for the baby (who has now arrived and is having to use Other Blankets) is languishing on the needles, with three sides of edging still to go. (I have run out of yarn for this one and on my currently zero income am not buying any more for a bit. It’ll be done before he leaves home.)
The jacket for the Bear is half done (I have Mary Poppins shouting “Well Begun Is Half Done!” in my head. Not that it’s terribly obvious to me what that actually means, other than Finish The Job.)
The linen stitch scarf, while proceeding beautifully, is necessarily a lengthy project (pun half-intended).
The gansey for me remains a four-inch wonder (though in mitigation I plead that I have lent the circular needle for this to my mother and therefore CAN’T make any progress on it.) When done it will look like this:
And which is why the most obvious thing to do was therefore to cast on another two pairs of socks. (Sockyarn as always from Violet Green – Emerald City – top – and Rushen Coatie.)
I roll my eyes at myself, I really do.
It became obvious after the last post that there was No Way On Earth that I was going to get the whole remainder of the border out of the teeny, tiny ball of wool that remained, so clearly I knitted some way past that point just to prove it beyond all possibility of doubt. The offending shawl is now in the stash box waiting for me to take a sufficiently deep breath to frog the lot. I’ve decided against frogging it halfway and re-doing – largely because I never enjoyed knitting these patterns and definitely don’t want to do it again, but also because I was never really convinced that such a variegated yarn suited such a variegated pattern. I think something simpler is called for, and it might just be this: Bethany Kok’s shipwreck shawl. Which I’ve wanted to do for ages. It appears to require 1200m so I should be safe with my 1500m (you can appreciate why I might be slightly nervous about this).
Anyway, with a shawl-to-be-frogged lurking menacingly in the stash the only thing to do, clearly, was knit a load of other stuff while whistling nonchalantly. So there’s this:
The two sweaters are both in Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran, and both Debbie Bliss patterns. The striped one is her Cosy Sweater from Essential Kids and the Fair Isle one is Nell from Junior Knits. I added the patterns because I knew I didn’t have enough of the orange. (Plus I thought the children might object to matching orange sweaters).
The shawl is for a new baby due in the spring (mine) – a traditional cats paw pattern. I’m taking it and the other border patterns that I’ll be doing from Heirloom Knitting, which is my go-to book for Shetland lace.
Finally, Elijah the Elephant – one of Ysolda Teague’s perfect animal knits. This is the third Elijah I’ve done and I’m finally happy. Finding the perfect soft grey chunky merino has made him a lovely cosy elephant in a nice size for a toddler.
Well, winter’s here and the Husband’s sweater is finally finished. (He didn’t know I was taking this picture, otherwise he wouldn’t be bending over the record player.)
Fortunately, given the amount of knitting time it took, he loves it. It’s a nice pattern but that amount of rib in a dk weight for any size of man was always going to take a long time and be a little tedious to knit. What can I say, he likes plain sweaters. It’s Flint (Ravelry link), by Sublime Yarns in their Organic Merino DK. Which I would never normally be able to afford 15 balls of but I found it on ebay for half price. :happyface:
I didn’t have quite enough yarn for the full height funnel neck so it’s got a slightly abbreviated version – fine in this case because DH doesn’t like high necks but I can’t see how you’d get the whole thing out of the 15 balls of yarn specified. I wasn’t a metre or two short, I was about five cm of ribbing short.
The yarn is delightfully soft, cosy and comfortable, and a little fluffy (you can see a little halo around it). It’s also bobbling like crazy with even a moderate amount of wear. Still, the main thing is he likes it!
The height of August is generally when I start getting irritated by summer and want it to be over so I can get back to fires, casseroles, blankets and the other winter comforts. Not to mention being able to have The Big Tidy Up in the garden and chop everything back. I like to clear all the overgrowth and get back to the bones of the garden.
However, this year the weather has beaten me to it. I don’t know what it’s like where you are but here it’s been chilly, rainy, windy and generally autumn-like recently. We’re promised a couple of nice days later this week but I think that’s basically it for summer. Yay!
Either way, it’s definitely time to cast on for winter sweaters. The Other Half is getting a lovely new one this winter – Flint, in Sublime Merino DK. Which I wish I’d given slightly more thought to, as knitting a sweater for medium-to-large man (or probably a man of any size) in DK is clearly going to be a long task. The yarn is gorgeously soft – sadly my hands aren’t and I keep catching it on rough fingers. All those miles of rib are going to take me a while.
The other one that’s still on the needles was supposed to be a summer sweater for me, but I’m telling myself that as it’s got silk in it it’ll be quite warm for the autumn.
The Amalfi creates lovely stitch definition and has a really nice drape.
Not too far to go but I’m pretty certain I’m going to run out of yarn… I’m just hoping to get the rest of the sleeve out of what I’ve got left, then buying one in a different dye lot for the neckband won’t matter too much.