Purl Alpaca Design’s Niobe Jumper

Hello! Happy New Year everyone. I don’t think I said that in my last blog post. ObviouslyNiobe-Jumper-by-Purl-Alpaca-Designs-front-view 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!

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Lustica Peninsula, Montenegro

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. NiobeJumper_ - 1I 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.

NiobeJumper_CroppedI 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!

NiobeJumper - 1 (1)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!

Hope you’re all having a lovely Saturday!

NiobeJumper_Cropped
Close up of the jumper. It’s difficult to see the stitches due to the black yarn!

 

 

Purl Alpaca Glacier Cardigan

Niobe-Jumper-by-Purl-Alpaca-Designs-front-viewThis cardigan originally started out as a jumper. I had purchased the beautiful Yarn Stories FineMerino and Baby Alpaca in toffee for Purl Alpaca’s Niobe Jumper, but after a couple of mishaps I had to rethink this plan!

The construction of Niobe is very interesting. You knit the jumper in the round from the bottom up, split in half to separate for the front and back, and then continue in a simple lace stitch for the arms and chest. You then split for the neck, continue the lace down the back and then graft the top of the garment to the previously knitted back. I had knitted all of it, I’d even managed to fairly seamlessly (and after many attempts) graft the top to the bottom, and was almost done, when I realised that I had more stitches left at the bottom of the work then the top. GUTTED.Fine Merino and Baby Alpaca Aran Toffee _ Yarn Stories

I emailed Kari-Helene the designer and with her help I realised that SOMEHOW I had managed to not equally split my stitches. HOW DOES A PERSON DO THIS?? Anyway, I was then faced with having to rip back right to the beginning, and so chose then to do the jumper in a different colour, and use the Yarn Stories yarn for something else.

I LOVE the colour of the yarn, but when I tried on the half completed jumper, I realised that there was a lot of brown, and that this might not be that flattering!

Glacier-Cardigan-by-Purl-Alpaca-Designs-front-viewSo back to the Glacier Cardigan. I knew exactly what I wanted my beautiful toffee yarn to be, a nice, longish cardigan with a shawl collar, and was surprised to find that Purl Alpaca had exactly this in their Glacier pattern. At first I wasn’t sure about the design, as the stitches for the top and bottom go in different directions. For the bottom piece you knit vertically from the bottom upwards and for the top you knit horizontally from cuff to cuff. After reflection though I decided I didn’t mind this, and I’m so glad I carried on!

GlacierCardigan_ - 1 (1)

 

I REALLY love the cardigan, it is EXACTLY what I wanted and I can’t wait for this silly warm November to bugger off and allow the cold November to arrive so I can fully appreciate it’s snugglyness!

I have to be honest though, as much as I love the design, the yarn is the real winner. I was impressed with Yarn Stories after knitting a vintage lace blanket for my friend in their Fine Merino 4 ply in the beautiful cobalt, but seriously the best was yet to come!

GlacierCardigan_ - 1 (2)I CANNOT even tell you how soft this yarn is! It has literally surpassed any of my expectations! The description of the yarn says that the baby alpaca gives the yarn “a touch as soft as cashmere” and this really is no exaggeration! I don’t want to take it off! The suggested needle size is 5mm, but I chose to knit using 5.5mm needles as I wanted a less dense fabric, so the resulting garment is soooo light!! It hardly feels like you’re wearing it! I’m guessing at the moment I sound like I’m on the Yarn Stories pay check, but this is unfortunately not true, and here is the downside.

 

GlacierCardigan_ - 1 This yarn is a bit pricey at £7.25 for 50g, but I think its 100% worth it. I originally bought 9 balls of yarn, and had to order an additional 3 to complete the cardigan, which makes it a pricey £87, way more than I would usually pay. Had I not been given some ‘thank you’ money from my cousin I probably wouldn’t have spent that much, but I’m so glad and I would pay it again for this yarn as it’s completely worth it! And when you look at the price of knit wear on the high street for something that’s not even 100% natural fibres, there really isn’t any contest.

Anyway, I’ll stop going on now! As the design of the cardigan is really straight forward I didn’t encounter any real problems. The only slight one was that I had forgotten to make allowances for knitting in a slightly larger needle size, so the bottom section of the cardigan was slightly wider than the top, which meant I had to do a some ‘creative’ mattress stitch to get the two to fit together. Once I had blocked the cardigan out though this was doesn’t really show (although I see it straight away!).

Overall this is my new favourite squishy woollen item and I encourage everyone to check out this yarn as it’s amazing!

Winter Woollies

Last week was a serious uphill struggle. I have the January blues, or rather, so what better way to cheer myself up (and hopefully you!) than by looking at the lovely woolly items I have knitted for winter!

Last winter I remember enviously looking at all of the glorious knitted accessories that came out with a flourish during the cold months, and was determined that next year I would knit some of my own, so I did! As a newish knitter I hadn’t quite fathomed that you always need to be knitting a season ahead if you ever want to wear it during weather appropriate months!

Black PomPom HatThe first item I knitted was this lovely Debbie Bliss cabled pompom hat. I knit this using my seemingly never ending supply of Drops Nepal that I used to knit The Black Cardi. It was my first attempt at knitting cables and I’m completely hooked! They’re so fun to knit and actually quite simple, but the end results look really impressive! I had originally planned to finish the hat in time for Festival No.6 in Wales, which resulted in me frantically trying to find a fake fur pompom at the last minute, but in the end I didn’t need it as the weather was GLORIOUS!

 I really love this hat and have worn it every day since my ears got cold. I’ve had so many compliments too and a couple of requests which is really nice!

Pink Pompom HatThe only downside to the hat is that it’s a bit large, even for my massive heid! I didn’t use the wool in the pattern and also the first part of the rib is done on the larger needles. I knit the same hat for my niece as a Christmas present, but this time knitted the whole rib on the smaller needles, removed one of the cable sets and stopped before the last decrease row. I also used Drops Alaska (in Grey Pink) which is 100% wool, as opposed to the much softer alpaca wool mix of the Drops Nepal, all of which resulted in a better shaped and better fitting hat. I knitted the pink hat in the round too which means no annoying seam down the back!

I purchased the wool for the second winter woolly en route to the festival in Wales. I somehow persuaded J to have a slight detour so I could stop off at a wool shop! I wanted to buy some Welsh wool if possible and the lovely lady at KnitOne suggested I try Colinettes Hullabaloo.  It has a streak of Welsh black wool running through it which creates a lovely tweed effect.

Hullabaloo Scarf

I decided to knit a scarf and it wasn’t until I’d finished that I realised just how beautiful this yarn is! There are so many gorgeous colours running through it, and different ones are accentuated depending on the light! I decided to knit the scarf in seed stitch and actually did the majority of the knitting on the flights to and from Mexico (distant dream!). Due to the scarf being on the short side and also the springy nature of the stitch, I decided that it would actually work better as a snood and so sewed the two ends together. I now wear it every day and its so warm and snuggly, which is a good job seeing as the weather has taken a definite cold turn!

I hope you like my winter woollies! I’m currently in the process of knitting some houndstooth mittens too, but that’s a post for another day! Hope you have lots of lovely winter woollies to keep you warm too!