This week’s Wednesday Thursday Pattern Share is slightly selfish, but it’s a great pattern so I didn’t think anyone would mind!
In the UK spring is most definitely well underway. The sun is shining and all of the plants are finally getting going.
This lovely weather though has highlighted something I’ve known for a while, but have been trying to ignore; I have a serious deficit in the spring/ light weight knitwear section of my wardrobe! I have a long, cotton, crocheted cardigan I bought from Gap several years ago, and some cheap, slightly too small and ill fitting cardigans, but apart from that everything else is super warm and thick.
So I thought for this weeks Pattern Share I would find an awesome pattern to fill that gap , and I think I’ve done fairly well!
I think the cardigan would look super cute with jeans or a dress or skirt, and I’d feel comfortable wearing it to the pub or work, and this versatility is one of the reasons I chose it! And the pattern is also currently free, which is an extra amazing reason to love it!
Hello! Happy New Year everyone. I don’t think I said that in my last blog post. Obviously it’s VERY belated now! Hope everyone is doing well and have a great year ahead!
I was so pleased to get that last blog post finally published. I don’t know why it was taking so long, but I feel like a plug has been pulled and now I feel all wordy again, hurrah!
I am currently writing this post whilst in California. I am here with work for a week and am having a relaxing day before the craziness of the week begins.
As usual I have bought my knitting with me for the plane and the hotel. I LOVE travelling with knitting and have discovered through experience that circular needles work really well, as they are more compact and there is no risk of dropping one and it rolling away down the plane!
This blog post is about my second attempt at Purl Alpaca Design’s Niobe Jumper. If you read my last blog post Purl Alpaca Glacier Cardigan you will know the first attempt was scrapped after disastrous stitch counting meant I had to start all over again pretty much stitches away from finishing! This jumper was actually also knit whilst on holiday in Montenegro and Croatia last year. I like knitting things on holiday as it ties the two memories together, so when I think about knitting the jumper I think about the slightly scary car journeys on Montenegro’s notorious roads or sat on the balcony in the Lustica Peninsula watching the sun set, LOVELY!
For this second attempt I was determined not to make the same mistakes again. I opted
for black yarn as you don’t get more flattering than black, and I recounted my stitches at the split between the front and back about a million times, just to be sure. I also decided to opt for a slightly different yarn choice. I am a sucker for the uber soft yarns and so have previously knit pretty exclusively in alpaca and merino. This time I thought I’d try the slightly more hardy blue faced Leicester yarn after reading about its amazing properties. I was surprised that I could only find a few pure blue faced Leicester yarns in aran weight,and after some research I decided to go with Debbie Bliss’ Blue Faced Leicester Aran and I’m so glad I did!
The yarn is really lovely, soft, but also firm with a lovely shine. It was really nice to knit with and if at first I was a bit concerned that it wouldn’t be soft enough, once the jumper had been rinsed and blocked out I found it was lovely and soft and had blocked out beautifully. As the jumper has lace across the chest, arms and shoulders, I prefer to wear a vest top with it, which means that the wool sits directly next to the skin. I don’t have any particular issues in wearing wool, but I do find when I first put the jumper on I notice the scratchiness slightly.
I have also been surprised at how much the jumper has bobbled. I didn’t think it would do as I thought blue faced Leicester had a longer staple (I may have made that up!), but it isn’t too bad and definitely not as bad as some of the softer yarns.
Second time round I found the jumper really easy to knit. I did somehow manage to convince myself that the neck size in my chosen pattern size wouldn’t be big enough, and so cast off a few more stitches at the neck to make it bigger. This in hindsight was completely unnecessary and I ended up having to stitch the shoulders up again using mattress stitch. This actually wasn’t such a bad thing as it turns out my shoulders are slightly different sizes so now I have a jumper that sits perfectly!
I also found it fairly difficult to get the grafting right between the top and bottom of back pieces. As before it took me many attempts to get it right, and I’ve posted a picture of what it looked like when it was going wrong. Eventually I sussed it using this video from Cheryl Brunette to start off the grafting and also this post from Vogue Knitting to get the rest of the stitches right.
I REALLY love the jumper and will probably make another one at some point. I think if I knit it in aran again I will use 5.5mm needles instead of 5mm as the fabric is quite dense. This may also hopefully make it slightly less warm, as my only complaint about the jumper is that its too warm! I literally can’t wear it on a day warmer than 11 degrees, something I learnt slowly during the unseasonably warm October and November we had!
After my friend announced she was pregnant, I had a vision! A vision of a bright, blue, lace blanket. I immediately knew this was what I was going to knit for her, and set about hunting down the perfect pattern and yarn!
I love this part of knitting anything. I love the excitement of finding the perfect pattern and then spending HOURS agonising over which yarn to use!
For the blanket I found a lovely 1950s shawl pattern from the website http://www.thevintageknittinglady.co.uk. The group of patterns is called Bairnswear and it was the fourth pattern in the set that matched my vision. The pattern originally used a 3ply yarn. The website has some really helpful information about how to match modern yarns to vintage yarns and after reading this I decided to use a modern 4 ply.
I looked at LOADS of websites and potential yarn candidates before finally settling on Yarn Stories Fine Merino 4ply in Cobalt. I love this yarn soooooo much. The colour is stunning! Bright, bold and really rich, exactly what I had in mind and definitely not a pastel!!
If you’re not familiar with Yarn Stories then definitely take a look at their website. The wool is from Australia and is spun in Huddersfield, Yorkshire in the hills of Slaithwaite village. The wool is soooo soft and knits up beautifully. I’m currently knitting another project in the merino/baby alpaca blend and it feels like cashmere. More to come on that project later!
Prior to this project I had never knitted lace before and with no exaggeration it took me eight attempts to get it right! Once I’d gotten the hang of the pattern and had also decided that I did in fact need to use lifelines, I found that knitting lace is a real joy. I love the repetition and the rhythm of the stitches and the finished result it so beautiful it’s really worth all the bad words and frustrated beginnings!
Regarding the lifelines, after realising that you can’t really rip back lace without them, I hunted the Internet (and appealed to Twitter) to help me find the best solution. In the end it was a post on the internet which suggested using dental floss that really clinched it for me. Before, I’d found that the yarn I was using was getting caught in the live stitches and as the smallest yarn I had was DK, It was really too big for the 4ply knitting. I wish I could find the blog again to show you, but I can’t so apologies! But, whoever you are THANK YOU for helping me finally succeed at lace knitting!!
I washed and blocked out the blanket, which gave brilliant stitch definition and made it even softer. The only problem I had with the blocking, was that it gave the edges of the blanket a slightly scalloped edge. I’d not entirely sure how I managed that, but if I choose a lace pattern again I will definitely research this before blocking the blanket out.
I’m very pleased to say that my friend absolutely loves the blanket, as do I. It’s incredibly light, but also really warm, and I also think its very pretty! I hope you like it too! If you have any recommendations for lace knitting then I’d love to hear them!
How is it possible to top such delights, I hear you ask? Well I’m pleased to say it is possible with these amazing vintage patterns I managed to dig out!
The styling alone on these patterns makes me gloriously happy (especially the dapper gent in Patons Capstan!!), and I think its an interesting insight into the cycle of fashion trends! I’ve seen some jumpers recently which are very similar to the Robin jumper, and I have already added this to my ‘in the pipeline‘ page (although I think I will opt for a DK instead of a 4ply, and will probably make it slightly oversized with a larger neck)!
I love each of these patterns, and can see me making mittens, an Aran cardi and the mohair jacket (although maybe not in mohair as it drives me crazy!) in the very near future!
I hope you like them too! I’d love to see your vintage pattern finds, it’s really exciting to know what’s out there!
Have a great break, I hope the Easter bunny leaves plenty of chocolate treats!