2018 Winter Jumper

I keep saying I probably don’t need any more hand knitted jumpers, but I don’t seem to be able to stop myself knitting them… I’m averaging one per winter, so I suppose that rate of output isn’t too radical. And I gave my Lila Sweater to my sister earlier in the year because the alpaca blend yarn I used made me really itchy, so I had a space for a simple jumper in my wardrobe. Have I justified myself enough yet?

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This is the Mossbank Sweater by Kerry Robb, published by Brooklyn Tweed. It’s a really simple pattern, but it has a lovely shape. I love the set in sleeves and the little bit of shaping through the front and back waist so that it isn’t just straight up and down. The sample is knitted using a marled yarn for the body with contrast bands and cuffs, and to be honest I bought it thinking that there was some special trick to knitting a marl sweater(any yes, I realise how stupid that sounds now!). I was pretty disappointed to realise that it was just knitted with a Brooklyn Tweed marled yarn! I can’t have been thinking clearly when I hit purchase… I decided to knit it anyway, because it’s the shape I prefer in my jumpers.

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I knitted this in my favourite yarn, Zealana Heron in Bottle Green. The dark green is beautiful, I’m so into dark green at the moment. I’ve waxed lyrical about this wool/possum blend before, I used it for my Bronwyn Sweater and also for the scarf I knitted Hamish for his birthday one year. It’s so soft and warm, I love it! It also works really well in the reverse stockinette stitch that the pattern calls for, the nubbly purl stitches and the slightly fuzzy yarn gives it a lovely texture. It also blooms wonderfully with wet-blocking, and just made everything look even and really nice.

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I’m not that great at seaming my hand knits, I never do it tightly or evenly enough, but I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out, especially the armscye seams. My Aunt mentioned that she used to seam her hand knits using her sewing machine, which blew my mind a little bit! Has anyone tried that? I’m also really happy with how my tubular cast on hems worked, even though I haaate knitting them. I find it really counter-intuitive, and I’m always convinced it’s going to fall apart when I remove my waste yarn! It hasn’t happened yet though, so it obviously works…

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Something I’ve noticed with my older hand knit jumpers is that the neckband tends to stretch out over time, and I hate the way they sag at the nape of my neck. I’ve ripped back and re-knitted some of my older neckbands recently, and I’ve just done a basic rigid bind off instead of a special stretchy bind off. It seems to do a better job at stabilising the neck, and I haven’t had any trouble getting them over my head, so that’s what I did here instead of the tubular cast off recommended for the pattern. For further stability, I also hand sewed a length of Liberty bias tape (from The Fabric Store) along the shoulder seams and across the back neckline. I’m hopeful that this’ll help to stop any stretching, and I also think it looks really pretty!

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I’ve worn this jumper a heap since I finished it last month! It’s super warm, and is great for layering. It took me way longer than I expected to knit (I started it at Easter!), those rows and rows of stockinette were pretty dull…worth it in the end though! I’ve already started a 4ply spring/summer jumper, I think I might need to find some more storage for my growing collection…

(See it on my Ravelry page here)

Adventures in Brioche (knitting, not cake)

I had planned to start this post with a bit of waffle about how I had knitted a cowl that was perfect for crisp Autumn mornings and keeping me warm while waiting for the train, which would all have been true, but last week it seemed we had skipped autumn entirely and plunged straight into winter! We had hail and freezing southerly gales blowing straight off the fresh snow on the southern alps, as well as spectacular thunder storms, it was all very dramatic and unexpected!

This is the Gully Cowl, knitted in Brooklyn Tweed’s laceweight Vale yarn. It’s lovely and smooth and soft, and I love how squishy and three dimensional it is in this brioche stitch pattern! I initially meant to pick the pale pink version of this yarn (Arabesque), but I put the wrong colour into the Holland Road Yarn website when I was buying it and ended up with this slightly darker, muddier pink (called Barberry). I actually love it, on reflection the pale pink might have been a bit too wish wishy-washy for my pasty winter face!

This pattern really challenged me, having never knitted brioche before! Getting into the slip stitch/yarn over rhythm took a while, and then once I had my head around that I found it nearly impossible to undo any mistakes I made! The extra loops from the brioche yarn-overs just confused me when I was trying to TINK back to any errors, and I just got into a terrible mess.  I must have ripped it back and started again about three times before I wised up and started adding a lifeline. I had about three lifelines running though my knitting at any one time, once I realised how much it sucked to find a mistake after you had moved your lifeline up…

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I love the Art Deco inspired shaping and curves in this cowl, its just beautiful! The cowl is knitted flat and then stretch blocked before being seamed. I actually hesitated briefly before knitting this because it was seamed, which is patently ridiculous as the seam is only about 30cm long. Not at all the same as seaming a jumper or anything tedious like that! I used blocking wires to stretch the finished cowl out to the dimensions in the schematic, and I love how straight the edges turned out, it made the seaming even easier.

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I love how this cowl turned out, it really will be the perfect lightweight scarf for chilly spring or autumn mornings. I found it was useful even in the freezing driving rain we had this week, as it’s small and lightweight enough to tuck inside the collar of my fully zipped up raincoat. It stayed dry, unlike a my regular scarves which tend to get wet and then slap me in the face with a soggy end, and it was insulating enough to keep the southerly from blowing into my hood and down the back of my neck. I enjoyed knitting the brioche too, once i got my head around how it worked! I’m considering making another version of this pattern but using the beautiful skein of 4 ply MadTosh merino light I have in my stash. I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work, as long as I size up my needles appropriately, right? It’ll just be a bigger version of this one, hopefully!

Knitting season

It’s winter! That means I have to stop bitching about it being cold (because it’s supposed to be), and I get to wrap myself in wool without feeling like I’m overdressed. I knitted both of these items a while ago, the scarf was finished in June last year and the hat in March this year, so I’m hoping I remember the details of both projects! I really should start keeping better notes on Ravelry…

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First up is the scarf, which is one of my favourite hand knitted things! It’s the Guernsey Wrap pattern from Brooklyn Tweed, in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. I had never knitted with BT yarn before, it’s quite different to other yarn I’ve used. It’s much woolier, if that makes sense, almost sticky and lumpy and very sheep-y! I was a little concerned about it being scratchy, but once I blocked it it softened up beautifully. And it’s so warm! I’m not sure I’ll be knitting much with BT yarn (it’s super expensive in NZ, might need to stick to hats), but I’m glad I used it for this scarf.

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The Guernsey Wrap pattern is lovely, it’s written for both worsted and DK weight yarn and the texture comes from knit/purl patterns which makes it quick and simple to knit. I love the blocks of texture, its quite subtle but looks interesting and kept it fun to knit. It’s a massive scarf, it took nearly all of the 5 skeins of yarn recommended and barely fit in my project bag towards the end! The pattern calls for ”extreme blocking”, where the scarf is hand washed and the stretched out on blocking wires much more than you would when blocking in the usual way. I ended up stretching it another 10” lengthwise!

 

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Before and after my extreme blocking

You can see how much bigger it is post-block! This extreme stretching gave what was a pretty dense fabric a lovely lightness and drape, which makes it much easier to wear. I tend to wear it wrapped around twice, I can tuck each end into the collar of my coat and it keeps me so warm and cosy on my pre-dawn trip to the train station!

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The other thing keeping me warm is this hat! I knitted this over the summer, from the book “Knitting from the North” by Hilary Grant. I love Hilary Grant’s knitwear (I’m going to try to buy one of her scarfs when I’m in Scotland later in the year!), so I was super excited to get a book of her patterns. I’m still pretty unfamiliar with fairisle knitting, having only ever tried it once, so I thought I would go simple with a two colour hat to start off with! It’s knitted in the round with no shaping, and is then gathered to form the crown. This made it easy to knit, but does mean some of the pattern is obscured in the gathering. I struggled a little bit with keeping my tension even, there are a couple of fairly tight strands where the floats get longer, but it’s not too bad.

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I used Zealana Yarn’s Kauri for this, it’s their 4 ply ‘performance’ yarn which is supposed to be machine washable. I haven’t tested this, but I thought it sounded good for a hat! its a possum/wool/silk blend, and it’s lovely and warm and soft, but the halo from the possum is possibly not the best for colourwork. It did make a lovely dense fluffy pompom though!

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I did find a few discrepancies between the colour work chart and the photographs of the samples in the book. There is a set of chevrons missing between every other arrow on the chart, but that was easy enough to draw into the pattern so that it matched the pictures! I don’t know if that was intentional or if it was an error, but again it was an easy fix. The only other thing I changed was to do a tubular cast on, because it gives such a nice edge to the brim! I think knitting a double thickness brim would also be nice on the hats in this book, since the fairisle knitting gives the body of the hat a double thickness of yarn all the way up.

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So there we go, more winter woolies to get me through the next few months! I’ve finished another scarf since finishing these, but it needs blocking before I can get some photos of it. I’d like to knit another hat, but once I do that I think I’ll be pretty set for this winter (except for socks, I have plenty of those planned!). Do you have any hat patterns you would recommend?

Unselfish Knitting

It’s a bit weird, I absolutely hate sewing for other people, but I rather like unselfish knitting. Maybe it’s because I know that there are only so many hand knitted things I need for myself, but I really like the process of knitting, so knitting gifts gets around that problem. I also find that people really appreciate hand knitted gifts (or maybe I only knit for people I know will appreciate it), which is always nice. I decided I was going to knit a scarf for Hamish for his birthday…last year. I got it done on time too, but it’s taken me just over a year to get photographs of it! Such a bad blogger.

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This is another Brooklyn Tweed pattern, the Guilder Scarf by Jared Flood. It was the first thing I made in Zealana Heron, and it definitely made me want to knit my Bronwyn Sweater in it! I picked the Bottle Green colourway, I thought it would be more interesting than grey or black (which is mostly what he wears in the winter), and I like the way it looks on him.

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This was an ambitious pattern for me to pick a year ago, the cable pattern is pretty dense and it took me a lot longer to knit than I expected! To be honest, I was wildly optimistic and decided I was going to knit this a month out from his birthday, so any pattern was going to be a stretch. I must have worked on it every spare minute of that month, trying to keep it hidden from him was a nightmare! This pattern taught me a bunch of new techniques, it was the first time I had done a tubular cast on and tubular cast off, and the first time I tried knitting an I-cord. The I-cord edging is a really nice feature of this pattern, it looks so tidy and I love how it matches the rounded edge created by the tubular cast on/off.

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I did manage to get it finished in time, though I was sewing the Kitchener stitch for the bind off on my way home from work on his birthday! I think it was only wrapped up for about 20 minutes between me finishing it and me giving it to him over his birthday dinner. Consequently, it’s unblocked. I meant to block it after giving it to him, but unsurprisingly I’ve never got around to it. It’s actually pretty even, and doesn’t look like it desperately needs it! He wore it lots last winter, and when I realised that he’d taken it away with us at Easter, I took my chance to get some photos at last.

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I also took my chance to get some photos of one of the merino tee shirts I made him for Christmas. The pattern is the Men’s Classic Tee Shirt pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book. It’s a slightly drop shouldered tee pattern with sleeve cuffs, which I have just hemmed like usual because they kept unfolding and were driving him nuts. I’ve made him three tee shirts from this pattern now, they fit him pretty well and he wears them all the time. This one looks too tight and wrinkly in these pictures, but I think it’s just a bit twisted because he took his jumper off just before I took these photos! It is a slim fitting tee-shirt, which he likes. This one and the first one I made are sewn up in merino jersey from The Fabric Store, and the third is made in a really lightweight merino loop-backed sweatshirting. I sewed them all up on the overlocker, and used a twin needle for hemming and top stitching the neckbands.

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I’m really glad he likes both the scarf and the tee shirts, it’s nice to see him wearing things I’ve made. He wanted to know how I wanted him to wear the scarf for his “photo shoot”, and I told him to just wear it like he usually did. Then I looked up from fiddling with the camera to find him like this, so naturally I took a photo and told him I was putting it on the internet. At least his ears/nose won’t be getting cold this winter! I also told him he didn’t need to put his jumper on for these photos (it was pretty warm), and he told me that he’d look ridiculous, as he’d never wear a scarf with bare arms. So that was me told! I’ll need to get him to style my photo shoots sometimes…

My Bronwyn Pullover (or, how I knit all the cables ever.)

Happy Easter/ long weekend everyone! We made our annual trip out to the boonies to spend the long weekend dancing Balboa and eating excelent food in a rural lodge overlooking the sea, which is always a nice relaxing time. It’s also a gorgeous environment to take photos (away from the teal wall), so I took advantage of the scenery and of my friend Lauren’s willingness to be photographer to get some pictures of my recently finished Bronwyn Pullover.


I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it on the Brooklyn Tweed Instagram page! It’s by Melissa Wehrle, and was released in May last year as part of the BT Wool People 10 collection. I had been planning to knit another cabled Brooklyn Tweed pattern as part of my #makenine2016 plans, but I switched patterns once I saw this one. Ravelry says I started knitting this in July last year, so I was apparently a bit ambitious thinking I would have it done by the end of the year… To be honest I could have knitted it faster, but I got distracted by a couple of other projects and then the idea of knitting it over summer wasn’t so appealing, so it’s taken me about 7 months to complete! 


The wool is Zealana Heron, a 10 ply merino/possum blend. This is actually the second thing I’ve knitted in Heron (the first has been finished for over a year, but only got photos last weekend, whoops), and it is so lovely. The yarn is almost felted together, so it just looks like a single fuzzy, lofty strand rather than two or three strands twisted together. I’m sure there’s a technical term for that, but hopefully you know what I mean! The 20% brushtail possum fur gives the jumper a lovely soft halo, and makes it super warm. As well as feeling amazing, I also just like the idea of wearing something knitted out of NZ wool and which directly aides in the conservation of New Zealand native bush by using possum. I know possums are considered cute fluffy little critters in a lot of the world (Australia, looking at you), but they’re a conservation disaster in New Zealand. They eat the eggs of our native birds (which need all the help they can get, given that a lot of them can’t fly and so nest on the ground), and are massively destructive to our native flora as well. So there are plenty of reasons for me to keep knitting with Zealana Yarns!


I’m looking a bit awkward in these pictures, there were about 12 people watching! I’m not a natural in front of the camera, let alone in front of an audience. The jumper looks good though, so just focus on that…

This pattern has you knit the jumper in several stages. The front and back hem ribbing sections are knit separately, then are joined in the round and the body is knitted up to the armpits, where the front stitches are put on hold while the back is shaped for raglan sleeves, then the front is picked up and finished in the same way.

Both sleeves are knitted the same from the cuff up in the round, until the raglan sleeve cap, which is different on each sleeve of course. Then the whole lot is seamed together, and the neckband is picked up and knitted. I like knitting in the round, but I also like that the sleeves were knitted separately, as there is a lot of jumper to cart around by that point! This method kept things manageable, but also minimised the seaming (which I’m a fan of!).


This was a really fun project to work on, once I got going. The cables were easy enough to keep track of after a few repititions, and there was enough variety to keep it interesting to knit! I used to hate doing a tubular cast on, even though I love the result, because it’s so fiddly and always seems like it’s going to collapse when I take out the waste yarn (I’m still not too sure why it doesn’t, must be witchcraft), but after doing a tubular cast on for the front and back and both sleeves, I might have got over my dislike. I do really love the split high/low hem, it’s such a nice touch. In fact, I enjoyed all of this jumper, except for the Kitchener stitch bind off for the neckband! I don’t think I’ll ever get over my dislike of Kitchener stitch, I just can’t get my head around the pattern of knit/purl/slip movements to make with the tapestry needle, I’m constantly referring to the tutorial on The Purl Bee. It’s bearable when it’s 12 stitches for the toe of a sock, but the 114 stitches around this neckband were a mission. I couldn’t bear to have the neckband not to match the cast on edges though, so I just sucked it up and did it!


I think this will be my last jumper for a little while, for this winter at least! I’ve got five hand knit jumpers in rotation now, so I’m going to try to focus more on accessories for the rest of the year. I’ve already finished a hat, and I have a scarf cast on, as well as a few pairs of socks planned. That should keep me busy for a wee bit…

Carpino Pullover


This post is brought to you by the colour teal (and the letter B, for ‘bloody hell, I can’t believe it’s finally finished’)! I didn’t realise how monochromatic this jumper was against my sewing room wall, hopefully I’m not too camoflaged…

This is the Carpino Pullover, from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People vol. 6. It’s a 4ply jumper knit top down and in the round, with a mesh/lace panel on the front.

I really love the shape of this jumper, I was initally attracted to the boat neck with the i-cord neckband and the curved lines at the raglan sleeve/body junction. It didn’t hurt that the sample was knitted in my favourite mustard colour either!

The pattern has the waist shaping on the back of the jumper instead of at the side seams, and I love how it fits. It hasn’t completely removed the pooling I get at the small of my back, but it has reduced it considerably! I would definitely consider borrowing the shaping from this pattern for some others.

I picked out some Quince & Co. Finch wool for this, in the belize colourway. I loved knitting with it, its so squashy and nice! Knitting a whole jumper in 4ply wool definitely tested my patience though. Even if it felt like I had been knitting for hours, it would only have grown by an inch! Ravelry tells me I started this at the end of September, with plans to have it finished in time to wear last spring. Such optimism! It took me four months to finish the body, mostly because I found it quite boring to knit. The lace was a really simple pattern repeat, which was good because otherwise I might have found it hard to keep track of where I was…

I’m glad I have it finished, even if it is in time for Autumn rather than Spring! Its still way to hot for a wooly jumper, even a lightweight lace one, which is partly why its taken me so long to get photos. I also had to wait for a weekend when I didn’t want access to my sewing room so that I could lay it out on the floor in there to block it, as the kittens thought it was a great sleeping spot! Zelda in particular loves this jumper, she always wants to knead it and rub her face on it when she sees it out. I’m terrified she’s going to put pulls in it, but she’s been very well behaved so far…

When I was knitting this I said I would never knit a 4ply jumper again, but then Quince & Co. released this pattern in February, which is making me wonder if I should break that promise (though technically April is knit in 2ply, so maybe it doesn’t count? I must be mental, either way…)